Boschung, Herbert T. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Last reviewed:September 2015
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- Classification, diversity, and habitat
- Suborder Citharinoidei
- Suborder Characoidei
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A diverse order of freshwater teleost fishes, including the piranhas, tetras, and hatchetfishes. The order Characiformes is a constituent group of the series Otophysi in the superorder Ostariophysi; the other constituents of the Otophysi are the Cypriniformes (minnows, carps, and suckers), Siluriformes (catfishes), and Gymnotiformes (Neotropical or South American knifefishes). Members of the Characiformes are distinguished by the following characters: an adipose fin is usually present; teeth in jaws are usually well developed; pharyngeal teeth are usually present, but usually not specialized as in cypriniforms; the upper jaw is usually nonprotractile or, if movable, not protrusible as in most cyprinids; virtually all species have scales, with some being ctenoid or ctenoid-like (with a serrated margin) as opposed to the usual cycloid scales (with annual growth rings); barbels (slender, tactile processes near the mouth) are absent; three postcleithra are usually present; and pelvic fins and the pelvic girdle are minute in some species. Adults range in length from 13 mm (0.5 in.) to 1.4 m (4.6 ft). See also: Cypriniformes; Gymnotiformes; Ostariophysi; Scale (zoology); Siluriformes; Teleostei
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