RAE BAXTER'S ANNOTATED KEY TO THE FISHES OF ALASKA, KEY TO FAMILIES, earlier version

RAE BAXTER'S ANNOTATED KEY
TO THE
FISHES OF ALASKA

(occasionally SUBFAMILY)


1 - Mouth without jaws; mouth as a sucking disk; median nostril.
  • (2)


1 - Mouth with jaws; nostrils paired.
  • (3)


2 (1) - Gill openings 10-15, barbels around mouth and nostrils.
  • MYXINIDAE
    • dorsal fin absent, although caudal fin extends onto part of the dorsal side
    • eyes degenerate
    • barbels present around biting mouth
    • teeth only on tongue, plus one on "palate"
    • eggs large, yolky, to 30 per individual.


2 - Gill openings 7; no barbels.
  • PETROMYZONTIDAE
    • 1-2 dorsal fins
    • eyes well developed in adults
    • barbels absent
    • teeth on oral disk and tongue
    • eggs small, thousands
    • ammocoete undergoes radical metamorphosis.


3 (1) - Gill slits 5-7 on each side.


3 - Gill slits 1 on each side.
  • (16)


4 (3) - Gill slits 6-7
  • HEXANCHIDAE
    • 6-7 gill openings
    • margin of 1st gill cover not continuous across throat
    • mouth ventral
    • eye without nictitating fold.


4 - Gill slits 5.
  • (5)


5 (4) - Gill openings lateral; pectoral fin not continuous with head.
  • (6)


5 - Gill openings on ventral surface; pectoral fin continuous with head.
  • (12)


6 (5) - Eyes dorsal; body flattened.
  • SQUATINIDAE
    • 2 spineless dorsal fins
    • anal fins absent
    • 5 gill openings
    • spiracle large
    • mouth almost terminal
    • nostrils terminal with barbels on anterior margin.


6 - Eyes lateral; body not flattened.
  • (7)


7 (6) - Anal fin absent.
  • SQUALIDAE
    • 2 dorsal fins with spine at anterior edge
    • eyes lateral
    • 5 gill openings anterior to pectoral origin.


7 - Anal fin present.
  • (8)


8 (7) - Caudal fin greatly elongate, about equal to body length.
  • ALOPIDAE
    • 3rd-5th gill opening over pectoral origin
    • eye without nictitating fold.


8 - Caudal fin markedly shorter than body length.
  • (9)


9 (8) - Origin of 1st dorsal fin over or behind origin of pelvic fin.
  • SCYLIORHINIDAE
    • nictitating membrane absent, but with longitudinal fold along lower eye lid usually present
    • 5th gill opening over pectoral origin.


9 - Origin of 1st dorsal fin well ahead of pelvic origin.
  • (10)


10 (9) - Length of lower lobe of caudal fin more than 50% length of upper lobe.
  • LAMNIDAE
    • caudal peduncle with distinct keel
    • teeth large
    • 5th gill opening in front of pectoral origin.


10 - Length of lower lobe of caudal fin less than 50% length of upper lobe.
  • (11)


11 (10) - Gill slits long, extending well on to ventral side; teeth small, about 200 lateral rows in upper jaw.
  • CETORHINIDAE
    • gill opening exceptionally large
    • gill rakers numerous, elongate for plankton feeder
    • teeth reduced
    • tail nearly symmetrical with keel on caudal peduncle
    • 5th gill opening in front of pectoral origin.

11 - Gill slits mostly lateral; teeth in 25-35 lateral rows in upper jaw.
  • CARCHARHINIDAE
    • 5th gill opening over or behind pectoral origin
    • nictitating membrane usually present.


12 (5) - Dorsal fin absent.
  • (13)


12 - Dorsal fin present.
  • (15)

13 (12) - Dorsal spine present.
  • DASYATIDAE
    • outer anterior margin of pectorals continuous along side of head
    • no dorsal fin
    • poisonous dorsal spine on tail.


13 - Dorsal spine absent.
  • RAJIDAE
    • caudal fin reduced or absent in adults
    • tail slender, long; 1-2 dorsal fins
    • mid-dorsal row of spines on tail, may extend to scapular region.


14 (12) - Mouth terminal.
  • MOBULIDAE
    • strong anterior lobes of pectoral fin extend well past snout
    • eyes and spiracles lateral.


14 - Mouth inferior.


15 (12) - Caudal fin small or absent.


15 - Caudal fin moderate to strong.
  • TORPEDINIDAE
    • well developed caudal fin
    • eyes small
    • pectoral fin continuous anteriorly
    • strong electric organs
    • skin soft and loose.


16 ( 3) - Gill openings behind or below pectorals; head with ilicium.
  • (17)


16 - Gill openings in front of, or above pectoral fins, or in normal position if pectoral fin is absent;ilicium absent.
  • (19)

17 (16) - Body elongate.


17 - Body globose.
  • (18)


18 (17) - Three globular, gland-like modified dorsal rays just anterior of dorsal fin; dorsal rays 4-5, anal rays 4.


