Small to medium sized marine and brackish fishes; maximum size about 40 cm. Body compressed, depth variable, oblong to rhomboidal. Head scaled; mouth small, highly protrusible; teeth on jaws small, brush-like; gill membrane free from isthmus. A single dorsal fin, lacking a distinct notch, with IX-X spines and 9-18 soft rays; anal fin usually with II-IV spines and 13-14 soft rays; scaly sheath along bases of dorsal and anal fins; pelvic fin I, 5; caudal fin deeply forked. Scales thin, cycloid, moderately large, but deciduous. Vertebral counts 24. Color: body generally brilliant silver, with dark vertical bars or spots on body in some species.|
Similar families occurring in the area. Gerreidae is distinguished from the following similar families in having strongly protrusible mouth, scaled head, moderately large cycloid scales on body, and scaly sheath along the bases of dorsal and anal fins. Haemulidae, Lutjanidae, and Sparidae: mouth not highly protrusible.
Remarks. Occurring in tropical to temperate marine and estuarine areas. Feed mainly on benthic animals.