Fun Largehead Hairtail Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Oct 20, 2022 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Read more fun largehead hairtail facts here.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

The largehead hairtail (Trichiurus lepturus), also called beltfish or ribbonfish, is a cutlassfish of the family Trichiuridae. As the taxonomy of these fishes is not yet resolved, the populations of this fish in the east Pacific, northwest Pacific, and Atlantic populations are called Pacific cutlassfish, Japanese cutlassfish, or Atlantic cutlassfish. They are predatory fishes and also support significant fisheries. In the genus Trichiurus, there are nine extant fishes and one Extinct fish. Within the family and subfamily of Cutlassfishes, there are 45 predatory fish species that can be found throughout the world. The largehead hairtail map consists of southern California to Peru, Virginia to northern Argentina, east China sea, the Japanese Sea, Australia, South Korea, the United Kingdom to South Africa and Fiji.

These fishes were given this name because of their slender, long, compressed body and often silvery or steel-blue color. Their caudal and pelvic fins are either reduced or absent with a full-body length dorsal fin and generally semi-transparent pectoral fins that give them an eel-like body with large fanged teeth. Some are also called hairtails or scabbardfishes, and as they appear around the time of fish frosts in late fall and early winter, they are called frostfishes. The largehead hairtail has a silvery-steel blue body that turns silvery-gray after death.

If you liked these facts about the largehead hairtail fish species, then you can read channel catfish and rockfish facts on Kidadl.

Largehead Hairtail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a largehead hairtail?

The largehead hairtail (Trichiurus lepturus) is a cutlassfish of the order Perciformes and phylum Chordata. Male largehead hairtail fish maintain territories whereas the females occupy various ranges in their natural habitats. Small adults and juveniles spend the daytime in deeper waters and can be found feeding near the surface at night. The Atlantic cutlassfish or Pacific cutlassfish is an ambush predator and they can lunge out of the water up to 3.28 ft (1 m) in height. One of the largehead hairtail adaptations is mimicking the swimming pattern and form of pelagic fish, like anchovies.

What class of animal does a largehead hairtail belong to?

Largehead hairtail fish (Trichiurus lepturus) belongs to the class of Actinopterygii of animals.

How many largehead hairtails are there in the world?

The population number of largehead hairtail fish (Trichiurus lepturus) in the world is unknown as this fish has a wide range of distribution throughout the world.

Where does a largehead hairtail live?

In the east Atlantic range distribution, the largehead hairtail fish habitat range extends from southern United Kingdom through to South Africa, including the Mediterranean Sea. Their distribution range extends from Virginia to northern Argentina, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea in the west Atlantic. The east Pacific range extends from southern California to Peru. This fish is also found in the Indo-Pacific region extending from the Red Sea to Japan, South Africa, Fiji, and Australia. This fish is absent in central Pacific Ocean habitats.

What is a largehead hairtail's habitat?

The largehead hairtail habitat range extends across tropical and temperate oceans. They mainly occupy muddy bottoms and coastal waters. The recorded water temperature of this species in the Bungo Channel, southern Japan is 68-75 F (20-23.8 C). The recorded temperature by fishing catches in Jeju Strait, South Korea is 57 F (13.8 C). They occupy habitats with a depth of 0-1,932 ft (0-588.8 m). Most records of this fish are in European waters.

Who do largehead hairtails live with?

Trichiurus lepturus fish generally live in small and loose schools. This fish can be found feeding in a loose group at the surface at night.

How long does a largehead hairtail live?

Trichiurus lepturus adults live up to 6-15 years of age. The oldest recorded age is 15.

How do they reproduce?

The spawning season of the Atlantic cutlassfish or Pacific cutlassfish (trichiurus lepturus) species depends on water temperature as larvae need a warm temperature of around 70 F (21 C).  They are not present at a temperature of 61 F (16.1 C). The reproductive life cycle of this fish species is completed in three phases. It starts in July and extends to October. Spawning takes place in late spring and summer, extending from November to February. The reproductive and feeding activities of male and female cutlassfish adults vary. Females remain in the same habitats while the male moves to warmer waters mainly to feed. The reproductive factor of these females is greater but they sexually mature at a later age. These fishes reach sexual maturity around two years, according to records in Japan. The female lays around 1000 pelagic largehead hairtail eggs. These eggs hatch after three to six days.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of larghead hairtail fish species is evaluated as Least Concern. However, they might face future threats from fisheries as this cutlassfish or ribbonfish species is highly profitable.

