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a genus of small marine fish of the family Clupeidae. Sprats measure up to 13–18 cm in length and weigh up to 10–12 g. Sexual maturity is reached at one to two years of age; the life-span is five to six years. Sprats feed on tiny Zooplankton. The USSR has one species, Sprattus sprattus, which is found in the North and Baltic seas. The subspecies S. sprattus phalericus, which is smaller, inhabits the Mediterranean and Black Seas; these serve as food for predatory birds and dolphins. Sprats are also found near Australia, around New Zealand, and on the Patagonian Shelf.
The term “sprats” is sometimes used for many kinds of canned fish. Canned sprats were initially prepared only from the Baltic sprat, a subspecies of 5. sprattus. Later, the tiulka, Baltic herring, herring fry, and other small fish came to be canned as sprats.