Fun Driftfish Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
Oct 20, 2022 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Driftfish Fact File
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.5 Min

The driftfish is a marine fish that live in tropical and subtropical regions. It prefers deep open waters with floating weeds.

This fish can be found in the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans. The distribution range includes Massachusetts, the Northern Gulf of Mexico, South America, Western Australia, northern Queensland, and New South Wales. In captivity, this fish requires a natural environment.

The classification involves three genera and 16 species. Some of them include (Silver driftfish), Psenes sio Haedrich, (Twospine driftfish), Psenes cyanophrys (freckled driftfish or yellow driftfish), and black flathead driftfish.

These finned fishes, especially Bluefin Driftfish found at a depth of up to 1000 m in sea. They can attain a length of 31.5 in (80 cm). Although, length varies from species to species among three genera. Unfortunately, there is not much data available about the biology of these fishes.

The life span is not clear. Various food items include small fish, jellyfish, and zooplanktons. More details about this fish have been provided by Haedrich through research for CITES and reference purposes.

For more relatable content, check out these longnose facts and monkfish facts for kids.

Driftfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a driftfish?

The driftfish is a ray-finned fish species that are found throughout the oceans of the world. It belongs to the family Nomeidae. Some other ray-finned fish species are bowfin and rainbow trout.

What class of animal does a driftfish belong to?

The driftfish is a fish group that belongs to the class Actinopterygii in phylum Chordata. The classification involves around 16 species.

How many driftfishes are there in the world?

The total population size of driftfishes has not been estimated yet. The classification includes three genera and 16 driftfish species in the family Nomeidae. The first genus species is Cubiceps consists of about 10 species.

Where does a driftfish live?

The driftfish species (Psenes cyanophrys) are found in the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans. Their distribution range also includes the Western Atlantic region including Massachusetts in the United States of America, South America, and the northern Gulf of Mexico. The dusky driftfish is also found in Western Australia and along the coastline of northern Queensland to New South Wales.

What is a driftfish's habitat?

The driftfish can be found in the tropical and warmer temperate waters of Earth. The adult driftfish like to live under large weeds, floating at a depth range of approximately 20 meters.

The bluebottle driftfish prefers the water with a depth range of 660 to 3,280 ft (200 to 1,000 m) in the sea. Bluefin driftfish (Psenes pellucidus) are also found at the depth of about 1000 m. These ray-finned species barely come near the surface of the sea or ocean.

Who do driftfishes live with?

The driftfishes usually live in groups known as schools. Sometimes they are also found in association with other water animals, including the jellyfish and sargassum (floating seaweed).

How long does a driftfish live?

The life span of the driftfish species is unknown.

How do they reproduce?

There is only a little information available regarding the reproduction of these fishes as there are fewer records and data collected by researchers. They are mostly oviparous or iteroparous and reproduction is sexual.

The number of pelagic eggs in these fishes is also unknown in most of the species. As their distribution range is tropical and warmer temperate regions, they probably breed in these regions. The females of this species lay 294,000 to 3,948,000 pelagic eggs in warmer depths of waters, and the youngs have a short body length.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of this driftfish is listed as Not Extinct in the IUCN red list data of threatened species in the world. These fishes populations and trend is also stable around the world, but it can get endangered in the future if proper care is not given.

Driftfish Fun Facts

What do driftfishes look like?

Pollock - Pollachius pollachius (Atlantic or European pollock)

*Please note the main image and this image are of a European pollock that belongs to the same sub-order as the driftfish. If you have an image of a driftfish please let us know at

The data regarding the physical biology of these fishes is also very little. Every species length is different.

Cubiceps capensis (Cape fathead) is the largest driftfish species that can have a max length of about 1 m. The bluebottle fish has blackish-blue stripes on its scales and its caudal fin is remarkably forked.

This fish can attains a length of nearly 15 in (39 cm). This tropical fish (Psenes cyanophrys) has a total of 9-12 dorsal spines, a total of 23-28 dorsal soft rays, three anal spines with a total of 23-28 anal soft rays, and 31 vertebrae.

It has darker brown vertical bands.

The dusky driftfish has a flattened body with a small mouth. The juveniles or young are silver with dark bands but adults are silver-gray with fine stripes.

Freckled driftfish or striped driftfish (Psenes cyanophrys) has an oval flattened body with a blunt snout, large eyes thin operculum, a fat ring around the eyes, two short spines, short mouth, small conical teeth, a narrow band on the head, an arched gill base, two separate dorsal fins, long wing-like pectoral fins with oblique bases, and about 17-20 rays.

The pelvic fins begin under the pectoral base which is connected to the abdomen and folds into a groove. Adult freckled driftfish is yellow with dark stripes along the side, whereas the young freckled driftfish is a transparent white with a silvery abdomen and short head.

How cute are they?

Some species of marine driftfish are adorable to watch, while some of them look ugly.

How do they communicate?

There are no records or data available about the communication among the tropical driftfish. But just like other fishes, they probably communicate through sound, smell, color, bioluminescence, or electrical impulses in waters.

How big is a driftfish?

The max length of a driftfish is 31.5 in (80 cm), which is about 20 times larger than an Indian mackerel.

How fast can a driftfish swim?

The swim speed of driftfish species is unknown.

How much does a driftfish weigh?

The weight of a marine driftfish is unidentified.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for male and female driftfish.

What would you call a baby driftfish?

The baby of this tropical driftfish is usually known as a young or larvae.

What do they eat?

The common food of driftfish during their life span include tentacles and gonads of siphonophore, jellyfish, zooplankton and other small fish of sea. The bluebottle fish is associated with the siphonophore and show mutual relationship with it.

They are usually found where food items availability is high. The Portuguese man-o-war driftfish; the man-of-war driftfish, Nomeus gronovii is known to feed on tentacles and gonads of siphonophores, jellyfish-like animals. The cape fathead driftfishes eat mainly scalps.

Some types of cubiceps usually found on swordfishes. The distribution range is spread from America to western Australia.

Are they dangerous?

No, driftfish species are non-dangerous fishes. They are usually found associated with other marine creatures.

Would they make a good pet?

Some marine species show glowing scales, such as bluefin driftfish, which look cool in the aquarium. Although, some species look ugly. In aquariums, these fishes need special care and a natural environment (floating weeds). The aquarium should be of considerable depth.

Did you know...

This tropical fish species (Psenes cyanophrys) are marine percomorph fishes whose distribution extends from southern America to western Australia.

The bluebottle driftfish scientific name is given after Laurentius Theodorus Gronovius, the Dutch zoologist.

Why is it called a driftfish?

There is no specific reason behind the naming of the driftfish. Although, the name suggests that this fish gets its name because of its quick drifts. However, the species of freckled driftfish have gotten their name due to the fact that they have freckle-like on their scales.

Are driftfish endangered?

No, they are not endangered. In fact, they are of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. Their population is currently stable around the world. Plus, they do not have any main threats.

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 brook trout facts and channel catfish facts pages.

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

Driftfish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Small fish and zooplankton

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical and subtropical waters

Where Do They Live?

pacific, indian

How Long Were They?

31.5 in (80 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Psenes cyanophrys

What Do They Look Like?

Silver, Gray

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

loss of habitat

What is their Conservation Status?

Not Extinct
We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

Read full bio >