In general, atheriniforms are omnivorous, sometimes feeding on algae but depending more heavily on the most abundant forms of invertebrate protein in their respective habitats. For marine species, this means a heavy reliance on minute crustaceans and other forms of zooplankton. Fish larvae also are eaten by some species. In freshwaters, terrestrial insects often represent a significant portion of the diet. This is certainly true for the melanotaeniid rainbowfishes, which have a special preference for ants. In addition, freshwater atherini-forms feed on aquatic insects, zooplankton, and algae. Atherini-forms themselves are preyed upon by birds, mammals, and larger fishes, among other organisms. Marine silversides, in particular, which often aggregate in large schools, are sought after by larger fishes of commercial importance.
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