Bonitos are a tribe of medium-sized, ray-finned predatory fish in the family Scombridae – a family it shares with the mackerel, tuna, and Spanish mackerel tribes, and also the butterfly kingfish.[1] Also called the tribe Sardini, it consists of eight species across four genera; three of those four genera are monotypic, having a single species each. Bonitos closely resemble the skipjack tuna.

Sarda sarda.jpg
Atlantic bonito, Sarda sarda
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scombriformes
Family: Scombridae
Subfamily: Scombrinae
Tribe: Sardini
Jordan and Evermann, 1896


The fish's name comes from the Spanish bonito 'pretty'.[2][3] An older theory suggests that it comes from an Arabic word bainīth, but that may actually be a borrowing from Spanish anyway.[4]



Pacific and Atlantic bonito meat has a firm texture and a darkish color. The bonito has a moderate fat content. The meat of young or small bonito can be of lighter color, close to that of skipjack tuna, and is sometimes used as a cheaper substitute for skipjack, especially for canning purposes, and occasionally in the production of cheaper varieties of katsuobushi that are sold as bonito flakes. [5] Bonito may not, however, be marketed as tuna in all countries.

The Atlantic bonito is also found in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, where it is a popular food fish, eaten grilled, pickled (lakerda), or baked.

See alsoEdit

  • Other fish sometimes called "bonito" include skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis



  1. ^ "Sardini". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2018, s.v.
  3. ^ "Bonite", French National Centre for Textual and Lexical Resources [fr]
  4. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1989 [1]
  5. ^ Katsuobushi: Dried Bonito Flakes. Japanese Cooking 101. Accessed Sept 2019