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David L. Hall
813 Williams Ave.
Madera, CA 93637
dahall at lightspeed_net

My interest in silversides began when I saw a picture of the Brook
silversides (Labidesthes sicculus) in a booklet called An Introduction to
Missouri Fishes by William Pflieger and Lawrence C. Belusa.  I was
intrigued by the picture which showed a translucent fish with a beaklike
snout.  I had to have a closer look.

Finding the silversides was easy as they were abundant in the area, but
getting them home was anything but easy.  Catching them with my seine was
not difficult, but when I transferred them to my bucket they died within
minutes.  After several attempts I gave up, vowing to try again later.

Many weeks later I was on a quest searching for sunfish when I caught a
21/2 inch silverside.  My first reaction was throw it back, but on a whim I
tossed it into the styrofoam container that I had brought to transport my
"catch of the day".  Continuing to search for sunnies I forgot about the
lone silverside. Later when I was about to put a Blackstripe topminnow in
the styro I was shocked to see the siverside was still alive and well!  In
my excitement I shifted my priorities and looked for more silversides.  I
collected a couple more before calling it a day.

I kept those silversides in a 15 gallon long aquarium with outside filter. 
I fed my silversides fine flake food with an occasional supplement of
frozen baby brine shrimp.  They feed on plankton in nature and so newly
hatched brine shrimp or daphnia would be appropriate.  William Pflieger's
Fishes of Missouri notes that they feed by sight.

My first silversides survived for several months, but my second attempt to
keep them resulted in keeping them alive for close to two years.  I found
that a larger swimming area, floating plants, and salt in the aquarium
seemed to have a positive effect on them.  

Although I never attempted to spawn them sources note that silversides
spawn like Medaka or Celebes rainbows with the female trailing a filament
with eggs attached from her vent and depositing them on plants.  Their
spawning behavior in the wild has been observed to occur when the water
temperature reaches between 20 and 34 degrees(C).  

In California I've collected and kept the Mississippi silversides (Menida
audens).  They've survived in an aquarium for several months and then
relocated them to an outside pond with no filtration for close to a year. 
I lost very few of these silversides when I collected and they may be more
hardy than the Brook silversides.  Peter Moyle in his book Inland Fishes of
California notes that they were used as bait fish.

Several people have speculated as to why silversides are hard to collect
and keep.  Observations from several sources suggest keeping handling to a
minimum and not removing them from the water is helpful, but from personal
observation and experience I believe just taking extra care when handling
them helps.  In the aquarium plenty of surface area and swimming space with
the addition of salt to the water is helpful.  These fish seem fragile but
are surprisingly hardy. 


American Currents  Janusry 1985

Moyle, Peter B.,  Inland Fishes of California, University of California
Press, 1976.

Pflieger, William,  The Fishes of Missouri,  Missouri Department of
Conservation,  1975.