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Temporal range: Early Eocene–Recent
Atlantic herring, Clupea harengus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Clupeiformes
Family: Clupeidae
G. Cuvier, 1817

See text

The Clupeidae are the family of the herrings, shads, sardines, hilsa, and menhadens. It includes many of the most important food fishes in the world.

Description and biology[edit]

Clupeids are mostly marine forage fish, although a few species are found in fresh water. No species has scales on the head, and some are entirely scaleless. The lateral line is short or absent, and the teeth are unusually small where they are present at all. Clupeids typically feed on plankton, and range from 2 to 75 cm (0.8 to 30 in.) in length.[1]

Clupeids spawn huge numbers of eggs (up to 200,000 in some species) near the surface of the water. After hatching, the larvae live among the plankton until they develop a swim bladder and transform into adults. The adults typically live in large shoals.[2]

Commercial species[edit]

Important commercial species include:


See also[edit]

List of fish families


  1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2008). "Clupeidae" in FishBase. December 2008 version.
  2. ^ Nelson, Gareth (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.