RAE BAXTER'S
ANNOTATED KEY TO THE FISHES OF ALASKA

Newer Key
(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, yokey, to 30 per individual


2 - Gill openigs 7; no barbels
  • PETROMYZONTIDAE
    • 1-2 Dorsal Fins
    • Eyes well developed in adults
    • Barbels absent
    • Teeth on Oral Disk and Tongue
    • Eggs small, thousands
    • Ammoceote 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 first 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.

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 first 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 distant Keel
      >
    • Teeth large
    • 5th Gill Opening in front of Pectoral Origin.


10 - Length of lower lode of Caudal Fin less than 50% length of Upper Lobe.
  • (11)


11 (10) - Gill Slits long, extending well onto 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
  • (18)


17 (16) - Body globose
  • ONEIRODEIDAE
    • Scaleless
    • Dorsal Fin with 4 - 8 rays
    • Anal Fin with 4 - 7 rays
    • Jaws equal anteriorly


17 - Body elongate


18 (16) - Pelvic Fin present, not modified into a Sucking Disk
  • (19)


18 - Pelvic Fin absent or modified into a Sucking Disk
  • (95)


19 (18) - Pelvic as single spine


19 - Pelvic Fin with more than single spine or ray
  • (20)


20 (19) - Pelvic fin abdomina;l Pelvic girdle free from any bony connection with Pectoral Girdle
  • (21)


20 - Pelvic Fin thoractic or jugular; Pelvic Fin attached to to Pectoral Girdle by a bony connection
  • (58)


21 (20) - 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


21 - Dorsal Fin not wholly of Isolated Spines
  • (22)


22 (21) - Dorsal Fins 2, not including Adipose or Finlets if present
  • (23)


22 - Dorsal Fin single or absent, not including Adipose or Finlets, if present
May be a deep notch in the Dorsal Fin
  • (24)


23 (22) - Tail tapering to a point
  • CHIMAERIDAE
    • Spine on front edge of first Dorsal
    • Spine poisonous
    • Snout short, rounded
    • Tail dyphicercal
    • Anal Fin joined to Caudal


23 - 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


24 (22) - Dorsal Fin followed by 5-7 free Finlets


24 - Dorsal Fin not followed by Finlets
  • (25)


25 (24) - Bony Plates on Body; Multiple Barbels under Snout
  • ACIPENSERIDAE
    • Caudal Fin heterocercal
    • Branchiostegal ray 1
    • Gulars absent
    • Skeleton largely cartilageous
    • Intestine with Spiral Valve


25 - Body with or without Scales; Multiple Barbels absent
  • (26)


26 (25) - Luminous Organs absent
  • (28)


26 - Luminous Organs or Photophores present
  • (51)


27 (26) - Adipose Fin absent
  • (28)


27 - Adipose Fin present
  • (39)


28 (27) - Dorsal Fin origin cosiderably preceeding Anal Fin Origin
  • (29)


28 - Dorsal Fin Origin roughly above Anal Fin
  • (34)


29 (28) - Lateral Line Pores absent
  • CLUPEIDAE
    • Abdominal Scutes usually present
    • Head scaleless
    • Teeth small or absent


29 - Lateral Line Pores present
  • (30)


30 (29) - Head with bony plates
  • PENTACEROTIDAE
    • Body strongly compressed
    • No Supra-maxillary
    • Single Dorsal Fin with 10-14 spines and 8-15 rays
    • Scales small


30 - Head without bony plates, generally smooth
  • (31)


31 (30) - Mouth terminal
  • (32)


31 - Mouth inferior
  • (33)


32 (31) - Marine
  • SYNODONTIDAE
    • Scales along Lateral Line not enlarged
    • Dorsal Rays 10-14
    • Anal Rays 14-16
    • Adipose Fin usually present


32 - Freshwater


33 (31) - Marine; lips not fleshy
  • ENGRAULIDAE
    • Tip of the snout overhanging mouth
    • Maxillary extends well beyond Eye
    • Gill Rakers numerous
    • Body translucent with silver stripe laterally


