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Three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus
Three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gasterosteiformes
Family: Gasterosteidae

See text for species.

Fishes in the Faroe Islands:Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)Faroese stamp issued: 7 Feb 1994Artist: Astrid Andreasen
Fishes in the Faroe Islands:
Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)
Faroese stamp issued: 7 Feb 1994
Artist: Astrid Andreasen

The Gasterosteidae are a family of fishes including the sticklebacks. FishBase currently recognises 16 species in the family, grouped in 5 genera. However several of the species have a number of recognised subspecies, and the taxonomy of the family is thought to be in need of revision. Although some authorities give the common name of the family as "sticklebacks and tube-snouts", the tube-snouts are currently classified in the related family Aulorhynchidae.

The family includes the three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus aculeatus, common in Northern Temperate Climates around the world including Europe, Alaska, and Japan and colloquially known in Britain as the "tiddler". Niko Tinbergen's studies of the behaviour of this fish were important in the early development of ethology.


  • Genus Apeltes
    • Fourspine stickleback, Apeltes quadracus ( Mitchill, 1815).
  • Genus Culaea
    • Brook stickleback, Culaea inconstans (Kirtland, 1840).
  • Genus Gasterosteus
    • Three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus aculeatus Linnaeus, 1758.
    • Santa Ana stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus santaeannae Regan, 1909.
    • Unarmored threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni Girard, 1854.
    • Gasterosteus crenobiontus Bacescu & Mayer, 1956.
    • Gasterosteus microcephalus Girard, 1854.
    • Blackspotted stickleback, Gasterosteus wheatlandi Putnam, 1867.
  • Genus Pungitius
    • Pungitius hellenicus Stephanidis, 1971.
    • Pungitius kaibarae (Tanaka, 1915).
    • Smoothtail ninespine stickleback, Pungitius laevis ( Cuvier, 1829).
    • Southern ninespine stickleback, Pungitius platygaster (Kessler, 1859).
    • Ninespine stickleback, Pungitius pungitius (Linnaeus, 1758).
    • Amur stickleback, Pungitius sinensis (Guichenot, 1869).
    • Sakhalin stickleback, Pungitius tymensis (Nikolskii, 1889).
  • Genus Spinachia
    • Sea stickleback, Spinachia spinachia (Linnaeus, 1758).

One unusual features of sticklebacks is that they have no scales, although some species have bony armour plates. They are closely related to pipefish and seahorses.

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