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| Last Updated:: 12/10/2015

Key characters of different orders and familes of Parangipettai fishes


Checklist of different familes of Parangipettai fishes
Sl. No.
Cartilaginous fishes (Chondrichthyes)
Bony fishes (Osteichthyes)

Cartilaginous Fishes (Chondrichthyes)


1. Order          : Orectolobiformes

            Trunks cylindrical to strongly compressed and some what ray like, head conical and slightly elevated to strongly depressed, not laterally expanded, five pairs of gill slits present on sides. Snout short and bluntly rounded to truncated, not saw like and without rostral barbells, mouth moderate to large.


Family                        :  Stegostomatidae (Zebra sharks)

            Caudal fin about as long as rest of shark.



2. Order          :Carchariniformes

            Trunk cylindrical to slightly compressed or depressed but not ray like. Head conical to depressed and usually not anteriorly expanded. Five pairs of gill slits present on sides of head with the last 1-3 over pectoral basis. Spiracles present in many species, small to large and close behind eyes or absent.


Family            : Carcharhinidae (Requiem sharks, ground sharks, blue sharks, sharpnose sharks)

Intestinal valve of scroll type. Cusps of lower teeth not prominently protruding when mouth is closed. Second dorsal fin 2/5 height of first dorsal or less.










Family                        : Sphyraenidae (Hammerhead and bonnethead sharks)

Lateral blades of head antero posteriorly broad, not wing like. Nostrils short, their width 7-14 times in internarial width and less than half of mouth width. No knobs along anterior margin of head.


3. Order          : Rajiformes

Anal fin absent, nictitating membrane absent. Cornea attached directly to skin around the eyes.


Family                        : Pristidae (Sawfishes)

Rostral teeth depressed, broad and blade like, in shallow, broad sockets on the rostrum. Posterior most rostral teeth ending well anterior two pairs of rostrum, nostrils very narrow, with small nasal flaps.


Family                        : Rhynchobatidae (Wedge fishes)

Large shark-like batoids with long stout tails and small pectoral discs. Snout short to moderately elongated, bluntly rounded or angular. Nostrils somewhat anterior to mouth and separated from it by less than their own width. Pectoral fins small, originating in front of mouth but behind nostrils, attached to postrostral head and ending anterior to pelvic-fin origins. Two large subequal and widely separated dorsal fins present, these of similar falcate shark-like shape with distinct apices. Caudal fin and lobe large.




4. Order          : Myliobatiformes


Body flattened with pectoral fins greatly expanded and fused with head and trunk; tail slender or whip-like, usually with a spine; usually with a single dorsal fin, but no caudal fin.


Family                        : Dasyatidae (Stingrays)


Medium to large rays (disc width to 2.1 m), disc rhomboid to oval. Snout obtuse and little produced to acute; head not elevated from disc, tail distinct from disc. Mouth almost straight or arched, with a transverse row of bulbous papillae along floor. Dorsal and caudal fins absent, pectoral fins joined to side of head, finrays beginning at tip of snout.


Family                        : Myliobatidae (Eagle rays)


Medium to large rays (disc width to 2.5m), disc lozenge shaped, much wider than long; head elevated from disc, with eyes and spiracles on side; tail distinct from disc, much longer than disc length with one or several serrated spines on top near base. Dorsal fin small in front of spine; no caudal fin.

5. Oder           : Torpediniformes


            Pectoral fins greatly expanded and fused with head and trunk, forming a large oval disc; tail stout and shark-like without any spines. A large electric organ on each side of head, usually visible throughout the skin as a pattern of hexagonal markings.


Family                        : Torpedinidae (Electric rays)


Blunt-snouted rays of medium size (2m TL), the disc through greatly enlarged pectoral fins fused with sides of head, more or less circular, strongly depressed, but thick and fleshy towards its margins and more massive than in other rays. Spiracles close behind eyes, with smooth or tentaculated margins. Two dorsal fins well developed and also a caudal fin. Two large and powerful electric organs on each side of head.







1. Order                      : Elopiformes

              Pelvic fins abdominal, body slender usually compressed, gill opening wide, caudal fin deeply forked, scales cycloid.


