Identity Card

LATIN NAME : Harengula clupeola

FAMILY : Clupeidae

PHYLUM : Chordata

CLASS : Actinopterygii

Also known as the false pilchard, the false herring is a small fish which lives and moves in shoals.

It is a pelagic species which lives at depths of between 0 and 50 metros.

The adults head for the open sea to feed and reproduce, while the juveniles often stay in coastal waters such as estuaries, mangrove swamps, lagoons, island coral reefs and seagrass beds.

The false herring is a nocturnal predator which feeds on molluscs, worms, fish eggs and zooplankton especially copepods.

The false herring has an average size of 9 cm but can reach a maximum length of 18 cm.

  • Distribution :

    It lives in the western subtropical region of the Atlantic, in the Gulf of Mexico and from south-eastern Florida to northern Brazil, via the Bahamas, the Caribbean and the West Indies.
  • IUCN Status :

    Least concern

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Find out more about the false herring

The false herring has teeth on its tongue.

At NAUSICAA, false herrings remain more or less grouped together and move in unison within shoals. Depending on the time of day, they may gather under rays of natural light that filter through the windows.

The shoal formation is a defence mechanism which is used by small fish against their predators. Depending on the threat, the shoal can vary in density, size, shape and speed in order to confuse predators or enable certain individuals to retreat.

These shoals move in sync. The distribution of herrings within the shoal is deliberate and centralised: each one is in its proper place!

100 000

It is the number of individuals that a shoal of false herrings can contain.

This small species grows quickly and has a short life span of probably 3 to 5 years.




Credits for banner photo : © Andrea Izzotti – 123RF
Credits for thumbnail photo : © Andrea Izzotti – Fotolia

Activities AT NAUSICAA


Every day, there are events focused on Nausicaa’s main species. With training and feeding sessions and talks on life in Europe’s largest aquarium, your visit will be a rich and entertaining experience!
Learn about the life of fishes, hear some surprising stories and enjoy the antics of some amazing animals.

Meet our 58 000 animals