Old World silverside

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 74 species are in 13 genera. The genus Craterocephalus is the most diverse with 25 species. Four genera are monotypic.

Old World silverside
Temporal range: 38–0 Ma[1]
Labidesthes sicculus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Atheriniformes
Suborder: Atherinoidei
Family: Atherinidae
Risso, 1827

see text

Silversides are relatively small[1] with most being less than 20 cm (7.9 in) in length, with several not attaining lengths of 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, while the genus Atherion has been given family status in the Atherionidae by some authorities.[4]

Subfamilies and genera

Acoording to the 5th edition of Fishes of the World the family should be classified as follows:[4][5]


  1. Allen, G.R. (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 153–154. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  2. Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2015). "Atherinidae" in FishBase. February 2015 version.
  3. Ivantsoff, I. & Allen, G.R. (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.
  4. J. S. Nelson; T. C. Grande; M. V. H. Wilson (2016). Fishes of the World (5th ed.). Wiley. pp. 362–363. ISBN 978-1-118-34233-6.
  5. Richard van der Laan; William N. Eschmeyer & Ronald Fricke (2014). "Family-group names of Recent fishes". Zootaxa. 3882 (2): 001–230.
  6. Sasaki D.; Kimura S. (2014). "Taxonomic review of the genus Hypoatherina Schultz 1948 (Atheriniformes: Atherinidae)". Ichthyological Research. 61 (3): 207–241. doi:10.1007/s10228-014-0391-1.

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