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Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Beloniformes
Family: Hemiramphidae
Genus: Hemiramphus
H. brasiliensis
Binomial name
Hemiramphus brasiliensis
  • Esox brasiliensis Linnaeus, 1758
  • Hemiramphus brownii Valenciennes, 1847
  • Macrognathus brevirostris Gronow, 1854
  • Hemirhamphus filamentosus Poey, 1860

The ballyhoo halfbeak or ballyhoo (Hemiramphus brasiliensis) is a baitfish of the halfbeak family (Hemiramphidae). It is similar to the Balao halfbeak (H. balao) in most features. Ballyhoo are frequently used as cut bait and for trolling purposes by saltwater sportsmen.[2][3] The fish is reported to have caused ciguatera poisoning in humans.[4]

Also known as balahu, redtailed balao, and yellowtail ballyhoo, ballyhoo can be seen above the waters skimming the surface to escape from their predators. The appearance is similar to skipping stones on the water.[citation needed]


The body shows typical halfbeak shape with an elongated lower jaw and cylindrical elongated body.[4] They have no spines on fins, but do have 13-14 rays of their dorsal fins and 12-13 rays on their anal fins.[4] The longest recorded Jumping halfbeak was 55 cm long, but most do not exceed 35 cm. There is no ridge between nostril and eye. It feeds mainly on sea grasses and small fish.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Ballyhoo is distributed in tropical-warm temperate latitudes on both sides of the Atlantic.[1] In Florida, USA, they inhabit shallow bank areas or grassflats associated with coral reefs.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b Collette, B.; Polanco Fernandez, A.; Aiken, K.A. (2015). "Hemiramphus brasiliensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2015: e.T15521927A15603430. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T15521927A15603430.en. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  2. ^ McBride, Richard S., Lisa Foushee, and Behzad Mahmoudi. 1996. Florida's Halfbeak, "Hemiramphus" spp., Bait Fishery [1] Marine Fisheries Review. 58(1-2): 29-38.
  3. ^ McBride, Richard S.. 2001. Landings, value, and fishing effort for halfbeaks, "Hemiramphus" spp., in the South Florida Lampara Net Fishery [2] Proceedings of the 52nd Gulf Caribbean Fisheries Institute. 52: 103-115.
  4. ^ a b c d Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2015). "Hemiramphus brasiliensis" in FishBase. 07 2015 version.
  5. ^ McBride, Richard S., and Justin R. Styer. 2002. Species Composition, Catch Rates, and Size Structure of Fishes Captured in the South Florida Lampara Net Fishery Archived 2016-12-08 at the Wayback Machine Marine Fisheries Review. 64(1): 21-27.
  6. ^ McBride, Richard S., Justin R. Styer, and Rob Hudson. 2003. [3] Spawning cycles and habitats for ballyhoo (Hemiramphus brasiliensis) and balao (H. balao) in south Florida Fishery Bulletin 101:583–589.

McBride, Richard S., and Paul E. Thurman. 2003. Reproductive Biology of Hemiramphus brasiliensis and H. balao (Hemiramphidae): Maturation, Spawning Frequency, and Fecundity. Biol. Bull. 204: 57–67. [4]

External links[edit]

  • Photos of Ballyhoo on Sealife Collection