18 - Without modified dorsal rays; dorsal rays 4-8, anal rays 4-8. jaws more or less equal anteriorly


19 (16) - Pelvic fin present, not modified into a sucking disk.
  • (20)


19 - Pelvic fin absent or modified into a sucking disk.
  • (97)

20 (19) - Pelvic as single spine. BALISTIDAE

20 - Pelvic fin with more than single spine or ray.
  • (21)


21 (20) - Pelvic fin abdominal; pelvic girdle free from any bony connection with pectoral girdle.
  • (22)


21 - Pelvic fin thoracic or jugular; pelvic fin attached to pectoral girdle by a bony connection.
  • (60)


22 (21) - Dorsal fin of isolated spines only.
  • NOTACANTHIDAE
    • mouth "normal" in size
    • maxilla toothless
    • premaxilla and dentary toothed
    • branchiostegal rays 6-13
    • gill rakers well developed
    • dorsal fin with 6-40 isolated spines and no conspicuous rays.


22 - Dorsal fin not wholly of isolated spines.
  • (23)


23 (22) - Dorsal fins 2, not including adipose or finlets if present.
  • (24)


23 - Dorsal fin single or absent, not including adipose or finlets, if present; may be a deep notch in the dorsal fin.
  • (25)

24 (23) - Tail tapering to a point.
  • CHIMAERIDAE
    • spine on front edge of 1st dorsal dorsal spine poisonous
    • snout short, rounded
    • tail diphycercal
    • anal fin joined to caudal.

24 - Tail forked.
  • SPHYRAENIDAE
    • body elongate, round
    • lower jaw superior, with strong fang-like teeth
    • lateral line well developed
    • gill rakers obsolete
    • dorsal fins 2, widely separated.


25 (23) - Dorsal fin followed by 5-7 free finlets.


25 - Dorsal fin not followed by finlets.
  • (26)


26 (25) - Bony plates on body; multiple barbels under snout.
  • ACIPENSERIDAE
    • caudal fin heterocercal; branchio-stegal ray 1
    • gulars absent
    • skeleton largely cartilagenous
    • intestine with spiral valve.


26 - Body with or without scales; multiple barbels absent.
  • (27)


27 (26) - Luminous organs absent.
  • (28)


27 - Luminous organs and or photophores present.
  • (53)


28 (27) - Adipose fin absent.
  • (29)


28 - Adipose fin present.
  • (41)


29 (28) - Dorsal fin origin considerably preceeding anal fin origin.
  • (30)


29 - Dorsal fin origin roughly above anal fin.
  • (36)


30 (29) - Lateral line pores absent.
  • CLUPEIDAE
    • abdominal scutes usually present
    • head scaleless
    • teeth small or absent

30 - Lateral line pores present.
  • (31)


31 (30) - Head with bony plates.
  • (32)


31 - Head without bony plates, generally smooth, but may be highly sculptured.
  • (33)


32 (31) - Teeth short.
  • PENTACEROTIDAE
    • body strongly compressed
    • no supra-maxillary
    • single dorsal fin with 10-14 spines and 8-15 rays
    • pelvic with long spine and 5 rays
    • scales small.


32 - Some teeth as very long fangs.
  • ANOPLOGASTRIDAE
    • body short, deep, head and mouth large
    • eye small, diameter less than snout length
    • scales small
    • lateral line an open groove partially covered by scales
    • fins without spines
    • dorsal fin of 15-20 rays
    • anal usually of 8-9 rays
    • 25-28 vertebrae.


33 (31) - Mouth terminal.
  • (34)


33 - Mouth inferior.
  • (35)


34 (33) - Marine.
  • SYNODONTIDAE
    • Scales along lateral line not enlarged
    • dorsal rays 10-14
    • anal rays 14-16
    • adipose fin usually present.

34 - Freshwater.

35 (33) - Marine; lips not fleshy.
  • ENGRAULIDAE
    • tip of snout overhanging mouth
    • maxillary extends well beyond eye
    • gill rakers numerous
    • body translucent with silvery stripe laterally.


35 - Freshwater; lips fleshy.
  • CATOSTOMIDAE
    • single row of 16 or more pharyngeal teeth
    • lips thick and fleshy with plicae or papillae.


36 (29) - Freshwater; head flattened like a duck's beak;
  • ESOCIDAE
    • snout produced
    • caudal forked
    • lateral line complete
    • infraorbital canal with eight or more pores
    • 10-20 branchiostegal rays.


36 - Freshwater or marine; head not like above.
  • (37)


37 (36) - Freshwater; lateral line absent.
  • UMBRIDAE
    • snout not produced
    • caudal fin rounded
    • lateral line faint or absent
    • infraorbital canal with 3 or less pores
    • 5-8 branchiostegal rays.


37 - Marine; lateral line present.
  • (38)


38 (37) - Head and mouth noticably large.
  • (39)


38 - Head and mouth moderately small.
  • (40)


39 (38) - Jaws with large fangs.


