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common name for members of the family Gasterosteidae, small fishes, widely distributed in both fresh- and saltwaters of the Northern Hemisphere. Sticklebacks range from 1 1-2 to 4 in. (3.7–10 cm) in length and lack true scales; they are equipped with short, strong spines in front of the dorsal and on the ventral fins, the number varying with the species. These are used as offensive and defensive weapons, often against other sticklebacks during the breeding season, when the male is brightly colored and pugnacious. Each male constructs a roofed nest by gluing together bits of vegetation with a sticky secretion from glands near the kidneys. Under his persuasion, several females deposit eggs in the nest, which he guards jealously until well after the young hatch. Sticklebacks feed on smaller invertebrates and on the fry and eggs of other fish. Best known are the three-spined, or common, stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, a coastal species, and the brook stickleback, Calaea inconstans, a smaller freshwater variety. Sticklebacks are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Gasterosteiformes, family Gasterosteidae.



any fish of the family Gasterosteidae of the order Gasterosteiformes. There are five genera, distributed in the salt, brackish, and fresh waters of Europe, Asia, North America, and North Africa. The species found in the USSR are the fifteen-spined stickleback (Spinachia spinachia), the spined stickleback (Pungitius pungitius), and the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). The body is 3–20 cm long. There are between three and 16 spines on the back before the dorsal fin; there is one large spine on the ventral fin (hence the Latin name). During the breeding season the males construct nests from twigs, plant remains, sand, and silt, which they reinforce with mucus. Two or three females deposit approximately 1,000 eggs in a nest. The male guards the eggs and, later, the larvae. These fish feed on small crustaceans, insect larvae, and on the eggs and larvae of other fishes, thus causing some losses to the fishing industry. Their commercial value is not great. Three-spined sticklebacks (length, up to 12 cm; weight, up to 4 g), which are caught in some places in large quantities, are used for clarifying fat.


(vertebrate zoology)
Any fish which is a member of the family Gasterosteidae, so named for the variable number of free spines in front of the dorsal fin.


any small teleost fish of the family Gasterosteidae, such as Gasterosteus aculeatus (three-spined stickleback) of rivers and coastal regions and G. pungitius (ten-spined stickleback) confined to rivers. They have a series of spines along the back and occur in cold and temperate northern regions
References in periodicals archive ?
The new stickleback fish does not perform all of the functions as its predecessors.
About 10 million years ago, stickleback fish living in a lake void of their usual predators in what is now west-central Nevada sported few if any pelvic spines (modern example at bottom; researchers assign these spineless fish a "pelvic score" of 1 or less).
New research by Cardiff scientists, using stickleback fish, has identified the chemical that makes some men smell more attractive to women than others.
Washington, May 23 (ANI): Certain species of stickleback fish have collapsed into hybrid swarms as water clarity in their native lakes has changed, and certain species of tree frogs have collapsed as vegetation has been removed around their shared breeding ponds.
But local environmentalists are concerned about threats to the habitats of the Southwestern arroyo toad and stickleback fish, and risks to security.
Dr Iain Barber, a behavioural ecologist, has been studying the stickleback fish and believes infestation by a certain tapeworm makes the fish behave differently.
Patterns of temporal change in single morphological characters of a Miocene stickleback fish.
London, September 28 (ANI): Experiments in stickleback fish have shown for the first time that the evolution of new sex chromosomes is the driving force behind the formation of a new vertebrate species.
At the wildlife viewing area at Soledad Canyon, a rare spot where the river runs all year round, biologist Frank Hovore pointed out tiny minnow-like fish with three spikes on its back - the tiny endangered unarmored three-spine stickleback fish.
In 1987, Manfred Milinski of the Max Planck Institute of Limnology in Ploen, Germany, found indications that stickleback fish may play the tit-for-tat strategy during a daring maneuver caned predator inspection.
A new study on three-spined stickleback fish has found that females do not always trust males who emit strong sexual signals.