Family: MONACANTHIDAE, Filefish, Filefishes, Leatherjackets
Filefishes are small to medium sized fishes (up to ~ 50 cm, but most < 20 cm), and are close relatives of triggerfishes (Balistidae), that differ in having very compressed bodies; a long pointed snout; a small mouth that usually opens at the front; teeth moderately strong, six in outer row on top jaw and six or less in one row on bottom jaw; gill opening a short slit on side before pectoral base; 2 dorsal fins, 1st with II spines, the 1st spine long, usually can be locked in place by minute 2nd spine, which is lost in some species; median fins rays are unbranched; pelvic fins absent or reduced to a small, scaly spine; scales minute, innumerable, equipped with small hairs, cover skin and give it a coarse texture like sand-paper; no patch of enlarged scales above pectoral base; lateral line usually inconspicuous.
There are approximately 111 species from 26 genera worldwide; the majority are confined to cooler waters of temperate and subtropical seas. In our area there are ten species in four genera.
PREPARED BY D ROSS ROBERTSON, AFTER MATSUURA (2002)