Brevoortia pectinata

Common Name

Argentine Menhaden

Year Described

Jenyns, 1842


Dorsal Fin: 17-20
Anal Fin: 19-22
Pectoral Fin: 13-17
Pelvic Fin: 7 (6 branched)
Vertebrae: 45-47
Lateral Line Scales: 35-46
Ventral Scutes: 29-32
Gill Rakers:

Body deep and compressed. Ventral profile extremely convex from pelvic fin to lower jaw. Head and gill cover large. Mouth large, extending to rare margin of eye. Upper jaw distinctly notched (unique to Brevoortia, Alosa, and Dorosoma. Lower jaw fits into upper jaw notch. Teeth absent. Dorsal fin at midbody with a strongly concave margin. Anal fin origin about under last dorsal ray. Pelvic fin under dorsal fin, with a straight posterior margin: Innermost rays much shorter than outermost rays when depressed. Pectoral fin close (0-2 scales) to pelvic base when extended. Tail forked. Body fully scaled. Predorsal scales present on midline from nape to dorsal fin: overlapping and with irregular rough edges.


Body silvery with a gray to blue-gray back. Sides often with a golden wash. A single black blotch present behind the upper gill cover. Dorsal, anal and caudal fins golden. Caudal fin with blackish margin. Rest of fins clear.


Maximum size to 35cm SL.


A common inshore species found in both brackish and salt water. Very common in estuaries and bays.


Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil to Bahía Blanca, Argentina.


Cousseau, M.B & J.M. Díaz de Astarloa. 1993. El género Brevoortia en la costa Atlántica sudamericana. Frente Maritimo, 14:, pp. 49-57.

Hildebrand, S.F. 1948. A review of the American menhaden, genus Brevoortia, with a description of a new species. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. Vol. 107. No. 18: 1-39.

Pozzobon, A.P.B., Gonçalves, P.R., Anderson, J.D., Rocha, L.A., de Astarloa, J. M. D., & F. Di Dario. 2021. Phylogenetic relationships, genetic diversity and biogeography of menhadens, genus Brevoortia (Clupeiformes, Clupeidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 160, 107108.

Other Notes

Likely a synonym of Brevoortia aurea.

Pozzobon et al. (2021) showed that Brevoortia aurea and B. pectinata form a paraphyletic group and are likely only a single species, as demonstrated in a morphological study by Cousseau & Díaz de Astarloa (1993) which showed no diagnostic morphometric characters for separation. Unlike the similarly closely related B. gunteri/smithi, which are allopatric and would predict less mixing, B. aurea/pectinata are almost completely overlapping in range. It is likely that B. pectinata is a synonym of B. aurea but a more thorough morphological study with scale and fin counts is needed to confirm.