Diagnosis: Ethmalosa fimbriata is distinguished from other clupeids by the presence of a median notch on the upper jaw, into which tip of lower jaw fits (Ref. 188, 81269). A faint dark spot behind gill cover, sometimes followed by others; dorsal fin tip black; caudal fin deep chrome yellow; golden tints on body (Ref. 188). Ethmalosa fimbriata resembles Sardinella aurita, Sardinella rouxi and especially Sardinella maderensis, but these are more slender, have a rounded upper jaw which is not notched and the upper gillrakers are not bent upward like an elbow (Ref. 188).
Description: Body fairly deep, compressed, scutes present along belly (Ref. 188, 2849, 81269, 81631). Mouth terminal; upper jaw with distinct median notch, into which tip of lower jaw fits (Ref. 187, 188). Adipose eyelid very well developed (Ref. 2849, 81269, 81631). Lower gillrakers long, fine and numerous, about 3 times as long as gill filaments, upper gillrakers bent sharply upward, V-shaped (Ref. 188). Dorsal fin short, at about midpoint of body, with 16-19 rays; anal fin well behind dorsal fin base, with 19-23 rays; pelvic fin with 1 unbranched and 7 branched rays; caudal fin tips long and pointed (Ref. 187, 188, 2849, 81269, 81631). Scales lacinate on posterior margin, numbering 37-42 in a longitudinal series; 16-19 prepelvic and 10-13 postpelvic midventral scutes (Ref. 2849, 81269, 81631).
Colouration: Back blue/green, sides silvery, with a faint oval spot a short distance behind gill opening; golden areas on upper part of head; anterior dorsal finrays dark, rest of fin yellow, except at base; anal fin yellow at base; caudal fin deep chrome yellow, but upper edge and hind margin grey (Ref. 187). Alcohol-preserved specimens are silvery, with the back brownish to greenish; a rounded black spot behind the upper part of operculum, sometimes followed by one or less visible spots aligned in a longitudinal series (Ref. 188, 2849, 2849, 81269, 81631).