Atlantic pomfret Brama brama, from McCoy (1885).

Belongs within: Scombrimorpharia.

Pomfrets of the high seas
Published 15 February 2011
The fanfish Pterycombus petersii, photographed off the Kerama Islands by Kazuo Kayama.

The Bramidae, commonly known as pomfrets, are a cosmopolitan family of pelagic fishes, found mostly in the upper layers of the world’s oceans. Pomfrets are teardrop- or elliptical-shaped, deep-bodied and strongly-compressed fish with a single long dorsal fin that is ventrally mirrored by (usually slightly shorter) similar-shaped anal fin. Some species are quite large, with about a metre as the maximum recorded length for the family (McEachran & Fechhelm 2006). Thompson (2002) stated that pomfrets feed on other fish and larger invertebrates such as squid, but García & Chong (2002) found that Brama australis fed primarily on crustaceans such as krill.

Pteraclis aesticola, photographed by Kanno Takayuki.

The Bramidae are divided between two subfamilies, Pteraclinae and Braminae, though the monophyly of the latter in particular does not necessarily appear to have been established. Pteraclinae include two genera, the fanfishes Pteraclis and Pterycombus, with particularly large triangular dorsal and anal fins. Despite their unwieldy appearance, these fins can be completely depressed into a special groove formed by modified scales running on either side of the fins, as is being done by the individual in the photo above (if expanded, the fins of Pteraclis are even more expansive than those of Pterycombus, with the dorsal fin extending all the way forward to the snout). Members of the Braminae (the genera Brama, Eumegistus, Taractes, Taractichthys and Xenobrama) have less flamboyant fins with scales running partway along the rays and unable to be depressed (Thompson 2002).

The large bramine Taractes rubescens, from here.

Phylogenetically speaking, the molecular study using by Li et al. (2009) placed the Bramidae among a clade that they referred to as Stromateoidei (though somewhat different from earlier uses of this name), that also included families such as Stromateidae (butterfishes), Scombridae (mackerels), Trichiuridae (cutlassfishes) and Chiasmodontidae (black swallowers). A comparable clade was also recovered by Yagishita et al. (2009) using different molecular markers (Li et al. used nuclear genes; Yagishita et al. used mitochondrial genes; however, Yagishita et al. sampled a smaller number of families than Li et al.). Though morphologically diverse, all families in this clade are primarily pelagic.

Systematics of Bramidae
    |  i. s.: Eumegistus illustris Jordan & Jordan 1922LM01
    |         Bramoides brieni Casier 1966P93
    |         Gomocranion arambourgi Casier 1966P93
    |    |--PterycombusTK-M02
    |    |    |--P. brama Fries 1837LD09
    |    |    `--P. petersii (Hilgendorf 1878)LM01
    |    `--PteraclisND13
    |         |--P. aesticola (Jordan & Snyder 1901)LM01
    |         |--P. carolinusL43
    |         |--P. guttatus [incl. Coryphaena velifera]L43
    |         |--P. oculataL43
    |         |--P. papilio Lowe 1843L43
    |         |--P. trichopterusL43
    |         `--P. velifera (Pallas 1769)LM01
    `--+--Taractes Lowe 1843ND13, L43
       |    |--*T. asper Lowe 1843L43
       |    |--T. longipinnisB96
       |    `--T. rubescens (Jordan & Jordan 1887)LM01
            |    |--T. longipinnis (Lowe 1843)TK-M02
            |    `--T. steindachneri (Döderlein 1883)LM01
                 |--B. australis Valenciennes 1840LM01
                 |--B. brama (Bonnaterre 1788)LM01
                 |--B. dussumieri Cuvier 1831 [incl. B. leucotaenia Fowler 1938]LM01
                 |--B. japonicaTK-M02
                 |--B. longipinnis Lowe 1843L43
                 |--B. myersi Mead 1972LM01
                 |--B. orcini Cuvier 1831 [incl. Collybus drachme Snyder 1904]LM01
                 |--B. pauciradiata Moteki, Fujita & Last 1995LM01
                 `--B. raii (Bloch 1791) [=Sparus raii]M58

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B96] Bond, C. E. 1996. Biology of Fishes 2nd ed. Saunders College Publishing: Fort Worth.

García M., C., & J. Chong. 2002. Composicion de la dieta de Brama australis Valenciennes 1837 en la zona centro-sur de Chile (VIII región) en Otoño 2000 y Verano 2001. Gayana 66 (2): 225–230.

[LM01] Last, P. R., & M. Moteki. 2001. Bramidae. Pomfrets. 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. 5. Bony fishes part 3 (Menidae to Pomacentridae) pp. 2824–2836. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Rome.

[LD09] Li, B., A. Dettaï, C. Cruaud, A. Couloux, M. Desoutter-Meniger & G. Lecointre. 2009. RNF213, a new nuclear marker for acanthomorph phylogeny. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 50: 345–363.

[L43] Lowe, R. T. 1843. On the fishes of Madeira. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 11: 81–95.

McEachran, J. D., & J. D. Fechhelm. 2006. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico vol. 2. University of Texas Press.

[M58] Munro, I. S. R. 1958. The fishes of the New Guinea region: a check-list of the fishes of New Guinea incorporating records of species collected by the Fisheries Survey Vessel “Fairwind” during the years 1948 to 1950. Papua and New Guinea Agricultural Journal 10 (4): 97–369 (reprinted: 1958. Territory of Papua and New Guinea Fisheries Bulletin no. 1).

[ND13] Near, T. J., A. Dornburg, R. I. Eytan, B. P. Keck, W. L. Smith, K. L. Kuhn, J. A. Moore, S. A. Price, F. T. Burbrink, M. Friedman & P. C. Wainwright. 2013. Phylogeny and tempo of diversification in the superradiation of spiny-rayed fishes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 110 (31): 12738–12743.

[P93] Patterson, C. 1993. Osteichthyes: Teleostei. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 621–656. Chapman & Hall: London.

Thompson, B. A. 2002. Bramidae: pomfrets. In: Carpenter, K. E. (ed.) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Atlantic vol. 3. Bony fishes part 2 (Opistognathidae to Molidae), sea turtles and marine mammals. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes and American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication 5. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Rome.

[TK-M02] Thompson, B. A., & G. Klein-MacPhee. 2002. Pomfrets. Family Bramidae. In: Collette, B. B., & G. Klein-MacPhee (eds) Bigelow and Schroeder’s Fishes of the Gulf of Maine 3rd ed. pp. 427–429. Smithsonian Institute Press: Washington.

Yagishita, N., M. Miya, Y. Yamanoue, S. M. Shirai, K. Nakayama, N. Suzuki, T. P. Satoh, K. Mabuchi, M. Nishida & Tetsuji Nakabo. 2009. Mitogenomic evaluation of the unique facial nerve pattern as a phylogenetic marker within the percifom fishes (Teleostei: Percomorpha). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53 (1): 258–266.

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