by V. V. Fedorov
Body rather stout in front, tapering to fairly slender caudal peduncle, covered with thick skin, naked or armed with modified bony plates, spines, prickles or series of serrated-edged skin folds running obliquely down below the lateral line (but head and body never completely covered with bony plates). Head rather low and broad; sub-orbital shelf artculating with preoperculum, the latter variously armed with spines. Mouth terminal or subterminak jaw teeth fine, vomer and palatines sometimes toothed. Gill membranes united, usually joined to isthmus and forming a fold across it; gill-slit behind fourth arch small or absent; 6 branchiostegal rays. Dorsal fin with spinous and soft parts usually separate, but never completely joined; no spines in anal fin; pectoral fin high on body, lower rays not free; pelvic fins small, thoracic, with I + 2-5 finrays; caudal fin rounded. Vertebrae 29-51. No swimbladder.
Benthic, usually inshore and in tide-pools in cold and temperate waters, but down to 2,000 m in some cases; a few species entering estuaries or even restricted to freshwater. Feed on fishes, crustaceans, molluscs, polychaetes. Eggs demersal, large and few, guarded by males until hatching in some species. Spines on head or in dorsal fin in some species can inflict a nasty wound.
Genera about 60 (1 in southern hemisphere); in Clofnam area 9.
Recent revision: Neyelov (1979—regional only).