Skip to main content

Atlantic Menhaden, Alewives, and American Shads

Family Alosinae

School of American Shad Fish in the River
Atlantic Menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus)

Max Size: 25-60cm (10 in – 2 ft.) – varies widely by species

Habitat: Open ocean to freshwater rivers

Diet: Plankton, small crustaceans and fish eggs


Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)

American Shad (Alosa sapidissima)

Atlantic Menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus)



Fun Facts:

  • Anadromous; swimming upstream to spawn around May-June in massive schools historically up to 30 miles in breadth
  • Filter feeders, using their gill rakers and arches to capture plankton as they breathe
  • The Shadberry bush is named after the fish due to the synchronicity of the Shad run and the fruiting of the bush