39 - Teeth, tiny, granular
  • BARBOURISIIDAE
    • pelvic fins subabdominal, 6 rays
    • skin covered with fine spiny scales
    • dorsal and anal fins posterior
    • dorsal rays 20-22
    • anal rays 16-18
    • vertebrae 42


40 (38) - Shoulder sac apparatus.
  • PLATYTROCIDAE
    • shoulder sac apparatus, beneath the cleithrum, produces luminous fluid with conspicuous opening through tubular papilla
    • pectoral rays 14-28;
    • branchiostegal rays 4-8.

40 - Shoulder sac apparatus absent; head without scales; .
  • ALEPOCEPHALIDAE
    • gill rakers long and numerous
    • shoulder sac apparatus absent
    • branchiostegal rays 5-8.


41 (28) - Freshwater; dorsal fin with 2 anterior spines.
  • PERCOPSIDAE
    • scales ctenoid and cycloid
    • head naked
    • dorsal with 1-2 spines and 9-12 rays
    • pelvic fin subthoracic, with 8 rays.


41 - Dorsal fin of rays only.
  • (42)


42 (41) - Axillary process or suprapelvic scale at base of pelvic fin.
  • (43)


42 - Axillary process absent.
  • (45)


43 (42) - Lateral line scales more than 110.
  • SALMONIDAE
    • gill membranes extending far forward, free from isthmus
    • suprapelvic scale present
    • last 3 vertebrae turned up
    • teeth on maxilla
    • orbitosphenoid present
    • supra-preopercular bone present.


43 - Lateral line scales less than 109.
  • (44)

44 (43) - Dorsal fin with fewer than 20 rays.
  • COREGONIDAE
    • teeth absent on maxilla
    • suprapelvic scale present
    • last 3 vertebrae turned up
    • fewer than 110 scales along lateral line
    • orbitosphenoid present
    • suprapreopercular absent.


44 - Dorsal fin with more than 21 rays.
  • THYMALLININAE
    • dorsal fin very long, extends past adipose fin
    • teeth on maxilla
    • orbitosphenoid absent
    • supra-preopercular bone absent.


45 (42) - Eyes tubular or telescopic.
  • OPISTHOPROCTIDAE
    • eyes tubular
    • branchiostegal rays 2-4
    • with or without adipose, air bladder, or photophores.


45 - Eyes typically formed.
  • (46)


46 (45) - Dorsal fin absent.
  • ANOTOPTERIDAE
    • well developed adipose fin
    • scales absent
    • photophores absent
    • pelvic fin minute, with 9-11 rays
    • pectoral rays 12-15
    • vertebrae 78-83.


46 - Dorsal fin present.
  • (47)


47 (46) - Dorsal fin long, extending length of body.
  • ALEPISAURIDAE
    • body slender, covered with pores
    • scaleless
    • photophores absent
    • dorsal fin long, high, with 36-48 rays
    • anal fin low with 13-18 rays pelvics abdominal, with 8-10 rays
    • mouth large, with dagger-like teeth
    • palatines tooth patches long
    • vertebrae 50
    • air bladder absent.


47 - Dorsal fin not extending length of body.
  • (48)


48 (47) - Anal fin very posterior, quite removed from anus.
  • (49)


48 - Anal fin posterior, just behind anus.
  • (50)


49 (48) - Canine teeth strong; eye round.
  • PARALEPIDAE
    • dorsal fin in middle of trunk, 7-16 rays
      >
    • anal fin base long, 20-50 rays
    • scaled or scaleless
    • air bladderabsent.

49 - Teeth small, pointed; eye oval.
  • NOTOSUDIDAE
    • dorsal rays 9-14
    • anal rays 16-21
    • pectoral rays 10-15
    • lateral line scales 44-65
    • air bladder absent
    • photophores absent
    • larva with maxillary teeth.


50 (48) - Branchiostegal rays 14.
  • SYNODONTIDAE
    • Scales along lateral line not enlarged
    • dorsal rays 10-14
    • anal rays 14-16
    • adipose fin usually present.


50 - Branchiostegal rays 2-10.
  • (51)


51 (50) - Branchiostegal rays 6-8; air bladder present.
  • OSMERIDAE
    • suprapelvic scale absent
    • 8 pelvic rays
    • caudal with 17 forked rays
    • teeth on premaxillae, maxillae, dentary, vomer and palatines
    • mesocoracoid present
    • orbitosphenoid absent
    • pyloric caeca 0-11
    • last vertebrae turned up.


51 - Branchiostegal rays 2-4; air bladder present or absent.
  • (52)


52 (51) - Pelvic fin origin under midddle of dorsal; branchiostegals 2; large head; body deepest immediately behind head.
  • BATHYLAGIDAE
    • adipose fin present or absent
    • pectoral fin base ventral
    • air bladder absent
    • orbitosphenoid absent.


52 - Pelvic fin origin behind or below posterior third of dorsal fin; branchiostegals 3-4; body deepest between head and dorsal fin.
  • ARGENTINIDAE
    • eyes not tubular
    • adipose fin over (none in area) anal fin base
    • caudal fin forked
    • dorsal fin origin in front of pelvics
    • pectoral fin base ventrolateral
    • mouth small.


