Last Reviewed and Updated on August 7, 2022
Needlefish, also known as long toms, can usually be found in shallow, subtropic, and temperate waters in many places around the globe. Read through these interesting facts about needlefish, from their jumping abilities to the fact some have green-ish flesh.
1. Most needlefish live in saltwater, and some live in freshwater
Most species of needlefish are saltwater fish. Some species can also be found in brackish and freshwater habitats.
2. With most species, the young don’t have a fully developed beak
With these species, the upper jaw reaches its full length only in adults. Young needlefish have a half beak-appearance, with a longer lower jaw. Because of this, they mostly feed on plankton when they are young and only switch to eating fish as they mature.
3. They are capable of short jumps out of water
These slender fish often swim near the surface and are capable of making short jumps out of water. They have been documented taking advantage of the Snell’s Window when they attack their prey.
A Snell’s Window is a phenomenon in which an underwater viewer sees everything above the surface in a circular area above, and everything outside this circular area is seen as either dark, a reflection of the area underwater or distorted. Needlefish take advantage of the area outside of Snell’s Window, leaping out of the water to get close to their prey unnoticed.
4. Needlefish are attracted by bright lights
Artificial lights attract needlefish. Fishermen utilize this trait to catch them.
5. Needlefish can be more dangerous than sharks
Death by needlefish isn’t impossible, but it is rare. But when it comes to injuries, a needlefish is more dangerous than a shark. When they jump out of the water, they do so at great speeds (around 37 mph / 60 km/h), and their sharp beaks are more than capable of inflicting deep puncture wounds.
They can leap over shallow boats, and their jumping out of water becomes more excitable when artificial light is involved.
6. All needlefish lack a stomach
They swallow their prey whole and digest it without a stomach. They also have a short gut, which makes things even more bizarre.
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7. Crocodile needlefish is the largest species of these fish
Tylosurus crocodilus, commonly known as the houndfish or crocodile needlefish, is the largest of all known needlefish species. These fish can grow to 5 feet / 1.5 m in length and can weigh up to about 10 pounds / 4.5 kg.
8. Some needlefish have greenish flesh
One of the most interesting facts about needlefish is the color of their flesh. Houndfish and Flat needlefish have greenish-colored flesh. While these fish are edible, the color f their flesh doesn’t make them a popular choice among humans.
9. Their beak is filled with sharp teeth
Most species have beaks filled with sharp straight teeth at all ages. Juvenile houndfish’s teeth point anteriorly and are straight when they mature. The needlefish use their sharp teeth to catch their prey.
10. Silver needlefish is a popular aquarium fish
Quite a few smaller needlefish species are popular as aquarium fish, with the silver needlefish, a freshwater fish, being one of the most popular ones.