Small to medium sized (up to 45 cm) elongate fishes with long, javelinlike lower jaw, projecting far beyond upper jaw. Body elongate and compressed; lateral line running along ventral margin of body with a branch to origin of pectoral fin. Lower jaw usually long and javelin-like, whereas upper jaw short and triangular; eyes large; several rows of small teeth on jaws; gill rakers 0-78. Dorsal and anal fins positioned at posterior part of body; dorsal fin with 8-25 soft rays; anal fin with 8-19 soft rays; no isolated finlets behind dorsal and anal fins; pectoral fin usually short, with 7-14 soft rays; pelvic fins abdominal, with 6 rays; caudal fin rounded, truncate, emarginated or deeply forked. Scales moderately large, cycloid. Color: head and body silvery, darkened dorsally; tip of lower jaw tinged with red or orange in many species; fins hyaline, often with blackish markings.|
Similar families occurring in the area. Belonidae: usually both jaws elongate; scale small. Exocoetidae: pectoral fin very large; jaws short.
Remarks. Surface swimming fishes, chiefly found in marine and brackish waters, whereas some in freshwaters. Omnivorous, feed on floating seagrass pieces, insects, crustaceans, and small fishes. Large species commonly esteemed as food fish, caught by seine and gill nets; some freshwater species often treated as aquarium fish.