Head depressed; eyes usually large and interorbital space narrow; spinous dorsal, if present, separate from soft dorsal; anal fin with or without a single spine; pelvic fin with one spine and five soft rays, interpelvic space wide. Eleven genera and about 44 species.
Subfamily Percophinae. Tropical western Atlantic. Dorsal fins with eight or nine spines and about 31 soft rays; anal fin with one weak spine and about 38-42 soft rays; lower jaw projecting past upper; caudal fin with 13 branched rays; dorsal iris flap absent; distinct flap above pectoral fin base; scales above lateral line ctenoid but lateral line scales not serrated, trilobed, or with keel; minute scales extending along rays of caudal fin. One species, Percophis brasiliensis.
Subfamily Bembropinae. Dorsal fins with six spines (only first two crowded) and 13-18 soft rays; anal fin with 15-20 soft rays; lower jaw projecting past upper; caudal fin with 10 or 11 branched rays; maxillary tentacle present in Bembrops; scales ctenoid, with prominent keel on anterior few lateral line scales.
Two genera, Bembrops and Chrionema,, with about 22 species (e.g., Nelson, 1994; Das and Nelson, 1996; Thompson and Suttkus, 2002; Thompson, 2003b).
Subfamily Hemerocoetinae. Spines in dorsal fin, if present, 2-6 and usually very crowded at base; jaws about equal or upper jaw slightly longer than lower; caudal fin with seven or eight branched rays; dorsal iris flap present in most species; lateral line scales trilobed or serrated on posterior margin; medial barbel at tip of snout in males of some species of Hemerocoetes.
Eight genera and about 22 species (e.g., Nelson, 1994; Suzuki and Nakabo, 1996). Dactylopsaron, Enigmapercis, Matsubaraea,, and Squamicreedia lack protruding maxillary spines. Acanthaphritis (synonyms Branchiopsaron and Spinapsaron), Hemerocoetes (a New Zealand endemic lacking the spinous dorsal fin), Osopsaron, and Pteropsaron (the latter two may be congeneric) have a spine protruding from the anterior face of the maxilla.
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