Largehead Hairtail Fun Facts

What do largehead hairtails look like?

The largehead hairtail fish species has slender, elongated, and compressed bodies that taper into a pointed tip. The bodies of adults have an iridescent silvery-blue color with generally semi-transparent yellow-tinged pectoral fins. The body turns gray after death. They have large eyes and mouths with fang-like teeth and a dermal process at the tip of each jaw. These hairtails lack caudal fins and pelvic fins. They have three dorsal spines with 100-195 anal soft rays and 130-135 dorsal soft rays. The dorsal fin is long and extends throughout the length of their body. Also, their dorsal fin is placed high and the anal fin is a group of small spinules. The anal fin has 100-105 spinules. The anus is closer to their snout than the posterior tip. A lateral line starts from their gill cover and ends right before the tip of pectoral fins.

The largehead hairtail fish species has more than 130 elements on the dorsal fins.

* Please note that this is an image of an oblade, not a largehead hairtail. If you have an image of a largehead hairtail let us know at

How cute are they?

No, this slimy largehead hairtail fish species of the family Trichiuridae is not considered cute.

How do they communicate?

Like all other fish species, ribbonfish or largehead hairtail fish communicate using visuals, chemical release, and body language.

How big is a largehead hairtail?

Largehead hairtail fish are 7 ft (2.13 m) in length. However, most of them are around 1-3 ft (0.3-1 m) in length, and in Australia, they reach a length of 4-5 ft  (1.2-1.5 m). These cutlassfishes are almost four times the length of black ghost knifefish.

How fast can a largehead hairtail swim?

The exact speed of the largehead hairtail fish species or cutlassfishes is not known.

How much does a largehead hairtail weigh?

The largehead hairtail weight range is around 13 lb (5.8 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to the male and female largehead hairtail fish species.

What would you call a baby largehead hairtail?

There is no specific name given to a largehead hairtail baby.

What do they eat?

The diet of largehead hairtail fish is carnivorous with fish as their main food source. Juvenile largehead fish feed on small fish and krill by forming diel vertical migration. Adults feed on fish like sardine fish, crustaceans, shrimp, and squid. Adult cutlassfish also show cannibalistic behavior by feeding on young ones.

Are they dangerous?

No, largehead hairtail fish are not dangerous to human beings. In fact, they are one of the most widespread food sources for humans.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these marine creatures would not make good pets. Even if they are bred in captivity, this is mainly so they can be used as food resources.

Did you know...

Most of these marine creatures are caught by fisheries during fishing by trawl or line.

The largest catches of the largehead hairtail fish species were recorded in Taiwan and China from the Northwest Pacific in 2008 and the next largest catches were in Pakistan, South Korea, and Japan.

These fishes are popularly grilled or fried.

Are largehead hairtails endangered?

No, these cutlassfishes or hairtails are not endangered.  

How did largehead hairtails get their name?

The largehead hairtail fish is has this name because of their appearance. They have a large head and mouth, giving them the name 'largehead' and their long body has a long pointed hair-like tail, giving them the name 'hairtail'.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these allis shad facts and severum facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring on one of our free printable largehead hairtail coloring pages.

* Please note that the main image is a sunfish, one of the species in the same order as the largehead hairtail. If you have an image of a largehead hairtail please let us know at

Largehead Hairtail Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Crustaceans, small fish, and krill

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

Thousands of pelagic eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?

13 lb (5.8 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical and temperate oceans, muddy bottoms, and coastal waters

Where Do They Live?

central pacific ocean, north america, south america, japan, australia, south africa, fiji, and the united kingdom

How Long Were They?

7 ft (2.13 m)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Trichiurus lepturus

What Do They Look Like?

Silvery steel blue and gray

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?


What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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