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Fish are morphologically very diverse, adapted to every corner of the oceans and freshwater. In spite of such diversity, they are phylogenetically compact. Of 23,637 known species in 426 families of Teleostei, about 33% belong to the eight largest families (Nelson, 1994). During the history of ichthyology, numerous classifications have been proposed (Jordan, 1923; Regan, 1929; Berg, 1940; Greenwood et al., 1966; etc.). In this paper we follow the latest revised classification of Nelson, 1994 (the number of families in each order is in parentheses):

Subphylum Vertebrata
Class Actinopterygii
Subclass Neopterygii
Division Teleostei
Subdivision Osteoglossomorpha
Order Osteoglossiformes (6)
Subdivision Elopomorpha
Order Albuliformes (3)
Order Elopiformes (2)
Order Anguilliformes (15)
Order Saccopharyngiformes (4)
Subdivision Clupeomorpha
Order Clupeiformes (5)
Subdivision Euteleostei
Superorder Ostariophysi
Order Gonorynchiformes (4)
Order Cypriniformes (5)
Order Characiformes (10)
Order Siluriformes (34)
Order Gymnotiformes (6)
Superorder Protacanthopterygii
Order Esociformes (2)
Order Osmeriformes (13)
Order Salmoniformes (1)
Superorder Stenopterygii
Order Stomiiformes (4)
Order Ateleopodiformes (1)
Superorder Cyclosquamata
Order Aulopiformes (13)
Superorder Scopelomorpha
Order Myctophiformes (2)
Superorder Lampridiomorpha
Order Lampridiformes (7)
Superorder Polymixiomorpha
Order Polymixiiformes (1)
Superorder Paracanthopterygii
Order Percopsiformes (3)
Order Ophidiiformes (5)
Order Gadiformes (12)
Order Batrachoidiformes (1)
Order Lophiiformes (16)
Superorder Acanthopterygii
Series Mugilomorpha
Order Mugiliformes (1)
Series Atherinomorpha
Order Atheriniformes (8)
Order Beloniformes (5)
Order Cyprinodontiformes (8)
Series Percomorpha
Order Stephanoberyciformes (9)
Order Beryciformes (7)
Order Zeiformes (6)
Order Gasterosteiformes (11)
Order Synbranchiformes (3)
Order Scorpaeniformes (25)
Order Perciformes (148)
(suborders listed are those treated on this DVD-ROM only)
Suborder Percoidei (81)
Suborder Labroidei (6)
Suborder Trachinoidei (13)
Suborder Blennioidei (6)
Suborder Callionymoidei (2)
Suborder Gobioidei (8)
Suborder Acanthuroidei (6)
Suborder Scombrolabracoidei (1)
Suborder Scombroidei (5)
Suborder Stromateoidei (6)
Order Pleuronectiformes (11)
Order Tetraodontiformes (9)

On the basis of the caudal skeletal structure (with the ural neural arch elongated as uroneurals), the teleostei have been considered monophyletic (Patterson and Rosen, 1977). Within the Division Teleostei, the order Perciformes is the largest taxon, with 9293 species in 148 families, most of them with marine representatives.

Since phylogenetic studies of adult fish are based mainly on morphological and osteological characters that are different during larval stages, the classification of larvae cannot be based on the same characters. However, larvae in the same family are morphologically similar, providing a basis for larval characters diagnostic at the family level. Moser (1996a) provided a list of larval characters for identification of early fish stages to order or suborder level, and outline illustrations of larvae representative of families. These keys can be used as a first step in identifying the major taxon. Here we present general family-level descriptions of larval forms commonly found in ichthyoplankton samples. Larvae of some poorly known families are excluded. The furnished tables list the literature references with descriptions of larvae of the fish species that occur in the South Atlantic.

Division Teleostei