Fun Antarctic Silverfish Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Nov 05, 2022 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 17, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Antarctic silverfish facts help to learn more about this icy-water inhabiting pelagic fish species that is also known as the Pleuragramma Antarctica.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.8 Min

Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum), also known as Pleuragramma antarctica, is the only pelagic fish found in the polar Southern Ocean of Antarctic waters. They can be found predominantly around the western Ross Sea and continental shelf water. These fish are the native species of cod icefish whose bodies have adapted particularly for ice-cold environments. The particular biological adaptation that contributes to their resilience is a chemical they produce called antifreeze glycopeptides, which help them in their survival of below-freezing ice-cold water temperatures.

An interesting fun fact about the silverfish is that this species is not actually a fish but is instead an insect species similar to the zooplankton. The name silverfish is given to these insects because they are silver in color and because they move like fishes. At the same time, the Antarctic silverfish is also classified as a kind of pelagic species of fish.

The food web of the Antarctic silverfish is an interesting one. In their adolescence as young larval, the Antarctic silverfish food diet consists primarily of small species of copepods. As they grow in age and size, their diet also changes to include bigger prey species like zooplankton and krill.

Here on our page, we have a lot of interesting facts on the Antarctic Silverfish for everyone to enjoy. Let's have a look at these interesting facts, and if you do like these, You can also check out our articles on Texas cichlid facts and rainbowfish facts.

Antarctic Silverfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Antarctic silverfish?

The Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum) is a pelagic silver-fish species that is found in ice-cold temperature regions, particularly in and around the Antarctic Peninsula region, owing to its resilience.

What class of animal does an Antarctic silverfish belong to?

Research indicates that the Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum) is a southern ice-cold ocean species of fish that belongs to the class Actinopterygii and the family Nototheniidae.

How many Antarctic silverfish are there in the world?

The exact population of the Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum) in the Antarctic ecosystem is not yet fully known, as research is still taking place. As they are the only pelagic fish found in the ice-cold, polar Southern Ocean, they are assumed to be found in abundance. Apart from that, these fish are important prey for bigger animals in search of food, like whales, seals, and penguins.

Where do Antarctic silverfish live?

As the name suggests, Antarctic silverfish can be found living in the ice-cold Southern Ocean waters of the Antarctica continent range. The biological evolution of this species of fish has been such that they have adapted to the ice-cold climate and freezing marine climate, mostly surviving in the sea ice site. The Antarctic silverfish are found everywhere in the continent of Antarctica but mainly in the western Ross Sea, although recent research by the biological and ecological community has stated that they are disappearing from the western portion of northern Antarctica.

What is an Antarctic silverfish habitat?

The Antarctic silverfish can be found in marine regions of the Antarctic peninsula continent. Some of the marine regions where Antarctic silverfish can be found include waters of the continental shelf, bays, open ocean, lakes, and water columns. Usually, in their early adolescent stages, these fish can be found living on the ice water column shelf. The Antarctic silverfish usually survives in the polar freezing ice water, these ice-like temperatures reaching around 28-50° F (-2.2-10° C).

Who do Antarctic silverfish live with?

The Antarctic silverfish prefers to live amongst their own species of fish. They are found mostly in large schools. This fish community is formed as a survival technique, as they are a key prey in the food web for large fish in search of food, like whales and seals. So in order to keep themselves safe, they prefer to travel as a community.

How long does an Antarctic silverfish live?

Their maximum life span is about 20 years of age. Typically they die before this period of time as they are key prey for marine flying birds, Adelie penguins, and Weddell seals.

How do they reproduce?

Unfortunately, there has not been much research conducted on their reproduction-related faculties, and we only have a handful of information pertaining to their breeding. The period of spawning of these fish occurs in the early winter period, mostly in November. Females typically spawn for the first time after they are above the age of seven years. After this process is completed, eggs are laid around the end of November or early December, and the little larval emerges after the incubation period, spending some life stages on the water column shelf until they are mature.

What is their conservation status?

The Conservation Status of the Antarctic silverfish is in listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List, as these species are found in abundance in the Antarctic ecosystem. As these fish have adapted their bodies to survive ice waters and freezing climate, the main threat to them could be climate change. Even human motivated destruction, marine flying birds, penguins, seals, whales, etc. can potentially kill them.

Antarctic Silverfish Fun Facts

What do Antarctic silverfish look like?

The Antarctic silverfish's body changes color when they die naturally or due to climate change.

