Spotted hardyhead Allanetta mugiloides, copyright Australian National Fish Collection.

Belongs within: Atherinoidei.

The Atherinidae, silversides, are a group of small, elongate fishes found in both freshwater and marine habitats, often in large schools. The Indo-West Pacific genus Atherion differs from other members of the family in the presence of distinct rows and clusters of spinelets on the head, together with the absence of teeth on most of the palate (Smith 1965).

Characters (from Smith 1965): Body elongate, sub-cylindrical to highly compressed, completely or partially covered usually with cycloid scales. No distinct lateral line. Usually with a brilliant silvery lateral stripe along the middle of the body to the caudal base. Head short, often wide, usually flattened above, sometimes rough with fine denticles. Eyes relatively large, lateral, nostrils close before eye. Hind preopercle margin may be gently irregular, or with a marked concavity just above angle, or with angle produced as triangular lobe. Mouth moderate to small, maxilla reaching to or not far beyond level of front of eye. Jaws subequal or lower projecting slightly. Dentition feeble, variable, fine sharp teeth, curved, sometimes strongly, in one or more series in both jaws, often some external when mouth is closed. Small, slender, sharp teeth may be present on vomer, palatines, pterygoid and tongue. Fold of skin around angle of jaw may restrict opening of mouth. Gill openings unrestricted, gillrakers well developed, slit usually present behind last gill, rarely absent. Anus from close before to well in advance of anal origina, often at or near tips of pelvic. Two dorsal fins, the first at about mid length, with 4–11 (usually 4–7) weak spines. Second dorsal of a feeble spine, a simple ray and nine to more than twenty branched rays. Pectoral shorter than head, inserted high up, covering front of silver stripe. Pelvics inserted well behind pectorals, shorter than pectorals. Caudal usually forked in marine species, may be truncate or rounded in freshwater forms.

    |--Atherion Jordan & Starks 1901 [Atherioninae] S65
    |    |--*A. elymus Jordan & Starks 1901 S65
    |    |--A. africanus Smith 1965 S65
    |    |--A. maccullochi S65
    |    `--A. villosa (Duncker & Mohr 1926) [=Atherina villosa] M58
    `--Atherininae S65
         |--Teramulus Smith 1965 S65
         |    |--*T. kieneri Smith 1965 [=Pranesus kieneri] S65
         |    `--T. waterloti (Pellegrin 1932) [=Atherina (Hepsetia) duodecimalis var. waterloti] S65
         |--Atherina Linnaeus 1758 L58
         |    |--*A. hepsetus Linnaeus 1758 L58
         |    |--A. lineata G√ľnther 1872 JR10
         |    |--A. mochon CS77
         |    `--A. panatela Jordan & Richardson 1908 JR10
         |--Hepsetia Bonaparte 1836 S65
         |    |--*H. boyeri (Risso 1810) [=Atherina boyeri] S65
         |    `--H. breviceps (Cuvier & Valenciennes 1835) [=Atherina breviceps] S65
         |         |--H. b. breviceps S65
         |         `--H. b. parvipinnis (Cuvier & Valenciennes 1835) [=Atherina parvipinnis] S65
         |--Pranesus Whitley 1930 [incl. Thoracoatherina Fowler 1941] S65
         |    |--P. pinguis (Lacepede 1803) (see below for synonymy) S65
         |    |    |--P. p. pinguis S65 (see below for synonymy)
         |    |    |--P. p. forskalii (Ruppell 1838) [=Atherina forskalii, Allanetta forskali] S65
         |    |    `--P. p. ruppelli Smith 1965 S65
         |    `--P. endrachtensis (Quoy & Gaimard 1824) [=Atherina endrachtensis] M58
         `--Allanetta Whitley 1943 [incl. Hypoatherina Schultz 1948] S65
              |--*A. mugiloides (McCulloch 1912) [=Atherina mugiloides] S65
              |--A. afra (Peters 1855) (see below for synonymy) S65
              |--‘Hypoatherina’ barnesi Schultz 1953 M58
              |--A. duodecimalis (C & V 1837) S65 [=Atherina duodecimalis S65, Pranesus duodecimalis M58]
              |--A. klunzingeri Smith 196 S65
              |--‘Atherina’ lacunosa (Schneider 1801) (see below for synonymy) M58
              `--A. valenciennesi (Bleeker 1853) [=Atherina valenciennesi] M58

