Menidia beryllina

Super Group: 
Cope 1867
Chirostoma beryllinum (Cope 1869)
Menida audens (Hay 1883, Cook 1959)
Atherinichthys gracilis (Günther 1861)
Ischnomembras gabunensis (Fowler 1903)
Menidia beryllina cerea (Kendall 1902)


Diagnosis_Genus: Menidia Bonaparte. Il terzo oltre all'avere la pinna dorsale anteriore retroposta, si distingue eminentemente per la bocca più orizzontale, fessa soltanto fino alla metà del muso, locchè unitamente alla piccolezza dell' occhio produce una diversa fisonomia, e pel palato liscio privo affatto di denti. Le più grandi specie offrono chiaramente un singolarissimo carattere che per verità le approssima ai Muggini, soli tra pesci che lo posseggono. Gracilissime hanno le ossa costituenti la mascella ; e la parte posteriore del mascellare, invece di slargarsi presso l'angolo della commìssura, termina in punta sottile.

Diagnosis_species: Chirostoma beryllinum Cope. From of body shorter than usual; posterior margin of first dorsal far in advance of second dorsal, and just in front of opposite first anal ray; last anal a little behind last ray of second dorsal; tips of ventrals opposite first ray of first dorsal. Head 4.25 times to base of caudal. Orbit large, one-third head; mouth small, mandible slightly longer, curve forming a quadrant. Greatest depth (in front of anal) six times in length to basis of caudal. Scales large, ten longitudinal, thirty-six transverse rows; latearal line represented by a pore on the anterior part of the posterior field of each scale, except on the caudal peduncle, where there is a groove. The anterior separated portion of the line is on two adjacent series of 5-4 scales each. Radial formula D.V, last well developed; I.11.C.17, deeply furcate; A.I.18; V.I.5, four interior twice furcate; P.15 acuminate. Total length 2.5 inches; end muzzle to base of first dorsal 1.06 inches. Color. Bright pale olive, a silver band from axilla to caudal on two half rows of scales, leaden marginated above; basis of anal leaden. Sides of head silvery. Habitat. the onlyspecimen I possess of this species I procured in the Potomac River, at Washington, D.C.

Body_male_length: 10 cm
Body_length_max: 12.5 cm SL (Gilbert and Lee 1980)
Body_eggs_length:  0.9 - 1.0 mm
Sequence cytB: KC736408 (Devin et al 2013)
Sequence ND2: EF602049 (Devin et al 2013)
Sequence TMO: KC633393 (Devin et al 2013)
Sequence RAG1: KC669476 (Devin et al 2013)


Menidia, an ancient Greek name for some small, silvery fish; beryllina, Latin, meaning “green colored” (Pflieger 1997).

Type species

The type species for the genus Manidia is Atherina menidia (Linné, 1766).

Type illustration / Type locality / Type specimen

Type locality: Potomac River, opposite Washington D.C., at Jackson City, Virginia, U.S.A.


Potomac River, Washington D.C. (Cope 1869)
U.S. distribution: Originally found in coastal waters and upstream in coastal streams along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts; widely introduced into freshwater impoundments (Hubbs et al. 1991).
Texas distribution: May be found in many reservoirs (Hubbs et al. 1991). Warren et al. (2000) list the following drainage units for M. beryllina in Texas: Red River (from the mouth upstream to and including the Kiamichi River), Sabine Lake (including minor coastal drainages west to Galveston Bay), Galveston Bay (including minor coastal drainages west to mouth of Brazos River), Brazos River, Colorado River, San Antonio Bay (including minor coastal drainages west of mouth of Colorado River to mouth of Nueces River), Nueces River.
Substrate: water
Salinity: freshwater
Temperature: 21°C
Migratory: yes. Diel migration.
Causality_of_migration: Trophic migration
Temporality_of_migration: Daily

Life cycle

Spawning season: Menidia beryllina collected from Lake Texoma, spawn throughout April, May, June and (depending on lake temperature) during July (Hubbs 1982). In Texas, sexually mature females were reported February - August, with spawning peaks during spring and late summer (Middaugh and Hemmer 1992). During late March-early July along the Mississippi Gulf Coast at water temperatures of 23.9-32.7 degrees C (Garwood 1968; Hubbs 1976).
Spawning habitat: Shallow water in areas with abundant vegetation (Hildebrand 1922). Spawning occurs during both day and night (Middaugh et al. 1986). In some populations, spawning occurs mostly in midmorning (Hubbs 1976).

Fecundity: In Lake Texoma, M. beryllina females lay eggs daily at ca. 1000 hour; egg compliment consists of ca. 7.5% of the female’s biomass; female fecundity size-dependent with average-sized females producing ca. 835 eggs daily, large females ca. 2000 eggs and small females ca. 200 (Hubbs 1982). Fertilized eggs are about 0.75 mm in diameter and have a tuft of gelatinous threads attached to the outer membrane. Eggs hatch in 6 days at a water temperature of 27.8 degrees C and in 10 days at 25 degrees C (Hildebrand 1922). Hatching delayed at water temperatures below 19 degrees C (eggs hatch in about 30 days at 14 degrees C), which may cause embryos to exhaust nutrient supplies and starve to death prior to hatching (Hubbs et al. 1971). Development time and hatching success apparently independent of salinity for M. beryllina in coastal waters (Middaugh et al. 1986), but this is not the case for fish in freshwater areas (Hubbs et al. 1971).

Food habits: Planktivore; particulate feeder; size-selective picker; main food item zooplankton (Saunders 1959; Goldstein and Simon 1999). Stomachs of adults in west Tennessee contained food items included midge larvae, mayfly larvae (Hexagenia), and fallen terrestrial insects (including Homoptera, Hymenoptera; Etnier and Starnes 1993). Morris (1982) reported M. beryllina collected from Lake Conroe, Texas, fed mostly on zooplankton at all sizes. Major food organisms in the diet were from the following groups: Sididae, Chydoridae, Ceriodaphnia, Bosmina, Cyclopoida, nauplii, and Ostracoda.  Species fed predominately upon cladocerans (60% of total number of food organisms, with largest category, Sididae, representing 32%). Individuals 60-69 mm long fed upon Tendipedidae sub-imago to a greater degree than did smaller fish. Bettoli et al. (1991) reported consumption of fish eggs, in Lake Conroe, Texas. M. beryllina feeds during daylight hours (Wurtsbaugh and Li 1985).
Generation: > 2 years
Temperature_spawning: 30°C

Feeding behaviour


Mode of locomotion

Motility: motile_swimming


Observation site(s)


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Association with... Region origin Name of site In reference...
Amyloodinium ocellatum Gulf Coast Research Laboratory