Milkfish inside water


The Chanos Chanos or milkfish is the only living species in the family Chanidae. However, there are no less than five extinct genera from the Cretaceous. The species has numerous common names. Such as it is known as ava in Tahitian and in The Hawaiian, this fish is known as awa.

It is called bangús in the Philippines and it is also a national fish of the Philippines. In the Nauruan dialect, it is referred to as ibiya. Milkfish is likewise called “Bolu” or “Bandeng” in Indonesia.

The Chanos Chanos fish can grow up to 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in). It is also observed that these fishes have a maximum of 1 m (39 in) length. These fishes can have a weight of 14.0 kg and can live for 15 years.

Chanos Chanos Singapore

They have a lengthened and relatively packed body, with generally having a symmetrical and streamlined appearance, falcate pectoral fin, one dorsal fin, and a sizable forked caudal fin. These fishes have a little Mouth and they are toothless.

The body color of milkfish is olive green, with shiny flanks and dim circumscribed fins. They have almost 13-17 dorsal delicate rays, 8-10 butt-centric delicate rays, and 31 caudal balance rays.


Scientific NameChanos chanos
SynonymsButirinus argenteus , Chanos arabicus or Chanos chloropterus

Vernacular Names

  • English: Chanos Chanos
  • Albanian: Chanos chanos
  • Catalan: Chanos chanos
  • Czech: Chanos chanos
  • Danish: Chanos chanos
  • Dutch: Chanos chanos
  • Finnish: Chanos chanos
  • French: Chanos Chanos
  • Galician: Chanos chanos
  • German: Chanos Chanos
  • Greek: Χάνος Χάνος
  • Hausa: Chanos chanos
  • Italian: Chanos Chanos
  • Japanese: シャノスシャノス
  • Polish: Chanos Chanos
  • Portuguese: Chanos chanos
  • Russian: Chanos chanos
  • Spanish: Chanos chanos
  • Swedish: Chanos chanos

History of MilkFish (Chanos Chanos)

The history and origin of this fish are explained below briefly :

Origin of MilkFish

The milkfish first occurred around 800 years ago in the Philippines and then spread in Taiwan, Indonesia and into the Pacific ocean.

Traditional Chanos Chanos fish depended after restocking lakes by gathering wild fry. This prompted an extensive variety of changeability in quality and amount among regions and seasons.


In the late 1970s, Farmers successfully first spawned the breeding fish. On the other hand, they were hard to obtain and produced unreliable egg viability.

The first spontaneous spawning happened in sea cages in the 1980s.  These milkfish eggs were considered to be sufficient to generate a constant supply for farms.

The question can come in people’s mind why it is called milkfish? Well, the reason is when this fish is cooked than its flesh is as white as milk, therefore, it is called as a milkfish.

Ecology and habitat of Chanos Chanos

Chanos is generally found along the coasts of islands or continents, especially where reefs are very developed. In large coastal lagoons milkfish also occur.

Chanos chanos are also found in the tropical waters. This fish rarely found in the waters that are affected by cool sea streams.

They are also found in saline, clear, shallow, and warm waters over 20°C. Grown-up milkfish (Chanos Chanos) also happen in freshwater lakes in Madagascar, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

In the large coastal lagoons, Freshwater lakes and atolls juveniles are found. It is estimated the depth range of a milkfish is almost 0 to 30 m.

Depth range based on 20 examples in 1 taxon. Chemistry and the Water temperature ranges based on almost 8 samples.

Environmental ranges

  • Nitrate (umol/L): 0.000 – 0.402
  • Phosphate (umol/l): 0.108 – 0.279
  • Silicate (umol/l): 1.005 – 6.656
  • Salinity (PPS): 32.182 – 35.185
  • Oxygen (ml/l): 4.223 – 4.693
  • Depth range (m): 0.3 – 15
  • Temperature range (°C): 26.270 – 29.325

Graphical presentation of Environmental Ranges

Chanos Chanos chart

Chanos Chanos chart

Chanos Chanos chart


In the regions of pacific ocean and India Chanos Chanos fishes are native. The range of these fishes spans from the east coast of Madagascar and Africa to coasts of southeast Asia around Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Australia, new guinea and the northward to the southern tip of Japan. In the eastward, these species are found in the Pacific islands.

Physical Description of Chanos Chanos

Chanos Chanos has a Solid, long, silvery gleaming body with a forked tail. The forked tail of a  Chanos Chanos fish is strong and fairly large that makes them powerful swimmers and fast in the open sea.