Family                        : Elopidae (Ladyfishes, tenpounders)

            A gular plate present between arms of lower jaw, branchiostegal rays very                                                                                                             numerous No spines in fins, dorsal fin origin a little behind mid point of body, scales very small.




Family                                    : Megalopidae (Tarpons)


            Lower jaw projecting a gularplate present between arms of lower jaw. Last dorsal fin ray filamentous, scales large.







2. Order                      : Anguilliformes


Pelvic fins absent, scales usually absent or if present cycloid and embedded. The adults of anguillids live in freshwater or in estuaries. They stop feeding after attaining maturity when they move from freshwater out to sea.


Family                                    : Anguillidae (Freshwater eels)


Body elongate, but never greatly so. Mouth terminal with a lower jaw projecting slightly, and moderately large, but never extending back much beyond eye. No pelvic fins, minute oval scales present, embedded in skin.




Family                        :   Ophichthidae (Snake eels and worm eels)


Gill opening small, slit like or round, branchial region and throat swollen, supported by a basket of free branchiostegal rays that overlap below, a unique feature for this family.









Family                        : Muraenesocidae (Pike congers)


Dorsal fin begins more or less above gill opening, snout very pointed. Mouth terminal, extending well beyond eye.



3. Order                      : Clupeiformes


Most are plankton feeders, very numerous gill rakers that serve as straining devices. This group is very important in the world commercial fisheries. Scutes present in front or pelvic fin and behind pelvic fins. Anal fin long with 27-81 rays.


Family                                    : Chirocentridae (Wolf-herrings)


Very elongate, highly compressed fishes resembling the Clupeidae but without scutes along belly. Large canine teeth in both jaws.



Family                                    : Engraulidae (Anchovies)


Small, mostly silver fishes, usually between 7 and 15 cm in length. Scutes usually present along belly (except in Engraulis). No spiny rays in fins, no lateral line. Snout usually pig- like and projecting, lower jaw characteristically under slung.



Family                                    : Clupeidae  (Herrings, shads, sprats, sardines)


Small, mostly silvery fishes, usually 7 to 20 cm in length. Scutes present along belly (absent in Dussumieria, Sparatelloides ). Fins lacking spiny rays, a single dorsal fin, caudal fin deeply forked. No lateral line.



4. Order                      : Gonorhynchiformes


Marine and brackishwater fish, body compressed mouth terminal. Maximum length is 1.8 m, usually 1.0 m.


Family                        :  Chanidae (Milkfishes)


            No gular plate between arms of lower jaw; branchiostegal rays only four. Mouth small, without teeth, scales small, lateral line present.

5. Order                      : Siluriformes


Adipose fin usually present, spines often present at the front of the dorsal and pectoral fins. Eight barbles on head (two nasal), (two maxillary), (four chin).


Family                                    : Ariidae (Sea catfishes)


Medium to very large fishes, 1 to3 pairs of barbells, 2 pairs of adjacent nostrils on each side of snout. First dorsal fin short with a long often rough spine, more or less serrated on inner edge, a short adipose dorsal fin present situated above anal fin. Scales absent.

Family                        :  Plotosidae (Stinging catfishes, coral reef catfishes, eel catfishes, barbell eels)


Small and moderately large sized cat fish, 4 pairs of barbells- one pair maxillary and two pairs mental, a pair of widely separated nostrils on each side, posterior nostril slit like. Second dorsal fin with 69 to143 soft rays. Scales and bony plates are absent.



6. Order                      : Aulopiformes


Second pharyngobranchial greatly elongated posterolaterally, extending away from their pharyngobranchial with uncinate process of second epibranchial contacting third pharyngobranchial.


Family                                    : Harpadontidae (Bombay-ducks)


Dorsal fin followed by a conspicuous adipose fin. Mouth very wide, armed with slender recurved and depressible teeth of unequal size. Lower jaw longer than upper. Lateral line extending on to pointed median lobe of caudal fin.

Family                        :  Synodontidae (Lizardfishes) 


Body elongate, usually cylindrical and with adiposefin. Mouth large and terminal, with rows of numerous small, slender and  pointed teeth visible even when mouth is closed.


7. Order                      : Lophiiformes

First dorsal fin spine free and modified as a lure.