33 - Freshwater; lips fleshy
  • CATOSTOMIDAE
    • Single row of 16 or more Pharyngeal Teeth
    • Lips thick and fleshy with Plicae or Papillae


34 (28) - Freshwater; head flattened like duck’s beak
  • ESOCIDAE
    • Snout produced
    • Caudal forked
    • Lateral Line complete
    • Infraorbital Canal with 8 or more Pores
    • 10-20 Branchiostegal Rays


34 - Freshwater or Marine; Head not like above
  • (35)


35 (34) - 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


35 - Marine; Lateral Line present
  • (36)


36 (35) - Head and mouth noticeably large
  • (37)


36 - Head and Mouth moderately small
  • (38)


37 (36) - Jaws with Large Fangs
  • ANOPLOGASTRIDAE
    • Body short, deep, head and mouth large
    • Eye small, diameter less than snout length
    • Scales small to minute
    • Lateral Line an open groove partially covered by scales
    • Fins without spines
    • Dorsal of 17-20 rays
    • Anal usually of 8-9 rays
    • Baudelot’s Ligament absent
    • About 28 vertebrae


37 - 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


38 (36) - 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


38 - Shoulder Sac Apparatus absent; Head without scales
  • ALEPOCEPHALIDAE
    • Gill Rakers long and numerous
    • Shoulder Sac Apparatus absent
    • Branchiostegal Rays 5-8


39 (27) - 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 subthoractic, with 8 rays


39 - Dorsal Fin of rays only
  • (40)


40 (39) - Axillary Process or Suprapelvic Scale at base of Pelvic Fin
  • (41)


40 - Axillary Process absent
  • (43)


41 (40) - Lateral Line scales more than 110
  • COREGONIDAE
    • Teeth absent on Maxilla
    • Suprapelvic Scale present
    • Last 3 vertebrae turned up
    • Fewer than 110 scales along Lateral Line
    • Orbitosphenoid present
    • Supra-preopercular absent


42 - Dorsal Fin with more than 21 rays
  • THYMALLINAE
    • Dorsal Fin very long, extends past Adipose Fin
    • Teeth on Maxilla
    • Orbitosphenoid absent
    • Supra-preopercular Bone absent


43 (40) - Eyes tubular or telescopic
  • OPISTHOPROCTIDAE
    • Eyes tubular
    • Branchiostegal Rays 2-4
    • With or without Adipose, Air Bladder, or Photophores


43 - Eyes typically formed
  • (44)


44 (43) - Dorsal Fin absent.
  • ANOTOPTERIDAE
    • Body slender, covered with pores
    • Scaleless
    • Photophores absent
    • Pelvic fin minute, with 9-11 rays
    • Pectoral rays 12-15
    • Vertebrae 78-83


44 - Dorsal fin present.
  • (45)


45 (44) - 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
    • Palatine Tooth patches long
    • Vertebrae50
    • Air Bladder absent


45 - Dorsal Fin not extending length of Body.
  • (46)


46 (45) - Anal Fin very posterior, quite removed from Anus.
  • (47)


46 - Anal Fin posterior, just behind Anus.
  • (48)


47 (46) - 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 Bladder absent


47 - Teeth small, pointed ; Eye oval
  • NOTSUDIDAE
    • Dorsal Rays 9-14
    • Anal Rays 16-21
    • Pectoral Rays 10-15
    • Lateral Line Scales 44-65
    • Air Bladder aabsent
    • Photophores absent
    • Larva with Maxillary Teeth


48 (46) - Branchiostegal Rays 14
  • SYNODONTIDAE
    • Scales along Lateral Line not enlarged
    • Dorsal Rays 10-14
    • Anal Rays 14-16
    • Adipose Fin usually present


48 - Branchiostegal Rays 2-10
  • (49)


49 (47) - 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 Cacea 0-11
    • Last Vertebrae turned up


49 - Branchiostegal Rays 2-4 ; Air Bladder present or absent
  • (50)


50 (49) - Pelvic Fin Origin under middle 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


50 - Pelvic Fin Origin behind or below posterior third of Dorsal Fin
Brachiostegals 3-4
Body deepest between Head and Dorsal Fin
  • ARGENTINIDAE
    • Eyes not tubular
    • Adipose Fin over Anal Fin Base
    • Caudal Fin forked
    • Dorsal Fin Origin in front of Pelvics
    • Pectoral Fin Base ventrolateral
    • Mouth small