This fish has large eyes, cycloid scales and a pointed snout with a terminal mouth. These fishes have a total length ranges from 50cm to 180 cm. They can have a weight between 4 to 14 kg.

In their dorsal fin milkfish have 13 to 17 rays, anal rays are between 6 to 8, pectoral rays are between 15 to 17 and pelvic rays are between 10 to 11.

Fly Fishing Milkfish

There have been uncommon events of various types of milkfish. For example, One variation, found in the Philippines, has long dorsal, anal fins and pelvic, and the caudal fin is as long as the length of the body. This variation is known as ‘goldfish-type’ milkfish.

Another variation, found in Australia, Hawaii, and Indonesia, that is known as the ‘shad-type’ milkfish on the grounds that its length-to-depth proportion is 2.0 to 2.5 rather than the ordinary 3.5 to 4.0.

Development of Milkfish

The milkfish fertilized eggs can be found in the tropical waters of the open sea. Their eggs have a spherical shape and it can range from 1.1 to 1.25 mm in diameter. The eggs lack oil globules and have a yellowish yolk.

The external embryonic layer seems to be granular with a particular, fragmented pattern. There is a limited perivitelline space present in milkfish eggs. Advancement of the incipient organism takes around 20 to 35 hours in water temperatures of 26 to 32°C and of saltiness 29 to 34 ppt.

Once the fish eggs incubate, then larva are around 3.5 mm total length. At incubating, the larva’ eyes are not pigmented and their mouth isn’t open. For around five days Chanos Chanos larvae only depend on their yolk for supplements.

The Milkfish larvae experience a progression of complex physiological, morphological, and behavioral stages, which last around 2 weeks to about a month, before becoming juveniles.

The younger larvae occur in the depth of water around 20 to 30 m, whereas the older larvae occur near to the surface of the water.

The younger larvae can occur both in near and far from the shore. Further developed larval stages start to relocate towards nearshore areas and are discovered most at large quantity there.

Milkfish(Chanos Chanos) larvae start to relocate towards shore when they are around 10 to 17 mm total length.

Food Habit

The milkfish can eat a variety of food depending on the environment. For example, at larvae they eat zooplankton. when they develop into juveniles they start eating benthic items. The very common items for juveniles are diatoms, cyanobacteria, green algae, detritus and invertebrates such as worms and small crustaceans.

Milkfish chanos chanos

Grown-up fishes feed on similar things, on nektonic prey and planktonic, for example, clupeid juveniles. Grown-up milkfishes have a very developed epibranchial organ, or, in other words of the nutritious trench. The epibranchial organ permits milkfish to digest plant material


Milkfish are most defenseless against predators in the egg, larval, and broil stages. With the end goal to limit the effect of predation, milkfish create a lot of eggs in the deep water.

Predators Name

  • Tenpounder Elops machnata.
  • Indo-Pacific tarpon Megalops cyprinoides.

Distinctive Features

The distinct features of these Chanos Chanos are explained in detail below :


Milkfish breed close to shore in perfect, clear, warm, saline, and shallow waters over coral reefs or sand. These spawning areas are as close as 6 km seaward.

Milkfish may release eggs more than once a year and releasing eggs generally takes place during the night. Spawning is highly occasional and might be affected by the lunar cycle.

The breeding season of milkfish is longer near the equator as compared to higher latitudes. in certain areas, the length of the spawning season can be influenced by the surface water. There is no involvement of parental care once the eggs are released in the water.

Lifespan and longevity

The shortest recorded lifespan of milkfish is 3 years and the maximum recorded lifespan is 15 years. Mostly the mortality occurs at the larval stages and at the egg stage.


The milkfish behavior is still one of the areas that need to be extensively studied. Substantial schools of milkfish have been seen in nearshore waters with all around created reefs and in beachfront tidal ponds, recommending that they are social.

Perception and Communication

Just like all other fishes, Milkfish have a sensory system that is well developed, including well-developed sense of vision and lateral line system. Milkfish produces and give respond to an alarm substance because it is the member of Ostariophysi.

The alarm substance becomes active when this fish skin get some injury particularly when a predator attacks them. The alarm system of milkfish warns other fishes to hide in a place in order to avoid the predator.

Chanos Chanos classification (Taxonomy)

Fun Facts about Chanos Chanos

Chanos Chanos Fun Facts


Awais Ahmed

Awais Ahmed

An IT(Information Technology) graduate from Bahria University Islamabad, I started my carrier as a Freelance in the year 2016 and have worked as a Blogger and Content Creator at various organizations. Currently working as a Content Creator at Tapedaily. Staying updated and writing research-based content related to Plants, Animals, and various kingdoms are my key interest.

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