Family: SERRANIDAE, Soapfishes, Sea Basses, Sand-Perches, Sand-Basses, Reef-Basses, Hinds, Hamlets, Coneys, Basslets, Groupers
GROUPERS, BASSLETS, CONEYS, HAMLETS, HINDS, REEF-BASSES, SAND-BASSES, SAND-PERCHES, SEA BASSES, SOAPFISHES,
Although most serranids are bass-like in appearance, there is considerable diversity of form and habits. They range in size from the collosal (to 270 cm and over 400 kg) to tiny (3-4 cm). Because of their great diversity it is difficult to define the Serranidae in terms of external characteristics. Most species have three spines on the gill cover (the upper and lower spines often inconspicuous); the rear margin of preopercle is almost always serrate or has small spines; maxilla (rear bone of the upper jaw) is fully exposed on the cheek when the mouth is closed; the mouth is large, opens at the front, or with the lower jaw projecting; more than one row of teeth on the jaws, most are simple, front teeth in some species are canines; top and sides of roof of mouth usually with simple teeth; one continuous dorsal fin; anal fin with III spines; scales small, usually rough or secondarily smooth.
This large family of reef fishes is represented circumglobally by 70 genera and at least 505 species that occur in tropical to temperate waters. In our region 84 species from 24 genera occur in shallow water.
Note: Recent genetic studies indicate that the Serranidae should be split up into at least 2 families (Epinephelidae for the groupers, including Alphestes, Cephalopholis, Epinephelus, Dermatolepis, Hyporthodus, Liopropoma, Mycteroperca, Paranthias, Pseudogramma, and Rypticus and Serranidae for the sea basses, including Centropristis, Diplectrum, Hypoplectrus, Paralabrax, Plectranthias, Schultzea, Serraniculus, and Serranus) or perhaps even splitting of the Anthiins from the Serranids to form the Anthiidae (to include Anthias, Bathyanthias, Bullisichthys, Hemanthias, Parasphyraenops, Plectranthias, and Pronotogrammus). However, this situation is not resolved, and there are no clear consistent morphological differences between adults of those groups. Hence for now we continue to use the Serranidae for a catch-all group.
PREPARED BY D ROSS ROBERTSON, AFTER HEEMSTRA, ANDERSON & LOBEL (2002)