51 (26) - 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
    • Vertebra 40-65


51 - Luminous Organs and or Photophores on body
  • (52)


52 (51) - Photophores not in parallel rows on body
  • (53)


52 - Photphores in 2 parallel rows, may not be one above the other (55)


53 (52) - Photophores low on body, numerous, 3 rows on Thoractic and Ventral Regions


53 - Photophores scattered to near Lateral Line
  • MYCTOPHIDAE
    • Small Supramaxilla sometimes present
    • Adipose Fin
    • Subocular Shelf present
    • Origin of Anal Fin under or short distance behind Dorsal Fin Base
    • Small Photophores present
    • Air Bladder present


54 (51) - 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


54 - Upper row of Photophores long
  • (55)


55 (54) - Teeth not as Fangs
  • STERNOPTYCHIDAE
    • Branchiostegal Rays 6-10
    • Branchiostegal Photophores 3-7
    • Pseudobranch present
    • Body deep and extremely compressed
    • Mouth nearly verticle
    • Preopercle Spines
    • Abdominal Keel
    • Blade in front of Dorsal Fin composed of specialized Pterygiophores


55 - Teeth Fang-like
  • (56)


56 (55) - 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


56 - Adipose Fin absent
  • (57)


57 (56) - 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


57 - 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


58 (20) - Both eyes on same side of head
  • (59)


58 - Eyes on opposite sides of head
  • (60)


59 (58) - Pelvic Fins asymmetrical, one on median ridge; Eyes and dark pigment on left side of body
  • BOTHIDAE
    • Eyes sinistral
    • Pelvic Fins wiithout 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


59 - Pelvic Fins symmetrical, one on each side of median ridge; Eyes generally on right side


60 (58) - 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
  • (61)


60 - Dorsal Fin not preceeded by isolated spines
  • (62)


61 (60) - 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


61 - 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


62 (60) - 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


62 - Anal Fin present
  • (63)


63 (62) - Dorsal and Anal Fins followed by one or more Finlets
  • (64)


63 - Dorsal and Anal Fins not followed by Finlets
  • (66)


64 (63) - 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


64 - 5 or more Finlets behind Dorsal and Anal Fins
  • (65)


65 (64) - Finlets 5-6; Caudal Peduncle with 2 Lateral Keels on each side, none median
  • SCOMBRIDAE
    • 2 Dorsal Fins with Finlets behind second
    • Most fins depressable into grooves
    • Pelvic with 6 rays, origin behind Pectoral
    • Gill Membranes free from Isthmus
    • Scales cycloid, small
    • Caudal Peduncle slender, with 2 keels


65 - Finlets 8-9; Caudal Peduncle with 3 Lateral Keels, strongest Medial


66 (63) - 2 Lateral Keels on posterior Caudal Peduncle
  • TETRAGONURINAE
    • Body elongate
    • Pelvic Fins present in Adults
    • 2 Dorsal Fins, 1st with 10-20 short spines, 2nd 10-17 rays
    • Anal Fin with one spine, 10-20 rays
    • Vertebrae 40-58


66 - Without Lateral Keels
  • (67)


67 (66) - Bony Suborbital Stay absent
  • (68)


67 - Bony Suborbital Stay forming a bridge between Eye and Preopercle Bone
  • (89)


68 (67) - Pelvic Fins well developed, united, forming a Sucking Disk


68 - Pelvic Fins not united nor forming a Sucking Disk
  • (69)


69 (68) - Pelvic Fin with 5 rays
  • (70)


69 - Pelvic Fin with more or less than 5 rays
  • (77)


70 (69) - 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
    • Air Bladder usually with many branches
    • Vertebrae 24-29


70 - Lateral Line not extending on to Caudal Fin
  • (71)


71 (70) - First Dorsal Fin or anterior portion of dorsal fin of spines; Second Dorsal Fin or posterior portion of dorsal fin of rays
  • (72)


71 - Dorsal Fin without spines
  • (75)


