Body usually covered with modified, prickly scales giving a velvety appearance (some species lack the prickles and have a smooth skin); head armed with knoblike lumps (rarely with pungent spines); all fin rays unbranched; anal fin spines usually indistinct (rarely pungent) or absent; origin of dorsal fin far forward, above eye or almost so (except in Adventor and Peristrominous); anterior 3-5 dorsal fin spines usually divergent, either elevated or largely devoid of connecting membrane; four species with three or four anterior spines forming a separate fin; pelvic fin with one spine and two or three soft rays; most species with fleshy extension on the anterior isthmus; palatine teeth absent; no gill slit behind the last arch; vertebrae 24-33. A species of the South China Sea, Prosoproctus pataecus is unique among scorpaenoid fishes in having the anus far forward, immediately behind the pelvic fin base. Most species occur in the Indonesian and Australian regions.
About 17 genera (e.g., Acanthosphex, Adventor, Aploactis, Aploactisoma, Bathyaploactis, Cocotropus, Erisphex, Kanekonia, Karumba, Matsubarichthys, Paraploactis, Peristrominous, Prosoproctus, Ptarmus, Sthenopus, and Xenoploactis) with about 38 species (e.g., Imamura and Shinohara, 2003). Three subfamilies are recognized by Mandrytsa (2001) and Imamura (2004), Aploactininae, Bathyaploactininae, and Matsubarichthyinae.
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