Keeltail needlefish

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Keeltail needlefish
Keeltail needlefish.png
Platybelone argalus argalus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Beloniformes
Family: Belonidae
Genus: Platybelone
Fowler, 1919
Species: P. argalus
Binomial name
Platybelone argalus
(Lesueur, 1821)

See text

The keeltail needlefish, sometimes called the keeled needlefish, is a tropical fish of the family Belonidae. It was described by the French naturalist Charles Alexandre Lesueur in 1821.


Keeltail needlefish, like all needlefish, closely resemble North American freshwater gars (family Lepisosteidae). It is most recognized by the large, flat keel-like structures running on either side of the tail.[1] They have 12 to 15 rays on their dorsal fins, and 17 to 20 rays on their anal fin. Keeltail needlefish have gill-rakers, their caudal peduncles have lateral keels,[2] with a lateral line running ventral to it, and grow up to 50 cm long [3] The keeltail needlefish's top jaw is also smaller than the lower one.[1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Keeltail needlefish are found in the western Atlantic ocean between North Carolina and Brazil, this includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean sea.[4] In the Indian ocean, they are known off of east Africa,with range continuing into the Pacific reaching the Hawaiian islands and continuing north to the Ogasawara Islands.[5] Keeltail needle fish have also been found around the Arabian Peninsula, in the Red sea and Persian gulf [5] They usually occur offshore and are abundant around islands.[6] Some of the most recognized subspecies are Platybelone argalus platura, most common in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf;[5]Platybelone argalus platyura, known from the rest of the Indo-pacific; and Platybelone argalus argalus from the Atlantic.[5]

They school in sheltered parts of reefs,[7] feeding mainly on smaller fish. Keeltail needlefish are egg-laying, attaching their eggs to floating objects with specialized tendril-like structures on the egg's surface.[8]

P. argalus range map, with each major sub-species highlighted.


There are currently seven recognized sub-species though it has been proposed that several of them be elevated to the status of full species:[9]


  1. ^ a b REEF FISH Identification FLORIDA CARIBBEAN BAHAMAS; Humann, Paul and Ned Deloach; New World Publications Inc., Jacksonville, Fl; pp. 58-59
  2. ^ " entry on Keeltail needlefish". Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b c d " entry on Keeltail needlefish". Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Kuiter, R.H. and T. Tonozuka 2001 Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Zoonetics, Australia. 302 p.
  8. ^ Breder, C.M. and D.E. Rosen, 1966. Modes of reproduction in fishes. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey. 941 p.
  9. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Platybelone argalus" in FishBase. June 2012 version.

External links[edit]