Anchoa mitchilli

bay anchovy



Type Locality

New York, also Lake Ponchertrain near New Orleans (Valenciennes 1848).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Anchoa: Spanish, from the word anchova, a herring like fish, anchovy; mitchilli: named in honor of Samuel L. Mitchill (1764-1831), an American naturalist (Ross 2001)



Engraulis mitchilli (Valenciennes 1848:51; Whitehead 1967:129).



Maximum size: 102 mm (4.01 in) SL (Burgess 1980).


Coloration: No information at this time.


Teeth count: No information at this time.


Counts: 23-31 anal soft fin rays; 11-12 pectoral soft fin rays (Hubbs et al. 1991). Gill rakers 21-25 (Whitehead et al. 1988).


Body shape:  Variable, less slender in southern populations (Whitehead et al., 1988), compressed (Ross 2001).


Mouth position: Subterminal, has a large mouth that is overhung by a conical snout (Ross 2001).


Morphology: No information at this time.


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: Coastal inhabiting species from Maine along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to Yucatan (Hubbs et al 1991). Includes the Florida Keys (Whitehead et al. 1988).


Texas distribution: Abundant in most bays and estuaries (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, Non-governmental organizations)

No information at this time.


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Marine, pelagic, coastal, but more common in shallow tidal areas with muddy bottoms and brackish waters, tolerating a wide range of salinities (Whitehead et al. 1988).


Mesohabitat: No information at this time.



Spawning season: Spring-summer spawner along much of the Atlantic coast, but reproduction occurs year around in southern Florida (Houde in Jones et al. 1978).


Spawning location: No information at this time.


Reproductive strategy: No information at this time.


Fecundity: No information at this time.


Age at maturation:  No information at this time.


Migration:  No information at this time.


Longevity: No information at this time.


Food habits: Feeds mostly on shrimp and copepods, also small fishes, gastropods and isopods (Hildebrand, 1963).


Growth:  No information at this time.


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Daly (1970) clearly separated Florida A. mitchilli from A. hepsetus (broad-striped anchovy) on pectoral soft fin ray counts.  A. mitchilli having 10-11 (usually 9-12) and A. hepsetus having 13-16 (usually 14 or 15).


Host Records

 No information at this time.


Commercial or Environmental Importance

Very important forage species for predatory fishes and water birds (Burgess 1980).



Daly, R. J. 1970. Systematics of southern Florida anchovies (Pisces: Engraulidae). Bull. Mar. Sci. 20(1):70-104.

Hildebrand, S. F. 1963. Family Clupeidae, p. 257-454. In: Fishes of the western North Atlantic. Mem. Sears Found. Res. 1(3):630pp.

Hubbs, C., R. J. Edwards, and G. P. Garrett.  1991.  An annotated checklist of the freshwater fishes of Texas, with keys to the identification of species.  Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56

Ross, S. T. 2001. The Inland Fishes of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson. 624 pp.

Valenciennes, A. 1847. Histoire naturelles des poissons. P. Bertrand, Paris, Vol 21, 536 pp.

Whitehead, P. J. P. 1967. The Clupeoid fishes described by Lacepede, Cuvier, and Valenciennes. Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist. (Zool.). suppl. 2:1-180.

Whitehead, P. J. P. 1985. Clupeoid fishes of the world (suborder Clupeioidei). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the herrings, sardines, pilchards, sprats, shads, anchovies and wolf-herrings. Part 1-Chirocentridae, Clupeidae and Pristigasteridae. FAO Fish Synop. FAO species catalogue. Vol 7. United Nations Development Programme. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome 579 pp.

Houde in Jones et al. 1978. Development of Fishes of the Mid-Atlantic Bight, Vol. 1.


Burgess, G. H. 1980. Anchoa mitchilli (Valenciennes) Bay Anchovy. pp. 73 In D. S. Lee, et al.  Atlas of North American Fishes.  N. C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.