Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory



<I>Atherinason hepsetoides</I>

Atherinason hepsetoides


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CAAB: 37246000


Hardyheads, Silversides, Whitebait

Compiler and date details

10 May 2014 - John R. Paxton, Douglass F. Hoese, Jennifer E. Gates, Dianne J. Bray & Matthew M. Lockett

20 December 2006 - John R. Paxton, Jennifer E. Gates, Dianne J. Bray & Douglass F. Hoese


Approximately 29 genera and 156 species of atherinids are currently recognised worldwide, between 50°N and 50°S. Seven genera and 34 described species are recorded from Australian waters.

Hardyheads are pelagic and primarily marine, found in tropical and temperate coastal waters and estuaries. Freshwater species are known from Australia, New Guinea and particularly South America, where an extensive radiation has taken place. Planktonic crustaceans are the typical food. Hardyheads are mostly small, elongate fishes with small, usually cycloid scales and no lateral line. Two dorsal fins are widely separated and a silvery stripe is usually present. The mouth is small. Maximum length for the family is 61 cm, although no Australian species is known to exceed 12 cm.

The hardyheads or silversides were reviewed by Jordan & Hubbs (1919) and more recently revised by Schultz (1948), who also provided a key to genera. The Australian hardyheads were revised by Ivantsoff (1978) and with co-authors in various subsequent publications. In addition, Ivantsoff & Crowley (1999) treated most tropical species from Australia. Crowley & Ivantsoff (1992) provided a key to Craterocephalus. Crowley (1990) and Unmack (2010) discussed the biogeography of Craterocephalus. Kimura et al (2001, 2007) proposed a number of changes to names of Australian species. Their work conflicts considerably from studies by Australian workers, particularly for Atherinomorus. In some cases we have not followed their work, because of the limited material studied from Australia, in comparison with published studies by Australian workers.

Parenti (1993) and Dyer & Chernoff (1996) and Saeed et al. (1994) discussed relationships of atheriniform families. Various families and subfamilies have been recognised by these workers and Ivantsoff and co-workers. Nelson (2006) separated the genus Atherion from the Atherinidae into the family Atherionidae. Other workers (Sparks & Smith 2004) also recognise the family and we treat it separately. Bloom et al. (2012) suggested that the family might not be monophyletic, but noted limited support for that view.

Atherina jacksoniana Quoy & Gaimard, 1824 has a mistaken type locality; it is a South American species, not Australian (Ivantsoff 1978).

We thank W. Ivantsoff of Macquarie University for his assistance in preparing this family account.


General References

Bloom, D.D., Unmack, P.J., Gosztonyi, A.E., Piller, K.R. & Lovejoy, N.R. 2012. It's a family matter: Molecular phylogenetics of Atheriniformes and the polyphyly of the surf silversides (Family: Notocheiridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62: 1025-1030

Crowley, L.E.L.M. 1990. Biogeography of the endemic freshwater fish Craterocephalus (Family Atherinidae). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 28(1): 89-98

Crowley, L.E.L.M. & Ivantsoff, W. 1992. Redefinition of the freshwater fish genus Craterocephalus (Teleostei: Atherinidae) of Australia and New Guinea with an analysis of three species. Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwater 3(3): 273-287

Dyer, B.S. & Chernoff, B. 1996. Phylogenetic relationships among atheriniform fishes (Teleostei: Atherinomorpha). Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 177: 1-69

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. 2006. Fishes. In, Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 35. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp. [Part 2, p. 700]

Ivantsoff, W. 1978. Taxonomic and systematic review of the Australian fish species of the family Atherinidae with references to related species of the Old World. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney 701 pp. 118 figs.

Ivantsoff, W. & Crowley, L.E.L.M. 1991. Review of the Australian silverside fishes of the genus Atherinomorus (Atherinidae). Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 42: 479-505 figs 1-5

Ivantsoff, W. & Crowley, L.E.L.M. 1999. Atherinidae. pp. 2113-2139 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 pp. 2069-2790.

Jordan, D.S. & Hubbs, C.L. 1919. A monographic review of the family Atherinidae or silversides. Stanford University Publications, University Series 40: 1-87 pls 1-12

Kimura, S., Golani, D., Iwatsuki, Y., Tabuchi, M. & Yoshino, T. 2007. Redescriptions of the Indo-Pacific atherinid fishes Atherinomorus forskalii, Atherinomorus lacunosus, and Atherinomorus pinguis. Ichthyological Research 54(2): 145-159

Kimura, S., Iwatsuki, Y. & Yoshino, T. 2001. Redescriptions of the Indo-West Pacific atherinid fishes, Atherinomorus endrachtensis (Quoy and Gaimard, 1825) and A. duodecimalis (Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1835). Ichthyological Research 48(2): 167-177

Nelson, J.S. 1994. Fishes of the World. New York : John Wiley & Sons 600 pp.

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Parenti, L.R. 1993. Relationships of atherinomorph fishes (Teleostei). Bulletin of Marine Science 52(1): 170-196

Quoy, J.R.C. & Gaimard, J.P. 1824. Chapter 8. Poissons. 183-328 pls 43-65 in Freycinet, L.C.D. de (ed.). Voyage autour du Monde, entrepris par ordre du Roi, exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820. Paris : Pillet Aîné Vol. 1 712 pp. 96 pls.

Saeed, B., Ivantsoff, W. & Crowley, L.E.L.M. 1994. Systematic relationships of atheriniform families within division I of the series Atherinomorpha (Acanthopterygii) with relevant historical perspectives. Journal of Ichthyology 34(9): 27-72 [original in Russian in Voprosy Ikhtiologii 34(5): 579-610]

Sasaki, D. & Kimura, S. 2014. Taxonomic review of the genus Hypoatherina Schultz 1948 (Atheriniformes: Atherinidae). Ichthyological Research 1-35 [online 23 February 2014]

Schultz, L.P. 1948. A revision of subfamilies of atherine fishes, with descriptions of new genera and species. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 98(3220): 1-48 figs 1-9 pls 1-2

Sparks, J.S. & Smith, W.L. 2004. Phylogeny and biogeography of the Malagasy and Australasian rainbowfishes (Teleostei: Melanotaenioidei): Gondwanan vicariance and evolution in freshwater. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 33: 719–734

Unmack, P.J. & Dowling, T.E. 2010. Biogeography of the genus Craterocephalus (Teleostei: Atherinidae) in Australia. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 55(3): 968-984

Waite, E.R. 1921. Illustrated catalogue of the fishes of South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 2(1): 1-208 293 figs pl. 1 [fig. 121]


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
21-Jul-2014 ATHERINIFORMES 14-Jul-2014 MODIFIED Dr Doug Hoese
12-Feb-2010 (import)