Fun Anchovies Facts For Kids

Martha Martins
Feb 07, 2023 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Spandana Kantam
Discover anchovies facts about these silvery fish

Anchovies are small, popular oily fish from the family Engraulidae. They can be found in the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea with over 140 species and 17 genera.

They always travel in large schools, with each school containing thousands and sometimes millions of anchovies. They feed on newly hatched fish, plankton, and, in turn, become food for some other larger fish.

They are among the most popular food for fish lovers due to the bold taste they bring to dishes. Due to their limited availability in some parts of the world and their numerous health benefits, they can also be quite expensive.

They are found in supermarkets, where they are more likely to be preserved than fresh.

They can also add extra depth to dishes in the form of anchovy sauce or paste. They can be part of your diet every week, but observe caution as this salty fish has a high sodium content if they are consumed out of a jar.

If you enjoyed reading these fun facts about anchovies.

Anchovies Interesting Facts

What type of animal are anchovies?

The anchovy is a fish belonging to the Engraulidae family. They are commonly classified as oily fish that are small and bony. There are over 100 species of anchovy among 17 genera. Most of them are found in marine and brackish water.

What class of animal do anchovies belong to?

Anchovies, a member of the Actinopterygii class, are also called ray-finned fishes or bony fishes.

How many anchovies are there in the world?

The exact number of anchovies is not known. There were about 20,700 metric tons of fish in Northern populations according to statistics from 2009-2015.

Where do anchovies live?

The anchovy species is usually found in salty waters scattered throughout the world's oceans. They are known to accept a wide range of temperatures and are often found in temperate waters with muddy bottoms. They can be found in the Atlantic ocean, the Pacific coasts of Chile and Peru, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea.

What are anchovies' habitats?

The anchovy species is primarily pelagic, meaning they live in open oceans with silt or mud on the bottom, in estuaries and bays. They are rarely found living in fresh water in South America.

Who do anchovies live with?

Anchovies have a group behavior called schooling. They swim in numerous schools made up of thousands of them, grouped according to size.

When they sense a threat, they swim together, making a tight ball to protect the fish inside, while the fish on the outer side take a greater risk. As they travel in schools and are lured by lights, they make an easy catch for the fisherman in the nighttime.

How long do anchovies live?

The anchovy species can live for up to four years, however, it is rare that the entire length of the anchovies' life span is reached due to high market demand leading to lots of fishing of the species.

How do they reproduce?

The anchovy species, from the family Engraulidae, breeds via spawning, just like the herring. They congregate in large groups close to the water's surface to release their eggs and sperm in the spring and summer seasons. The sperm fertilizes the eggs outside the body, and the eggs float on the water. The larvae start to sink once they hatch.

What is their conservation status?

As per their conservation status, anchovies fall into the Least Concern category as they are abundantly available. However, no one can be sure whether the current catch size is sustainable today.

Although acquiring information on global anchovy stocks is complex, sustainability concerns are rising as these are commercially important fish. Some critics argue that overfishing anchovies could be environmentally destructive due to their direct impact on habitat destruction and decreasing marine populations.

Anchovies Fun Facts

What do anchovies look like?

design of tiny fish anchovies facts for kids

Anchovies are relatively unremarkable, slender, silvery-green fish with blue reflections. Many people think they resemble herrings due to a silver stripe that runs on their upper side.

They have large scales and look very similar to each other with translucent bodies despite their variety of species. They have a large mouth, a single dorsal fin on their back, and a forked tail fin.

How cute are they?

Anchovies are tiny fish that are cute and small in size, weighing only a few ounces. They are predominantly caught wild, and very few areas are dedicated to their farming. Sadly humans majorly exploit them for consumption and other purposes, among numerous industries.

How do they communicate?

According to observations of anchovy school movements, anchovies' communication consists of waves of agitation. These waves travel much faster than the average speed at which the schools are moving. After the communication waves have crossed them, the school's internal organization changes completely.

How big are anchovies?

Anchovies vary in size based on their species but most commonly measure anywhere between 4-10 in (10–25 cm) long. Slightly larger anchovy species grow up to 10 inches but this is rare.

A school of anchovy fish is measured to be 50 ft (15 m) wide and 325 ft (100 m) long and can contain anywhere between 1 million and 100 million fish. Wow!

How fast can anchovies swim?

These small green fish swim with their mouth open and are usually found close to the shore. Although their swimming speed is undetermined, they can move fast in schools thanks to their slender bodies.

How much do anchovies weigh?

This slender fish weighs about a few ounces and they are more likely to be measured in batches than by the weight of one individual fish.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males and females among anchovy species do not have different names based on gender, but there is a slight difference in size. Females are slightly larger than males, which is associated with their higher investment in reproduction and a need to produce energy‐rich eggs.

What would you call baby anchovies?

There is no specific name for baby anchovy fish, but in general, younger fish are referred to as fry. In Japan, dried baby anchovies are called Iriko or Niboshi. They are used in Japanese snacks called Iriko Dashi.

What do they eat?

An anchovy's diet includes plankton and newly hatched fish such as copepods, amphipods, crustaceans, ostracods, juvenile fishes, and larvae. When they swim with open mouths, the water that goes in their mouths leaves through their gills, and any food particles that cannot get through the gills eventually enter the esophagus.

Are they dangerous?

The anchovy species is little, and anchovies are not considered dangerous to humans or other large marine animals. As the anchovy fish is tender compared to others, many of their species are easily injured and killed when they come into contact with a fishing net or other solid object.

Would they make a good pet?

To humans, these little fish do not make good pets, and they have not been domesticated in any way in the past. As they live in large schools and migrate over long distances, they do not make sense to be kept as pets.

Some aquariums house little anchovy fish to serve educational purposes in rare cases but humans predominantly use anchovies as food.

Did you know...

Some Asian countries consume anchovies after drying them, this is called Ikan Bilis. Ikan Bilis is considered a healthier choice than fresh anchovy.

Differences between anchovies and sardines

It is easy to confuse sardines and anchovies as they are both small common fish and often are sold in tins. An average sardine is 2 in (5 cm) longer than an anchovy with white flesh and a protruding lower jaw.

In cooking, the anchovy has red and gray colors as an effect of the curing process. They also taste and behave very differently depending on the recipe.

Anchovies have a strong flavor with savory saltiness and tend to melt away quickly, while sardines have thick flesh and do not dissolve the way anchovy fillets can. Both make an excellent dietary choice because of their high omega-3 fatty acid content.

Eating anchovies

Anchovy is a strong flavor fish, popularly eaten by seafood lovers and as bait used to catch large fish. The typical preparation of anchovies includes preserving anchovies whole in tins and jars.

Anchovies are eaten in many meals, as an ingredient in several sauces, including fish sauce or paste, as fish fillets, and as toppings on salads, pasta, and pizzas. Anchovies have significant health benefits, and many people love the way they taste too!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover!

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our fish coloring pages.

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Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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Fact-checked by Spandana Kantam

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Political Science and Sociology

Spandana Kantam picture

Spandana KantamBachelor of Arts specializing in Political Science and Sociology

Spandana holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Acharya Nagarjuna University. She has a passion for writing and enjoys reading crime and thriller novels while listening to RnB music in her free time.

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