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Sprattus Girgensohn, 1846

Diagnosis: small silvery fishes, fairly elongate, a little compressed; belly with sharp keel of scales. Lower jaw projecting; hind margin of gill-opening smoothly rounded (without fleshy outgrowths); gillrakers 30-41. Pelvic fins with 7 (rarely 8) finrays. their origin below or before dorsal fin origin; last two anal finrays not enlarged. Colour: back blue/green, flanks silvery. Size: to 16 cm, usually 8-12 cm.

Habitat: coastal pelagic, often in shallow water close to shore, sometimes tolerating very low salinities (to 4°/00); shoaling, with strong migrations between winter feeding and spring and summer spawning grounds. Food: adults, on planktonic crustaceans (especially Calanus, Pseudocalanus and Temora) juveniles on diatoms and eggs and larvae of these copepods. Reproduction: some spawning almost throughout year, either near to coast or up to 100 km out to sea, mainly in July to May (Black Sea), December to April (Mediterranean), April to August (Atlantic and Baltic) or as early as January in English Channel.

Distribution: Atlantic coasts from northern Morocco northwards to North Sea and Baltic; also Mediterranean, Adriatic and Black Sea.

Species 5; in Clofnam area 1.

Recent revisions: Svetovidov (1952—in Russian; 1963—English translation; European species only).

Genus Sprattus