The milkfish has a generally symmetrical and streamlined appearance, with a sizable forked caudal fin. They can grow to 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in), but are most often no more than 1 m (39 in) in length. They have no teeth and generally feed on algae and invertebrates.
They occur in the Indian Ocean and across the Pacific Ocean, tending to school around coasts and islands with reefs.
The young fry live at sea for two to three weeks and then migrate to mangrove swamps, estuaries, and sometimes lakes, and return to sea to mature sexually and reproduce.