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Waxen silverside Menidia beryllina (Cope) 1866

[Jordan and Evermann, 1896-1900, p. 797 (Menidia gracilis Günther)]

Waxen silverside (Menidia beryllina)

Figure 163.—Waxen silverside (Menidia beryllina). From Kendall.


This species resembles the common silverside so closely in general appearance that it would be apt to be overlooked among the schools of the latter were it not paler in color, [page 305] and stouter bodied as a rule. A more dependable difference, which will always serve to separate the two (for which neither color nor form can be relied upon) is that the anal fin is much shorter (only 15 or 16 rays) in the waxen silverside than in the common silverside.


Pale greenish on the back, silvery below; the sides with a well-defined silvery band bounded above by a dark line; scales on the back with numerous brown dots; fins without markings.


Smaller than its relative menidia, the maximum length being about 3 inches.

General range—

Cape Cod to South Carolina.

Occurrence in the Gulf of Maine—

Specimens reported by Kendall[54] (1902) from Truro, and from Sandwich in Cape Cod Bay, with one taken in Cohasset, on the southern shore of Massachusetts Bay in the autumn of 1939,[55] are the only records for this fish within the Gulf of Maine, where it appears only a stray from warmer waters to the west and south. At Woods Hole, where it is abundant, its habits are the same as those of the common silverside, though it spawns somewhat later (in June and July).

[54] Occ. Pap. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., vol. 7, No. 8, 1908, p. 66, as Menidia beryllina subspecies cerea Kendall (Rept. U. S. Comm. Fish. (1901) 1902, p. 261.)

[55] This specimen is in the Museum of Comparative Zoology.