53 (27) - Luminous organs only under eyes, none on body.
  • SCOPELARCHIDAE
    • cycloid scales over body and postorbital region
    • lateral line scales 40-65
    • strong teeth on tongue, usually hooked
    • eyes large, tubular, directed upward or slightly dorso-anteriad
    • air bladder absent
    • vertebrae 40-65.


53 - Luminous organs and or photophores on body.
  • (54)


54 (53) - Photophores not in parallel rows on body.
  • (55)


54 - Photophores in 2 parallel rows, may not be one above the other.
  • (57)


55 (54) - Photophores low on body, numerous, 3 rows on thoriac and ventral regions.


55 - Photophores scattered to near lateral line
  • MYCTOPHIDAE
    • small supramaxilla sometimes present
    • adipose fin
    • subocular shelf present
    • origin of analfin under or short distance behind dorsal fin base
    • small photophores present
    • air bladder present.


56 (53) - Upper row of photophores short, anterior.
  • GONOSTOMATIDAE
    • body elongate, never extremely compressed
    • adipose present or absent
    • branchiostegal rays 12-16
    • branchiostegal photophores 8-16
    • photophores on isthmus.


56 - Upper row of photophore long.
  • (57)


57 (56) - Teeth not as fangs.
  • STERNOPTYCHIDAE
    • branchiostegal rays 6-10
    • branchiostegal photophores 3-7
    • pseudobranch present.
    • Body deep and extremely compressed
    • mouth nearly vertical
    • preopercle spines
    • abdominal keel
    • blade in front of dorsal fin composed of specialized dorsal pterygiophores.


57 - Teeth fang-like.
  • (58)


58 (57) - Adipose fin present.
  • CHAULIODONTIDAE
    • dorsal fin well in advance of pelvics
    • 1st dorsal ray greatly elongated
    • fang-like teeth on premaxilla and lower jaw short chin barbel sometimes present
    • adipose fins behind dorsal and in front of anal
    • dorsal rays 5-7
    • anal rays 10-13.


58 - Adipose fin absent.
  • (59)


59 (58) - Dorsal rays more than 19; eye large, about twice caudal peduncle depth; luminous bulb at end of barbel.
  • MALACOSTEIDAE
    • jaws elongate, longer than skull
    • dorsal fin origin far behind pelvic fin, over anal fin
    • adipose fin and scales absent; chin barbel on most species
    • dorsal rays 14-28
    • anal rays 17-32.


59 - Dorsal rays less than 19; eye small; barbel without bulb at tip.
  • MELANOSTOMIIDAE
    • dorsal origin far behind pelvic
    • dorsal adipose fin absent
    • most species with barbel on chin
    • pectoral fins may be absent.


60 (21) - Both eyes on same side of head.
  • (61)


60 - Eyes on opposite sides of head.
  • (62)


61 (60) - Pelvic fins asymmetrical, one on median ridge; eyes and dark pigment on left side of body.
  • BOTHIDAE
    • eyes sinistral
    • pelvic fins without spine
    • branchiostegal membranes connected to each other forward
    • egg with a single oil globule in the yolk
    • pelvic fin base on blind side shorter than that of eyed side
    • pectoral and pelvic rays not branched.


61 - Pelvic fins symmetrical, one on each side of median ridge; eyes generally on right side.


62 (60) - Dorsal fin preceeded by 2 or more isolated, free spines not connected to each other by membrane, dermal membrane behind each spine may be present.
  • (63)


62 - Dorsal fin not preceeded by isolated spines.
  • (64)


63 (62) - Dorsal free spines 13 or fewer; snout not tube-like.
  • GASTEROSTEIDAE
    • body generally elongate, with bony lateral plates or naked
    • 3-16 well developed isolated spines in front of "normal" dorsal fin which has 6-14 rays
    • pelvic fin with 1 spine and 1-2 rays
    • branchiostegal rays 3
    • circumorbital ring incomplete posteriorly
    • epipleurals present
    • vertebrae 28-42.


63 - Dorsal free spines 20 or more; snout tube-like.
  • AULORHYNCHINAE
    • body very elongate, with body scutes
    • 24-26 very short, isolated dorsal spines followed by "normal" dorsal fin with about 10 rays
    • branchiostegal rays 4
    • circumorbital ring complete posteriorly
    • epipleurals absent
    • vertebrae 52-56.

64 (62) - Anal fin absent.
  • TRACHIPTERIDAE
    • caudal fin long, at right angle to body, consisting of upper lobe only
    • dorsal fin very long
    • eye large
    • teeth present
    • ribs absent
    • air bladder absent or rudimentary.


64 - Anal fin present.
  • (65)


65 (64) - Dorsal and anal fins followed by 1 or more finlets.
  • (66)


65 - Dorsal and anal fins not followed by finlets.
  • (68)


66 (65) - Single dorsal and anal finlets.
  • CARANGIDAE
    • caudal forked
    • caudal peduncle slender
    • body with scales, but with naked areas
    • 2 dorsal fins, 1st of 3-9 spines, 2nd of 1 spine and 18-37 rays including finlet rays
    • vertebrae 24-27.


