Small to medium-sized fishes, usually less than 20 cm. Body compressed, ovate to almost circular, covered with ctenoid scales usually extending onto fins; dorsal fin continuous with VIII-XVII spines and no notch; anal fin with II spines and 10-16 soft rays; caudal fin emarginated to forked or lunate. Lateral line interrupted; anterior part of pored scales more or less parallel with dorsal profile and usually ending below soft portion of dorsal fin; posterior part comprising several pits or obscure pores along mid-lateral caudal peduncle; snout usually short and blunt; mouth small, slightly protractile; teeth conical or compressed, uniserial or in 2 or more rows; no teeth on palatine. Color: highly variable; mainly from pale through yellowish, orange, reddish or bluish to blackish; sometimes with blotches, bands, spots, or other patterns.|
Similar families occurring in the area. Pomacanthidae: a long, strong spine at the corner of preopercle. Chaetodontidae: elongate, somewhat tube-like snout.
Remarks. Found in coastal waters such as bays, coral reefs and rocky shores, and often enter brackish estuaries or freshwater streams. Frequently utilized as aquarium fish.