Gizzard Shad
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Notice that the dorsal fin origin is behind the pelvic fin origin; there are 52-70 lateral line scales.
  • Close-up of head: Notice that the snout is blunt and the mouth is subterminal.
  • Close-up of dorsal fin: There are 10-12 dorsal rays; the last ray is elongated.
  • Close-up anal fin: There are 27-34 anal rays.
  • Close-up of keel: Notice that the keel is saw-like.
  • Close-up of gill rakers.
  • Side view of a yearling: Juveniles are similar to adults.
  • Alternate side view of a large adult.
  • Alternate side view of a large adult.
  • Alternative view of the dorsal fin.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Herrings (Clupeidae)
Body
Mouth and Snout: Subterminal mouth with a blunt snout. The mouth is fairly small, reaching back to middle of eye. No teeth. No barbels. Body Pattern: The body is solid silvery to whitish, and the fins tend to be darker, dusky to black. There is a conspicuous humeral (shoulder) spot. Body Shape: Laterally compressed and fairly deep-bodied. Typical adult size is 125-300 mm TL (8-12 inches), with a maximum of 500 mm (20 inches).
Fins
One dorsal fin, located in the middle of the back, with 10-12 rays and a greatly elongated last ray. The anal fin has 27-34 rays, and the origin of the pelvic fin is clearly ahead of the origin of the dorsal fin. Forked tail. No spines on dorsal fin. Pelvic fins abdominal with axillary processes. No adipose fin.
Distinguishing Characteristics
Scaled, saw-like keel extending forward from vent to isthmus. Dorsal fin typically 10-12 rays, with the last ray more than three times longer than adjacent ray and dorsal origin behind pelvic origin. Typically 27-34 anal rays; subterminal mouth with blunt snout and no teeth. About 190 gill rakers on first gill arch; no gular membrane; no lateral line and 52-70 scales in lateral series. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Juveniles may be more silvery and the humeral spot may be more pronounced.
Juveniles
The body is silvery to whitish, and the fins tend to be darker, dusky to black. There is a conspicuous humeral (shoulder) spot.
Hybrids
None known from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Keel
AlewifeScaled, saw-like keel extending from vent forward to isthmus (gill area)
GoldeyeFleshy keel, lacking scales and not saw-like
Herring, SkipjackScaled, saw-like keel extending from vent forward to isthmus (gill area)
MooneyeFleshy keel, lacking scales and not saw-like
Shad, GizzardScaled, saw-like keel extending from vent forward to isthmus (gill area)
Dorsal Fin Rays
AlewifeTypically 13-14, no elongated rays and origin forward of origin of pelvic rays
GoldeyeLess than 13 rays
Herring, SkipjackTypically 17, no elongated rays and origin forward of origin of pelvic fins
MooneyeLess than 13 rays
Shad, GizzardTypically 10-12 rays with last ray more than three times longer than adjacent ray and dorsal origin behind pelvic origin
Anal Fin Rays
AlewifeTypically 17-18
Goldeye29-34
Herring, SkipjackTypically 18
Mooneye26-29
Shad, GizzardTypically 27-34
Mouth/Teeth
AlewifeSuperior mouth and teeth on jaws weak or absent
GoldeyeNo teeth on jaws or tongue No teeth on jaws or tongue
Herring, SkipjackSuperior mouth and teeth on jaws and tongue
MooneyeNo teeth on jaws or tongue
Shad, GizzardSubterminal mouth with blunt snout, no teeth on jaws or tongue
Gill Rakers
Alewife41-44 on 1st gill arch
Goldeye15-17
Herring, Skipjack20-30 on 1st gill arch
Mooneye15-17
Shad, GizzardAbout 190 on 1st gill arch
Gular Membrane
AlewifeAbsent
GoldeyePresent
Herring, SkipjackAbsent
MooneyePresent
Shad, GizzardAbsent
Lateral Line
AlewifeAbsent, 42-50 scales in lateral series
GoldeyePresent, 57-62 scales in lateral series
Herring, SkipjackAbsent, 53-60 scales in lateral series
MooneyePresent, 52-57 scales in lateral series
Shad, GizzardAbsent, 52-70 scales in lateral series
Similarity Index
AlewifeModerately similar
GoldeyeModerately similar
Herring, SkipjackModerately similar
MooneyeModerately similar
Shad, GizzardN/A
Comments
Shad, GizzardAlso moderately similar to deep-bodied shiners of the minnow family (Cyprinella, Luxilus, Notemigonus, Scardinius)
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