Milkfish Meaning

Milkfish (Chanos chanos), also known as bandeng or bangus, is a silvery marine milk fish that is the sole extant member of the Chanidae family (order Gonorhynchiformes). The marine milk fish family has fossils dating back to the Cretaceous Period (145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago). Milkfish are frequently caught as juveniles and reared for food in brackish or freshwater tropical ponds. It's a toothless herbivore with a deeply forked tail that's 1 to 1.5 m (3 to 5 ft) long. It can survive very shallow, warm (88 °F (31 °C)) lagoon water and may be found across the warmer Pacific and Indian seas. It spawns up to million eggs in shallow, brackish water from March to May. 

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Milkfish Distribution

In the Chanidae family, the milkfish (Chanos chanos) is the only extant species. However, there are at least five Cretaceous genera that are no longer alive. There are many common names for this species. The fish's Hawaiian name is awa, while its Tahitian name is ava. It is known as bangs in the Philippines, where it is regarded as the national fish, even though the National Commission for Culture and the Arts has said that this is not the case because Philippine legislation does not recognise it as such. It is known as ibiya in the Nauruan language. In Indonesia, milkfish is known as bandeng or bolu. From South Africa to Hawaii and the Marquesas, from California to the Galapagos, north to Japan, south to Australia, Chanos chanos may be found in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Milkfish may be found in tropical offshore marine areas around islands and along the continental shelf, at depths ranging from 1 to 30 metres. They are also known to inhabit estuaries and rivers.

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Milkfish Anatomy

Milkfish may grow up to 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in) in length, although most are no longer than 1 m (39 in). They may grow to be around 14 kg (31 lb) in weight and 15 years old. They have an elongated, nearly compressed body, one dorsal fin, falcate pectoral fins, and a large forked caudal fin, and a symmetrical and streamlined look. The mouth is tiny, and there are no teeth. Olive-green body with silvery flanks and dark-bordered fins. They contain 13 - 17 dorsal soft rays, eight to ten anal soft rays, and thirty-one caudal-fin rays. 

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Historical Background

Milkfish farming started around 4-6 centuries ago in Indonesia, Taiwan Province of China, and the Philippines. Methods of culture in a variety of enclosures are continuously being refined. Large investments in infrastructure, research, financing, and training in support of the milkfish industry have been made in the Philippines (as well as Taiwan Province of China, Indonesia, and Hawaii) since the 1970s. For example, in 1973, the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) Aquaculture Department (AQD) was created in Iloilo, Philippines, with the specific goal of finding answers to milkfish aquaculture issues. From the mid-1970s until the present, government agencies and fishery institutions were also involved in a national effort to expand milkfish farming.


Research and development on farming methods, breeding, and fry production technologies were carried out as part of this project. There was no attempt at genetic enhancement, but there was fry translocation and commerce between Indonesia, the Chinese province of Taiwan, and the Philippines, as well as regional variances and heterogeneity. Marine milk fish are currently being cultivated to fingerling or juvenile size as tuna bait in the South Pacific Islands and Singapore, according to unverified sources.

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Lately, milkfish farming was a conventional industry that placed minimal focus on growing sexually mature, reproductively active fish in captivity. The old milkfish industry relied entirely on the restocking of farm ponds with fingerlings raised from wild-caught fry on an annual basis. As a result, regional, seasonal, and yearly fluctuations in fry availability hampered the industry. These changes are typically unpredictable, and they can be significant over short periods.


Habitat and Biology

The marine milk fish (Chanos chanos) is the only member of the Chanidae family. It can only be found in the low latitude tropics or the subtropical northern hemisphere, along with continental shelves and surrounding islands, when temperatures are above 20 degrees Celsius (the Red Sea and South Africa to Hawaii and the Marquesas, north to Japan and south to Victoria, Australia; and in the Eastern Pacific from San Pedro, California to the Galapagos). Adults congregate in small to large numbers around coasts or islands. They are big (up to 1.5 m and 20 kg), well-developed, migratory, and sexually mature in 5 years. Only completely saline waters are suitable for milkfish spawning. The activity is most commonly associated with the new or full moon phases, occurs primarily at night, and has one or two seasonal peaks in most locations. Spawning occurs near coral reefs throughout the warm months of the year in the natural habitat, while populations near the equator spawn all year. 

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From microbial mats to detritus, epiphytes, and zooplankton, juveniles and adults eat a wide variety of relatively soft and small food items. Milkfish is a heterosexual fish with no indication of hermaphrodism. The sex ratio in natural spawning populations is about equal, with slightly more females. Because there are no easily distinguishable morphological differences between men and females, determining sex is challenging nevertheless, the pheromone PGF2a (prostaglandin) has been proven to be an efficient technique to identify mature male milkfish. 

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Milkfish larvae (3.5 mm at hatching) and eggs (1.1-1.2 mm in diameter) are pelagic and can remain in the plankton for up to 2-3 weeks. Following an hour, egg division begins, and hatching happens 35-36 hours after spawning. Eggs are most often discharged in deeper oceanic seas and near the outer reef zone in the wild. During the juvenile stage, older larvae move ashore and dwell in coastal wetlands (mangroves, estuaries) or occasionally penetrate freshwater lakes. The larvae feed zooplankton and may survive and grow in temperatures as high as 32 degrees C.


Milkfish Size

Milkfish may grow up to 180 cm SL (male/unsexed) and 124 cm SL (female). The greatest weight and age recorded was 14.0 kg and 15 years, respectively. With a population doubling duration of 4.5 to 14 years, resilience is poor. Its economic value in fisheries is significant, particularly in aquaculture, and it is also used as bait in game fish. In Southeast Asia, it is particularly prized as a food fish.