72 (71) - Dorsal Fins separate
  • (73)


72 - Dorsal Fins continuous
  • (74)


73 (72) - Mouth oblique to vertical; Lips fringed
  • TRICHODONTIDAE
    • Preopercle with 5 sharp spines
    • Body scaleless
    • Dorsal Spines 10-15


73 - Mouth terminal, large; Lips plain
  • CHIASMODONTIDAE
    • Premaxilla and Maxilla long and slender, firmly united posteriorly
    • Anterior tip of Premaxilla expanded dorsally and diverging laterally
    • Highly distensible Mouth and Stomach


74 (72) - 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 thoractic


74 - 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


75 (71) - 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


75 - Pelvic Fin Base anterior to, or under Pectoral Fin; Lateral Line high, near dorsal Fin
  • (76)


76 (75) - 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 Rays7


76 - Boby elongate
  • BATHYMASTERIDAE
    • Dorsal fin continuous
    • Pectoral Fin Base verticle
    • Lateral Line high, ending near end of dorsal fin
    • Palate with teeth


77 (69) - Pelvic Fin with more than 5 rays
  • (78)


77 - Pelvic Fin with less than 5 rays
  • (82)


78 (77) - Body ovate, compressed
  • (79)


78 - Boby ot greatly compressed nor deep; if Caudal lunate, then Body elongate
  • (80)


79 (78) - Fins with spines; Caudal rounded
  • OREOSOMATIDAE
    • Body very deep and compressed
    • 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


79 - 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


80 (78) - Dorsal Fin with 3 spines
  • MELAMPHAIDAE
    • Dorsal Fin single, 1-3 weak spines anteriorly
    • Pelvic Fin thoractic or subthoractic 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


80 - Dorsal Fin without spines
  • (81)


81 (80) - 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


81 - Caudal tapering to a point
  • MACROURIDAE
    • 2nd Dorsal and Anal Fins confluent tapering to a sharp point
    • Caudal Fin apparently absent
    • No true Fin Spines, 1st Dorsal Ray may be spinous
    • Pelvic Fins, if present, more or less thoractic with 5 - 17 rays
    • Scales small
    • Light Organ, if present, subdermal along midline of abdomen with opening just before anus
    • Brachiostegal Rays 6-8
    • Abdominal Vertebrae 10-16


82 (77) - 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


82 - Without Photophores
  • (83)


83 (82) - Dorsal Fin with anterior spines or of all spines
  • (84)


83 - Dorsal Fin of rays only
  • (86)


84 (83) - Preanal length longer than post anal 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


84 - Distance from Snout to Anal Origin equal to or less than distance from Anal Origin to base of Caudal
  • (85)


85 (84) - 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


86 (83) - Caudal distinct, Dorsal and Anal Fins separate from Caudal; Body not tapering to a blunt point
  • (87)


86 - Dorsal and Anal Fins continuous with Caudal; Body tapering to a blunt point
  • (88)


87 (86) - Dorsal and Anal Fins not lapping onto Caudal Fin


87 - Dorsal and Anal Fins lapping onto caudal fin base


88 (86) - 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


88 - Pelvic Fin with single ray; Erectile Pelvic Fins are beneath the eyes


89 (67) - 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
    • Vertebrae 24-40

  • SABASTOLOBINAE
    • Dorsal Spines 15-17
    • Vertebrae 27-30
    • Spinous Suborbital Bone

  • SEBASTINAE
    • Dorsal Spines 12-14
    • Suborbital Bone spineless


89 - Anal Fin without strong spines
  • (90)


90 (89) - Body uniformly scaled with typical scales
  • (91)


90 - Body not evenly scaled, may be naked, covered with bony plates, or highly modified scales in the form of spicules, tybercles, etc.
  • (93)


91 (90) - 2 nostrils on each side of the 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
    • Gill Membranes attached to Isthmus
    • Lateral Line single


91 - Single functional Nostril on each side of Head, the posterior one reduced to nonfunctional pore, distinct from the anterior nostril
  • (92)


