Fun Atheriniforme Facts For Kids

Tanya Parkhi
Jan 05, 2023 By Tanya Parkhi
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Here are some Atheriniforme facts you will love.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.6 Min

Atheriniformes is an order of ray-finned fishes which contains around eight families and 354 species of narrow, silvery marine and freshwater species of fishes which are identified by the presence of similar characteristics. These characteristics include two dorsal fins, pelvic fins, and a single, spiny anal fin.

This species notably consists of rainbowfishes, New and Old World silversides, and blue-eyes. Most of these fish are highly sought after by aquarium enthusiasts due to their smooth, polished scales and rainbow-like appearance, adding a beautiful touch to any tank.

They can be found in either saltwater or freshwater environments, with many species preferring to live in coral reefs. They can be found mostly in tropical and subtropical regions, dwelling close to the surface and around coastal regions.

To find out more interesting facts about Atheriniformes, read on! For more relatable content, check out these rainbow cichlid facts and codfish facts for kids.

Atheriniforme Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Atheriniforme?

Atheriniforme is an order of ray-finned marine and freshwater species of fishes that contains eight families and 354 species. There are a number of subspecies as well, which owe to the huge number of fish in this order.

What class of animal does an Atheriniforme belong to?

Atheriniforme belongs to the Actinopterygii class, which is a class of fish. They belong to the order of ray-finned fish like swordfish and herring.

How many Atheriniforme are there in the world?

Since there are 354 species of Atheriniformes, it is not feasible to count the exact number in the world. However, most of these are listed as not threatened, and most species are not endangered or prone to any threats.

They can be found in abundance living in ocean beds, coral reefs, and hiding in sea caves which makes it difficult to ascertain their exact number.

Where does an Atheriniforme live?

Atheriniforme fish can be found living in both marine and freshwater environments, ranging from the ocean to shallow streams. They can mostly be found living in ocean reefs which are teeming with sea life. They are surface dwellers, only being found among the depths during winter where they retreat in order to hide from the sheer cold.

What is an Atheriniforme's habitat?

Being a vast order of fishes, various species of Atheriniformes can be found all over the world. The Atheriniforme habitat is ideally in tropical, temperate waters and can be found in mostly equatorial climates, in both marine and freshwater bodies.

Who does Atheriniforme live with?

These ray-finned fishes can be found living in colonies. They get along well with other fish and live together in large ocean reefs. The Atheriniforme distribution can be observed living mostly near the surface, around coasts, and in shallow inland rivers and lakes.

How long does an Atheriniforme live?

Atheriniformes have varied lifespans due to a large number of species present in this order. Rainbowfishes can live for around five to eight years, with silversides being known to have far shorter life spans ranging from only one to two years.

Blue eyes have been known to live for around one to two years in the wild, but can live for two to four in captivity with proper care.

How do they reproduce?

These fish are oviparous in nature, meaning they give birth to their young by laying eggs. The female lays a bunch of large eggs with sticky filaments which help to anchor them to aquatic plants.

The male then spawns over them, leaving them to fertilize and develop into larvae over seven to 18 days.

The distribution of eggs and the spawning process can occur repetitively over a period of few days, giving rise to batches of larvae. They become reproductive at a very young age, at around one to two years of age.

A few species of Atheriniformes are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both pairs of reproductive parts.

What is their conservation status?

Out of these huge number of series Atherinomorpha species, one species of rainbowfish and one silverside is Extinct, six are Critically Endangered, five are Endangered, 31 are Vulnerable, and eight re Near Threatened. Asides from these, the majority of species are at Least Concern and are available in abundance.  

Atheriniforme Fun Facts

What do Atheriniformes look like?

The series Atherinomorpha species are usually small and ray-finned fishes, meaning their fins are thin and webbed. They have similar characteristics and can be easily identified due to the presence of two dorsal fins, one anal fin which is spiny, and pelvic fins on their abdomen.

The lateral line, which is a series of pores present to absorb chemical signals and vibrations, is very weak or absent in these fish. They are mostly called silversides due to their silvery, luminescent scales which ripple across their sides.

Rainbowfishes are more colorful in nature, ranging from colors red to blue and green. Blue eyes are known for their distinctive blue-ringed irises.

How cute are they?

Due to their shimmery, multicolored scales and relatively small sizes, these fish make great additions to any fish tank. They are attractive to look at and are eye-catching.

How do they communicate?