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Diet of the Milkfish

This fish is an omnivore, meaning it consumes both plants and animals. The type of food they eat depends on the age of the fish. Juveniles consume bacteria, algae, worms, small shrimp, and carrion, while newly born larvae devour zooplankton. Adults consume all of the aforementioned, but they also eat the larvae of other marine animals, such as juvenile herrings, sardines, and other small fish.


Reproduction of the Milkfish

These fish reproduce through spawning, a process in which fertilisation takes place outside of the body. Females deposit their eggs in the water column, and males fertilise them with their sperm. Throughout a spawning season, a single female may generate up to six million eggs. The eggs hatch in about a day, and the young require about a week to make their way into the estuaries and mangroves. The juvenile fish are not sexually mature until they are around three years old.

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Milkfish Seed Status Source

Adults milkfish spawn in the sea, but larvae move to nursery grounds in lagoons, mangroves, and swamps around coasts, where they develop and then return to the sea as sub-adults. Milkfish seeds have been abundantly gathered from coastal locations in the Indo-Pacific region for farming since time immemorial, resulting in a decline in the supply of fry in nature. In the 1970s, the Philippines pioneered the hatchery technique for milkfish seed production, which boosted milkfish farming. Wild seeds are harvested by traditional techniques in India from coastal states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala from March to June and September to December. During the new and full moon phases, fry is more abundant.

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Every year, around 50-100 million Milkfish seeds are expected to enter nursery grounds along the Indian coast, and local fisherman gathers these seeds using seine nets and drag nets for sale. In India, the growing popularity of milkfish farming is still reliant on the supply of natural seeds, which have issues such as poor quality and the presence of other predatory fish seeds. Thus, for the growth of Milkfish production in India, technological advancements in breeding and seed production, as well as refinement of scientific culture methods in brackish water resources, are essential.


Interesting Facts about the Marine Milkfish

This fish seems ordinary at first sight. 

  • A Fish with Many Names - This species is caught and eaten in many different parts of the world. As a result, this fish is known by many various names in these diverse locations, including ava, bangus, ibiya, bolu, and others.

  • Fish farming - Commercial fish farms have been established in the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, and other countries to assist meet the demand for this species. The fish are kept and bred in concrete tanks, sea cages, or large ponds, depending on the facility.

  • Multiple Methods - After capturing the fish, humans can prepare it in a variety of ways for eating. The meat may be smoked, fermented, or dried in some cases. Others consume it fresh, freeze it, and even can and bottle it.

  • Bandeng Presto - This fish is prepared into a dish called bandeng presto by the Javanese. The fish is pressure cooked for an extended length of time until the bones soften and become edible.

Milkfish Consumption

In Southeast Asia and some Pacific Islands, milkfish is famous seafood. Milkfish having the thorns removed, also known as "boneless bangs" in the Philippines, has grown popular in supermarkets and markets due to its reputation for being more thornier than other food fish. Despite its infamy, many Filipino continue to eat the fish raw or cooked with kalamansi juice or vinegar to make kinilaw-na bangus. 

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Bandeng duri lunak (Ikan bandeng is the Indonesian name for milkfish) from Central and East Java, bandeng presto (pressure cooked milkfish until the thorns are soft), and bandeng asap (smoked milkfish) are all popular milkfish preparations in Indonesia. Milkfish is a popular seafood product in Indonesian fishing towns such as Juwana in Semarang in Central Java and Sidoarjo near Surabaya in East Java, whether fresh or processed.


The most popular fish in Taiwanese cuisine, milkfish is prized for its flexibility, tender flesh, and reasonable prices.


Congee toppings, pan-fried fish, braised fish, and fish balls are all popular options. Anping District has a milkfish museum, and Kaohsiung has an annual milkfish festival.

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Conclusion

Chanos, also known as bandeng or bangus, is a silvery marine milk fish. It can survive very shallow, warm (88 °F (31 °C)) lagoon water and may be found across the warmer Pacific and Indian seas. Milkfish farming started around 4-6 centuries ago in Indonesia, Taiwan Province of China, and the Philippines. Marine milk fish are currently being cultivated to fingerling or juvenile size as tuna bait in the South Pacific Islands and Singapore. The marine milk fish is the only member of the Chanidae family. 


The milkfish is an omnivorous omnivore, eating both plants and animals. The eggs hatch in about a day, and the young require about a week to make their way into the estuaries and mangroves. The largest weight and age recorded was 14.0 kg and 15 years, respectively. Every year, around 50-100 million Milkfish seeds are expected to enter nursery grounds along the Indian coast. In India, the growing popularity of milkfish farming is still reliant on the supply of natural seeds.

FAQs on Milkfish

Q1. Is Milkfish Saltwater or Freshwater?

Answer: Milkfish can survive in both salt and fresh water, but they can only reproduce in pure seawater. This means that, unlike tilapia, they will not reproduce in a pond or lake. If you wish to raise milkfish in a pond, you'll need to collect young from the sea and introduce them to your pond.

Q2. What is Milkfish Meaning?

Answer: In short the milkfish meaning is a big silvery Indo-Pacific fish raised for food in Southeast Asia and the Philippines.

Q3. What is the Body Shape of Milkfish?

Answer: The body of the Milkfish is long and almost compressed, with a symmetrical and streamlined look. Olive green in hue, with silvery flanks and black-edged fins. It features a large forked caudal fin, a single dorsal fin, and falcate pectoral fins.

Q4. What Do You Call a Baby Milkfish?

Answer: They've also been observed spawning in brackish waters along the beach, as well as swimming up rivers and into freshwater ponds. Young milkfish, known as fries, do, however, swim out into the ocean to develop. These young fish like to feed zooplankton, tiny eggs, and other minute animals while in saltwater.

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