Classification of Saltwater Fish

Believe it or not, although nearly 25,000 fish species have been described, biologists disagree about what should be called a fish. Old schoolers include the jawless hagfishes and lampreys, as well as sharks, rays, and skates, with the bony fishes in one big vertebrate class. New thinking separates the bony fishes from the others and creates four groups at the taxonomic level of class. Thus, jawless fishes comprise the superclass Agnatha (jawless), with one class for hagfishes and another for lampreys. The other two classes are combined into the superclass Gnathostomata (jaw mouth). They are class Chondrichthyes, the cartilaginous sharks, rays, and skates; and class Actinopterygii (spine fin), the bony fishes. All coral reef fishes fall into one of the two classes with jaws. By far the majority of them are bony fishes.

Most of the saltwater fish covered in this book belong to the order Perciformes. Perciform fishes have enjoyed enormous evolutionary success, now numbering about 8000 species in both fresh and saltwater. With so many perciform species, it should come as no surprise that their lifestyles vary greatly. This has resulted in a profusion of fish families within the order, roughly 1 50 out of a total of 482 families. To clarify their relationships, biologists group families into suborders. The suborder designations are included here for the Perciformes, but not the other orders.

The following list omits families with no species mentioned in the book. The arrangement begins with orders and families considered to be more primitive and progresses to those considered more advanced. This does not mean that the former are less successful, only that their body plans show relatively little modification from fossil forms. Advanced families, on the other hand, exhibit the greatest degree of alteration from the body designs of their ancestors.

Class Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fishes)

Order Orectolobiformes

Family Hemiscylliidae (bamboo sharks) Class Actinopterygii (bony fishes) Order Anguilliformes

Family Muraenidae (moray eels) Order Lophiiformes

Family Antennariidae (frogfishes and anglerfishes) Order Beryciformes

Family Monocentridae (pinecone fishes) Family Holocentridae (squirrel- and soldierfishes) Order Gasterosteiformes

Family Syngnathidae (seahorses)

Order Scorpaeniformes

Family Scorpaenidae (lionfishes) Order Perciformes Suborder Percoidei

Family Serranidae (groupers, anthias) Family Pseudochromidae (dottybacks) Family Grammatidae (fairy basslets, grammas) Family Plesiopidae (roundheads, longfins) Family Opisthognathidae (jawfishes) Family Cirrhitidae (hawkfishes) Family Apogonidae (cardinalfishes) Family Lutjanidae (snappers) Family Chaetodontidae (butterflyfishes) Family Pomacanthidae (angelfishes) Suborder Labroidei Family Pomacentridae (damselfishes) Family Labridae (wrasses)

190 Saltwater Aquarium Models

Suborder Trachinoidei

Family Pholidichthyidae (convict blennies) Suborder Blennioidei

Family Blenniidae (blennies) Suborder Callionymoidei

Family Callionymidae (dragonets) Suborder Gobioidei Family Gobiidae (gobies) Family Microdesmidae (dartfishes) Suborder Acanthuroidei Family Siganidae (rabbitfishes) Family Acanthuridae (tangs) Order Tetraodontiformes

Family Balistidae (triggerfishes) Family Monacanthidae (filefishes) Family Tetraodontidae (puffers) Family Diodontidae (porcupine- and burrfishes) ...plus sixty-three additional families

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