Family                        :  Antennariidae (Frogfishes, anglerfishes)

Body short, globose, slightly compressed. Opercular opening restricted to a small pore located behind and below pectoral fin base. Pectoral fin lobe elongate, leg like.




8. Order                                  : Beloniformes


Surface fishes that are frequently seen jumping or gliding above the water, specialized jaw development is a feeding adaptation and degree of elongation depends on age. Extreme juvenile Belonids have lower jaw much longer than upper which is the normal adult condition of Hemirhamphids.


Family                                                : Exocoetidae (Flying fishes)


No spines in fins, pectoral fins high on sides, strikingly long, always extend beyond dorsal fin origin. Lateral line low on body, scales large.



Family                        : Hemiramphidae (Halfbeaks)


Elongate fishes with a prolonged lower jaw and a short triangular upper jaw. Lateral line running down from pectoral fin origin and than backward along vertical margin of body.


Family  :     Belonidae (Needlefishes)


Elongate fishes with both upper jaws extended in to long beaks filled with sharp teeth. No spines in fins, dorsal and anal fins posterior in position. Scales small, cycloid, easily detached.




9. Order                      : Mugiliformes


Dorsal fins widely separated, with rounded spines and soft rays; pelvic fins sub-abdominal, with one spine and five branched soft rays, lateral line absent or very faint, gill rakers long, vertebrae 24-26. Maximum length about 0.9m.


Family                                    : Mugilidae (Mullets)


Elongate fishes, usually with a broad flattened head. Mouth rather small, terminal inferior, premaxilla protrusible. Two short dorsal fins, the first with 4 slender spines. Modified scales may be present below first dorsal fin and above pectoral and pelvic fins.


10. Order                    : Syngnathiformes


Curious specialized and degenerate fishes variously modified and varying greatly in appearance, mouth always small and at end of a tube serving as a pipette to suck up water containing small food organisms. Lateral line well developed, reduced to head canals or absent. One or two dorsal fins, the spinous one often reduced or absent. Anal sometime absent, ventral fins when present are abdominal. Teeth small or absent.


Family                                    : Syngnathidae (Seahorses, pipefishes)

The body of these typically slender and elongate fishes is encased in segmented ring like plates arranged to form a series of bony rings and may or may not have a prehensile tail. The gill opening in these fishes is very small and usually occurs as a pore in the membrane above the opercle.


11. Order                    : Scorpaeniformes


Characterized by a bony ridge across the cheek, the end articulating with the front edge of the preoperculam. Head and body generally spiny or body plated, sometimes completely encased. Pectoral fins usually rounded, the membranes between lower rays often incised.


Family                                    : Platycephalidae (Spiny flatheads)


Elongate fishes with head moderately to strongly depressed. Mouth large, lower jaw longer than upper. Bony ridges of head usually bearing spines or serrations. Lateral line complete.




Family                        : Scorpaenidae


Large spiny heads, a ridge of bone below eye extending posteriorly and firmly attaching a preopercle.  Pectoral fin broad based, large, fanlike, with 11 to 23 rays. Venom glands associated with fin spines.








12. Order                    : Perciformes


Pectoral fin divided into two parts, the upper part normal with rays attached. Lateral line well developed: jaws with strong canine teeth.


Family                                    : Ambassidae (Perchlets)


Body oblong or oblong ovate, strongly compressed. Preopercle, interopercle, antorbital and infraorbital bones often with ridges and serrate edges. Dorsal fin deeply notched but continuous.







Family                                    : Centropomidae (Barramundis, sea perches)


Body elongate or oblong, compressed, dorsal profile concave at nape. Opercle with a single spine. Lateral line continued on to caudal fin.



Family                        :  Serranidae (Groupers, rockcods, hinds, combers, coral trouts, 



Body robust or somewhat compressed, oblong- oval to rather elongate. Maxilla exposed, with or without superamaxilla. A single dorsal fin with 7 to12 strong spines and 10 to 19 soft rays. Edge of preopercle serrate, opercle with 2 or 3 flat points or spines. Lateral line single.





