Inland Silverside

Menidia beryllina (Cope, 1867)

Inland Silverside
Jim Negus

Actinopterygii (Ray-finned Fishes)
Atherinopsidae (New World Silversides)
State Protection
Not Listed
Not listed or protected by New York State.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Imperiled or Vulnerable in New York - Very vulnerable, or vulnerable, to disappearing from New York, due to rarity or other factors; typically 6 to 80 populations or locations in New York, few individuals, restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or recent and widespread declines. More information is needed to assign either S2 or S3.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

Inland silversides are commonly used in toxicological studies that assess the sensitivity of these fish to various water pollutants such as chlorine and water-soluble extracts of crude oil (Weinstein 1986).

State Ranking Justification

The rank is based on a limited distribution in the state. Additional information on the population and threats is needed to better inform the state rank.

Short-term Trends

The short-term trends are unknown (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 2006).

Long-term Trends

The long-term trends are unknown (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 2006).

Conservation and Management


The impacts of potential threats are not known (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 2006).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

A management plan that addresses the needs for mitigating impacts to estuarine forage fish should be developed (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 2006).

Research Needs

Field studies to determine the habitat requirements of all life stages should be initiated. Field and laboratory studies should also examine the effects of mosquito control and predation on all life stages (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 2006).



Inland silversides can be found in the shallows of tidal salt marshes and estuaries, showing a stronger preference for low salinity waters. They can also be found in freshwater ponds, lakes, and reservoirs and have been introduced into some locations (Smith 1985, Weinstein 1986). Spawning habitat includes shallow fresh or brackish waters with an ample amount of dead leaves, tree roots, algal mats, or aquatic plants for the eggs to adhere to (Weinstein 1986).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Tidal river (guide)
    The aquatic community of a river under the influence of daily lunar tides. We restrict this community to the continuously flooded portions of the river where plants do not grow out of the water. A deepwater zone has depths averaging more than 2 m (6 ft) at low tide. Salinities at any one place in the river may fluctuate as the tides flow in and out.

Associated Species

  • Atlantic Silverside (Menidia menidia) (guide)


Global Distribution

Inland silversides can be found in estuaries along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Veracruz, Mexico (Lee et al. 1980). Inland populations exist in the Mississippi River system as far north as the mouth of the Ohio River and the Red River system as far west as Lake Texoma, Oklahoma (Weinstein 1986). Other inland populations can be found in Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, and California, some most likely introduced (Carpenter 2002, Weinstein 1986).

Best Places to See

  • Marshes, creeks, and ponds around the Mashomack Preserve, Shelter Island (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

The inland silverside is a small fish, approximately 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) in length (Carpenter 2002). The upper sides are yellow to olive in color and the underside is pale to translucent yellow. A thin metallic-silver stripe runs along the length of the body. The dark lateral line is composed of a series of pits in the lateral scales. The posterior end of the dorsal fin is directly above the posterior end of the anal fin. The tail is slightly forked. The eggs are generally smaller than 0.04 inches (1 mm) and have filaments that help them to adhere to aquatic vegetation and to each other (Smith 1985, Weinstein 1986).

Characters Most Useful for Identification

The pit-like lateral line composition and the posterior margin of the dorsal fin being directly above the posterior margin of the anal fin are the most useful characteristics in distinguishing the inland silverside from the Atlantic silverside (Smith 1985).


The inland silverside is a short-lived schooling fish, rarely living past its first breeding season. In the northern range, inland silversides generally have one spawning season per year, but in the southern range, they can have two spawning seasons per year (Middaugh and Hemmer 1992). Females produce eggs (200-1000 depending on size) and spawn daily throughout the spawning season (Hubbs 1982). The majority spawn and die their second summer of life and few survive to their second winter. After the eggs are laid, they hatch in 4-30 days, depending on water temperature (13-34 degrees Celsius) (Middaugh and Hemmer 1992).


