Old World silverside

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Old World silverside
Temporal range: Middle Eocene–Recent [1]
Labidesthes sicculus.jpg
Labidesthes sicculus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Atheriniformes
Family: Atherinidae
Risso, 1827
Sub-families & Genera[3]


The Old World silversides are a family, Atherinidae, of fish in the order Atheriniformes. They occur worldwide in tropical and temperate waters. About two-thirds of the species are marine, and the remainder live in fresh water. The 71 species are in 14 genera. The genus Craterocephalus is the most diverse with 25 species. Five genera are monotypic.

Silversides are relatively small, with the largest species, the jacksmelt, Atherinopsis californiensis, reaching 44 cm (17 in),[1] while most are under 20 cm (7.9 in), and several are not recorded at more than 5 cm (2.0 in). The body is generally elongated. Distinctive characters include two dorsal fins widely separated, with the first consisting of flexible spines and the second having one spine followed by soft rays, while the anal fin has one spine on the leading edge followed by soft rays. The pectoral fins tend to be high, and there is no lateral line. On the flanks is a broad, silvery band. The scales are relatively large.

They feed on zooplankton. Some species, such as the hardyhead silverside, Atherinomorus lacunosus, are commercially fished.

The family Atherinopsidae (Neotropical silversides) is closely related.

Subfamilies and genera[edit]


  1. ^ a b Allen, Gerald R. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 153–154. ISBN 0-12-547665-5. 
  2. ^ Ivantsoff, W.; G. R. Allen (2011). "A new species and genus of a large and unusual freshwater hardyhead, Sashatherina giganteus (Pisces: Atherinidae) from West Papua, Indonesia and a comparison with its closest relatives of the genus Craterocephalus". aqua International Journal of Ichthyology 17 (1): 43–57. 
  3. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Atherinidae" in FishBase. June 2012 version.