Family                                    : Drepanidae (Sicklefishes)


            Body very deep and strongly compressed; head with a parabolic upper profile; snout short; scales absent in front of eye and on preopercle, lower preopercular margin denticulate; mouth terminal and protrusible, forming a downward pointed tube when protracted; teeth small and setiform in bands on each jaw. Dorsal fin with 8 to 10 spines, the spinous part separated from the soft part by a deep notch and depressible in a high basal scaly sheath; pectoral fins long, falcate; pelvic fins present; anal fin with 3 spines; hind margin of caudal fin rounded. Lateral line strongly arched. Scales of moderate size finely ctenoid, extending onto dorsal and anal fins.



Family                                    : Menidae (Moon fishes)


            Body extremely compressed, disc-like, breast sharp. Lateral line ending below rear end of dorsal fin base. Scales minute, deciduous. Mouth protrusile. First 2 pelvic fin rays elongated.


Family                        :  Lactariidae (False trevallies, milk trevallies)  


Mouth large and oblique, with a prominent lower jaw, one pair of small sharp canine teeth at front of each jaw. Two dorsal fin of equal height, the first with 7 or 8 spines, the second with 1 spine and 20 to 22 soft rays.



Family                                    :  Sillaginidae (Sillagos)


Body elongate, slightly  compressed. Opercle with a small, sharp spine, mouth small, terminal. Two separate dorsal fins, the first with 9 to 12 slender spines, its origin above middle of pectoral fins, the second with 1 spine and 16 to 26 rays.



Family                                    : Carangidae (Jacks, trevallies, bluagers, scads, queenfishes,

  runners, amberjacks, pilotfishes, pompanos, leerfishes)


Body extremely variable in shape, ranging from elongate, and fusiform to deep and strongly compressed. Two dorsal fin that are separate in small juveniles, the first of moderate height or very low, with 4 to 8 spines, the second dorsal fin with 1 spine and 18 to 44 soft rays. Anal fin with 2 anterior spines. Scales small, some time difficult to see. Lateral line arched.


Family                                    : Lutjanidae (Snappers, jobfishes)


Mouth terminal, jaw teeth usually in a few rows, conical and sharp, often developed as more or less distinct cannies. Anterior part of head without scale, some rows of scals on cheek, preopercle and on gillcover. Dorsal fin continuous, with 10 to 12 spines and 10 to 17 soft rays.

Family                                    : Leiognathidae (Ponyfishes, slipmouths, toothponies)


Small to medium sized  fishes with oblong or round bodies, moderately to  strongly compressed. Mouth strongly protrusible. A single dorsal fin with 8 spines and 16 to 17 soft rays. Anal fin with 3 spine and 14 soft rays caudal fin emarginated to forked.




Family   : Lobotidae (Tripletails)


            Body deep, somewhat compressed the depth much greater than head length. Eye small, its diameter contained 4.5 to 8.3 times in head length. Scales fairly large, weakly ctenoid. Head scaly, except for proorbital region and jaws. Preopercle coarsely serrate.


Family   :  Polynemidae (Threadfins, tasselfishes) 


Head scaly, with a conical snout, projecting beyond the large mouth. Pectoral fins in 2 parts, the upper normal, the lower with 3 or more free filamentous rays. Lateral line extending on to caudal fin.


Family                                    : Haemulidae (Grunts, sweetlips, rubberlips, hotlips)


Scales present on entire head, tip of upper jaw hidden when mouth closed. Chin with 2 pores anteriorly and a median pit, no pit in plectorhinchus. Margin of preopercle concave and serrate.




Family                        : Nemipteridae (Threadfin breams, monocle breams, dwarf

  monocle breams)


Canine teeth in upper jaw, a backward pointing spine below eye in Scolopsis and in some Parascolopsis species.  Dorsal fin single, with 10 spines and 9 soft rays, originating above pectoral fin base. Anal fin with 3 spines and soft rays.


Family                                    : Gerreidae (Silver biddies, mojarras)


Mouth  strongly protractile, pointing downwards when  extended, minute acute teeth in both jaws. First spine of dorsal and anal spines very short. Pectoral fins long and pointed. Scales large and obvious.






Family                                    : Mullidae (Goatfishes)   


Body elongate and somewhat compressed. Two long unbranched barbles on chin. Two well separated dorsal fins, the first dorsal spine with  7 or 8 slender spines, the second with  9 rays. Anal fin with one spine and 6 rays. Head and body completely scaled.



