Diagnostic Description

    provided by World Register of Marine Species
    Chiefly tropical and subtropical marine; rare in fresh- and brackish water. Distribution: Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Scaleless or scales modified. Usually blunt head. Pelvic fins present in all but 2 species. Pelvic fin before pectorals; with 1 inconspicuous spine and 2-4 segmented rays. No teeth in palatines; vomerine teeth present. Teeth in jaws comblike, fixed or movable (canine teeth occasionally present). Spines in dorsal fin 3-17, flexible; 9-119 segmented soft rays. Pectoral rays 10-18, unbranched. Branched caudal fin rays, except in 1 species. Two spines in anal fin. All but 1 genus with basisphenoid. Swim bladder usually absent in adults. Usually 28-44 vertebrae, to 135 in Xiphasia. About 54 cm maximum length; most smaller than 15 cm. Capable mimetic behavior.