Fun Bombay Duck Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 20, 2022 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Learn about the Bombay duck facts about a fish that has a typical appearance of a lizardfish.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.5 Min

The Bombay duck, also known as Harpadon nehereus, is a fish species. They are known by several names such as bummalo, bombil, and boomla. Often people wonder 'What is a Bombay duck? Is it a type of duck or a fish?'.

It is a type of lizardfish. It belongs to the Synodontidae family. The fish is mainly used in June for consumption by humans after drying it.

The origin of the fish’s name is unknown. As per some sources, it has been assumed by several people during British rule that the dominant smell of fresh dried fish being transported from the mail train was known as Bombay Daak.

Later, this resulted in people using the phrase 'you smell like the Bombay Daak' during the British rule in India.

However, according to the Oxford dictionary dates, this has been found to be an inconsistent explanation. In Bangladesh, it has been said that the term Bombay duck was used by Robert Clive after tasting the fish.

The Bombay duck fish has an ugly appearance. It is not very appealing. It has wet, slimy, light gray scales. The adults normally grow up to 9.8-15.7 in (25-40 cm) in length.

The Mumbai fried seafood is even found in translucent pink and brown color with small, dark patches. The fish has a large mouth with a forked tail. It has large pectoral and pelvic fins. Read on for more interesting facts.

After this, you may also check our articles on the sucker fish and the fluke fish.

Bombay Duck Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Bombay duck?

It is a type of fish found in the Indian subcontinent – mostly Mumbai and Bengal.

What class of animal does a Bombay duck belong to?

The fish bombil belongs to the Actinopterygii class of the Synodontidae family.

How many Bombay ducks are there in the world?

The population of the bombil is unknown. However, they are not going to be extinct any time soon.

Where does a Bombay duck live?

The bombil can be found in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent. The fish’s habitat can be found in the tropical parts of the Indo-Pacific water bodies.

The bombil is known as strange fishes since they are distributed unevenly along the entire Indian coast. The bombil is an essential item to be caught in the water bodies of Mumbai, Gujarat, and Lakshadweep.

What is a Bombay duck habitat?

Similar to other fish, the bombil lives in aquatic habitats. The Indian bombil can be found in rivers, deep sea, ponds, streams, and other water bodies.

Who do Bombay ducks live with?

The bombil is found in the discontinuous distribution on the sea coast. It is usually found living together with others in small numbers. However, it is not precise whether they live in packs or alone.

How long does a Bombay duck live?

The lifespan of the bombil is unknown. However, it is said to be similar to other lizardfish, so probably up to nine years. If it lives less than that, then it is because it is preyed upon or hunted by humans.

How do they reproduce?

The bombil reproduces when it lays eggs in the mud. The buried eggs are hatched and the fry grows up and lays more eggs. They usually reproduce after four to eight months.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of Mumbai’s bombil is Nearly Threatened. Since 2021, their population has been decreasing.

Bombay Duck Fun Facts

What do Bombay ducks look like?

The bombil has a very non-appealing look. They have a look similar to the rest of the lizardfish. The color of the bombil is brown or translucent gray. The bombil is dull and has small patches or speckles that are darker in color. The Mumbai delicacy has pelvic fins, a large mouth, and a forked tail.

Lizardfish move in groups while they catch their prey.

*Please note that this is an image is of a common sand diver, not a Bombay duck. If you have an image of a Bombay duck, please let us know at

How cute are they?

Fishes such as clownfish and cellophane betta are considered cute. However, this Mumbai delicacy is well-known for being eaten and is not a cute-looking fish. As mentioned before, they are not appealing to look at. Their large mouth and forked tail with sharp teeth definitely don’t make them look cute.

How do they communicate?

The bombil is a lizardfish and communicates similarly to other fish. It communicates using common techniques like sound, color, bioluminescence, motion, electrical impulses, and smell. These common techniques are used by it to help navigate, call for help, alert predators, and while it fights with others.

How big is a Bombay duck?

An average bombil is of small or medium size. It has a length of 9.8-15.7 in (25-40 cm).

How fast can a Bombay duck swim?

Bombils swim at a faster speed when they sense danger or are hunting for their meals. Their exact speed is unknown.

How much does a Bombay duck weigh?

The accurate weight of the fish is unknown. However, it is said that the fish is extremely lightweight – especially after being dried up.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific male and female names for this fish.

What would you call a baby Bombay duck?

Similar to other fish, the lizardfish’s baby is known as fry. However, there is no specific name for a baby Bombay duck. But the fish themselves are known by several names like bombil, boomla, and bummalo.

What do they eat?

They consume a lot of different water creatures. These fish are piscivorous and mostly eat shrimps such as pelagic shrimps and demersal shrimps. Some of them hunt for prawns as well.

Are they poisonous?

These fish are not harmful. The mercury level present in them is low. Moreover, they have omega 3 fatty acids and DHA present in them which can help in developing children’s brains. Therefore even expecting women can consume it but in moderation.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would not make a good pet. The bombil is a carnivorous fish and is meant to live in the sea.

It cannot be kept as a pet. Hence, it is advised to not consider them as good pets. If you wish to have the bombil as your pet, then you can go for an alternate lizardfish as a pet.

Even though lizardfish are not an ideal choice for pets, they would make your aquarium look more attractive. Moreover, fish is a popular seafood choice. It is normally meant to be eaten after being dried. The fish is popular among the British and Indian population for its taste.

Did you know...

The famous Mumbai seafood is a lizardfish that is eaten after being dried up. The name of the fish has been a mystery. The dominant smell of the fresh fried fish from the Mumbai train resulted in the fish being named after the train, Bombay Daak.

In 1975, Mina Kava, a Parsi composer and musician wrote a song entitled 'Bombay Duck.' This was an ode to the Parsi people's love for the fish.

How to eat Bombay duck

The famous Bombay duck recipe is a specialty in India. In fact, after Mumbai, the dried seafood is consumed the most by the populations in Bengal, especially in the month of June. The taste of the seafood made it popular in Britain.

It can be served in many ways, including coated in semolina and pan-fried with spices, made into a pickle, added to curries, or simply served alongside the rest of the meal.

Why is this fish called ‘Bombay duck'?

The famous Mumbai fried seafood is a delicacy that was named after a train during the British Raj. The pungent smell of the dried fish while being transported on a famous train in Mumbai during the British rule made Indians name the fried seafood after the mail train.

The name of the train was Bombay Daak (Daak means mail).

There was a dominant smell of fresh dried fish being transported from the Mumbai mail train known as Bombay Daak. Later this term resulted in the fish being called Bombay duck.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our lake trout facts and flame tetra facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bombay duck coloring pages.

Bombay duck Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Pelagic shrimps, demersal shrimps, and fishes

What Type of Animal were they?

Zooplankton, prawns, small fish

Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

sea and oceans

Where Do They Live?

north india

How Long Were They?

9.8-15.7 in (25-40 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Harpadon nehereus

What Do They Look Like?

Light gray

Skin Type

Wet, slimy scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

humans and larger fish

What is their Conservation Status?

Not Extinct

north india

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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