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Body deep to slender (<b><i>Paratrachichthys </i></b> and <b><i>Optivus </i></b> ), laterally compressed; head large with large mucous cavities separated by spinous ridges and covered by membranous skin; eyes moderate to large; mouth large, oblique; villiform teeth on jaws, palatines, vomer (absent in some, e.g. <b><i>Hoplostethus </i></b> ); teeth absent on ectopterygoid (present only in subgenus <b><i>Aulotrachichthys </i></b> ) and endopterygoid; supramaxillae 1; branchistegal rays 8-9; orbitosphinoid, subocular shelf and basisphenoid present; antorbital absent; opercle with radial ridges; preopercle with a prominent spine at the angle. One dorsal fin with 3-10 spines and 10-19 soft rays; anal fin with 2-4 spines and 8-19 soft rays; pectoral fin with 10-20 soft rays; pelvic fin with 1 spine and 5-7 soft rays; Hypurals 5 (only <b><i>Sorosichthys </i></b> ) or 6; vertebrae 24-30. Scales ctenoid or ctenoid with some cycloid (subgenus <b><i>Aulotrachichthys </i></b> ); lateral-line present; ventral scutes present (absent in some <b><i>Hoplostethus </i></b> ). Maximum SL 60 cm (<b><i>H. atlanticus </i></b> ), weight 6 kg, age 24 years. Benthic and benthopelagic fishes known in tropical and temperate waters of all oceans (absent only in the northeastern Pacific). They inhabit shallow waters (2 m) to 1600 m. Feed on crustaceans and fishes. The last major revisions were by Kotlyar 1980 [ref. 8322], 1986 [ref. 6004], 1992 [ref. 26703], and 1996 [ref. 23292]. Shimizu 1977 [ref. 26704] divided trachichthyids into two phyletic groups based on the presence or absence of an expanded epipleural, which is present in the genera <b><i>Optivus</i></b>, <b><i>Paratrachichthys</i></b>, <b><i>Sorosichthys</i></b>, <b><i>Trachichthys </i></b> and absent in the genera <b><i>Gephyroberyx</i></b>, <b><i>Hoplostethus</i></b>, <b><i>Parinoberyx </i></b> (Kotlyar 1996:122 [ref. 23292]). Therefore, the family Trachichthyidae may be divided into two subfamilies taking into account the epipleurals and other characters. The subfamily Trachichthyinae Gayet 1980 [ref. 26705] contains the fossil genera. The family includes 39 species (with 4 subspecies) in 7 genera.</i></b>
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