66 - 5 or more finlets behind dorsal and anal fins.
  • (67)


67 (66) - Finlets 5-6; caudal peduncle with 2 lateral keels on each side, none median.
  • SCOMBRIDAE
    • 2 dorsal fins with finlets behind 2nd
    • most fins depressable into grooves
    • pelvic with 6 rays, origin below pectoral
    • gill membranes free from isthmus
    • scales cycloid, small
    • caudal peduncle slender, with 2 keels.


67 - Finlets 8-9; caudal peduncle with 3 lateral keels, strongest medial.


68 (65) - 2 lateral keels on posterior caudal pecuncle
  • TETRAGONURINAE
    • body elongate
    • pelvic fins present in adults
    • 2 dorsal fins, 1st with 10-20 short spines, 2nd 10-17 rays
    • anal fin with 1 spine, 10-20 rays
    • vertebrae 40-58.


68 - Without lateral keels.
  • (69)


69 (68) - Bony suborbital stay absent.
  • (70)


69 - Bony suborbital stay forming a bridge between eye and preopercle bone.
  • (91)


70 (69) - Pelvic fins well developed, united, forming a sucking disk.

70 - Pelvic fins not united nor forming a disk.
  • (71)


71 (70) - Pelvic fin with 5 rays.
  • (72)


71 - Pelvic fin with more or less than 5 rays.
  • (79)


72 (71) - Lateral line extending to tip of middle caudal ray.
  • SCIAENIDAE
    • dorsal fin long, with deep notch between spines and rays
    • 1st dorsal with 6-13 spines and 2nd with 1 spine and 20-35 rays
    • anal with 1-2 spines and 6-13 rays
    • to end of caudal fin
    • upper bony edge of opercle forked, bony flap present above gill opening
    • vomer and palatines without teeth
    • airbladder usually with many branches
    • vertebrae 24-29.


72 - Lateral line not extending on to caudal fin.
  • (73)


73 (72) - First dorsal fin or anterior portion of dorsal fin of spines; second dorsal fin or posterior portion of dorsal fin of rays.
  • (74)


73 - Dorsal fin without spines.
  • (77)


74 (73) - Dorsal fins separate.
  • (75)


74 - Dorsal fins continuous.
  • (76)


75 (74) - Mouth oblique to vertical; lips fringed.
  • TRICHODONTIDAE
    • preopercle with 5 sharp spines
    • body scaleless
    • dorsal spines 10-15.


75 - Mouth terminal, large; lips plain.
  • CHIASMODONTIDAE
    • premaxilla and maxilla long andslender, firmly united posteriorly
    • anterior tip of premaxilla expanded dorsally and diverging laterally
    • highly distensible mouth and stomach.

76 (74) - Mid body scales 3-4 times higher than wide; 2-3 weak anal spines.
  • BRAMIDAE
    • dorsal fin single with unbranched anterior spines
    • Dorsal and anal fins with scales, not wholly depressable
    • pelvic fins thoracic.

76 - Mid body scales not greatly higher than wide;3 strong anal spines.
  • EMBIOTOCIDAE
    • dorsal fin continuous with 6-11 spines and 9-28 rays
    • anal fin with 3 spines and 15-35 rays
    • scales cycloid, 35-75 in lateral line
    • caudal fin forked
    • viviparous.


77 (73) - Pelvic fins behind pectoral fins; lateral line mid-lateral or absent.
  • ICOSTEIDAE
    • body elliptical, highly compressed, limp
    • skeleton largely cartilaginous
    • no spines in fins
    • scaleless in adults
    • pelvic fins loosely attached in young, lost in adults, data not available to key young
    • vertebrae 70.


77 - Pelvic fin base anterior to, or under pectoral fin; lateral line high, near dorsal fin.
  • (78)


78 (76) - Body high, compressed.
  • CARISTIIDAE
    • body deep
    • dorsal fin high, with long base, origin on head
    • pelvic fin elongate, with 1 spine and 5 rays
    • forked caudal rays 15
    • branchiostegal rays 7.


78 - Body elongate.
  • BATHYMASTERIDAE
    • dorsal fin continuous
    • pectoral fin base vertical
    • lateral line high, ending near end of dorsal fin
    • palate with teeth.


79 (71) - Pelvic fin with more than 5 rays.
  • (80)


79 - Pelvic fin with less than 5 rays.
  • (84)


80 (79) - Body ovate, compressed.
  • (81)


80 - Body not greatly compressed nor deep; if caudal lunate, then body elongate.
  • (82)


81 (80) - Fins with spines; caudal rounded.
  • OREOSOMATIDAE
    • body very deep and compresed
    • mouth upturned, protractile
    • scales small, cycloid or ctenoid
    • young with conical scutes on parts of body
    • pelvic fin with 1 spine and 5-7 rays
    • dorsal fin with 5-8 spines and 29-35 rays
    • anal fin with 2-4 spines and 28-33 rays.


81 - Fins without spines; caudal forked
  • LAMPRIDAE
    • body oval-shaped, compressed
    • lateral line arched high in front
    • dorsal and anal fins long, dorsal rays 50-55, anal rays 34-41
    • pelvic rays 15-17
    • scales minute, cycloid.


