Suborder

CHAPTER

EELPOUTS AND RELATIVES _Zoarcoidei_

Class: Actinopterygii Order: Perciformes Suborder: Zoarcoidei Number of families: 9 families

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Most eelpouts and their relatives are shaped like eels. They usually are less than 16 inches (40 centimeters) long, but some reach a length of 24 inches (60 centimeters). The wolf-eel is the largest fish in this group, reaching a length of 80 inches (2 meters). Eelpouts are usually gray, brown, black, or purple and have spots of various colors.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Eelpouts and their relatives live all over the world from the Arctic to Antarctica.

HABITAT

Some eelpouts and their relatives live above the high tide line in rock pools, burrowing in sand or gravel beaches. Some live in rocky reefs in seaweed and keep well hidden by day. Other species live as far as 2 miles (4,000 meters) deep in the ocean.

DIET

Most eelpouts and their relatives hunt for worms, clams, sea urchins, smaller fishes, sea snails, crabs, hermit crabs, starfish, jellyfishes, and plankton, which is microscopic plants and animals drifting in water. Some eat only algae (AL-jee), which are plantlike growths that live in water and have no true roots, stems, or leaves.

BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION

Most eelpouts and their relatives live alone and hide but may gather for a short time in shelters or around food sources.

phylum class subclass order monotypic order O suborder family

During the winter in colder regions species that live near the shore may travel into deeper water to avoid freezing. Scientists know little about the reproduction of eelpouts and their relatives. In some species eggs are fertilized (FUR-teh-lyzed), or joined to sperm to start development, inside the female and then are laid. In other species, eggs are fertilized as they are laid in clusters. Most of the nearshore eelpouts and their relatives spawn during the day, when they can see one another for courting. Some eelpout relatives guard their nests.

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