Redfin Needlefish

Redfin Needlefish, Strongylura notata

The Redfin Needlefish, Strongylura notata, whose common Spanish name is agujón negro, is a species in the Needlefish or Belonidae Family, known collectively as agujónes in Mexico. Globally, there are fourteen species in the genus Strongylura, four of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.

The Redfin Needlefish have very elongated rounded bodies with extremely elongated jaws that form a long beak with numerous needlelike teeth. They are blue-green dorsally and have a long dark bar at the rear edge of their gill covers. Their anal, caudal, and dorsal fins vary in color from pink to orange but generally have red tips. Their fins have no spines. They have no gill rakers. Their anal and dorsal fins have low lobes at the front. Their anal fin has 12 to 15 rays; their caudal fin is slightly concave; their dorsal fin has 12 to 15 rays; their pectoral fins have 10 to 12 rays; and their pelvic fins are small and rounded. Their body is partially covered with scales.

The Redfin Needlefish are a coastal species found in mangroves in the first 20 feet of the water column. They reach a maximum length of 45 cm (18 inches). The Redfin Needlefish are poorly studied and very little is known about their behavior patterns.

In Mexican waters the Redfin Needlefish are found in all waters of the Atlantic.

The Redfin Needlefish is most likely confused with the Atlantic Needlefish, Strongylura marina (anal fin with 16 to 20 rays), the Keeltail Needlefish, Platybelone argalus (very slender body and long jaw), and the Timucú, Strongylura timucu (yellow, black, and white stripes on body).

The Redfin Needlefish are of limited interest to most and considered a pest by recreational anglers.

Redfin Needlefish, Strongylura notata. Fish caught from coastal waters off Sugarloaf, Key, Florida, August 2014. Length: 31 cm (12 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Kimberly, Atlanta, GA.