Common name: Halfbeaks, needlefishes and their relatives

Beloniformes are long, silvery streamlined fishes that live near the surface and feed on plankton, small fishes and invertebrates. Species within the group have a variety of jaw lengths and shapes, and most species go through a half-beak stage during development, where the lower jaw is elongated.

Most have a counter-shading colour pattern to avoid being seen by prey and predators. They are greenish to bluish on the back and silvery white on the sides and belly, sometimes with a dusky or darker stripe aloing the sides.

Most species are marine, although some live in brackish and freswater areas. The order comprises five families and four of these are found in Australian waters: needlefishes, flying fishes, halfbeaks and sauries.

The flesh is excellent, and the group contains a number of commercially important species. Some species are regularly traded in the aquarium industry.

Beloniformes means "needle-shaped" from the Greek, belone meaning needle, and the Latin forma meaning shape. The fossil record for the group dates back to the early Tertiary Period.

Author: Dianne J. Bray

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Needlefishes ..., BELONIFORMES in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/order/8

Order References

Collette, B.B., McGowen, G.E., Parin, N.V. & Mito, S. 1984. Beloniformes: development and relationships. 335–354 figs 172–185 in Moser, H.G. et al. (eds). Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Special Publication 1: 1–760.

Day, R.D., Mueller, F., Carseldine, L., Meyers-Cherry, N. & Tibbetts, I.R. 2015. Ballistic Beloniformes attacking through Snell's Window. Journal of Fish Biology doi: 10.1111/jfb.12799 Abstract

Lovejoy, N., Iranpour, M., & B. Collette. 2004. Phylogeny and jaw ontogeny of beloniform fishes. Integrative and Comparative Biology 44: 366–377.  

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp. 

Parin, N.V & Astakhov, D.A. 1982. Studies on the acoustico-lateralis system of beloniform fishes in connection with their systematics. Copeia 1982(2): 276–291. 

 Rosen, D.E. & Parenti, L.R. 1981. Relationships of Oryzias, and the groups of atherinomorph fishes. American Museum Novitates 2719: 1–25.