Atherinidae incertae sedis:
  Chirostoma B96
    |--C. estor B00
    |--C. lucius Boulenger 1900 B00
    `--C. sphyraena Boulenger 1900 B00
  Leuresthes tenuis B96
  Stenatherina temmincki (Bleeker 1853) [=Atherina temmincki] M58
  Craterocephalus A80
    |--C. annator Whitley 1938 M58
    |--C. fluviatilis G75
    |--C. helenae Ivantsoff, Crowley & Allen 1987 AL90
    |--C. lacustris Trewavas 1940 M58
    |--C. lentiginosus Ivantsoff, Crowley & Allen 1987 M10
    |--C. marjoriae G75
    |--C. nouhuysi (Weber 1910) [=Atherinichthys nouhuysi] M58
    |--C. pauciradiatus A80
    |--C. randi Nichols & Raven 1934 M58
    `--C. stercusmuscarum G75
  Basilichthys B78
    |--B. microlepidotus B78
    `--B. semotilus [=Protistius semotilus] C07
  Quirichthys stramineus (Whitley 1950) [=Quiris stramineus] AL90
  Atherinosoma Castelnau 1872 A80, O96
    `--A. presbyteroides A80
  Palaeoatherina G88
    |--P. formosa Gaudant 1984 P93
    |--P. rhodanica Gaudant 1976 P93
    `--P. vardinis (Sauvage 1883) P93
  Atherinidarum P93
  Paratherina B50
    |--P. cyanea B50
    |--P. labiosa B50
    |--P. striata B50
    `--P. wolterecki B50

Allanetta afra (Peters 1855) [=Atherina afra; incl. At. cylindrica Klunzinger 1870 (preoc.), At. gobio Klunzinger 1884, Allanetta gobio, Hypoatherina gobio, Atherina uisila Jordan & Seale 1906, *H. uisila] S65

‘Atherina’ lacunosa (Schneider 1801) [=Hepsetia lacunosa, Hypoatherina lacunosa; incl. Atherina togar Tholli√®re 1857] M58

Pranesus pinguis (Lacepede 1803) [=Atherina pinguis, Hepsetia pinguis; incl. P. capricornensis Woodland 1961] S65

Pranesus pinguis pinguis (Lacepede 1803) S65 [incl. Atherina affinis Bennett 1831 S65, A. insularum Jordan & Evermann 1902 S65, Pranesus insularum S65, *Thoracoatherina insularum S65, A. lacunosa Forster in C & V 1835 non Schneider 1801 S65, Hepsetia pinguis mineri Nichols & Roemhild 1951 S65, A. morrisi Jordan & Starks 1906 S65, *Pranesus ogilbyi Whitley 1930 S65, A. pectoralis Cuvier & Valenciennes 1835 S65, A. vaigiensis Quoy & Gaimard 1824 S65, Pranesus pinguis vaigiensis M58]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A80] Allen, G. R. 1980. A generic classification of the rainbowfishes (family Melanotaeniidae). Records of the Western Australian Museum 8 (3): 449–490.

[AL90] Allen, G. R., & R. Leggett. 1990. A collection of freshwater fishes from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 14 (4): 527–545.

[B96] Bond, C. E. 1996. Biology of Fishes 2nd ed. Saunders College Publishing: Fort Worth.

[B00] Boulenger, G. A. 1900. Descriptions of two new atherinoid fishes from Mexico. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, series 7, 5: 54–55.

[B50] Brooks, J. L. 1950. Speciation in ancient lakes (concluded). Quarterly Review of Biology 25: 131–176.

[B78] Brooks, D. R. 1978. Evolutionary history of the cestode order Proteocephalidea. Systematic Zoology 27 (3): 312–323.

[C07] Cadle, J. E. 2007. The snake genus Sibynomorphus (Colubridae: Dipsadinae: Dipsadini) in Peru and Ecuador, with comments on the systematics of Dipsadini. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 158 (5): 183–284.

[CS77] Cramp, S., & K. E. L. Simmons (eds) 1977. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palaearctic vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

[G75] Grant, E. M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. The Co-ordinator-General’s Department: Brisbane (Australia).

[G88] Gray, J. 1988. Evolution of the freshwater ecosystem: the fossil record. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 62: 1–214.

[JR10] Jordan, D. S., & R. E. Richardson. 1910. Check-list of the species of fishes known from the Philippine archipelago. Bureau of Printing: Manila.

[L58] Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii: Holmiae.

[M10] Morgan, D. L. 2010. Fishes of the King Edward River in the Kimberley region, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 25 (4): 351–368.

[M58] Munro, I. S. R. 1958. The fishes of the New Guinea region: a check-list of the fishes of New Guinea incorporating records of species collected by the Fisheries Survey Vessel “Fairwind” during the years 1948 to 1950. Papua and New Guinea Agricultural Journal 10 (4): 97–369 (reprinted 1958. Territory of Papua and New Guinea Fisheries Bulletin no. 1).

[O96] Ogilby, J. D. 1896. A new family of Australian fishes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 21 (2): 118–135.

[P93] Patterson, C. 1993. Osteichthyes: Teleostei. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 621–656. Chapman & Hall: London.

[S65] Smith, J. L. B. 1965. Fishes of the family Atherinidae of the Red Sea and the western Indian Ocean with a new freshwater genus and species from Madagascar. Ichthyological Bulletin 31: 601–632.

Last updated: 9 February 2022.

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