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Needlefishes and Relatives: Beloniformes

Behavior And Reproduction

Some fishes in the needlefish group can fly or glide through the air. Another unusual characteristic is a strong attraction to lights at night. The eggs of many open-water species of needlefishes and their relatives have sticky threads used to attach the eggs to floating debris or seaweed. The larvae (LAR-vee) can feed as soon as they hatch. Larvae are animals in an early stage and must change form before becoming adults. Some species in the needlefish group bear live young rather than releasing eggs. Other species release eggs that have been fertilized (FUR-teh-lyzed), or penetrated by sperm, inside the female.


In rare cases needlefishes can cause injury or death. In one such case, a surfer was killed when the snout of a fast-swimming needlefish went through his eye socket and into his brain.


A flyingfish swimming at a speed of about 33 feet (10 meters) per second breaks the surface at an angle and taxis for 16 to 82 feet (5 to 25 m) by rapidly beating its tail fin in the water. Then it breaks into free flight for as far as 164 feet (50 meters) at a height that can reach 26 feet (8 meters). Once it loses altitude, the fish can taxi again with its tail fin without returning to the water, so flights can be stretched to about 1,300 feet (400 meters).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesNeedlefishes and Relatives: Beloniformes - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, California Flyingfish (cheilopogon Pinnatibarbatus Californicus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, THEIR RELATIVES NEED