Silversides are native to the eastern seaboard from Massachusetts to Florida and coastal drainages of the Gulf of Mexico south to Veracruz, Mexico. Within the Mississippi drainage they can be found as far north as Missouri and Illinois. They have been introduced to and are established in California. Inland silversides prefer warmer climes making estuaries and freshwater environments home, taking up residence in bayous, lagoons, bays, and quiet areas of inland rivers and streams.
These small, silvery fish grow to about six inches in length. Silversides have large eyes and a small, upturned mouth. Their bodies are elongate, six or more times their body depth. There is a distinctive silver stripe on each side of the body ending in a small silver spot on the tail. Tail fins have light yellow edges. The back and upper sides are pale yellow to translucent green.
The extended spawning season runs from April through August, with multiple spawns. Spawning occurs in shallow open water. Up to 15,000 adhesive, filamentous eggs are laid over aquatic vegetation and other submerged objects. Inland silversides live for only two years or so. They are tolerant of very harsh water conditions.
These fish tend to swim in large schools near the surface where they feed on zooplankton, crustaceans, mollusks, insects, worms, and occasionally algae.