Clupeidae is a family of ray-finned fishes, comprising, for instance,
the herrings, shads, sardines, ilish, and menhadens. The clupeids
include many of the most important food fishes in the world, and are
also commonly caught for production of fish oil and fish meal. Many
members of the family have a body protected with shiny cycloid scales
(very smooth and uniform scales), a single dorsal fin, with a fusiform
body for quick, evasive swimming and pursuit of prey composed of small
planktonic animals. Due to their small size, and position in the lower
trophic level of many marine food webs, the levels of methylmercury
they bioaccumulate are very low, reducing the risk of mercury
poisoning when consumed.
Description and biology
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. The family arguably also contains the "Sundasalangidae", a
paedomorphic taxon first thought to be a distinct salmoniform family,
but then discovered to be deeply nested in Clupeidae. In the fossil
record clupeids date back to the early Paleogene.
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. These eggs and fry are not protected or tended to by parents.
The adults typically live in large shoals, seeking protection from
piscivorous predators such as birds, sharks and other predatory fish,
toothed whales, marine mammals and jellyfish. They also form bait
Commercially important species of
Clupeidae include for instance the
Atlantic menhaden (
Brevoortia tyrannus), the Atlantic and Baltic
Clupea harengus), the
Pacific herring (C. pallasii) and the
European pilchard or sardine (
The family currently comprises 54 genera and approximately 200
Taxonomy based on the works of Van der Laan 2017 and Nelson, Grande
& Wilson 2016.
?Subfamily Spratelloidinae Jordan 1925 sesnu Lavoue et al. 2014
Subfamily Clupeinae Cuvier 1816 sensu Lavoue et al. 2013
Subfamily Ehiravinae (Deraniyagala 1929)
Subfamily Alosinae Svetovidov 1952
Subfamily Dorosomatinae Gill 1861
^ a b c d e Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2014). "Clupeidae"
in FishBase. December 2014 version.
^ Nelson, Gareth (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N., eds.
Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 91–92.
^ van der Laan, Richard (December 2017). Freshwater fish list (PDF)
(23rd ed.). p. 997. ISSN 2468-9157. CS1 maint: Date and
^ Nelson, Joseph S.; Terry C. Grande; Mark V. H. Wilson (2016). Fishes
of the World (5th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.
White Sea herring
Atlantic thread herring
Drifter (fishing boat)
Lydia Eva (steam drifter)
Reaper (sailing vessel)
Scottish east coast fishery
Netz über Bord
Shoaling and schooling
Fauna Europaea: 12019