The South American silver croaker is a popular fish that has recently received substantial attention from scientists, mainly due to its importance as source of animal protein and as a key fisheries species. However, little is known about the conditions that explain its historical and current spatial distribution, both in its native habitat and where it is a successful invasive species. The aim of the present study was to explore the ecological information available for this species, to then critically examine ecological theories related to the conditions underpinning its success. To this end, an exhaustive literature search was conducted with the immediate aim of investigating whether the success of South American silver croaker was driven by species-climate or species–human interactions. The non-native populations were found to occupy climate niche spaces different from those observed in their native ranges. In addition, it was clear that humans played a role in facilitating the large-scale dispersion of silver croaker, and assisted as agents of impact driving the observed current and, probably, the future spatial distribution, which we can predict from our data and from the pattern of propagule pressure. Overall, the current biogeography of this species illustrates how the construction of dams, along with the introduction and stocking of non-native species, overfishing and other human activities can alter fish populations and assemblages. Such processes can reduce native species, increase the abundance and distribution of invasive species, as well as cause changes in life-history traits and genetic variability, all with long-term socioeconomic consequences.