Small to medium-sized fishes. Body usually strongly compressed; head moderate to large; eyes and mouth small to large. Numerous conical or villiform teeth on jaws. Ventralmost pectoral fin rays not detached or separated. Lacrimal bone highly mobile . Skinny sensory canal between pterotic and preopercle absent. Suborbital stay usually not forming wide connection to preopercle. Anterior dorsal proximal pterygiophores sutured to neurocranium and supracarinalis anter ior absent . Color: highly variable, from blackish to reddish, usually with spots or blotches; barred or mottled color patterns in most species.|
Similar families occurring in the area. Aploactinidae: fin rays usually unbranched. Body covered with modified, prickly scales. Synanceiidae: skin at gill opening broadly connected to isthmus.
Remarks. Found on bottom from inshore shallow waters to deep waters; one species lives in freshwater rivers. Dorsal, anal, and pelvic fin spines venomous in most species. This family was formerly included in the family Scorpaenidae.