Since fish cannot communicate verbally, they communicate through a range of non-verbal gestures such as making gestures, through swimming patterns, and changing color. Some fishes also release chemicals and vibrations which can be sensed by other fishes due to the presence of a lateral line.

There is a series of pores along their bodies to absorb these chemicals and vibrations, however, this is very weak or absent in Atheriniformes.

How big is an Atheriniforme?

Due to there being many species of Atheriniformes, there is a lot of variation in size for these fishes.  Atheriniformes range from 0.7-17.3 in (2-44 cm) in length. The average Atheriniforme size is small, with most species being less than 6 in (15.2 cm) long.

How fast can an Atheriniforme swim?

These fishes have dorsal and anal fins, which help to propel them forward while swimming and help them to reach great speeds. The exact speed of these fishes in this order has not been recorded, however, it has been observed that they are great swimmers due to their sleek, streamlined shapes and the convenient shape of their fins.

How much does an Atheriniforme weigh?

The exact weights of these fishes have not been recorded, however, there is a lot of variation among these weights owing to a large number of species present in the order.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no special names for the male and female fish of the Atheriniforme order.

What would you call a baby Atheriniforme?

Baby Atheriniformes are called fry.

What do they eat?

Being omnivorous, the Atheriniforme diet consists of mostly invertebrates such as insects or fish larvae, and they are also known to feast on aquatic plant life such as plankton and algae. Some of these species such as a number of rainbowfishes make good pets.

In captivity, they can be fed frozen pieces of shrimp, fish flakes, and blanched leafy vegetables.

Are they aggressive?

These fishes are relatively peaceful, however, male rainbowfishes and silversides can become aggressive towards each other. They are docile towards other fishes however and get along well with their tank mates.

Some species of rainbowfish often change color in order to assert dominance among other males. The brighter the color of the fish is, the more aggressive it is thought to be.

Would they make a good pet?

Fishes of the order Atheriniformes are known for their colorful species including various rainbowfish, silversides, and blue eyes, and docile nature. With their shimmering, vivid scales, they make a great addition to any marine or freshwater environment such as ponds or aquariums.

They are also easy to maintain, as they can be fed fish flakes and small insects and thrive well in moderate temperatures.

Did you know...

Rainbowfishes are often silvery-white as juveniles, their scales turning bright and richly colored as they mature. The brightness of their color depends on their mood, environment, and rank among the other males in their tank.

Most silversides have lifespans of only one to two years as they die right after spawning.

The biggest fish in the order Atheriniformes is the Jacksmelt or Jack silverside at 17 in (43.2 cm), with the smallest being the Bangkok minnow at 0.7 in (1.8 cm).

Their eggs have adhesive, thread-like components which help them to attach to aquatic plants in bunches without any danger of drifting off.

They are schooling fishes, with some schools being as large as 328 ft (100 m) long and 66 ft (20 m) wide.

They are mostly known to live near the surface, be it in marine waters or in any inland bodies.

During the winter season, most silversides can be seen retreating into deeper waters in order to avoid low temperatures.

Why are they called silversides?

Silversides of the order Atheriniformes are named so due to the presence of large, silver stripes on the sides of these fishes. Atheriniforme families also have silvery, shimmery scales which give them a luminescent appearance.

The unique coloration of silversides aids them well while escaping from predators. They often use swimming in packs as a defensive strategy, and their flashing scales confuse the enemy about which direction they are headed in.

Are they the same as smelts?

Silversides are often also called smelts. However, smelts belong to the order Osmeriformes which is different from the Atheriniformes order.  Both these orders belong to the same class Actinopterygii. Members of the Atheriniformes order are not usually bred as food, whereas smelts are commonly eaten by fish lovers all over the world.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our Atlantic cod facts and Swai fish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable atheriniforme coloring pages.

Atheriniforme Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Algae, plankton, and fish larvae

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical and temperate oceans, rivers, and streams

Where Do They Live?


How Long Were They?

0.7-17.3 in (2-44 cm)

How Tall Were They?







Atherinopsidae, Notocheiridae, Isonidae, Melanotaeniidae, Atherionidae, Dentatherinidae, Phallostethidae, Atherinidae

Scientific Name


What Do They Look Like?

Long and narrow, with dorsal fins, anal fin, silvery, and smooth scales

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

water pollution

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern to Extinct
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Written by Tanya Parkhi

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya Parkhi picture

Tanya ParkhiBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.

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