Overview

Brief Summary

Overview

Perciforms, or perch-like fish, can be considered the dominant vertebrates in the world’s oceans.(1) This not-clearly-delimited taxonomic group (2,3) forms the largest order of fish,(1,2,4,5) and indeed the largest order of vertebrates;(1,4) with over 10,000 species,(1,2,3,4) ranging from Arctic to Antarctic waters,(2,3) the perciforms comprise at least a third of all fish species.(2,4) While perciforms live in a variety of habitats, from freshwater rivers, lakes, and ponds(2,3,4,5) to the far depths of the oceans,(2,3,4) the greatest array of species can be found in marine environments close to shores,(3,5) especially in coral reefs.(4) They vary widely in size (anywhere from 1.2 centimeters to 3.3 meters long), shape, color, feeding behavior, and breeding and migration behavior.(3) In fact, this order of fish is so diverse that the families contained within it may not even all stem from a common evolutionary ancestor.(2,3,5) Still, there are some important characteristics that most perciforms share. These include, among others, pectoral fins on the sides;(4) spines on the dorsal and anal fins, probably for self-defense;(2,3) pelvic fins on the abdomen with one spine and up to five soft rays;(2,3,4) dorsal and anal fins that are detached from the caudal (tail) fin,(2,3) which has fewer than eighteen principal rays;(4) and a jaw that can be thrust outward to suck food into the mouth.(3) Perciforms occupy important positions in ecosystems, serving as both predators and prey and frequently taking part in mutually-beneficial relationships with other species, as in the case of the cleaner fish which eat parasites off of larger fish.(3) For thousands of years, perciforms have also been highly significant for humans, who make use of such perciforms as tuna, mackerel, bass, and many others as major food sources(3)—so much so that some perciforms are now seriously threatened by over-fishing.(3,4) Today many beautiful perciforms are also popular as aquarium fish.(3)

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Introduction

You might think that sharks or whales rule the oceans’ vertebrate life, but in terms of number of species, the prize goes to the perciforms. The largest order of vertebrates in the world,(1,2) the perciformes are a group of over 10,000 species of fish (1,2,3,4) that live all over the globe (3,4)—not just deep in the ocean, (2,3,4) but also in lakes, rivers,(2,3,4) and most of all in coral reefs off of the seashore.(2) From tiny gobies to long, fierce barracudas,(4) from the black and blue wolf-eel to the vivid orange and white clown anemone fish,(5) from shocking electric stargazers to insect-shooting archer fish,(4) perciforms have an endless variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and behaviors.(4) Yet despite their amazing diversity (and the uncertainty about the exact groups belonging in this order of fish (3,4), most perciformes share some important features. These include, among others, pectoral fins on the sides;(2) spines on the dorsal fin (on the fish’s back) and anal fin (on the fish’s underside), probably for self-defense;(3,4) a tail fin that is unconnected to the other fins;(3,4) and a jaw that can be pushed outward to suck food into the mouth.(4) Perciforms have many important interactions with other species, serving as both predators and prey and frequently taking part in relationships that benefit both themselves and other species, as in the case of cleaner fish, which tidy up the mouths and bodies of larger fish and get a tasty meal of small morsels in the process.(4) For thousands of years, perciforms have also been very important for humans, who make use of perciforms such as tuna, mackerel, bass, and many others as major food sources(4)—so much so that some of these are now seriously threatened by overfishing.(2,4) Today many beautiful perciforms are also popular choices for aquariums.(4)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:79,271Public Records:48,445
Specimens with Sequences:65,223Public Species:3,496
Specimens with Barcodes:63,878Public BINs:5,418
Species:5,951         
Species With Barcodes:5,506         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Perciformes

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