82 (80) - Dorsal fin with 3 spines.
  • MELAMPHAIDAE
    • dorsal fin single, 1-3 weak spines anteriorly
    • pelvic fin thoracic or subthoracic with 1 spine and 6-8 rays
    • caudal fin with 3-4 procurrent spines
    • lateral line generally absent, may have 1-2 pored scales
    • vertebrae 24-31.


82 - Dorsal fin without spines.
  • (83)


83 (82) - Distinct caudal fin not tapering to a point.
  • GADIDAE
    • 1st dorsal posterior to head
    • vomer head toothed
    • air bladder not connected with auditory capsules.

  • GADINAE
    • 3 dorsal fins, 2 anal fins
    • chin barbel usually present
    • caudal fin truncate or slightly forked
    • egg with an oil globule.

  • LOTINAE
    • 2 dorsal fins, 1 anal fin
    • barbel lacking.

  • MORIDAE
    • vomer head toothless or with minute teeth
    • air bladder in contact with auditory capsules.

  • MERLUCCIIDAE
    • 2 dorsal fins and 1 anal fin
    • no chin barbel
    • vomer head with teeth
    • 1st principal dorsal ray is spinous
    • mouth terminal or with lower jaw projecting
    • pelvic rays 7-9
    • branchiostegal rays 7
    • pyloric caeca absent.


83 - Caudal tapering to a point.
  • MACROURIDAE
    • 2nd dorsal and anal fins confluent tapering to a sharp point
    • caudal fin apparently absent
    • chin barbel usually present
      >
    • no true fin spines, 1st dorsal ray may be spinous
    • pelvic fins, if present, more or less thoracic with 5-17 rays
    • scales small
    • light organ, if present, subdermal along midline of abdomen with opening just before anus
    • branchiostegal rays 6-8;
    • abdominal vertebrae 10-16.


84 (79) - Photophores on body.
  • BATRACHOIDIDAE
    • Two solid dorsal spines
    • solid opercular spine
    • no venom glands
    • no subopercular spines
    • body scaleless
    • photophores present
    • axillary gland absent
    • canine teeth present
    • several lateral lines.


84 - Without photophores.
  • (85)


85 (83) - Dorsal fin with anterior spines or of all spines.
  • (86)


85 - Dorsal fin of rays only.
  • (88)


86 (85) - Preanal length longer than postanal length.
  • PHOLIDIDAE
    • dorsal fin with 75-100 spines, about twice as long as anal fin
    • pectoral fins small, rudimentary or absent
    • pelvic fins rudimentary, of 1 spine and 1 ray or absent
    • lateral line short or absent.


86 - Distance from snout to anal origin equal to or less than distance from anal origin to base of caudal.
  • (85)


87 (86) - Mouth horizontal.
  • STICHAEIDAE
    • dorsal fin long, usually mostly spinous
    • pelvic fin rays, if present, branched
    • ribs present
    • preanal distance usually equal to or less than distance from anal origin to caudal.

  • STICHAEINAE
    • pelvic fin with 1 spine and 3-4 rays
    • pectoral fins large
    • vertebrae 46-71.

  • LUMPENINAE
    • pelvic fin with 1 spine and 3 rays to absent
    • pectoral fins large
    • vertebrae 53-94
    • lateral line usually indistinct or absent.

  • XIPHISTERINAE
    • pectoral fins small
    • pelvic fins absent
    • vertebrae 62-81 or more than 100.


87 (85) - Caudal distinct, dorsal and anal fins separate from caudal body not tapering to a blunt point.
  • (89)


88 - Dorsal and anal fins continuous with caudal; body tapering to a blunt point.
  • (90)


89 (88) - Dorsal and anal fins not lapping onto caudal fin.


89 - Dorsal and anal fins lapping onto caudal fin base.


90 (88) - Pelvic rays 3 or pelvic fin absent; body elongate;
  • ZOARCIDAE
    • dorsal and anal fins long, confluent with caudal
    • pelvics, when present, small, jugular
    • mouth inferior
    • gill membrane attached to isthmus
    • vertebrae 90-150
    • some species viviparous.


90 - Pelvic fin with single ray; erectile pelvic


91 (69) - Anal fin with 3 strong spines.
  • SCORPAENIDAE
    • body compressed
    • head usually with ridges and spines, scaled
    • usually 2 opercular and 5 preopercular spines
    • anal fin usually with 3 spines and 3-9 rays
    • pelvic fin with 1 spine and 3-5 rays
    • vertebra 24-40.

  • SABASTOLOBINAE
    • dorsal spines 15-17
    • vertebrae 27-30
    • spinous suborbital bone.

  • SEBASTINAE
    • dorsal spines 12-14
    • suborbital bone spineless.


91 - Anal fin without strong spines.
  • (92)


92 (91) - Body uniformly scaled with typical scales.
  • (93)


92 - Body not evenly scaled, may be naked, covered with bony plates, or highly modified scales in the form of spicules, tubercles, etc.
  • (95)


93 (92) - 2 nostrils on each side of head, posterior one normally developed.
  • ANOPLOPOMATIDAE
    • head without spines, ridges or cirri
    • 2 dorsal fins or single with deep notch
    • anal fin with 3 weak spines and 11-19 rays
    • pelvic fin with 1 spine and 5 rays
    • gill membranes attached to isthmus
    • lateral line single.


