Flat needlefish

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Flat needlefish
Ablennes hians.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Beloniformes
Family: Belonidae
Genus: Ablennes
D. S. Jordan & Fordice, 1887
A. hians
Binomial name
Ablennes hians
  • Ablennes pacificus Walford, 1936
  • Belone hians Valenciennes, 1846
  • Belone maculata Poey, 1860
  • Belone melanostigma Valenciennes, 1846
  • Belone schismatorhynchus Bleeker, 1850
  • Mastaccembelus melanostigma Valenciennes, 1846
  • Mastacembelus fasciatus Bleeker, 1873
  • Tylosurus caeruleofasciatus Stead, 1908
  • Tylosurus hians Valenciennes, 1846

The flat needlefish (Ablennes hians), the only known member of the genus Ablennes, is a marine fish of the family Belonidae. Flat needlefish are considered gamefish, frequently caught with the help of artificial lights,[2] but are not often eaten because of their green-colored flesh.[3]

The generic name Ablennes – formerly misspelled Athlennes – means ‘without mucosity’,[4] from the ancient Greek privative a- prefix and blennos (‘mucus’). Its specific name hians is Latin for "gaping".


Although they have no spines, they do have several soft rays. About 23-26 rays are on the dorsal fin and 24-28 are on the anal fin.[5] They have 86-93 vertebrae.[5] Dorsally, flat needlefish are blueish, white ventrally, with dark blotches and 12-14 vertical bars in the middle of their bodies.[6] Flat needlefish have elongated bodies, with scythe-shaped pectoral and anal fins.[5] They also have a dark lobe on the posterior part of their dorsal fins.[5]

The longest recorded flat needlefish measured 140 cm.[7] Measurements for flat needlefish body length do not include their caudal fins and heads because the fish's long jaws are often broken off.[5] The largest recorded weight for a flat needlefish was 4.8 kg.[7]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Flat needlefish are found worldwide in tropical and temperate seas.[5] In the Eastern Atlantic, they are known from Cape Verde and Dakar to Moçamedes in Angola.[8] In the western Atlantic, they are known from the Chesapeake Bay south to Brazil.[9] They are found throughout the Indian Ocean,[5] and in the western Pacific from the southern islands of Japan to Australia[10] and Tuvalu.[11]

Flat needlefish usually live in neritic ocean waters near islands,[12] estuaries,[13] and near coastal rivers,[14] where they feed on smaller fish[2] and occasionally gather in large schools.[3]


Flat needlefish lay eggs, which attach themselves to floating debris by filaments on the surface of each egg.[15] Only the left gonad in both sexes is developed, and in males, the right gonad is sometimes wholly absent.[16]


  1. ^ Collette, B.; Polanco Fernandez, A. & Aiken, K.A. (2015). "Ablennes hians". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2015: e.T13486514A15603320. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b Collette, B.B. 1995 "Belonidae. Agujones, maraos". p. 919-926. In W. Fischer, F. Krupp, W. Schneider, C. Sommer, K.E. Carpenter and V. Niem (eds.) Guia FAO para Identification de Especies para lo Fines de la Pesca. Pacifico Centro-Oriental. 3 Vols. FAO, Rome.
  3. ^ a b Cervigón, F., R. Cipriani, W. Fischer, L. Garibaldi, M. Hendrickx, A.J. Lemus, R. Márquez, J.M. Poutiers, G. Robaina and B. Rodriguez 1992 Fichas FAO de identificación de especies para los fines de la pesca. Guía de campo de las especies comerciales marinas y de aquas salobres de la costa septentrional de Sur América. FAO, Rome. 513 p. Preparado con el financiamento de la Comisión de Comunidades Europeas y de NORAD.
  4. ^ International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (1939). Opinions and declarations. London. The original publication, Jordan & Fordice, 1886, p. 359, gives the derivation of the generic name in question with English equivalent. In this derivation there is an evident lapsus calami, a θ being inadvertently written instead of a β. In transliterating the Greek into Latin this lapsus was not noticed, and the Latin name was written Athlennes instead of Ablennes. [...] ‘without mucosity’ [...]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2009). "Ablennes hians" in FishBase. 02 2009 version.
  6. ^ Collette, B.B. 1986 Belonidae p. 385-387. In M.M. Smith and P.C. Heemstra (eds.) Smiths' sea fishes. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
  7. ^ a b IGFA 2001 Database of IGFA angling records until 2001. IGFA, Fort Lauderdale, USA.
  8. ^ Collette, B.B. and N.V. Parin 1990 Belonidae. p. 592-597. In J.C. Quero, J.C. Hureau, C. Karrer, A. Post and L. Saldanha (eds.) Check-list of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic (CLOFETA). JNICT, Lisbon; SEI, Paris; and UNESCO, Paris. Vol. 2.
  9. ^ Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray 1986 A field guide to Atlantic coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 354 p.
  10. ^ Collette, B.B. 1999 Belonidae. Needlefishes. p. 2151-2161. In: K.E. Carpenter and V.H. Niem (eds.) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 4. Bony fishes part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). FAO, Rome.
  11. ^ Chapman, L.B. and P. Cusack 1990 South Pacific Commission Deep Sea Fisheries Development Project Report on Second Visit to Tuvalu 30 August - 7 December 1983. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia.
  12. ^ Fischer, W., I. Sousa, C. Silva, A. de Freitas, J.M. Poutiers, W. Schneider, T.C. Borges, J.P. Feral and A. Massinga 1990 Fichas FAO de identificaçao de espécies para actividades de pesca. Guia de campo das espécies comerciais marinhas e de águas salobras de Moçambique. Publicaçao preparada em collaboraçao com o Instituto de Investigaçao Pesquiera de Moçambique, com financiamento do Projecto PNUD/FAO MOZ/86/030 e de NORAD. Roma, FAO. 1990. 424 p.
  13. ^ Claro, R. 1994 Características generales de la ictiofauna. p. 55-70. In R. Claro (ed.) Ecología de los peces marinos de Cuba. Instituto de Oceanología Academia de Ciencias de Cuba and Centro de Investigaciones de Quintana Roo.
  14. ^ Pandaré, D., S. Niang, H. Diadhiou and B. Capdeville 1997 Ichtyofauna of Casamance: reproduction and distribution according to the salinity gradient. Bull. Inst. Fondam. Afr. Noire ( A. Sci. Nat) 49(1):167-190.
  15. ^ Breder, C.M. and D.E. Rosen 1966 Modes of reproduction in fishes. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey. 941 p.
  16. ^ Smith, C.L. 1997National Audubon Society field guide to tropical marine fishes of the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York. 720 p.

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