*Please note that this is an image of a spotted drum fish, not of an Antarctic silverfish specifically. If you have an actual image of an Antarctic silverfish, please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

Antarctic silverfish are small in size, at around 6 in (15 cm) in length. Ecological research states that these fish are pink in color with a little silver tint when they are alive. It is only after their death that their color changes to an overall cover of silver on the body. Except for the dorsal fin of these fish, all their fins are pale in color, while the dorsal fin is darker than the other fins.

How cute are they?

The Antarctic silverfish would not be considered one of the cutest fish in the ocean's ecosystem. In fact, they are a little creepy to look at.

How do they communicate?

Like other fish, adult Antarctic silverfish communicate within their ecosystem using chemical signals called bioluminescence. Antarctica silverfish also use their sense of smell for the communication process. One distinctive feature of the Antarctic silverfish is that they release a kind of pheromone at the time of death to help notify other silverfish that predators may be around.

How big is an Antarctic silverfish?

The maximum length that an Antarctic silverfish can reach is about 6 in (15 cm). Although small fish, they are relatively larger than the rosy barb, for example, which is around 3.1 in (8 cm) in length.

How fast can an Antarctic silverfish swim?

Ecological research is still being conducted regarding the average speed of these fish. As of now, it has been agreed within the science community that they are indeed very fast swimmers.

How much does an Antarctic silverfish weigh?

The average weight range of this fish is around 7 oz (200 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

They have no sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby Antarctic silverfish?

There is no specific name for the baby Antarctic silverfish.

What do they eat?

The diet of the Antarctic silverfish includes species like copepods and krill. Other than this, they also feed on zooplankton and phytoplankton. When the silverfish is small, it feeds on just small food like copepods, but as the size of the Antarctic silverfish increases, so does the size of its food: the adult starts to eat larger creatures in the ecosystem like krill.

Are they dangerous?

The Antarctic silverfish, although quite menacing looking, is not dangerous at all. There is no specific information that tells us that these fish spread diseases or harm humans.

Would they make a good pet?

The silverfish ideally require freezing water temperatures, therefore being kept as a pet would not be recommended.

Did you know...

The swimming depth of an Antarctic depends on which life cycle it is in. When the fish is in the larvae and postlarvae stage, it can go to a depth of up to 114.8 ft (35 m). When it is in the juvenile stage, it can reach a depth of 164-1312.3 ft (50-400 m), and finally, when it becomes an adult, it can reach a depth of 1312.3 ft (400 m).

As aforementioned, the smaller an Antarctic silverfish is, the smaller its prey is. The larvae mainly feed on the eggs and larvae of copepods, while the juveniles are found to feed on the larvae and egg of polychaetes, euphausiids, and chaetognaths.

When the Antarctic silverfish is in the spawning period, they use the sea ice for larvae development. Sea ice is used as nursing grounds by the Antarctic silverfish. The egg, after the spawning period, attaches itself to sea ice in a manner unique to each individual. Most Antarctic fish use this method of attachment t0 sea ice for the growth and development of their young. That is why sea ice plays an important role in the Antarctic ocean.

Do silverfish eat krill?

The main food for silverfish is krill. Apart from krill, the prey that makes up their diet includes zooplankton, myctophids, calanoids, sea snails, copepods, and phytoplankton.

What scents do silverfish hate?

It has been found that the scent and smell of certain aromatics, in fact, repel silverfish; some examples of these smells include cloves, lavender, cedar, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, to highlight a few herbs and spices they do not tolerate well.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these pink salmon facts and sandfish facts for kids.

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

*Please note the main image is of a spotted drum fish, not of an Antarctic silverfish specifically. If you have an actual image of an Antarctic silverfish, please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

Antarctic Silverfish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Zooplankton, phytoplankton, copepods, krill, sea snails, calanoids, tintinnids

What Type of Animal were they?

Carnivores

Average Litter Size?

N/A

How Much Did They Weigh?

7 oz (200 g)

What habitat Do they Live In?

open oceans, lakes, bays

Where Do They Live?

southern ocean, antarctic peninsula

How Long Were They?

5.9 in (15 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Actinopterygii

Genus

Pleuragramma

Family

Nototheniidae

Scientific Name

Pleuragramma antarctica, Pleuragramma antarcticum

What Do They Look Like?

Pink in color with slight tints of silver

Skin Type

Wet, slimy scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

climate change, humans, birds, penguins, seals, whales

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

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