During the day, the threadfin shad spends its time in deeper waters and at night, it moves into shallow waters.
  • Size

    4 inches (10 cm)
  • Diet

    Plankton, organic debris
  • Range

    North and South America
  • Habitat

    Shallow, temperate waters

Physical Characteristics

  • Coloration is bright silver with a dark spot behind the gill opening and a bluish-black or greenish color on the back.
  • Common length of approximately 4 inches (10 cm); maximum length of 13 inches (33 cm).
  • The body is compressed and rounded with an elongated dorsal ray.

Diet / Feeding

  • Omnivorous, filter feeder.
  • Diet consists of plankton and organic debris.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in North America in the Mississippi River system and the Gulf of Mexico drainage as well as in Central America in rivers around the Gulf to northern Guatemala and in the Belize River. Introduced in Hawaiian waters and Chesapeake Bay tributaries.
  • Found mainly in freshwater, but adults can be found in brackish waters and saltwater in depths down to 49 feet (15 m).
  • Spends daytime in deeper waters, and nighttime in shallower waters.
  • Larvae are pelagic; found in freshwater.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Spawning fish.
  • Breeds in spring and autumn in open, freshwater near plants. Eggs attach to aquatic vegetation.
  • Females may lay 5,000 to 20,000 eggs, depending on their size.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
  • No major threats.

Additional Information

  • Found in large schools.
  • Maximum reported age is four years.
  • Used as baitfish.
  • Subject to die-offs in cold water.


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