The New World Silverside Family – Atherinopsidae
Jacksmelt, Atherinopsis californiensis, a typical representative of the New World Silverside or Atherinopsidae Family.
The New World Silverside or Atherinopsidae Family, known as charales and pejerreyes in Mexico, are small-sized fish that mostly measure less than 20.0 cm (7.9 inches). There are one hundred eight global family members that have been placed in thirteen genera, nineteen of which are found in Mexican waters, eight in the Atlantic and eleven in the Pacific.
The New World Silversides are slender elongated fish that are silvery with a strong silver stripe mid-flank. They are found in freshwater and marine temperate waters of North America, in freshwater and tropical and subtropical waters of Central America, and in temperate freshwater of South America. They are distinguished by a series of external characteristics that include an anal fin with one spine followed by soft rays, a forked caudal fin, two separated dorsal fins, the first with flexible spines and the second with one spine followed by soft rays, pectoral fins that are high on the body above the mid-level of the eyes, and pelvic fins that have one spine and five rays located on the belly. They have large eyes, a small terminal mouth that opens in the front and may be extendible, and small teeth on both jaws. Their gill rakers are large. They have no lateral line. They are covered with either large or small smooth scales. They feed on zooplankton, insects, small fish, and snails. Some are fished by recreational fishermen while others are fished commercially in certain regions or raised by aquaculture.
Most New World Silversides are very small and of limited interest to most; they are therefore poorly studied and little is known about their behavioral patterns. Most reside in shallow coastal waters, normally out of the surge zone. Reproduction is oviparous with external fertilization. From a conservation perspective all New World Silversides are currently considered of Least Concern with stable populations, however, these populations are poorly monitored. They are prone to habitat loss from coastal development such as the eel grass that many use for spawning.
Seven members of the New World Silverside or Atherinopsidae Family found in Mexican waters, two from the Atlantic and five from the Pacific, are currently presented in this website:
California Grunion, Leuresthes tenuis
Gulf Grunion, Leuresthes sardina
Jacksmelt, Atherinopsis californiensis
Longfin Silverside, Atherinella eriarcha
Pitcher Silverside, Atherinella nepenthe
Tidewater Silverside, Menidia peninsulae
Topsmelt, Atherinops affinis