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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 ?
Anadromous and resident freshwater threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) were distinguished from each other on the basis of methods described in von Hippel and Weigner (2004).
(1999) detected reduced production of clutches in female sticklebacks infected with larval cestodes, but only during certain times in the breeding season.
"It is therefore possible that the reproductive effects [of perchlorate] could be due to disruption of the thyroid system in the sticklebacks," she says.
"He had a jar of sticklebacks. Russell joked he liked a bit of stickleback plastic.
"We found a lot more three-spined sticklebacks than we would normally imagine finding out there," said Jeff Ziller, district fish biologist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
We spent many happy hours fishing for sticklebacks and minnows with a bent pin and a worm on the end of a piece of cotton.
For the Great Diving Beetle is a fierce carnivore which feasts on both sticklebacks and frogs.
Sticklebacks are among the most intensively studied groups of fish with regard to reproductive behavior (e.g., Wootton 1984; Bell and Foster 1994).
Three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus, a visually hunting fish, served as predator.
This model is supposed to approximate perceptual capacities of the stickleback. Again, sticklebacks are taken to be conscious in contrast to ticks, whose behaviour is taken to be too automatically linked to stimuli to be consciously initiated (p.
For example, in paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis; Francis, 1983) and in sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus; Bakker and Sevenster, 1983) losing greatly enhances the probability of also losing the subsequent contest.
Reimchen has been itching to analyze people as just another predator since 1976, when he was monitoring populations of small fish called three-spine sticklebacks in a lake in the Haida Gwaii archipelago off Canada's western coast.