Common name: Barracudas, Sea Pikes



Voracious marine predators with a long slender silvery body, a distinctly pointed head, prominent sabre-like teeth on jaws and palatines, a pointed protruding lower jaw and two widely separated short-based dorsal fins; anal fin similar to and about opposite the second dorsal fin; caudal fin forked; pectoral and ventral fins small; scales tiny, cycloid.

Family with single genus found worldwide in tropical and some temperate seas.

Barracudas are highly prized by recreational anglers. Although the flesh is excellent eating, large fish should be avoided due to the risk of ciguatera poisoning.

A few species in tropical areas have been implicated in attacks on swimmers but not in cooler waters.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Barracudas, SPHYRAENIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

More Info

Family Taxonomy

Worldwide, the family contains more than 25 species, all belonging to the genus Sphyraena.

Family Distribution

Widely distributed in trpoical and temperate regions of the three major oceans. Barracudas are pelagic in coastal waters.

Family Description

Family Feeding

Barracudas are voracious carnivores armed with an awesome set of long sharp teeth of varying sizes. They feed on smaller fishes, but have even been known to attack unsuspecting people dangling arms of legs in the water in parts of their range.

Family Commercial

Barracudas are popular and highly prized recreational species, and are often caught by anglers trolling artificial lures. Although the flesh is considered to be excellent eating, large fish should be avoided due to the risk of ciguatera poisoning.

Family Conservation

Not evaluated.


Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray


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de Sylva, D.P. 1984. Sphyraenoidei: development and relationships. In: Moser HG, Richards WJ, Cohen DM, Fahay MP, Kendall AW Jr, Richardson SL (eds) Ontogeny and systematics of fishes. Special Publication 1. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Lawrence, KS, pp 534–540.

de Sylva DP, Williams F (1986) Sphyraenidae. In: Smith, M.M. & P.C. Heemstra (eds.) Smiths’ sea fishes. Macmillan South Africa, Johannesburg, pp 721–726, pl 112

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Doiuchi, R. & T. Nakabo, T. 2007. Molecular evidence for the taxonomic status of three species of the Sphyraena obtusata group (Perciformes: Sphyraenidae) from East Asia. Ichthyological Research 54(3): 313-316.

Gomon, M.F. (1994) Sphyraenidae (pp 664–667). In: Gomon, M.F., Glover, J.C.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) The fishes of Australia’s south coast. State Print, Adelaide.

Senou, H. (2001) Sphyraenidae. In: Carpenter KE, Niem V (eds) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the western Central Pacific, vol 6. Bony fishes, part 4 (Labridae to Latimeriidae), estuarine crocodiles, sea turtles, sea snakes and marine mammals. FAO, Rome, pp 3685–3697.