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Bonefish, Albula vulpes
Bonefish, Albula vulpes
Japanese gissu, Pterothrissus gissu
Japanese gissu, Pterothrissus gissu
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Albuliformes
Family: Albulidae
Bleeker, 1859

See text for species.

The bonefishes are a family (Albulidae) of ray-finned fish that are popular as game fish in Florida, the Bahamas where two bonefish are on their 10 cent coin, and elsewhere. The family is small, with eight species in two genera.[1]

Presently the bonefishes are in their own order: Albuliformes. The spiny eels (Notacanthidae) and halosaurs (Halosauridae) were previously classified in this order[2], but are now, according to FishBase given their own order, Notacanthiformes.[3]




The bonefishes' closest relatives are the tarpons and ladyfishes in the order Elopiformes. Bonefishes are unlike tarpons in that their mouth is under the snout rather than the end of it, and bonefishes lack the tarpons' protruding snout. Like tarpons and ladyfishes, bonefishes can breathe air via a modified swim-bladder and are found in brackish waters. Bonefish larvae are leptocephalic.

The body of the bonefish is silver and slender with a bluish or greenish back. On the upper half there are dark streaks with cross bands connecting to the lateral line. The body is also rounded and has a long downward aiming snout. The dorsal and caudal fins are black. Bonefish vary in adult length from 40–100 cm depending on species. The average size of a bonefish is from 3 to 5 pounds (1–2 kg) with the Florida record being 15 pounds 6 ounces (7.0 kg).

The bonefishes are brackish or saltwater fish typically living in estuaries and travelling out to sea to spawn on a lunar cycle. They feed in the shallow sand and mud flats, on animals that live on the bottom like worms, mollusks, shrimps, and crabs. They use their conical shaped snouts to root out their prey and can often be seen with their tail out of the water. Bonefishes possess crushing teeth in the palate.


This genus is like Albula except they are found in deeper waters.


FishBase lists eight species in two genera:[1]

  • Genus Albula
    • Albula argentea (Schneider, 1801).
      Longjaw bonefish, Albula forsteri Valenciennes, 1847.
      Roundjaw bonefish, Albula glossodonta (Forsskål, 1775).
      Threadfin bonefish, Albula nemoptera (Fowler, 1911).
      Sharpjaw bonefish, Albula neoguinaica Valenciennes, 1847.
      Bonefish, Albula vulpes (Linnaeus, 1758).
  • Genus Pterothrissus
    • Longfin bonefish, Pterothrissus belloci Cadenat, 1937.
      Japanese gissu, Pterothrissus gissu Hilgendorf, 1877.


  1. ^ a b "Albulidae". FishBase. Ed. Ranier Froese and Daniel Pauly. 05 2006 version. N.p.: FishBase, 2006.
  2. ^ Mikko's Phylogeny Archive for Albuliformes.
  3. ^ "Notacanthiformes". FishBase. Ed. Ranier Froese and Daniel Pauly. 05 2006 version. N.p.: FishBase, 2006.

External links

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