Ballyhoos are part of a family known as Hemiramphidae, or “halfbeaks”. Halfbeaks include balahu, balao, and ballyhoos. Globally, there are ten species in the genus Hemiramphus, of which three are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific Ocean. They are similar in appearance and can be found throughout the Atlantic and Pacific.
Their bodies are long and cylindrical. Most of their body is silver, with the colors of their backs varying from brown, to green, to blues and purple. They stay close to the surface of the water whether out in the deep blue ocean, or close along the beach near the reefs. You will see them escaping predators by skipping along the surface, jumping out of the water.
They have no sharp spines or scales and therefore are a favorite food for larger predators. They are a popular bait among anglers and used for trolling or chunk bait.
Ballyhoo and other halfbeaks are omnivores, feeding on algae, seagrass, plankton, decapods, copepods, siphonophores and smaller fish.