Common name: Bonefishes, Ladyfishes
Bonefishes or Ladyfishes live in most shallow, warm seas. The order comprises a single family, with two genera and about 11 species. A single genus, Albula, with two species are known from Australian waters.

Bonefishes are relatively slender, with a long snout, a heavy adipose eyelid and a gular plate, a bone found between the lower jaws of primitive bony fishes.

They grow to more than a metre in length and have an extended leptocephalus larval stage, suggesting a relationships with the eels.

They feed on bivalve molluscs, squid, shrimp and other fishes. Although they are a highly-prized fighting fish, they are not a good eating because of the very bony flesh - hence their common name.

Author: Dianne J. Bray

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Bonefishes ..., ALBULIFORMES in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Apr 2021,

Order References

Colborn J, Crabtree RE, Shaklee JB, Pfeiler E, Bowen BW. 2001. The evolutionary enigma of bonefishes (Albula spp.): cryptic species and ancient separations in a globally distributed shorefish. Evolution 55: 807–820.

Forsskål, P. 1775. Descriptions Animalium, Avium, Amphibiorum, Piscium, Insectorum, Vermium; quae in intinere Orientali observavit Petrus Forskål. Havniae : Mölleri 164 pp. 43 pls.

Hidaka, K., Y. Iwatsuki & J.E. Randall. 2008. A review of the Indo-Pacific bonefishes of the Albula argentea complex, with a description of a new species. Ichthyological Research 55: 53-64.

Hildebrand, S.F. 1963. Family Albulidae. In Olsen, Y.H. (ed) Fishes of the western North Atlantic. Mem. Sears Fndn. Mar. Res. 1(3): 132–147, figs. 22–24.

Paxton, J.R., J.E. Gates, D.J. Bray & D.F. Hoese. 2006. Family Albulidae, pp. 226-227. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing, Part 1.

Randall, J.E. & Bauchot, M.-L. 1999. Clarification of the two Indo-Pacific species of bonefishes, Albula glossodonta and A. forsteri. Cybium 23(1): 79–83.

Shaklee, J.B. & Tamaru, C.S. 1981). Biochemical and morphological evolution of Hawaiian bonefishes (Albula). Syst. Zool. 30(2): 125–146 figs 1–6.

Smith, D.G. & J.E. Randall. 1999. Albulidae, pp 1623–1624. In Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (eds.) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes: the living marine resources of the western central Pacific, vol 3. Batoid fishes, chimeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome.

Whitehead, P.J.P. 1986. The synonymy of Albula vulpes (Linnaeus, 1758) (Teleostei, Albulidae). Cybium 10: 211–230.