Family                        :  Stromateidae (Butterfishes, fiatolas, silver pomfrets)


Body very deep and compressed, caudal peduncle short and compressed, with no keels or scutes. Single dorsal and anal fins, no pelvic fins.


Family                        :  Scombridae (Albacores, bonitos, kawakawas, mackerels,   

                                       seerfishes, tunas and wahoos)


Body elongate and fusiform, snout pointed. Two dorsal fins, anterior fin usually short and separated from posterior fin. Finlets present behind dorsal and anal fins. At least 2 small keels on each side of caudal peduncle.



Family                        :  Sphyraenidae (Barracudas)


Body elongate, usually slightly compressed. Head large, with long, pointed snout, mouth large, horizontal, the lower jaw projecting beyond the upper. Strong canine teeth of unequal size in jaws and on palatines. Lateral line well developed, scales cycloid.


Family                        : Siganidae (Spinefoots, rabbitfishes)  


Body laterally compressed, oval, deep or slender, covered with small scales. Dorsal fin with 13 strong spines and 10 soft rays, preceded by a forward projecting spine. Pelvic fins with 2 strong spines separated by 3 soft rays-a character unique to the family.



Family                        : Echeneidae (Remoras, sharksuckers, discfishes)


Perciform fishes with a transversely laminated, oval shaped cephalic disc. Body fusiform, elongate. First dorsal fin replaced by a transversal, laminated, oval cephalic disc with 16-28 laminae, II Dorsal and anal fins long, lacking spines. Scales small, cycloid, usually embedded in the skin. No swim bladder.


Family   :  Teraponidae (Terapon-perches, terapons) 

Small to medium sized perch like fish with an oblong ovate body. Moderately compressed, jaws equal, the upper not reaching beyond centre of orbit. Opencule with 2 spine, the lower one larger and stronger. Dorsal fin single, arched, with 11 to 14 spines and 8 to 14 soft rays.

Family                        :  Trichiuridae (Cutlassfishes, hairtailfishes, frostfishes,



Body extremely elongate, compressed and ribbon like. Strong canine teeth in jaws, those at front of upper jaw fang like. Pelvic fin reduced to a scale like spine or completely absent.





Family                        : Istiophoridae (Billfishes - marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes)


Body elongate and more or less compressed. Upper jaw prolonged in to a long spear with is round in cross section. The first dorsal and anal fins can both be folded back in to grooves. Lateral line always well visible.



Family                                    : Cichlidae


Body very deep, short oval and strongly compressed. Head with a single nostril on each side. Caudal fin slightly emarginated. Anal fin with 12 to 13 spines and 11 or 12 soft rays.

13. Order                    : Pleuronectiformes


A group of rather specialised and distinctive fishes found in most seas, which are characterised by asymmetry, primarily that of the eyes, for in adult these lie on one side of the head either right or left. Body highly compressed.


Family                        : Bothidae (Lefteye flounders)


Eyes on left side of body, preopercle exposed. Its hind margin free and visible.

Dorsal fin origin above or infront of eyes. Caudal fin free from  dorsal and anal fins. A single lateral line.


Family                                    : Psettodidae (Spiny turbots)


Mouth large with strong teeth. Maxillary extends well beyond hind edge of lower  eye. Both eyes on left or right side. Dorsal fin origin well posterior to  eyes. Body very thicker than in most other flat fishes.




Family   : Cynoglossidae (Tonguesoles)     


Tongue shaped flat fishes with eyes on left side of body. A rostral hook present below mouth. Dorsal fin reaching forward on to head, both dorsal fin  and anal fins joined to caudal fin. Pectoral fin absent, only left pelvic fin present.



14. Order                    : Tetraodontiformes


Gill openings restricted (small), mouth small with strong teeth, maxilla usually firmly united or fused with premaxillae. A few have scales (not true scales) other have bony plates.


Family                                    : Diodontidae (Porcupinefishes, spiny puffers, burrfishes,

  balloon fishes)


Small to medium sized fishes, to 1 m in length. Body wide and capable of great inflation, covered with spines. Parrot like beak, inflatable belly, no pelvic fins.