The sizes of the pomfret can be quite diverse, but the largest is the Atlantic pomfret (Brama brama) which can be 3.3 ft (1 m) long. The big-scale pomfret are known to reach lengths of 50 to 100 cm. They can also swim to depths of 500 m.
Classification and Distribution
The pomfret belong to the Bramidae family under the Perciformes order. There are several species and they are scattered throughout the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. Majority of the species are food fish, especially in many South Asian countries.
The fish was originally known as the pampflet. The term probably came from the Portuguese pampo. The fish is now known by various names, including Vavval in Tamil, Saranga/ Paaplet/Pamphlet in Marathi, Avioli in Malyalam and Maanji at Tulu. The pomfret is called Monchong in Hawaii where it is a delicacy.
The size of the pomfret is well known, but other facts about the fish are difficult to determine because they are rare. One exception is the Pacific pomfret (Brama japonica), which is found in the north Pacific.
Majority of the species have one dorsal fin. In some specimens the fin extends to the entire body length. Many of the pomfret are deep bodied. The tails also have a deep fork. Research shows that the young pomfret look different from the adults, especially when it comes to the fin shape and the body.
The spotted fanfish (Pteraclis velifera) is located in the indo-west Pacific oceans. Compared to the size of the pomfret Taractichthys longipinnis (the big-scale pomfret), its length is between 40 to 60 cm. The range is from South Africa all the way to the coasts of New Zeeland. The fish can swim to depths of 500 m (over 1500 ft).
Currently there are eight genera divided into 20 species. Under the genus Brama the species are Brama australis, Brama brama, Caribbean pomfret (Brama caribbea), Brama pauciradiata, Bigtooth pomfret (Brama orcini), Brama myersi, Pacific pomfret (Brama japonica) and Lesser bream (Brama dussumieri).
The Collybus drachme species belongs to the genus Collybus. The genus Eumegistus has two species: the Eumegistus brevorti and the Eumegistus illustris. The genus Pteraclis has three species: Pacific fanfish (Pteraclis aesticola), Pteraclis carolinus and the Pteraclis
velifera or spotted fanfish.
The genus Pterycombus has two species: Pterycombus brama and Pterycombus petersii. The genus Taractes has two species, the Taractes asper and Taractes rubescens.
The genus Taractichthys has two species: the Taractichthys longipinnis and Taractichthys steindachneri. The genus Xenobrama has a single species, the Xenobrama microlepis.
Some species of butterfish are also known as pomfret, although they belong to another family (Stromateidae). The silver or white pomfret and the Chinese silver pomfret however, do not belong to the pomfret family. This can lead to some confusion.
When comparing the size of the pomfret, one should make certain they are referring to the correct species. As indicated, other fish are known by this name even though they belong to another family.