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Beloniformes: Belonidae (Needlefishes) and Hemiramphidae (Halfbeaks)

July 7, 2020

The order Beloniformes (or Synentognathi) contains two suborders, six families, 37 genera, and about 235 species of atherinomorph fishes (Rosen & Parenti 1981; Collette et al. 1984; Collette 2004). Features common to these fishes include dorsal and anal fins on the rear half of the body, abdominal pelvic fins with six soft rays, no fin spines, lateral line running along the ventral edge of the body, an open nasal pit, and lower pharyngeal bones fused into a triangular plate (leading to the name Synentognathi). Two families, the Flying fishes (Exocoetidae) and the Sauries (Scomberesocidae) are restricted to marine waters but several genera of Needlefishes (Belonidae) and Halfbeaks (Hemiramphidae and Zenarchopteridae) are restricted to fresh waters and other genera contain estuarine, freshwater, and marine species. The family name Belonidae, based on the type genus Belone, means needle in reference to the unusually long and slender jaws of most Needlefishes. Similarly, the family name Hemiramphidae means half-beak, alluding to the conspicuous presence of a long slender lower jar and a short upper jaw in most species. Two species of Needlefishes (Belonidae, Strongylura) and two species of Halfbeaks (Hemiramphidae, Hyporhamphus) occur in North American fresh waters.

Publication Year 2020
Title Beloniformes: Belonidae (Needlefishes) and Hemiramphidae (Halfbeaks)
Authors Bruce B. Collette, Stephen Walsh
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70211310
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center