The Crocodile needlefish (Tylosurus crocodiles fodiator) has quite a scary reputation, since this elongated fish can injure humans with its sharp snout. This can happen during fishing, or when something frightens the Crocodile needlefish and causes it to jump rapidly out of the water. The Crocodile needlefish can also jump towards lighting when it is dark outside. The largest known Crocodile needlefish weighed 6,350 grams. One Crocodile needlefish caught off the La Paz beach measured 64 inches in length and 16 inches in girth. Crocodile needlefish will sometime form huge schools.
The Crocodile needlefish is found in many different parts of the world. You can encounter it in the Indo-West Pacific; from the Red Sea to South Africa, and all the way to French Polynesia and the northern parts of Japan. Southward, you will find it down to New South Wales in Australia. In the Western Atlantic, the Crocodile needlefish inhabit the waters from New Jersey in the United States and down to Brazil. In the Eastern Atlantic, it lives along the western African coast, from Fernando Poo to Cape Verde.
The Crocodile needlefish lives in tropical water where the water temperature stays between 26 and 29 degrees C, and is found from 21°N to 1°N. This fish prefers to stay around reefs, and its dept range is from the surface and down to around 13 meters. The Crocodile needlefish usually feed in small schooling fish, e.g. mullets and anchovies. It is an egg laying species and the eggs have tendrils on the surface which make it possible for the eggs to stay attached to objects in the water.
The Crocodile needlefish is not considered an endangered species and its minimum population doubling time is no more than 15 months. It is popular among sport fishers and sometimes sold as food fish. It can be used to prepare delicious meals, but many people avoid eating this fish since the bones have a blue-green color. Local residents in communities where wild Crocodile needlefish can be caught usually view this fish as a “catch-and-release” species. If you cook the Crocodile needlefish, it will however turn white. Live bait or chum line is the most common ways of catching Crocodile needlefish. Keep in mind that this fish has a very bony mouth and that it will enjoy playing with the bait before it swallows it. The teeth are sharp enough to cut monofilament.
The body of the Crocodile needlefish is truly needlelike and features a short beak. The back is decorated with dark blue and green shades, while the sides are silver. The belly is white. On the caudal peduncle (tail base) you can see a distinct raised dark lateral keel. The pectoral fins as well as the pelvic fins are elongated, and the upper lobe of the caudal fin is much shorter than the bottom lobe.
When the Crocodile needlefish is caught in Mexico, it is instead referred to as the Mexican Needlefish or the Giant Mexican Needlefish. It is often confused with other similar needlefish species, such as the Barred or Flat Needlefish (Ablennes hians), the California Needlefish (Strongylura exilus), the Pacific Needlefish (Tylosurus pacificus) and the Agujon Needlefish (Tylosurus imperialis melanotus). The Crocodile needlefish can however grow much larger than all these species. The California Needlefish have a longer beak compared to the Crocodile needlefish.
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