anchovy, small fish of the family Engraulidae, found mainly in the temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans and the Mediterranean and Black seas. The commercially significant anchovy species belong to the genus Engraulis, which includes the European and Californian anchovy and the Peruvian anchoveta. Commercial anchovies, which are caught for food, fishmeal, and fish oil, are typically 5–6 in. (13–15 cm) long when caught, but the California anchovy can reach nearly 10 in. (25 cm) in length. Anchovies harvested for the Italian and Spanish markets are usually cured by a process involving fermentation, but they may also be pickled in vinegar. Anchovies also are significant as food for larger predatory fish. Anchovy species fluctuate in response to natural conditions, e.g., the anchovies off Peru are adversely affected by El Niño. Anchovies are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Clupeiformes, family Engraulidae.
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