Latin name

Chanos chanos

Other names

Salmon herring; Afrikaans: melkvis; Fijian: yawa; French: chano, thon; Hawaiian: awa; Japanese: sabahii; Philippine languages: bangos, banglis, bangolis, bangris, banglot; Tahitian: tamano; Thai: pla nuanchan; Vietnamese: cá máng.


The height of the body is about 3,5 times its length. The caudal fin is very long, forked. There is a subpoena organ. Gill openings are wide. Scales are small, cycloidal. The head is not covered with scales. There are scales along the base of the dorsal and anal fins. Axillary scales above and below the pectoral and pelvic fins. The mouth is terminal, small. No teeth. Externally similar to a large mullet or tarpon, the milkfish has a streamlined and compressed body, large eyes, and a metallic silver coloration. It also has a small toothless mouth, one dorsal fin without a back and a large forked tail fin.


Occurs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans between 30-40°N and 30-40°S, from the Red Sea and East Africa in the west to California and Mexico in the east. In the eastern Pacific, juvenile fish were introduced in 1877 and released near San Francisco. The species has settled well here and is now abundant in the Gulf of California and off the coast of Mexico. In the eastern Pacific, milkfish are found from San Pedro, California, to the Galápagos Islands.


Sea fish, keeps in small flocks. Enters brackish and even fresh waters. Adults wander in groups along continental shelves and around islands where there are well-developed reefs and where temperatures exceed 68 °F. The milkfish lives in water temperatures up to 90 °F.


The milkfish can reach 5 feet in length, weigh 50 pounds and live for 15 years. The world record in tackle is a Hawaiian fish weighing 24 pounds 8 ounces. Sexual maturity occurs at the age of 4-5 years at a length of 110 cm and a weight of 12 kg (in India).

Life history and Behavior

Spawning of milkfish occurs in shallow, brackish water, one fish can produce 9 million eggs. They float on the surface until they hatch, and new larvae enter coastal waters 2-3 weeks after hatching. Older larvae settle in coastal wetlands during the juvenile stage, sometimes entering freshwater lakes, while mature juveniles and young adults return to the sea for sexual maturation.

Food and feeding habits

The larvae of milkfish feed on zooplankton, while juveniles and adults eat bacteria, soft algae, small benthic invertebrates, and at times the eggs and larvae of pelagic fish.


Fertility ranges from 2.1 to 7.0 million eggs. Spawning near the shore at depths of 2 to 40 m at a water temperature of 25-30 °C in clean, clear water. In the region of Indonesia and India, spawning occurs twice a year in March-June and August-December, but in the Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand - once, stretching from February-March to August-December. The eggs are pelagic, transparent, 1.1-1.2 mm in diameter. The larvae that emerge from the eggs are carried into bays and coves and fatten there for a month and then begin migrating along the coast.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Gonorynchiformes
Family Chanidae
Genus Chanos
Species C. chanos
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 15
Maximum body weight, kg 14
Maximum length, cm 180
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Tags: Milkfish