Harengula clupeola

Common Name

False Pilchard

Year Described

Cuvier, 1829


Dorsal Fin: 16-19
Anal Fin: 16-19
Pectoral Fin:
Pelvic Fin: 8 (7 branched)
Vertebrae: 40-44
Lateral Line Scales: 40-43
Ventral Scutes: 29-32
Gill Rakers: 28-34 lower (first arch), usually 30-32

Body fusiforme and compressed. Body depth of adults <32% SL. Mouth reaching anterior half of orbit. Hypomaxilla toothed. Basihyal and basibranchial tooth plates broad (patch width 20-33% of length). Eye large with fleshy eyelids. Dorsal fin single at mid-body. Pelvic fin origin closer to pectoral base than anal fin origin. Pectoral fin very low on body (19-22% SL). Anal fin very small and far back on body. Tail forked. Body fully scales. Dorsal and anal fins with scale sheaths. Axillary scales present. Ventral scutes present.


Body bright silvery with a slate blue to blue-green back. Faint streaks on dorsum and flanks follow scale rows. A faint small spot behind upper gill cover. Fins clear except dorsal and tail which are yellowish to dusky. Tips of tail often blackish.


Maximum size to 17cm SL (usually ~9cm SL).


Shallow coastal waters around reefs, beaches, lagoons, and estuaries. Schooling.


Southern Florida to southern Brazil, including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.


McEachran, J.D. & J.D. Fechhelm. 1998. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico. Volume 1: Myxiniformes to Gasterosteiformes. University of Texas Press, Austin. i-viii + 1-1112.

Munroe, T.A. & M.S. Nizinski. 2002. Clupeidaeidae (pp 804-830). In: Carpenter. 2002. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vol. 2: Bony fishes part 1 (Acipenseridae-Grammatidae). FAO Species Identification Guides for Fisheries Purposes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5.

Other Notes

Harengula is easily distinguished from other clupeid genera by ventral scute number (<32) and gill rakers (<45) in first arch. They are more deep bodied than Sardinella.