93 - Single functional nostril on each side of head, the posterior one reduced to a nonfunctional pore, distinct from the anterior nostril.
  • (92)


94 (93) - Maxillary not extending beyond vertical from front of eye; teeth in jaws uniform, no hooked canine teeth.
  • HEXAGRAMMIDAE
    • head with cirri, but without ridges or spines
    • dorsal fin single, generally notched, with 16-27 spines and 11-24 rays
    • pelvic with 1 spine and 5 rays; air bladder absent.


  • HEXAGRAMMINAE
    • dorsal fin notched
    • anal fin without spines
    • head covered with scales
    • vertebrae 47-56
    • lateral lines 5.

  • PLEUROGRAMMINAE
    • dorsal without notch, but with 47-51 hard rays
    • anal fin of 24-30 rays
    • scales partly covering head
    • strong ridges on upper portion of head
    • vertebrae 59-62
    • 5 lateral lines.

  • OXYLEBIINAE
    • dorsal fin divided by shallow notch
    • anal fin usually with 3 large spines
    • scales covering head
    • caudal fin rounded
    • single lateral line.


94 - Maxillary extending almost vertical from posterior of eye; hooked canine teeth.
  • OPHIODONTINAE
    • dorsal fin divided into two parts by a deep notch, 1st portion with 24-27 spines, 2nd portion of 21-24 rays
    • anal fin without spines, but first 3 rays are nonsegmented
    • head not covered with scales
    • cycloid scales on body
    • vertebrae 57
    • single lateral line.


95 (92) - Body covered with rows of bony plates.


95 - Body not covered with serially arranged bony plates.
  • (96)


96 (95) - Nostrils in 2 pairs.
  • COTTIDAE
    • single lateral line, not greatly reduced
    • pelvic fins when present of 1 spine and 2-5 rays
    • no spines in anal fin
    • adults without air bladder
    • preopercular spines
    • postorbitals 2-3, elongate.

  • PSCHROLUTIDAE
    • lateral line reduced, of 20 or less pores
    • pelvic fin with 1 spine and 3 rays
    • branchiostegal rays 7
    • vomer teeth usually present, often in 2 lateral patches
    • palatine teeth absent
    • 1-2 postorbitals, if 2 they are ring-like
    • without preopercular spines.

  • RHAMPHOCOTTIDAE
    • small multifid spines covering body
    • teeth absent on palatines
    • 6 branchiostegal rays
    • all fin rays unbranched.

  • HEMITRIPTERIDAE
    • minute spines covering body
    • 6 branchiostegal rays.


96 - Nostrils as a single pair.
  • LIPARIDAE
    • body elongate, scaleless, may have prickles
    • skin translucent, jelly-like
    • dorsal and anal fins long, confluent or nearly so with caudal.


97 (19) - Pelvic fins forming a sucking disk.
  • (98)


97 - Pelvic fins absent.
  • (100)


98 (97) - Both pectoral and pelvic fins joined to form the disk.


98 - Pelvic fin only modified into a disk.
  • (99)


99 (98) - Anal fin with more than 20 rays; skin thin, usually lax; body never with bony tubercles.
  • LIPARIDAE
    • body elongate, scaleless, may have prickles
    • skin translucent, jelly-like
    • dorsal and anal fins long, confluent or nearly so with caudal.


99 - Anal fin with less than 20 rays; body typically covered with bony tubercles; if naked, skin is usually thick; body globose.
  • CYCLOPTERIDAE
    • 2 short dorsal fins; body globouse;anal fin short; dorsal and anal fins never confluent with caudal.


100 (97)- Suborbital stay present.
  • (101)


100 - Suborbital stay absent.
  • (103)


101 (100)- Nostrils in 2 pairs.


101 - Nostrils in single pair.
  • (102)


102 (101)- Anal fin with more than 20 rays.
  • LIPARIDAE
    • body elongate, scaleless, may have prickles
    • skin translucent, jelly-like
    • dorsal and anal fins long, confluent or nearly so with caudal.


102 - Anal fin with less than 20 rays.
  • CYCLOPTERIDAE
    • 2 short dorsal fins
    • body globose
    • anal fin short
    • dorsal and anal fins never confluent with caudal.


103 (100)- Body not short, deep, nor greatly compressed.
  • (104)


103 - Body short, deep, and greatly compressed.
  • (119)


104 (103)- Body encased in bony plates; head prolongate; snout tube-like.


104 - Body not encased in bony plates; snout not tube-like.
  • (105)


105 (104)- Jaws on mature females forming a long, slender,
  • NEMICHTHYIDAE
    • diverging beaks, ripe males with short jaws
    • body extremely long and slender
    • pectoral fins present
    • dorsal and anal fins confluent with caudal
    • caudal filament in Nemichthys generally lost.


105 - Jaws not as above.
  • (106)


106 (105) - Upper and lower jaws long, nonocclusive.
  • CYEMATIDAE
    • body relatively long
    • lateral line pores absent
    • eye small to vestigial
    • branchiostegal rays and opercular bones absent
    • gill arches greatly reduced.


