Fun Ponyfish Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
Oct 20, 2022 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Let us 'dive' into ponyfish facts about their life.

The common ponyfish (Leiognathus equulus) is a commonly spotted fish with a wide distribution. This fish is known to adopt freshwater, brackish, and even marine waters as its natural habitat.

The range of this fish extends across the Indo-Pacific waters. Australia, Asia, and Africa are some places you can find this little fish. These fishes possess a light organ that contains bioluminescent bacteria, projecting light out from the fish's body.

Not much is known about these fishes. They are a prime commercial species, being caught as well as farmed in fisheries. They are also sold both dried as well as fresh. They are popularly used in making the Philippine condiment, bagoóng.

For more relatable content, check out these olive flounder facts and foxface rabbitfish facts for kids.

Ponyfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a ponyfish?

The west Pacific Leiognathus equulus is a type of fish. It is commonly known as ponyfish.

What class of animal does a ponyfish belong to?

The Indo-Pacific common ponyfish belongs to the class of fishes. The fishes falling under the Leiognathidae family have various names such as slimys, slimies, ponyfishes, or even slipmouths!

How many ponyfishes are there in the world?

We are not aware of the total population of the Leiognathus equulus. However the IUCN has given them a status of Least Concern, meaning they can be found in abundance.

Where does a ponyfish live?

The ponyfish distribution extends from East Africa all the way to Fiji, living in the Indian Ocean, western Pacific Ocean, Persian Gulf, and even the Red Sea. Certain population distribution has been found in Australia as well, across Western Australia and around Queensland.

What is a ponyfish's habitat?

This species is found mainly in marine and brackish waters. Estuaries, river mouths, and coastal waters are also inhabited by this species. They also swim into freshwater sources.

Who do ponyfish live with?

Yes, these fishes of the family Leiognathidae live in small groups.

How long does a ponyfish live?

Species under the Leiognathidae family are known to have short lives with a life of about one to two years. For fish, this is considered a short life.

How do they reproduce?

We are not aware of the reproductive activities carried out by Leiognathus equulus.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of this species of the family Leiognathidae is Least Concern.

Ponyfish Fun Facts

What do ponyfishes look like?

Adult ponyfishes have gray backs, silver bellies, and multiple parallel bars on the back which are faintly visible. Usually, there is a dark brown saddle present on the caudal peduncle. The soft dorsal fins have black margins, whereas both the caudal fin lobes have dusky margins.

The remaining fin types, pelvic, pectoral, and anal, are all either colorless or slightly yellowish. They have a total of eight dorsal spines and about 15-16 soft rays on the dorsal side. They have three anal spines with 14-15 anal soft rays.

Pony fish bodies are very deep and compressed and ponyfishes have strongly humped backs. When protracted, the mouth of this fish points downwards.

The gill rakers are fleshy and short, About 18-22 gill rakers are present on the first-gill arch. The head and breast regions lack any scales, however, there are about 61-66 tubed scales arranged on the lateral line.

Sometimes, a dark blotch is present on the forehead. They have large eyes and the teeth are small, arranged in rows within the mouth. There is a pair of bony ridges running down from the top of the head between the eyes called the nuchal spine.

Overall, the fish has a silvery appearance. Both female and male ponyfish have the same body sizes.

Juvenile ponyfishes have thin, gray vertical lines descending from the back to the midheight. The snouts are slightly dotted black.

China Rockfish

* Please note that this is an image of a China Rockfish and not Ponyfish specifically. If you have an image of a ponyfish, please let us know at

How cute are they?

We find these little fishes absolutely adorable and ponyfish are known to be very cute.

How do they communicate?

Fishes are known to communicate with each other through various means. Some of them include sound, bioluminescence, smell, electrical impulses, color, and even motion.

The property of bioluminescence helps fish see and identify each other in the dark depth of marine waters. Electrical impulse can be used to identify other fishes of the same species and joining them in the same school, swimming through the depths.

The common ponyfish has a bioluminescent characteristic which might possibly aid in communication with other fish of its species.

How big is a ponyfish?

The average length of the ponyfish species is about 7.08 in (18 cm). However, they can grow up to 11 in (28 cm). This makes them almost three times the average size of the Buenos Aires Tetra.

How fast can ponyfishes swim?

We do not know the speed of the common pony fish.

How much do ponyfishes weigh?

This fish species of the Leiognathidae family is said to weigh around 7.05 oz (200 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female fishes of this marine species do not have any specific names.

What would you call a baby ponyfish?

A baby of a common ponyfish is called a fry.

What do they eat?

These fishes feed on krill, shrimp, small fishes, and even polychaetes.

Are they dangerous?

No, Leiognathus equulus fish are not a dangerous species.

Would they make a good pet?

We love the idea of keeping this freshwater species of Australia as pets.

Did you know...

Wondering how this species of the Leiognathus species got its name? Well, ponyfishes have an ability to extend their mouth which pretty much resembles the nose of a pony when extended.

Members of the Leiognathidae family are active during the day.

If you want to find the ponyfish, the deep sea is not the right place to find them.

These fishes have a well-developed light organ situated in their throats. Within this organ, symbiotic bioluminescent bacteria are present. These bacteria project out light through the fish’s body. For all ponyfishes under the Leiognathidae family, the bacteria harbored in the throat is Photobacterium leiognathi. However, Photobacterium mandapamensis is present in two species under the same family.

All the members of the Leiognathidae family inhabit the Indian and West Pacific waters.

There are 10 different genera falling under the Leiognathidae family. They are Aurigequula, Equulites, Eubleekeria, Gazza, Karalla, Leiognatus, Nuchequula, Photolateralis, Photopectoralis, and Secutor.

Anglerfish and viperfish are also known to use the property of bioluminescence.

Can you eat ponyfishes?

Yes, ponyfishes can actually be caught and eaten. As these fishes dwell close to river mouths and mangroves, they can be easily caught from their natural distribution. These fishes can be fished or farmed, and have been sold both dried and fresh.

The flesh of these fishes in the Leiognathus genus (Leiognathidae family) is said to have a medium flavor. The flesh stays firm even when cooked. The anatomy of this fish is actually quite bony, but the bones are known to fuse together at the base of the fin, making it easier to remove and eat.

You can either bake, cook, steam, or even grill this fish.

Does a ponyfish have scales?

Yes, ponyfishes (genus Leiognathus) do have scales on their body, except on the breast and around the head.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fishes from our king salmon facts and red mullet facts pages.

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

* Please note the main image is of a spotnape ponyfish, one of the species of ponyfish. If you have a picture of a ponyfish please let us know at

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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.

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