Conservation status

While no atheriniforms are listed by CITES, 79 species presently are included on the IUCN Red List. Of those, 28 species are listed as Data Deficient, 8 species are listed as Lower Risk/Near Threatened, and 31 species (most of which are rainbowfishes) are listed as Vulnerable. Five species are Endangered: Poblana letholepis and Poblana squamata from Mexico, Craterocephalus fluviatilis and Pseudomugil mellis from Australia, and Melanotaenia boesemani from New Guinea. Six species are considered Critically Endangered: Chilatherina sentaniensis from Irian Jaya, Glossolepis wanamensis and Kiunga ballochi from Papua New Guinea, Poblana alchichica from Mexico, Rheocles wrightae from Madagascar, and Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis from Australia. A single atheriniform, Rheocles sikorae from Madagascar, is believed to be Extinct.

A common trend holds true for the threatened atherini-forms: they are restricted to circumscribed freshwater habitats. Such habitats are particularly vulnerable. Water quality often is threatened by pollutants, including nutrients, which are the byproducts of such human activities as deforestation, mining, and waste disposal. Introduced fish species pose another serious problem; they can be detrimental to native fish populations both as resource competitors and as predators. In the United States—where freshwater atheriniforms are few— there are no atheriniforms listed as Endangered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Only one species, Menidia extensa (the waccamaw silverside) from North Carolina, is listed as Threatened.

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