Silversides

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silversides, common name for small shore fishes, belonging to the family Antherinidae, abundant in the warmer waters of the Atlantic and Pacific, and named for the silvery stripe on either side of the body. Silversides, known commercially as whitebait, eat insects and small crustaceans. The small (3 in./7.5 cm) tidewater silversides, Menidia menidia, is found along the Atlantic coast; the similar brook silversides is a freshwater species. Larger and better known is the California grunion (5–8 in./12.5–20 cm), which rides in on high tides to lay its eggs in the sand. Beached grunions are collected by hand in large quantities. Other Pacific silversides are the top smelts and jack smelts, important to California's fisheries. Silversides are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Atheriniformes, family Antherinidae.

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Atheriniformes (class Osteichthyes, subclass Actinopterygii) An order of bony fish that includes fairly large marine individuals (e.g. the flying fish and the sauries) as well as many small freshwater species (e.g. killifish, guppy, and mosquitofish). Some authors have classified members of this order in other orders, including the Beloniformes, and the Cyprinodontiformes.

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silversides (sand smelts) See ATHERINIDAE.