bonefish, common name for a fish belonging to several species in the two genera of the family Albulidae. Albula vulpes, the bonefish, is widespread in warm, shallow marine waters; it is the only bonefish found worldwide. Most other species are found in similar waters of the African Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans; A. nemoptera, the threadfin bonefish, is found only in the West Indies. The bonefish is silvery in color, with a long, deeply forked tail and a single dorsal fin; it has a pointed head covered by a thick, transparent cartilage and a receding mouth filled with numerous small rounded teeth. A. nemoptera is distinguished by two long trailing filaments, one extending from its dorsal fin and one from its anal fin. Also known as ladyfish and banana fish, the bonefish may reach 3.5 ft (107 cm) in length, and 18 lb (8 kg) in weight. It is a bottom dweller of shallow, sandy areas where it feeds on crabs, shrimp, and worms. It is much prized as a game fish, despite the numerous tiny bones that limit its appeal as food. It is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Albuliformes, family Albulidae.
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