Small to medium sized fishes (to about 50 cm); oval to rhomboidalshaped, moderately compressed. Eye large, about equal to snout length. Mouth moderately large, protractile, with lower jaw protruding; a deep longitudinal groove on roof of mouth, which is converted to a tube when tongue is pressed against it. First gill arch with 2-8 gill rakers on lower limb. A single dorsal fin with IV-VI spines and 15-18 soft rays; anal fin with III spines and 15-18 soft rays; pelvic fins with I spine and 5 soft rays: pectoral fins with 11-15 rays; caudal fin truncate to slightly emarginated. Scale moderate to relatively large and ctenoid, extending onto head and median fins. Color: most species silvery white with a pattern of dark bars, large spots, or irregular stripes on sides.|
Similar families occurring in the area. Pempheridae: snout blunt, dorsal-fin base short, positioned above pectoral fins; anal-fin base long, usually with more than 30 soft rays; occur in marine rather than estuarine and fresh-water habitats.
Remarks. Inhabit mangrove shores, estuaries, and fresh waters, always in shallow depths. Exhibit remarkable feeding adaptation, knocking the preys, usually small insects, by squirting a jet of water from the mouth.