Body very deep and strongly compressed. Snout short; scales absent in front of eye and on preopercle. Mouth terminal and protrusible, forming a downward-pointing tube when protruded. A single dorsal fin, with VIII-X spines (the first small, procumbent), and 19-22 soft rays, notched between the spinous and soft-rayed parts; anal fin with III spines and 16-19 soft rays; pectoral fins elongate, falcate, reaching caudal peduncle, with 16-18 rays; caudal fin rounded or bluntly wedgeshaped. Color: silvery grey above, silvery white below, with dusky spots or grey vertical bars.|
Similar families occurring in the area. Chaetodontidae and Pentacerotidae: mouth not highly protrusible; pectoral fins not much longer than head; no notch between spinous and soft-rayed parts of dorsal fin. Ephippidae: pectoral fins short, not reaching past anal-fin base; mouth not protrusible. Scatophagidae: IV analfin spines; pectoral fins short; head profile concave. Monodactylidae: mouth not highly protrusible; pectoral fins shorter than head; eye centered on horizontal axis through mouth.
Remarks. Inhabit a variety of habitats including sand or mud bottoms, coral reefs, estuaries and harbours. Feed of benthic invertebrates, mainly crustaceans and worms.