Centriscidae is the family of snipefishes, shrimpfishes, and bellowfishes. A small family, consisting of only about a dozen marine species, they are of an unusual appearance, as reflected by the common names. The members of the genera Aeoliscus and Centriscus are restricted to relatively shallow, tropical parts of the Indo-Pacific, while the remaining species mainly are found in deeper parts of tropical, subtropical or southern oceans.
The bodies are highly compressed, and mostly covered with bony plates. The first spine of the dorsal fin is long and sharp, and displaced to the rear of the body; two additional spines, the rest of the dorsal fin, and the caudal fin have all moved to the ventral side of the fish. The snout is also long and narrow, and the small mouth at the end has no teeth. All species are small, no more than 34 centimetres (13 in).
As if the shape were not strange enough, centriscids also swim head down. The reason for this is unclear; while some species blend in with sea grass, others live on coral reefs, where there is no apparent advantage to vertical positioning. They feed on zooplankton.
In some classifications the subfamily Macroramphosinae is raised to the level of family, Macroramphosidae. The placement of the genus Centriscops is unclear: ITIS places it in Macroramphosinae but FishBase places it in Centriscinae.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Centriscidae" in FishBase. February 2006 version.
- "Macroramphosidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=644842. Retrieved 3 April 2006.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Centriscops humerosus" in FishBase. February 2012 version.