The order Gonorynchiformes is a relatively small order, consisting of four families and 32 species. The most famous represenative of the order is the milkfish although there are several other fishes that are also caught and used for food.
These gonorynchiform fish are found on sandy continental shelves throughout the world. They can reach a length of about 24 inches and are considered good fish to eat, especially in Australia and New Zealand. Until recently there was only one species of beaked salmon. Today, taxonomists have split them into six different species.
The Milkfish (Chanos chanos) is the only species in the family Chanidae. It is an important food fish in the Indian Ocean and tropical Pacific Ocean, that is both caught in the wild and farmed. The young fry live at sea for the first two or three weeks and then migrate to mangrove swamps, estuaries and often lakes. They return to the sea to mature sexually and reproduce. While milkfish can reach six feet in length, they are most commonly seen at about three feet in length.
The family Kneriidae, contains about 24 species of freshwater gonorynchiform fishes native to fast-flowing highland streams in Africa. Relatively little has been written about this group. Fishes are often sexually dimorphic, with males expressing a roseate on the gill covers.
The least abundant family is that of the hingemouth, often called African mudfish (Phractolaemus ansorgii). The mouth on these fish can open like it was a small trunk, thus the name, hingemouth. These fish are well adapted to survive in oxygen-poor environments since their swim bladder can function like a lung (it has two compartments).
The following four families contain the living representatives of the order Gonorynchiformes.
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