Garfish (Belone belone)

/ / Fish


Belone belone has a very elongate, almost cylindrical body. The head is prolonged into a very long, sharp beak-like snout; the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. The dorsal and anal fins are similar in shape and originate behind the mid-point of the body. Its colouration is greenish-blue ventrally with silver sides and belly, the latter with a yellow tinge (1).


They are a pelagic species, although the young are found in Zostera and Cystoseira (1).

Life Cycle

Spawning occurs from May to September (1). B. belone eggs are large (3mm) and bear long hair-like filaments (3) which helps them attach to objects in the water (4)


B. belone is found within the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (5).


B. belone are a coastal pelagic species of fish (1). Adults are found close to the surface and migrate in a similar pattern to mackerel (2). Young are green in colour and are found floating in Zostera (1).


Garfish feed on crustacea, mainly crab larvae, juvenile fish and stranded insects from the surface (6).

Conservation status

Not Evaluated under the IUCN Redlist (7).


Description written by Sarah Marjoram

(1) Radu, G..F.V.Y.Z.A.K., 1999. Belone belone euxini (Günther, 1866). [Online] Available at: [Accessed 22 June 2009].

(2) Muus, B.J.a.J.G.N., 1999. Sea fish. Hedehusene, Denmark: Scandanavian Fishing Year Book.

(3) Rosenthal, H.a.M.F., 1973. Biological observations during rearing experiments with the garfish Belone belone. 21(3), pp.203-18.

(4) Breder, C.M.a.D.E.R., 1966. Modes of reproduction in fishes. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications.

(5) Collette, B.B.a.N.V.P., 1990. Belonidae. In Quero, J.C..C.H.C.K.A.P.a.L.S. Check-list of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic (CLOEFTA). Paris: UNESCO. pp.592-97.

(6) Dorman, J.A., 1988. Diet of the garfish, Belone belone (L.), from Courtmacsherry Bay, Ireland. 33(3), pp.339-46.

(7) IUCN, 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. [Online] (2009.1) Available at: [Accessed 22 June 2009].