Submitted Successfully!
To reward your contribution, here is a gift for you: A free trial for our video production service.
Thank you for your contribution! You can also upload a video entry or images related to this topic.
Version Summary Created by Modification Content Size Created at Operation
1 handwiki -- 993 2022-11-01 01:44:33 |
2 layout Meta information modification 993 2022-11-07 10:38:45 |

Video Upload Options

Do you have a full video?


Are you sure to Delete?
If you have any further questions, please contact Encyclopedia Editorial Office.
HandWiki. Anchovy. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 21 June 2024).
HandWiki. Anchovy. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 21, 2024.
HandWiki. "Anchovy" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 21, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 04). Anchovy. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Anchovy." Encyclopedia. Web. 04 November, 2022.

An anchovy is a small, common forage fish of the family Engraulidae. Most species are found in marine waters, but several will enter brackish water and some in South America are restricted to fresh water. The more than 140 species are placed in 17 genera; they are found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, and in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Anchovies are usually classified as oily fish.

engraulidae forage fish anchovy

1. Genera

Genera in the family Engraulidae
Genera Species Comment   Genera Species Comment
Amazonsprattus 1   Anchoa 35  
Anchovia 3   Anchoviella 4  
Cetengraulis 2   Coilia 13  
Encrasicholina 5   Engraulis 9 Type genus for anchovy: This genus contains all the commercially significant anchovy.
Jurengraulis 1   Lycengraulis 4  
Lycothrissa 1   Papuengraulis 1  
Pseudosetipinna 1   Pterengraulis 1  
Setipinna 8   Stolephorus 20  
Thryssa 24        

2. Characteristics

European anchovy, Engraulis encrasicolus.

Anchovies are small, green fish with blue reflections due to a silver-colored longitudinal stripe that runs from the base of the caudal (tail) fin. They range from 2 to 40 cm (0.79 to 15.75 in) in adult length,[1] and their body shapes are variable with more slender fish in northern populations.

The snout is blunt with tiny, sharp teeth in both jaws. The snout contains a unique rostral organ, believed to be sensory in nature, although its exact function is unknown.[2] The mouth is larger than that of herrings and silversides, two fish which anchovies closely resemble in other respects. The anchovy eats plankton and recently hatched fish.

3. Distribution

Anchovies are found in scattered areas throughout the world's oceans, but are concentrated in temperate waters, and are rare or absent in very cold or very warm seas. They are generally very accepting of a wide range of temperatures and salinity. Large schools can be found in shallow, brackish areas with muddy bottoms, as in estuaries and bays. The European anchovy is abundant in the Mediterranean, particularly in the Alboran Sea,[3] Aegean Sea and the Black Sea.

This species is regularly caught along the coasts of Crete, Greece, Sicily, Italy, France , Turkey, Portugal and Spain . They are also found on the coast of northern Africa. The range of the species also extends along the Atlantic coast of Europe to the south of Norway. Spawning occurs between October and March, but not in water colder than 12 °C (54 °F). The anchovy appears to spawn at least 100 km (62 mi) from the shore, near the surface of the water.

4. Ecology

The anchovy is a significant food source for almost every predatory fish in its environment, including the California halibut, rock fish, yellowtail, shark, chinook, and coho salmon. It is also extremely important to marine mammals and birds; for example, breeding success of California brown pelicans[4] and elegant terns is strongly connected to anchovy abundance.

5. Feeding Behavior

Anchovies, like most clupeoids (herrings, sardines and anchovies), are filter-feeders that open their mouths as they swim. As water passes through the mouth and out the gills, food particles are sieved by gill rakers and transferred into the esophagus.[5]

6. Commercial Species

Commercially significant species
Common name Scientific name Maximum
European anchovy* Engraulis encrasicolus (Linnaeus, 1758) 20.0 cm (7.9 in) 13.5 cm (5.3 in) kg 5 years 3.11 [6] [7] [8] Not assessed
Argentine anchoita Engraulis anchoita (Hubbs & Marini, 1935) 17.0 cm (6.7 in) cm 0.025 kg (0.88 oz) years 2.51 [9] [10] [11] Not assessed
Californian anchovy Engraulis mordax (Girard, 1856) 24.8 cm (9.8 in) 15.0 cm (5.9 in) 0.068 kg (2.4 oz) years 2.96 [12] [13] [14] Least concern[15]
Japanese anchovy Engraulis japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846) 18.0 cm (7.1 in) 14.0 cm (5.5 in) 0.045 kg (1.6 oz) 4 years 2.60 [16] [17] [18] Not assessed
Peruvian anchoveta Engraulis ringens (Jenyns, 1842) 20.0 cm (7.9 in) 14.0 cm (5.5 in) kg 3 years 2.70 [19] [20] [21] Least concern[22]
Southern African anchovy Engraulis capensis (Gilchrist, 1913) 17.0 cm (6.7 in) cm kg years 2.80 [23] [24] [25] Not assessed

