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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous–recent
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Clade: Percomorpha
Order: Perciformes
Bleeker, 1863
Type species
Perca fluviatilis

See text

Perciformes /ˈpɜːrsɪfɔːrmz/ , also called the Percomorpha or Acanthopteri, is an order or superorder of ray-finned fish. If considered a single order, they are the most numerous order of vertebrates, containing about 41% of all bony fish. Perciformes means "perch-like". This group comprises over 10,000 species found in almost all aquatic ecosystems.


The order contains about 160 families, which is the most of any order within the vertebrates. [1] It is also the most variably sized order of vertebrates, ranging from the 7 mm (14 in) Schindleria brevipinguis to the 5 m (15 ft) marlin in the genus Makaira . They first appeared and diversified in the Late Cretaceous.

Among the well-known members of this group are perch and darters (Percidae), sea bass and groupers (Serranidae). [2]


The dorsal and anal fins are divided into anterior spiny and posterior soft-rayed portions, which may be partially or completely separated. The pelvic fins usually have one spine and up to five soft rays, positioned unusually far forward under the chin or under the belly. Scales are usually ctenoid (rough to the touch), although sometimes they are cycloid (smooth to the touch) or otherwise modified.


Classification of this group is controversial. As traditionally defined before the introduction of cladistics, the Perciformes are almost certainly paraphyletic. Other orders that should possibly be included as suborders are the Scorpaeniformes, Tetraodontiformes, and Pleuronectiformes. Of the presently recognized suborders, several may be paraphyletic, as well. These are grouped by suborder/superfamily, generally following the text Fishes of the World . [1] [3] [4] [5]

Perciformes display at the National Museum of Natural History. Perciformes 01.jpg
Perciformes display at the National Museum of Natural History.
Pomacanthus semicirculatus Pomacanthus semicirculatus 1.jpg
Pomacanthus semicirculatus
Nelson 2015 [5] Betancur-Rodriguez et al. 2017 [6]

Related Research Articles

Actinopterygii Class of ray-finned bony fishes

Actinopterygii, members of which are known as ray-finned fishes, is a clade of the bony fishes.

Osteichthyes Diverse group of fish with skeletons of bone rather than a cartilage

Osteichthyes, popularly referred to as the bony fish, is a diverse taxonomic group of fish that have skeletons primarily composed of bone tissue. They can be contrasted with the Chondrichthyes, which have skeletons primarily composed of cartilage. The vast majority of fish are members of Osteichthyes, which is an extremely diverse and abundant group consisting of 45 orders, and over 435 families and 28,000 species. It is the largest class of vertebrates in existence today. The group Osteichthyes is divided into the ray-finned fish (Actinopterygii) and lobe-finned fish (Sarcopterygii). The oldest known fossils of bony fish are about 420 million years old, which are also transitional fossils, showing a tooth pattern that is in between the tooth rows of sharks and bony fishes.

Percidae Family of fishes

The Percidae are a family of ray-finned fish, part of the order Perciformes, which are found in fresh and brackish waters of the Northern Hemisphere. The majority are Nearctic, but there are also Palearctic species. The family contains more than 200 species in 11 genera. The perches, and their relatives are in this family; well-known species include the walleye, sauger, ruffe, and three species of perch. However, small fish known as darters are also a part of this family.

Scorpaeniformes Order of fishes

The Scorpaeniformes are a diverse order of ray-finned fish, including the lionfish, but have also been called the Scleroparei. It is one of the five largest orders of bony fishes by number of species, with over 1,320.

Characiformes Order of fishes

Characiformes is an order of ray-finned fish, comprising the characins and their allies. Grouped in 18 recognized families, more than 2000 different species are described, including the well-known piranha and tetras.

Euteleostomi Clade including most vertebrates

Euteleostomi is a successful clade that includes more than 90% of the living species of vertebrates. Euteleostomes are also known as "bony vertebrates". Both its major subgroups are successful today: Actinopterygii includes most extant fish species, and Sarcopterygii includes the tetrapods.

Neopterygii Subclass of fishes

Neopterygii is a subclass of ray-finned fish (Actinopterygii). Neopterygii includes the Holostei and the Teleostei, of which the latter compromise the vast majority of extant fishes, and over half of all living vertebrate species. While living holosteans include only freshwater taxa, teleosts are diverse in both freshwater and marine environments. Many new species of teleosts are scientifically described each year.

Osmeriformes Order of fishes

The Osmeriformes are an order of ray-finned fish that includes the true or freshwater smelts and allies, such as the galaxiids and noodlefishes; they are also collectively called osmeriforms. They belong to the teleost superorder Protacanthopterygii, which also includes pike and salmon, among others. The order's name means "smelt-shaped", from Osmerus + the standard fish order suffix "-formes". It ultimately derives from Ancient Greek osmé + Latin forma, the former in reference to the characteristic aroma of the flesh of Osmerus.

