Latin name

Dorosoma cepedianum

Other names

Shad, eastern gizzard, hickory shad, mud shad, nanny shad, skipjack, winter shad.


The gizzard shad is one of two freshwater members of the herring family that has a characteristic long, thin last ray on its dorsal fin. The body is silvery blue on the back and silvery white underneath, with blue-green or gold reflections on the head and flanks. Sometimes there are six to eight horizontal dark stripes on the back, beginning behind a large purple-blue or black shoulder patch (which is weak or absent in large adults). The fish also has dusky fins, a blunt snout, a subterminal mouth, and a deep notch in the center of the upper jaw.


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Growing to a maximum of 201⁄2 inches and averaging about 10 inches in length, this species usually weighs more than a pound, but sometimes grows to 4 pounds. Most die before the age of 7, although they can live up to 10 years.

Life history and Behavior

Gizzard shad gather in schools and are not able to spawn until they are 2 to 3 years old or 7 to 13 inches long. They breed near the surface in freshwater from March through August when water temperatures range from 50° to 70°F. They roam the open waters in search of plankton, which varies in abundance depending on the season and conditions.

Food and feeding habits

Gizzard shad are filter feeders that capture microscopic organisms from the water or scavenge silt and organic matter from the bottom.


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Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Clupeiformes
Family Clupeidae
Genus Dorosoma
Species D. cepedianum
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 10
Maximum body weight, kg No information
Maximum length, cm 39.9
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Planktonophage

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Shad, Gizzard

Tags: Shad, Gizzard