106 - Jaws occlusive.
  • (107)


107 (106)- Anus jugular, below pectoral fin.
  • (108)


107 - Anus not far removed from anal fin, not displaced anteriorly.
  • (109)


108 (107)- Body scaled; head shape compressed,
  • SYNAPHOBRANCHIDAE
    • relatively pointed
    • teeth small, needle-like
    • gill openings confluent or only slightly separated in most
    • ventral region dark-colored, dorsal region pale.


107 - Body scaless.

109 (107)- Caudal fin forked; body with oblique folds.
  • AMMODYTIDAE
    • scales cycloid, minute
    • pelvic fin absent
    • lateral line high, close to dorsal base
    • teeth absent
    • single, long dorsal fin with 53-65 rays
    • branchiostegal rays 5-7.


109 - Caudal fin not forked; body without folds.
  • (110)


110 (109)- Dorsal fin with stiff spines (may be hard to determine sometimes in ZAPRORIDAE).
  • (108)


110 - Dorsal fin without spines or with spines that are thin, flexible, and curved at the tips.
  • (115)


111 (110)- Fins partially covered with scales; large pores on head.
  • ZAPRORIDAE
    • pelvic fin absent
    • gill membranes united
    • small cycloid scales on body
    • lateral line absent
    • pectoral rays 24-25
    • dorsal fin long, with 54-57 spines
    • anal fin short, with 3 weak spines and 24-27 rays
    • large pores on head
    • vertebrae 24-26 abdominal, 61-62 total
    • pyloric caeca about 36.


111 - Scales, if present, not on fins.
  • (112)

112 (111)- Anterior portion of dorsal fin of spines.
  • PTILICHTHYIDAE
    • body extremely elongate, slender,round
    • caudal absent, but may have a caudal filament if not lost
    • pelvics absent
    • dorsal with 79-90 short spines and 137-177 longer rays
    • anal with 185-200 high rays
      >
    • lateral line absent
    • vertebrae 227-242.


112 - Dorsal fin wholly of spines.
  • (113)


113 (112) - Front teeth canines, rear teeth molariform.
  • ANARHICHADIDAE
    • body naked or with minute cycloid scales
    • lateral line absent
    • gill membranes attached to isthmus
    • dorsal fin of spines only
    • pectoral fins large
    • pelvic fins absent, pelvic girdle present.


113 - Rear teeth not developed as molars
  • (114)


114 (112)- Mouth nearly vertical.


114 - Mouth horizontal to slightly oblique.
  • (115)


115 (114)- Preanal length equal to or less than postanal length.
  • STICHAEIDAE
    • dorsal fin long, usually mostly spinous
    • pelvic fin rays, if present, branched
    • ribs present
    • preanal distance usually equal to or less than distance from anal origin to caudal.

  • XIPHISTERINAE
    • pectoral fins small
    • pelvic fins absent;
    • vertebrae 62-81 or more than 100.


115 - Preanal length more than postanal length.
  • PHOLIDIDAE
    • dorsal fin with 75-100 spines, about twice as long as anal fin
    • pectoral fins small, rudimentary or absent
    • pelvic fin rudimentary, 1 spine and 1 ray or absent
    • ribs absent
    • lateral line short or absent.


116 (110)- Caudal fin rounded.
  • (117)


116 - Caudal fin tapering to a blunt point.
  • (118)


117 (116)- Mouth very large; lateral line with about 12 large pores.
  • CETOMIMIDAE
    • scaleless
    • eyes small
    • luminous organs around dorsal and anal fin bases
    • dorsal and anal fin posterior
    • mouth large
    • teeth small, granular.


117 - Mouth moderate; body elongate; lateral line absent.
  • SCYTALINIDAE
    • pelvic fin absent
    • gill membranes united forming a free fold across the isthmus
    • eyes very small, placed high on head
    • dorsal and anal fins confluent with caudal.


118 (116)- Pectoral fin broad based, extending below gill opening.
  • LIPARIDAE
    • body elongate, scaleless, may have prickles
    • skin translucent, jelly-like
    • dorsal and anal fins long, confluent or nearly so with caudal
    • pelvic absent.


118 - Pectoral fin base narrow and lateral.
  • ZOARCIDAE
    • body elongate
    • usually scaled
    • dorsal and anal fins long, confluent with caudal
    • pelvics, when present, small, jugular
    • mouth inferior
    • gill membrane attached to isthmus
    • vertebrae 90-150
    • some species viviparous.


119 (103) - Body elliptical; dorsal and anal fins low; caudal typically forked; dorsal fin base much longer than dorsal fin height.
  • STROMATEIDAE
    • body deep, compresed
    • pelvic fins absent in adults, data not available to key juveniles
    • pelvic bones present
    • dorsal fin continuous
    • anal fin with 2-6 spines and 30-50 rays.

119 - Body ovate; dorsal and anal fins high; caudal reduced to a scalloped, truncate, short fin.
  • MOLIDAE
    • fused teeth in jaws; no spines in fins.














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