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Introduction

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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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Overview

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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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Perciformes

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Perciformes, also called the Percomorpha or Acanthopteri, is an order or superorder of ray-finned fish. If considered a single order, they are the most numerous order of vertebrates, containing about 41% of all bony fish. Perciformes means "perch-like". This group comprises over 10,000 species found in almost all aquatic ecosystems.

The order contains about 160 families, which is the most of any order within the vertebrates.[1] It is also the most variably sized order of vertebrates, ranging from the 7-mm (1/4-in) Schindleria brevipinguis to the 5-m (16.4 ft) marlin in the genus Makaira. They first appeared and diversified in the Late Cretaceous.

Among the well-known members of this group are perch and darters (Percidae), sea bass and groupers (Serranidae).[2]

Characteristics

The dorsal and anal fins are divided into anterior spiny and posterior soft-rayed portions, which may be partially or completely separated. The pelvic fins usually have one spine and up to five soft rays, positioned unusually far forward under the chin or under the belly. Scales are usually ctenoid (rough to the touch), although sometimes they are cycloid (smooth to the touch) or otherwise modified.

Taxonomy

Classification of this group is controversial. As traditionally defined before the introduction of cladistics, the Perciformes are almost certainly paraphyletic. Other orders that should possibly be included as suborders are the Scorpaeniformes, Tetraodontiformes, and Pleuronectiformes. Of the presently recognized suborders, several may be paraphyletic, as well. These are grouped by suborder/superfamily, generally following the text Fishes of the World.[1][3][4][5]

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Perciformes display at the National Museum of Natural History.

References

  1. ^ a b Nelson, J. S. (2006). Fishes of the World (4 ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-25031-9.
  2. ^ "Perciform - Form and function". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  3. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2015). "Perciformes" in FishBase. August 2015 version.
  4. ^ "ADW: Perciformes". animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu. Animal Diversity Web.
  5. ^ a b J. S. Nelson; T. C. Grande; M. V. H. Wilson (2016). Fishes of the World (5th ed.). Wiley. pp. 430–467. ISBN 978-1-118-34233-6.
  6. ^ R. Betancur-Rodriguez, E. Wiley, N. Bailly, A. Acero, M. Miya, G. Lecointre, G. Ortí: Phylogenetic Classification of Bony Fishes – Version 4 (2016)
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Perciformes: Brief Summary

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Perciformes, also called the Percomorpha or Acanthopteri, is an order or superorder of ray-finned fish. If considered a single order, they are the most numerous order of vertebrates, containing about 41% of all bony fish. Perciformes means "perch-like". This group comprises over 10,000 species found in almost all aquatic ecosystems.

The order contains about 160 families, which is the most of any order within the vertebrates. It is also the most variably sized order of vertebrates, ranging from the 7-mm (1/4-in) Schindleria brevipinguis to the 5-m (16.4 ft) marlin in the genus Makaira. They first appeared and diversified in the Late Cretaceous.

Among the well-known members of this group are perch and darters (Percidae), sea bass and groupers (Serranidae).

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