* Type species

7. Fisheries

Global capture of anchovy in tonnes reported by the FAO
Capture of all anchovy reported by the FAO (green indicates Peruvian anchoveta)[26]
↑  Peruvian anchoveta 1950–2010 [26]
↑  Other anchovy 1950–2010 [26]
Global commercial capture of anchovy in million tonnes 1950–2010[26]

7.1. Black Sea

On average, the Turkish commercial fishing fleet catches around 300,000 tons per year, mainly in winter. The largest catch is in November and December.[27]

7.2. Peru

The Peruvian anchovy fishery is one of the largest in the world, far exceeding catches of the other anchovy species.

In 1973 it collapsed catastrophically due to the combined effects of overfishing and El Niño[28] and did not recover fully for two decades.

8. As Food

Still Life with Anchovies, 1972, Antonio Sicurezza.

A traditional method of processing and preserving anchovies is to gut and salt them in brine, allow them to cure, and then pack them in oil or salt. This results in a characteristic strong flavor and the flesh turns deep grey. Pickled in vinegar, as with Spanish boquerones, anchovies are milder and the flesh retains a white color. In Roman times, anchovies were the base for the fermented fish sauce garum. Garum had a sufficiently long shelf life for long-distance commerce, and was produced in industrial quantities. Anchovies were also eaten raw as an aphrodisiac.[29]

Today, they are used in small quantities to flavor many dishes. Because of the strong flavor, they are also an ingredient in several sauces and condiments, including Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salad dressing, remoulade, Gentleman's Relish, many fish sauces, and in some versions of Café de Paris butter. For domestic use, anchovy fillets are packed in oil or salt in small tins or jars, sometimes rolled around capers. Anchovy paste is also available. Fishermen also use anchovies as bait for larger fish, such as tuna and sea bass.

The strong taste people associate with anchovies is due to the curing process. Fresh anchovies, known in Italy as alici, have a much milder flavor.[30] In Sweden and Finland , the name anchovies is related strongly to a traditional seasoning, hence the product "anchovies" is normally made of sprats[31] and herring can be sold as "anchovy-spiced". Fish from the family Engraulidae are instead known as sardell in Sweden and sardelli in Finland, leading to confusion when translating recipes.


  1. Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2008). "Engraulidae" in FishBase. December 2008 version.
  2. Nelson, Gareth (1998). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 94–95. ISBN 0-12-547665-5. 
  3. C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Alboran Sea. eds. P.Saundry & C.J.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
  4. Anderson, Daniel W.; Gress, Franklin; Mais, Kenneth F.; Kelly, Paul R. (1980). North, Nance. ed. "Brown pelicans as anchovy stock indicators and their relationships to commercial fishing" (PDF). CalCOFIs Reports (California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations) 21: 55. "Pelican reproductive rate ... depends largely on levels of anchovy abundance and availability.". 
  5. Bone, Q., & Marshall, N. (1982). Biology of fishes. Glasgow: Blackie.
  6. Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis encrasicolus" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  7. Engraulis encrasicolus (Linnaeus, 1758) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  8. "Engraulis encrasicolus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  9. Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis anchoita" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  10. Engraulis anchoita (Hubbs & Marini, 1935) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  11. "Engraulis anchoita". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  12. Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis mordax" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  13. Engraulis mordax (Girard, 1856) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  14. "Engraulis mordax". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  15. Iwamoto, T.; Eschmeyer, W.; Alvarado, J. (2010). "Engraulis mordax". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN) 2010: e.T183856A8189272. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-3.RLTS.T183856A8189272.en. Retrieved 26 December 2017. 
  16. Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis japonicus" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  17. Engraulis japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  18. "Engraulis japonicus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  19. Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis ringens" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  20. Engraulis ringens (Jenyns, 1842) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  21. "Engraulis ringens". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  22. Template:IUCN2011.2
  23. Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis capensis" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  24. Engraulis capensis (Gilchrist, 1913) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  25. "Engraulis capensis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  26. Based on data sourced from the relevant FAO Species Fact Sheets
  27. "Turkish Black Sea Acoustic Surveys: Winter distribution of anchovy along the Turkish coast". Middle East Technical University Institute of Marine Sciences. 
  29. "Tacitus: Germania". 
  30. "White Anchovy Fillets (Boquerones)". 
  31. "Food: First catch your anchovies". The Independent. 
Subjects: Fisheries
Contributor MDPI registered users' name will be linked to their SciProfiles pages. To register with us, please refer to :
View Times: 2.2K
Entry Collection: HandWiki
Revisions: 2 times (View History)
Update Date: 07 Nov 2022
Video Production Service