Atlantic Silverside (Menidia menidia) - Native

12 cm Atlantic silverside.

A 5-inch Atlantic silverside, a marine species that seldom enters completely fresh water.

Identification. Similar to the inland silverside, but with a longer anal fin (22-25 rays) and smaller scales (20 scales along the sides before the dorsal fin).

9 cm Atlantic silverside.

Smaller Atlantic silversides, such as this 3.5-incher, aren't quite as bright as the adults.

Size. Commonly 3 to 4 inches. State survey max. size 7 inches. Max. reported size elsewhere 5.9 inches.

Distribution. Common on the Atlantic Coast from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to northern Florida. Atlantic silversides are found along the entire Connecticut coastline, where they are typically very abundant.

Atlantic silverside distribution map.

All maps created in 2009. See CT DEEP Fish Community Data for updated distributions.

Habits. Prefer a sandy bottom or grass beds in shallow water of estuaries and tidal creek mouths. Rarely move upstream into completely fresh water. Typically found in large schools, which flash brightly in unison when disturbed. Can be caught with a small-mesh dip net or seine.

Comments. Their abundance makes them very important forage fish for many marine predators, such as striped bass, fluke and seabirds.


Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store.