Sparids, small to medium sized fishes up to 75 cm, have the body oblong to oval, compressed; chin without pores; jaw teeth conical or incisiform at front, molars on sides; no teeth on roof of mouth; margin of preopercle smooth; dorsal fin X-XIII, 10-15; anal fin III, 8-14, spines often thick; pectorals long, pointed; tail fin concave to forked; scales smooth to weakly rough; cheeks and opercles usually scaly, but no scales on snout or between the eye end mouth; lateral line continuous.
Porgies are a worldwide family that occurs in all temperate and tropical seas; approximately 116 species are known from 38 genera. However, only three endemic species from two genera are seen in the tropical eastern Pacific.
Southern Africa has a particularly rich sparid fauna, with over one-third of the world's species found there. Porgies frequent a variety of habitats including brackish estuaries, bays, coastal reefs, and deeper waters of the continental shelf. Some porgies are hermaphroditic, undergoing sex reversal from male to female. They feed on a variety of plants and animals, although benthic invertebrates such as molluscs, crabs, and urchins form most of the diet of many species.