Body deep; dorsal fin high and with long base (origin on head); anal spines lost; pelvic fins elongate, in advance or behind pectoral fin base, with one spine and five soft rays; 15 branched caudal rays; seven branchiostegal rays; 35-40 vertebrae.
These fishes have an association with siphonophores, including feeding on them. As noted by Hartel and Triant (1998) this small family is badly in need of revision.
Two genera, Caristius (4) and Platyberyx (1), with about five species (e.g., Hartel and Triant, 1998).
Family EMMELICHTHYIDAE (369)—rovers. Marine; primarily tropical to warm temperate regions of Indo-Pacific, southern Pacific, eastern Atlantic, and Caribbean Sea.
Jaws toothless or nearly so, very protractile; maxilla expanded distally, scaled, and not covered by preorbital bone when mouth closed; supramaxilla well developed; rostral cartilage large; dorsal fin continuous but with slight notch (Plagiogeneion), divided to base (Erythrocles), or with an apparent gap with intervening isolated short spines visible or not (Emmelichthys, as shown in figure); dorsal fin with 11-14 spines and 9-12 soft rays; anal fin with three spines and 9-11 soft rays; caudal fin forked with the two lobes folding in scissorlike fashion; seven branchiostegal rays; 24 vertebrae (10 + 14). Maximum length up to 50 cm. Adults are usually near the bottom in depths of 100-400 m.
Three genera, Plagiogeneion (5), Emmelichthys (4), and Erythrocles (6), with 15 species (Miyahara and Okamura. 1998; Heemstra, 2003b).
Family LUTJANIDAE (370)—snappers. Marine (rarely in freshwater and estuaries); tropical and subtropical, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.
Dorsal fin continuous or with a shallow notch, with 9-12 spines and 9-18 soft rays; anal fin with three spines and 7-11 soft rays; pelvic fins inserted just behind pectoral base; mouth terminal, moderate to large; most with enlarged canine teeth on jaws, small teeth on palatines and usually on vomer; maxilla slips beneath preorbital when mouth closed; supramaxilla absent; seven bran-chiostegal rays; caudal fin truncate to deeply forked; 24 vertebrae (10 + 14). Maximum length about 1.0 m.
Nelson (1994) gave reasons for treating the Caesionidae as a subfamily. I now change back to the classification followed in Nelson (1984) until there is more original research clearly showing the cladistic relationships of all taxa involved.
Snappers are important food fishes but are sometimes responsible for ciguatera, the tropical fish-poisoning disease. They generally occur near the bottom in tropical and subtropical seas from shallow water to depths of about 550 m. Three species of Lutjanus, L. fuscescens, L. goldiei, and perhaps L. maxwe-beri of the Philippine-New Guinea region, are known only from freshwater and estuaries (not from purely marine waters). The juveniles of several otherwise marine species of Lutjanus are known to enter brackish and freshwater.
Seventeen genera with about 105 species recognized in four subfamilies (e.g., Anderson, W. D., Jr. 2003a).
Subfamily Etelinae. Five genera, Aphareus, Aprion, Etelis, Pristipomoides, and Randallichthys, with 19 species.
Subfamily Apsilinae. Four genera, Apsilus, Lipocheilus, Paracaesio, and Parapristipomoides, with 12 species.
Subfamily Paradichthyinae. Two monotypic genera, Symphorichthys and Symphorus.
Subfamily Lutjaninae. Six genera, Hoplopagrus, Lutjanus, Macolor, Ocyurus, Pinjalo, and RRhomboplites, with about 72 species (the genus Lutjanus, has about 64 species).
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