Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Small and silvery gray with a greenish to bluish back tinge, the alewife usually has one small dark shoulder spot and sometimes other small dusky spots.

A small herring, the alewife is important as forage for gamefish in many inland waters and along the Atlantic coast. It is used commercially in pet food and as fish meal and fertilizer, and it has been a significant factor in the restoration of trout and salmon fisheries in the Great Lakes. The alewife can be distinguished from other herring by its lower jaw, which projects noticeably beyond the upper jaw.

Schooling Fish

AlewifeThe alewife is a schooling fish and is sometimes found in massive concentrations detectable on sportfishing sonar. In late April through early June, saltwater alewives run up freshwater rivers from the sea to spawn in lakes and sluggish stretches of river. Young alewives feed on minute free-floating plants and animals, diatoms, copepods, and ostracods; adults feed on plankton, as well as on insects, shrimp, small fish, diatoms, copepods, and their own eggs.
Landlocked Alewife move from deeper waters to nearshore shallows in lakes or upstream in rivers, spawning when the water is between 52° and 70°F. A saltwater female deposits 60,000 to 100,000 eggs, whereas a freshwater female deposits 10,000 to 12,000 eggs. They deposit the eggs randomly, at night, and both adults leave the eggs unattended.


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