NEEDLEFISHES - BELONIDAE
These fishes live at the surface and are protectively colored for this mode of life by being green or blue on the back and silvery white on the lower sides and belly. Usually, a dusky or dark blue stripe along sides; fleshy tip of lower jaw frequently red or orange.
Most species are marine, but some occur in freshwaters. Carnivorous, feeding largely on small fishes which they catch sideways in their beaks. Needlefishes tend to leap and skitter at the surface and some people have been injured when accidentally struck by them, particularly at night when the fishes are attracted by lights.
Eggs have entangling tendrils which act as holdfasts to each other and to objects in the water
Elongate fishes with both upper and lower jaws extended into long beaks filled with sharp teeth (except in neotenic Belonion); nostrils in a pit anterior to eyes. No spines in fins; dorsal and anal fins posterior in position; pectoral fins short. Dorsal fin with 11-43 rays; anal fin with 12-39 rays, pelvic fins, with 6 soft rays, are located in an abdominal position; and pectoral fins with 5-15 rays. Lateral line running down from pectoral fin origin and then along ventral margin of body. Scales small, cycloid, easily detached. Precaudal vertebrae 33-65, caudal vertebrae 19-41 and total vertebrae 52-97.
Greek, belone = needle