School of scad mackerel

Bony fish

In their myriad colours, patterns, shapes and sizes, bony fish abound in the waters of the world. All fish have a skeleton of either bone or cartilage, however, it is the bony fish that are so numerous they make up an incredible half of all vertebrates. This is less surprising when you consider the length of time they've had to evolve, as some fossils have been dated back 400 million years. Follow the links below to find captivating videos featuring exotic sea dragons, extraordinary catfish, the more pedestrian - but no less fascinating - trout and the living fossil coelacanth. Don't miss classic footage of the epic salmon run and stunning sardine bait balls

Scientific name: Osteichthyes

Rank: Superclass

Watch video clips from past programmes (1 clip)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.

Bony fish size range

A graphic illustration of bony fish size compared with a human, from largest to smallest: Leedsichthys, northern bluefin tuna,

A comparison of bony fish size in relation to humans - from the 16m long prehistoric Leedsichthys to the 12cm long three-spined stickleback.


The following habitats are found across the Bony fish distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Bony fish

Elsewhere on the BBC