The Milkfish, Chanos chanos, is an important food fish in Southeast Asia. It is the sole living species in the family Chanidae (about seven extinct species in five additional genera have been reported).
Milkfish have a generally symmetrical and streamlined appearance, with a sizable forked caudal fin. They can grow to 5.58 ft (1.7 m), but are most often about 3.28 ft (1 m) in length. They have no teeth, and generally feed on algae and invertebrates.
They occur in the Indian Ocean and across the Pacific Ocean, tending to school around coasts and islands with reefs. The youngest larvae live at sea for 2″“3 weeks, then migrate to mangrove swamps, estuaries, and sometimes lakes, returning to sea to mature sexually and reproduce.
The larvae are collected from rivers and raised in ponds, where they can be fed almost anything and grow very quickly, then are sold fresh, frozen, canned, or smoked.
The milkfish is also a national symbol of the Philippines, where it is called bangus. Because milkfish is notorious for being much more bony compared to other food fish in the country, deboned milkfish or “boneless bangus” has become popular and common in stores and markets.