Common name: Herrings


Herrings are small silvery schooling fishes with a slender compressed body, a small terminal mouth and a single short-based dorsal fin at midbody; anal fin short-based, far back on body; tail forked; pelvic fins abdominal and pectoral fins just behind the head on the lower part of the body. Most have a keeled row of scutes along the middle of the belly, or a one or more scutes at the pelvic-fin base, and are covered in smooth scales.

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Dianne J. Bray, Herrings, CLUPEIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jun 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

A large family of commercially important fishes found worldwide in tropical to cold-temperate seas, mostly in shallow-water habitats in marine, estuarine and freshwater environments.

Family Distribution

Sardines and relatives occur worldwide. They live mostly in surface marine waters, usually near the coast. Some species are estuarine and a few, like the Australian species of Nematolosa, are freshwater.

Family Description

Clupeids have a relatively small mouth with the jaw not extending behind the level of the eye, teeth usually small or absent and abdominal scutes usually present.

Family Size

Maximum standard length is about 60 cm,although most species are usually less than 20 cm.

Family Feeding

Mostly carnivores, feeding on zooplankton, especially small crustaceans.

Family Commercial

Commercially important throughout their range, and making up about half of the world's fish catch. Also an important food source for larger fishes, seabirds, and marine mammals. Relatively small numbers of freshly-caught fish are marketed in Australia. 

Family Remarks

Most species form large schools for protection.


Dianne J. Bray


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