(Linnaeus, 1758); ALBULIDAE FAMILY; also called banana fish, phantom,
silver ghost, ladyfish, grubber
Occurs worldwide in shallow tropical and subtropical waters around flats
and intertidal areas.
The dorsal fin consists of 17 19 soft rays. The
anal fin has 8 9 soft rays, the ventral fins have 9, and the pectoral
fins have 15 17. There
are 65 73 scales along the lateral line—none on the head. The sides
and belly of the fish are bright silver. Parts of the fins and the snout
may show a yellowish or dusky color. Bonefish are basically schooling fish.
The smaller ones can be seen in large schools on the flats. The larger
ones tend to form smaller schools or groups. They feed on crabs, shrimp,
clams, sea worms, sea urchins, and small fish that inhabit the sandy flats
and intertidal areas. They are often seen rooting in the sand, their tails
breaking the surface of the shallow water; an action commonly known as “trailing”.
At other times they will plough the bottom stirring up silt and marl, known
as “mudding”. They are powerful and run very fast and hard
when hooked. Fishing methods include plug, fly or spin casting from a skiff
or while wading on tidal flats, using shrimp, crabs or similar baits. Most
bonefish are caught in depths from 6 inches to 10 ft (15 cm to 3 m).
This species begins life looking more like an eel
than a fish and undergoes a leptocephalus larval stage during which it
grow to a length of about
2 ½ in (6.3 cm); then during a period of metamorphosis the eel like
larva shrinks to half its former size. As it shrinks, fins begin to appear,
and after 10 12 days the eel has become a 1.5 in (3.81 cm) miniature bonefish,
and begins to grow again. Tarpon and ladyfish undergo similar stages of
development. As one might expect from the name, the bonefish has an abundance
of bones (some of which are quite tiny), for which reason this fish is
less than popular as table fare