Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Platybelone argalus argalus, Keeltail Needlefish

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very slender, rounded
tail base flat, + large keel
C v concave
jaws very long, lower longer

Platybelone argalus argalus (Lesueur, 1821)

Keeltail Needlefish

Body extremely elongate, cylindrical; both jaws very long (lower one distinctly longer), forming a long beak, with numerous needle-like teeth; gill rakers present, 4-5 + 6-7; fins without spines; dorsal and anal fins without prominent front lobes; dorsal fin with 12-15 rays; anal rays 17-20; pectoral rays 10-12; tail base flattened, with large lateral keels; tail fin concave, with equal sized lobes; 107-128 scales in front of dorsal fin.

Greenish to bluish on back, silvery on sides.

Size: grows to about 50 cm.

Habitat: pelagic.

Depth: 0-5 m.

Worldwide in tropical and warm temperate seas, with the W Atlantic subspecies P. argalus argulus; Virginia to the S Caribbean.

Note: Worldwide there are at least 7 subspecies.

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Near Surface
  • Surface
  • Water column only
  • Water column
  • Estuary
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Pelagic
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
Egg Type
  • Benthic
  • Data
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 50
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 5