Antarctic silverfish

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Antarctic silverfish
Pleuragramma antarcticum.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Suborder: Notothenioidei
Family: Nototheniidae
Genus: Pleuragramma
Boulenger, 1902
Species: P. antarcticum
Binomial name
Pleuragramma antarcticum

Pleuragramma antarcticum, the Antarctic silverfish, is a species of cod icefish native to the Southern Ocean and the only truly pelagic fish in the waters near Antarctica.[3]

Pleuragramma antarcticum is a keystone species in the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean.[4]

While widely distributed around the Antarctic, the species appears to have largely disappeared from the western side of the northern Antarctic Peninsula, based on a 2010 research cruise funded by the National Science Foundation under the US Antarctic Program.[5]


It usually grows to about 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in length, with a maximum of 25 centimetres (9.8 in). When alive it is pink with a silver tint, but turns silver only after death.[3] This Antarctic marine fish is one of several in the region which produce antifreeze glycopeptides as an adaptation against the extreme cold of Antarctic waters.[6]


The postlarvae 8–17 millimetres (0.31–0.67 in) in size feed on eggs of calanoids (Calanoida), sea snails Limacina and tintinnids (Tintinnida).[7] Juveniles feeds on copepods (Copepoda), mostly on Oncaea curvata.[7]

Antarctic silverfish are an important prey species for high trophic animals, such as the Adelie penguin and the Weddell seal.


  1. ^ Gon, O. & Vacchi, M. 2010. Pleuragramma antarcticum. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. < Archived June 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.>. Downloaded on 02 March 2014.
  2. ^ Boulenger G. A. (1902). Rep. Voy. Southern Cross, p. 187.
  3. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2014). "Pleuragramma antarcticum" in FishBase. February 2014 version.
  4. ^ Bottaro M., Oliveri D., Ghigliotti L., Pisano E., Ferrando S. & Vacchi M. (2009). "Born among the ice: first morphological observations on two developmental stages of the Antarctic silverfish Pleuragramma antarcticum, a key species of the Southern Ocean". Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 19(2); 249-259. doi:10.1007/s11160-009-9106-5.
  5. ^ "Climate change may be to blame for disappearance of Antarctic silverfish". The Antarctic Sun.
  6. ^ A. P. Wohrmann (1995). "Antifreeze glycopeptides in the high-Antarctic Silverfish Pleurogramma antarcticum (Notothenioidei)". Comp. Biochem. Physiol. C. Toxicol. Endocrinol. 111 (1): 121–9. doi:10.1016/0742-8413(95)00007-T. PMID 7656179.
  7. ^ a b Granata, A.; Zagami, G.; Vacchi, M.; Guglielmo, L. (2009). "Summer and spring trophic niche of larval and juvenile Pleuragramma antarcticum in the Western Ross Sea, Antarctica". Polar Biology. 32 (3): 369–382. doi:10.1007/s00300-008-0551-8.