The false herring, Harengula clupeola
, is one of several schooling bait fishes in Florida belonging to the family Clupeidae
. Species from this group are characterized by several features, including: small, fusiform to subcylindrical bodies; pelvic scutes; and a terminal mouth with a short, deep lower jaw (Munroe & Nizinski 2002). The body of H. clupeola
is moderately compressed and silvery in color with a dark greenish back (Robins et al. 1986). A pale yellow or orange spot is present near the top bone of the gill cover, called the opercle. Tips of the caudal fin may be dusky in color (Munroe & Nizinski 2002). Unlike other Harengula
species, the dorsal fin is a similar coloration throughout, the jaw lacks a yellowish tint, and the scales are not easily shed (see "Potentially Misidentified Species" below). A series of ventral scutes (29-32, usually 30-31) line the abdomen on both sides of the pelvic fin, which bears 7 branched fin rays. Along with the dorsal fin, the pelvic fin is slightly anterior to the midpoint of the body.