Pacific Bonefish, Albula argentea Forster 1801

Other Names: Banana-fish, Bonefish, Ghost of the Flats, Grey Ghost, Lady Fish, Longjaw Bonefish

Pacific Bonefish, Albula argentea. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


The Pacific Bonefish has a slender body with a convex upper profile and a distinctive conical snout that protrudes beyond the inferior mouth. The dorsal fin is short-based and somewhat triangular in shape and the tail is deeply forked.

Schools of bonefish move into shallow waterwith the incoming tide to feed over sandflats, mudflats and seagrass beds.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Albula argentea in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Pacific Bonefish, Albula argentea Forster 1801

More Info


Known in Australia from Coral Bay, Western Australia, to Port Hacking, New South Wales, Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea, and Christmas Island in the Eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the tropical East-Indo-West Pacific, from the Indo-Malayan region to the Society and Marquesas Islands ion French Polynesia.

Schools of Pacific Bonefish are commonly found in  shallow coastal waters at depths of 0-10 m. They are often seen feeding over intertidal sandflats, mudflats and seagrass beds, amongst mangroves, in river mouths and in deeper nearby areas.


Dorsal fin 17-18; Anal fin 8; Pectoral fin 16-18; Pelvic fin 10; Gill rakers 7-12 + 10-13 = 17-25; Lateral line scales (pored) 68-74; Scale rows above lateral line 8-9; Predorsal scales 17-24; Branchiostegal rays 12-15; Vertebrae 71-74.


To a total length of 1.1 metres.


Head and body bright silvery-white with prominent dark longitudinal streaks between the scales rows along the upper body; snout tip and nostrils black; posterior caudal fin margin black; ventral margin of lower caudal fin lobe white; first pelvic ray white; pectoral and pelvic fin bases slightly yellow; anal fin white (Hidaka et al. 2008).


Feed on a range of bottom-living fishes and invertebrates (crustaceans, molluscs and polychaete worms). They also use their conical snouts to dig up the bottom in search of invertebrates buried in the sediment.


The Pacific Bonefish, like the true eels, tarpons and ladyfishes possesses a pelagic ribbon-like larval stage called a leptocephalus larva.


Bonefishes are highly sort after by recreational anglers, although their bony flesh is considered poor eating.



Some authors consider that the name Albula argentea to be unavailable (as it is preoccupied by Esox argenteus Gmelin 1789) and refer to the Pacific Bonefish as Albula forsteri.

Eschmeyer (2012) in the Online Catalog of Fishes writes: The replacement name forsteri was becoming established as the valid name for the Pacific Bonefish until authors recently began to use argentea on the basis of Art. 23.9.5 in the Code of Zoological Nomenclature in effect on 1 Jan. 2000 that allowed use of secondary primary homonyms.

Here we follow Colborn et al. (2001), Hidaka et al. (2008) and other authors, including Eschmeyer (2012) in using the name Albula argentea for the Pacific Bonefish.

Similar Species

Albula argentea differs from Albula oligolepis, in having more pored lateral line scales (68–74 vs 61–65), more vertebrae (71–74 vs 64–66), more scale rows above the lateral line (9–10 vs 7½–8  for A. oligolepis) and in having the pelvic-fin tips reaching beyond the anus, vs not reaching, or just reaching the anus in A. oligolepis.


The species name argentea is from the latine argenteus, meaning 'silvery', in reference to the bright silvery appearance of the Pacific Bonefish.

Species Citation

Esox argenteus Forster in Bloch & Schneider 1801, Systema Ichthyologiae: 395. Type locality: Tahiti


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Pacific Bonefish, Albula argentea Forster 1801


Adams, A., Guindon, K., Horodysky, A., MacDonald, T., McBride, R., Shenker, J. & Ward, R. 2012. Albula argentea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T194298A2310290. Downloaded on 20 October 2017.

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls (p. 50, as A. neoguinaica)

Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G. 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin. 584 pp. 110 pls

Colborn, J., Crabtree, R.E., Shaklee, J.B., Pfeiler, E. & Bowen, B.W. 2001. The evolutionary enigma of bonefishes (Albula spp.): cryptic species and ancient separations in a globally distributed shorefish. Evolution 55(4): 807-820 (as A. argentea throughout the paper "To avoid confusion with previous literature".)

Eschmeyer, W. N. (ed). 2012. Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences ( Electronic version accessed 5 June 2012.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 (p. 157, as A. neoguinaica)

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. (p. 102, as A. neoguinaica)

Hidaka, K., Iwatsuki, Y. & Randall, J.E. 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.

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp. (p. 346, as A. neoguinaica)

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 (p. 81, as A. forsteri)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs (p. 32, as A. neoguinaica)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs

Wallace, E.M. & Tringali, M.D. 2010. Identification of a novel member in the family Albulidae (bonefishes). Journal of Fish Biology 76: 1972-1983.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37055001

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:1-90 m

Fishing:Popular sportsfish

Habitat:Inshore, marine

Max Size:110 cm

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CAAB distribution map