Inland silversides feed during the day on various copepods, mysids, amphipods, isopods, and insects. They generally take their prey in the water column, but the presence of sand in the stomachs of some specimens indicates that bottom feeding does occur (Weinstein 1986).

Best Time to See

In New York, inland silversides can be found in tidal salt marshes along Long Island Sound and in the lower Hudson River throughout the year. The reproductive season starts in April and continues through July (Middaugh and Hemmer 1992).

  • Active
  • Reproducing

The time of year you would expect to find Inland Silverside active and reproducing in New York.

Similar Species

  • Atlantic Silverside (Menidia menidia) (guide)
    In the Atlantic silverside, the posterior margin of the dorsal fin is in front of the posterior margin of the anal fin, the lateral line is composed of tubes passing through the lateral scales, and the lateral scale count is higher than in the inland silverside (Smith 1985).

Inland Silverside Images


Inland Silverside
Menidia beryllina (Cope, 1867)

  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Craniata
      • Class Actinopterygii (Ray-finned Fishes)
        • Order Atheriniformes (Silversides)
          • Family Atherinopsidae (New World Silversides)

Additional Resources


Carpenter, K.E., editor. 2002. The living marine resources of the western central Atlantic. Volume 2: Bony fishes part 1 (Acipenseridae to Grammatidae). American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and the Food and Drug Administration.

Chernoff, B., J. V. Conner, and C. F. Bryan. 1981. Systematics of the Menidia beryllina complex (Pisces: Atherinidae) from the Gulf of Mexico and its tributaries. Copeia 1981:319-336.

Echelle, A. A., and A. F. Echelle. 1997. Patterns of abundance and distribution among members of a unisexual-bisexual complex of fishes (Atherinidae: Menidia). Copeia 1997:249-259.

Echelle, A.A., T.E. Dowling, C.C. Moritz and W.M. Brown. 1989. Mitochondrial-DNA diversity and the origin of the Menidia clarkhubbsi complex of unisexual fishes (Atherinidae). Evolution 43:984-993.

Greeley, J.R. 1939. The freshwater fishes of Long Island and Staten Island with annotated list. pp 29-63. In: New York Conservation Department: A biological survey of the fresh waters of Long Island. Suppl. to 28th ann. report, 1938. Albany, NY.

Hubbs, C. 1982. Life history dynamics of Menidia beryllina from Lake Texoma. The American Midland Naturalist. 107(1):1-12.

Korth, J. W., and J. M. Fitzsimons. 1987. Karyology of three species of eastern North American atherinid fishes. Copeia 1987:505-509.

Lee, D. S., C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister, and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, North Carolina. i-x + 854 pp.

Metcalfe, C. D. 1989. Tests for predicting carcinogenicity in fish. Reviews in Aquatic Sciences 1(1):111-129.

Middaugh, D. P. and M. J. Hemmer. 1992. Reproductive ecology of the inland silverside, Menidia beryllina, (Pices: Atherinidae) from Blackwater Bay, Florida. Copeia. 1:53-61.

Middaugh, D.P., P.G Hester, M.V. Meisch and P.M. Stark. 1985. Preliminary data on use of the inland silverside, Menidia beryllina, to control mosquito larvae. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 1(4):435-441.

Moyle, P. B. 1976a. Inland fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, California. 405 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources. 2006. New York State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Albany, NY: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.

Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.

Smith, C.L. 1985. The Inland Fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY. 522pp.

Sublette, J. E., M. D Hatch, and M. Sublette. 1990. The fishes of New Mexico. University New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 393 pp.

Weinstein, M. P. 1986. Habitat suitability index models: inland silverside. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 82(10.120). 25 pp.

Whitworth, W. R., P. R. Berrien, and W. T. Keller. 1968. Freshwater fishes of Connecticut. State Geological and Natural History Survey Bulletin No.101. 134 pp.


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: January 4, 2008

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Menidia beryllina. Available from: Accessed July 19, 2024.