Butterflyfish Tropical marine fish of the family Chaetodontidae

The butterflyfish are a group of conspicuous tropical marine fish of the family Chaetodontidae; the bannerfish and coralfish are also included in this group. The approximately 129 species in 12 genera are found mostly on the reefs of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. A number of species pairs occur in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, members of the huge genus Chaetodon.

Gasterosteiformes Order of fishes

Gasterosteiformes is an order of ray-finned fishes that includes the sticklebacks and relatives.

Acropomatidae Family of fishes

Acropomatidae is a family of fish in the order Perciformes, commonly known as lanternbellies. Acropoma species are notable for having light-emitting organs along their undersides. They are found in all temperate and tropical oceans, usually at depths of several hundred meters. There are about 32 species in as many as 9 genera, although some authorities recognise fewer genera than Fishbase does.

Syngnathiformes Order of fishes

The Syngnathiformes are an order of ray-finned fishes that includes the pipefishes and seahorses.

Holostei group of bony fish

Holostei is a group of ray-finned bony fish including gars and bowfins. There are eight living species divided among two orders: the Amiiformes, represented by a single living species, the bowfin ; and the Lepisosteiformes, the gars, represented by seven living species in two genera. Further species are to be found in the fossil record. Fossil species included, the Amiiformes belong to the clade Halecomorphi, whereas Lepisosteiformes are part of Ginglymodi.

Acanthopterygii Superorder of bony fishes

Acanthopterygii is a superorder of bony fishes in the class Actinopterygii. Members of this superorder are sometimes called ray-finned fishes for the characteristic sharp, bony rays in their fins; however this name is often given to the class Actinopterygii as a whole.

Percoidei Suborder of fishes

Percoidei is one of 3 suborders of bony fishes in the order Perciformes. Many commercially harvested fish species are considered to be contained in this suborder, including the snappers, groupers, basses, goatfishes and perches.

Argentiniformes Order of fishes

The Argentiniformes are an order of ray-finned fish whose distinctness was recognized only fairly recently. In former times, they were included in the Osmeriformes as suborder Argentinoidei. That term refers only to the suborder of marine smelts and barreleyes in the classification used here, with the slickheads and allies being the Alepocephaloidei. These suborders were treated as superfamilies Argentinoidea and Alepocephaloidea, respectively, when the present group was still included in the Osmeriformes.

Halecomorphi Clade of fishes

Halecomorphi is a taxon of ray-finned bony fish in the clade Neopterygii. The sole living Halecomorph is the bowfin, but the group contains many extinct species in several families in the order Amiiformes, as well as the extinct orders Ionoscopiformes, Panxianichthyiformes, and Parasemionotiformes. The fossil record of halecomorphs goes back at least to the Early Triassic epoch.

Callionymiformes Order of fishes

Callionymiformes is an order of bony fish containing two families, the dragonets Callionymidae and the Draconettidae. In some taxonomies these families make up the suborder Callionymoidei of the wider grouping known as Perciformes, Nelson (2016) recognised the order but subsequent workers have suggested that if Callionymiformes is recognised as an order then the order Syngnathiformes is rendered paraphyletic and include Callionmyoidei within that taxon.

Scombriformes Order of fishes

Scombriformes is an order of bony fish containing nine families which were classified under the suborders Scombroidei and Stromateoidei, of the wider grouping known as Perciformes, Nelson (2016) recognised the order but subsequent workers have suggested that Scombriformes forms part of the larger Pelagiaria clade.

Atherinomorpha Clade of fishes

The Atherinomorpha is a clade of fishes in the superorder Acanthopterygii, the ray-finned fishes, consisting of three orders. The clade is ranked as an infraseries within the subseries Ovalentaria, which in turn is ranked within the wider Percomorpha clade.


  1. 1 2 Nelson, J. S. (2006). Fishes of the World (4 ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN   978-0-471-25031-9.
  2. "Perciform - Form and function". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  3. Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2015). "Perciformes" in FishBase . August 2015 version.
  4. "ADW: Perciformes". Animal Diversity Web.
  5. 1 2 J. S. Nelson; T. C. Grande; M. V. H. Wilson (2016). Fishes of the World (5th ed.). Wiley. pp. 430–467. ISBN   978-1-118-34233-6.
  6. Betancur-R, Ricardo; Wiley, Edward O.; Arratia, Gloria; Acero, Arturo; Bailly, Nicolas; Miya, Masaki; Lecointre, Guillaume; Ortí, Guillermo (6 July 2017). "Phylogenetic classification of bony fishes". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 17 (1): 162. doi: 10.1186/s12862-017-0958-3 . ISSN   1471-2148.