Aquaculture Feed and Fertilizer Resources Information System

Milkfish - Chanos chanos

(Forsskål, 1775) [Chanidae]

FAO official common names: Fr - Chano; Es - Chano

Taxonomic and biological features:

Distinguishing characters
Body elongate, moderately compressed, without scutes along belly; eye covered by a fatty outer corneal layer (adipose eyelid); four branchiostegal rays; maxilla short, not reaching back beyond eye center; lower jaw with symphisial tubercle; supramaxilla absent; no gular plate (small bony plate between arms of the lower jaw common in clupeids); dorsal and anal fins with basal sheath of scales; large axillary scales at base of pectoral and pelvic fins; caudal fin deeply forked; scales small, cycloid (smooth); lateral line present; color, back olive green, sides silvery; dorsal and caudal fins with black margin; inside of pectoral and pelvic fins dark; presence of line of small, thin, scale flaps on dorsal aspect of the caudal peduncle (Fischer and Whitehead, 1974; Bagarinao, 1991).

Habitat and reproduction
Milkfish are euryhaline, stenothermic fish. They occur and can be cultured in freshwater, brackishwater, and marine waters but only in the tropical and subtropical Indian and Pacific oceans (rare in eastern Pacific from southern California to Peru) where temperature is >20°C. Adult milkfish (3–15 years, 50–150 cm TL, 4–14 kg) are found in the open sea and spawn near coral reefs and small islands, but metamorphose from ribbonlike larvae in brackishwater. First sexual maturity occurs at 3–4 years. Newly hatched larvae are about 3.5 mm TL and have a large yolk sac, unpigmented eyes and no mouth. The yolk is completely absorbed on day 5. Two to three week old fry (10–13 mm TL) reach inshore waters via active migration or through passive advection. Milkfish larger than 20 mm have the characteristic shape and morphology of the adult and are considered juveniles. The life history of milkfish has been described in detail by Bagarinao (1994). In aquaculture terminology, juveniles <10 cm long are called fingerlings. Twenty one day-old fry caught from the wild or obtained from a hatchery are ready to be stocked into nursery ponds. After 30–45 days in the nursery, fingerlings are grown to marketable size (250–500 g) in ponds, pens, and cages. They are important food fish in Southeast Asia, specifically in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Taiwan.