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Chanos chanos  (Forsskål, 1775)

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Chanos chanos
Picture by Randall, J.E.

Philippines country information

Common names: Awa, Awa, Awa
Occurrence: native
Salinity: freshwater
Abundance: abundant (always seen in some numbers) | Ref: Bagarinao, T., 1994
Importance: commercial | Ref: Bagarinao, T., 1994
Aquaculture: commercial | Ref: Bagarinao, T., 1994
Regulations: restricted | Ref: Bagarinao, T., 1994
Uses: no uses
Comments: Known from Marinduque (Ref. 58652). Reported from Lake Buluan (Ref. 13492), Lake Lanao, Lake Taal, Lake Naujan (13446), and Lanuza Bay (Ref. 104756). Migrated into Lake Mainit via Tubay River, Mindanao (Ref. 4867, 13446). A very important food fish; cultured in fishponds, pens or cages in Laguna de Bay and all over the country (Ref. 80824). No fishery for adult milkfish as it is illegal to catch them. Incidentally caught by various gears in coastal waters (Ref. 9814). Used to have a fishery for migrating adults from Naujan Lake and Taal Lake (Bagarinao, pers. Comm.) (Ref. 81207). Museum specimens collected in 1983-4 from various localities, LRS-83109 (Ref. 13460). Also Ref. 49, 393, 9987, 12547, 12550, 12868.
National Checklist:
Country Information:
National Fisheries Authority:
Occurrences: Occurrences Point map
Main Ref: Broad, G., 2003
National Database:

Classification / Names

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Gonorynchiformes (Milkfish) > Chanidae (Milkfish)
Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL

Main reference

Size / Weight / Age

Max length : 180 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 9710); 124.0 cm SL (female); common length : 100.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 9814); max. published weight: 14.0 kg (Ref. 9814); max. reported age: 15 years (Ref. 9814)

Length at first maturity
Lm 91.8, range 68 - 70 cm


Marine; freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic; amphidromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 1 - 30 m (Ref. 6898), usually ? - 15 m (Ref. 89972)

Climate / Range

Tropical; 15°C - 43°C (Ref. 43081); 46°N - 52°S, 19°E - 77°W


Indo-Pacific: along continental shelves and around islands, where temperatures are greater than 20°C. Red Sea and South Africa to Hawaii and the Marquesas, north to Japan, south to Victoria, Australia. Eastern Pacific: San Pedro, California to the Galapagos.
Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Introductions

Short description

Dorsal spines (total): 2; Dorsal soft rays (total): 13-17; Anal spines: 2; Anal soft rays: 8 - 10; Vertebrae: 46. This species is characterized by the following: body elongate and somewhat compressed; mouth small and toothless; branchiostegal rays 4; one dorsal fin; pectoral fins falcate; body olive green; flanks silvery; fins dark bordered (Ref. 55763). Superficially resembles bonefishes but by evolution more advanced by having 4 branchiostegal rays (Ref. 1602); jaws toothless (Ref. 12693); with 31 caudal fin rays (Ref. 50686).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Found in offshore marine waters and shallow coastal embayments, but also frequently enter estuaries and occasionally penetrate freshwater streams (Ref. 44894). A marine species which enters estuaries and rivers (Ref. 52331). Adults occur in small to large schools near the coasts or around islands where reefs are well developed. Eggs and larvae are pelagic up to 2-3 weeks. Older larvae migrate onshore and settle in coastal wetlands (mangroves, estuaries) during the juvenile stage, or occasionally enter freshwater lakes. Juveniles and sub-adults return to sea where they mature sexually. Spawn only in fully saline water. Larvae eat zooplankton; juveniles and adults eat cyanobacteria, soft algae, small benthic invertebrates, and even pelagic fish eggs and larvae. Larvae are collected from rivers and are grown in culture ponds into juveniles, which are marketed fresh, smoked, canned or frozen. Brood stocks can be raised and spawned in captivity to produce larvae in the hatchery (Ref. 12868). Can thrive and grow in water as hot as 32° C (Ref. 9987).

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185)

Threat to humans


Human uses

Fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; bait: usually


Special reports

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Internet sources

Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805)
PD50 = 1.5000 many relatives (e.g. carps) 0.5 - 2.0 few relatives (e.g. lungfishes)

Trophic Level (Ref. 69278)
2.4   ±0.20 se; Based on food items.

Resilience (Ref. 69278)
Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (tm=4-8; tmax=15; Fec=200,000)

Vulnerability (Ref. 59153)
Very high vulnerability (76 of 100)
Price category (Ref. 80766)