92 (91) - 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


92 - Maxillary extending almost vertical from Posterior Of Eye; Hooked Canine Teeth
  • OPHIODONTINAE
    • Dorsal Fin divided into 2 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


93 (90) - Body covered with rows of bony plates


93 - Body not covered with serially aranged bony plates
  • (94)


94 (93) - 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
    • Post Orbitals 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 with 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


94 - 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


95 (18) - Pelvic Fins forming a Sucking Disk
  • (96)


95 - Pelvic fins absent
  • (98)


96 (95) - Both Pectoral and Pelvic Fins joined to form the Disk


96 - Pelvic Fin only modified into a Disk
  • (97)


97 (96) - 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


97 - 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
    • Boby globose
    • Anal Fin short
    • Dorsal and Anal Fins never confluent with Caudal


98 (95) - Suborbital Stay present
  • (99)


98 - Suborbital Stay absent
  • (101)


99 (98) - Nostrils in 2 pairs


99 - Nostrils in single pair
  • (100)


100 (98) - 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


100 - Anal Fin with less than 20 rays
  • CYCLOPTERIDAE
    • 2 short dorsal fins
    • Body globose
    • Anal Fin short
    • Dorsal and Anal Fins never confluent with cCaudal


101 (98) - Body not short, deep, nor greatly compressed,br>
  • (102)


102 (101) - Body encased in bony plates; Head prolongate; Snout tube-like


102 - Body not encased in bony plates; Snout not tube-like
  • (103)


103 (102) - Jaws on Mature Females forming a long, slender, diverging beaks; Ripe Males with short jaws
  • NEMICHTHYIDAE
    • Body extremely long and slender
    • Pectoral Fins present
    • Dorsal and Anal Fins confluent with Caudal
    • Caudal Filament in Nemichthys generally lost


103 - Jaws not as above
  • (104)


104 (103) - Upper and Lower Jaws ong, nonocclusive
  • CYEMATIDAE
    • Body relatively long
    • Lateral Line Pores absent
    • Eye small to vestigial
    • Branchiostegal Rays and Opercular Bones absent
    • Gill Arches greatly reduced


104 - Jaws occlusive
  • (105)


105 (104) - Anus jugular, below Pectoral Fin
  • (106)


105 - Anus not far removed from Anal Fin, not displaced anteriorly
  • (107)


106 (105) - Body scaled; Head Shape compressed, relatively pointed
  • SYNAPHOBRANCHIDAE
    • Teeth small, needle-like
    • Gill Openings confluent or only slightly separated in most
    • Ventral Region dark-colored, Dorsal Region pale


106 - Body scaleless


107 (105) - 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


107 - Caudal Fin not forked; Body without folds
  • (108)


108 (107) - Dorsal Fins with Stiff Spines ( may be hard to determine sometimes in ZAPRORIDAE)
  • (108)


108 - Dorsal Fin without Spines or with Spines that are thin, flexible, and curved at the tips
  • (113)


109 (108) - 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
    • Vertebrae 24-26 abdominal, 61-62 total
    • Pyloric Caeca about 36


109 - Scales, if present, not in Fins
  • (110)


110 (109) - 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


110 - Dorsal Fin wholly of Spines
  • (111)


111 (110) - Front Teeth canine, Rear Teeth molariform
  • ANARCHICHADIDAE
    • 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


111 - Rear Teeth not developed as molars
  • (112)


113 (112) - 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


113 - 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


114 (108) - Caudal Fin rounded
  • (115)


114 - Caudal Fin tapering to a blunt point
  • (116)


115 (114) - Mouth very large; Lateral Line with about 12 large pores


115 - 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


116 (114) - 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


116 - 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
    • Gillmembranes attached to Isthmus
    • Vertebrae 90-150
    • Some species Viviparous


117 (101) - Body eliptical; Dorsal and anal fins low; Caudal typically forked; Dorsal fin base much longer than dorsal fin height
  • STROMATEIDAE
    • Body deep, compressed
    • 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


117 - Body ovate; Dorsal and Anal Fins high Caudal reduced to a scalloped, truncate, short fin
  • MOLIDAE
    • Fused Teeth in jaws
    • No Spines in Fins




























Revised by RAE BAXTER 1991
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