Needlefish ( Tylosurus crocodiles ) are the piscivorous fishes. Needlefish is a term used for around 50 species that belong to the Belondae family. They are the native of the United States but are also commonly found in Asia and Europe. These Needlefishes are considered as gourmet fish in Europe. These fishes closely resemble to the North American freshwater gars. These species are mainly found in brackish, marine and freshwater environments.
The size of a needlefish ranges from 3 to 95 centimeters in length. They have a single dorsal fin just opposite to the anal fin. Their most peculiar feature is their long narrow beak, which consists of several teeth inside. Its caudal is symmetrical and deeply forked like the tail of a mackerel. Its lower jaws projects a little beyond the upper. Its teeth are very small but are pointed. They are olive green with a silver band on each side of the eye. Dark green spot are there above the base of each pectoral. Its dorsal fin is greenish and lower parts are silvery green with golden gloss.
Needlefish are members of the group of fishes known as Beloniformes. This family contains 34 species grouped into 10 generally. The Belonidae family consists of group of fishes such as genus Ablennes, Belone, Strngylura, etc.
Needlefish food habits
The needlefish feed all most on the smaller fishes. They catch it with the sideway sweep of the head. They also feed on plankton, small cephalopods and plankton.
The Needlefish have very shallow marine habitats or like to live on the surface of the open sea. They have an elongated body with long narrow jaws. Their jaws consist of very sharp teeth. All these characteristics make the needlefish look like gars and so they are also called as garfish or needlefish gar in everyday language. However, the true gars belong to the family of Lepisosteidae, whereas the needlefish belong to the family of Belonidae. The species of needlefish are closely related to halfbeaks, sauries and flying fishes as they are found within the order Beloniformes. The name 'garfish' was first used originally for the needlefish named as Belone in Europe and later applied to the North American fishes by European in 18th century.
Some of the needlefish live in the brackish and some live in the freshwater. A Freshwater species, Xenentodon cancila which lives in South East Asia, is kept as an aquarium fish. It is about (30-40) cm in length. It is a very delicate fish, which is liked very much by the aquarists.
Is Needlefish dangerous to human beings?
Needlefish are capable of making short jumps out of water. They can jump out of water at a speed of around 38 miles per hour (61km/h). These needlefish swim near the surface of water and have a habit to leap out of water. Their sharp beaks are capable of inflicting deep wounds in the human body. Therefore, they are dangerous if they attack with their sharp beak. Their attack is so severe that it may take life. The two historical deaths have been recorded which were due to the attack of this dangerous Needlefish.