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Fish Guide

Ray-finned fish

Acipenseriformes | Albuliformes | Amiiformes | Anguilliformes | Ateleopodiformes | Atheriniformes | Aulopiformes | Batrachoidiformes | Beloniformes | Beryciformes | Cetomimiformes | Characiformes | Clupeiformes | Cypriniformes | Cyprinodontiformes | Elopiformes | Esociformes | Gadiformes | Gasterosteiformes | Gobiesociformes | Gonorynchiformes | Gymnotiformes | Hiodontiformes | Lampriformes | Lepisosteiformes | Lophiiformes | Mugiliformes | Myctophiformes | Notacanthiformes | Ophidiiformes | Osmeriformes | Osteoglossiformes | Perciformes | Percopsiformes | Pleuronectiformes | Polymixiiformes | Polypteriformes | Saccopharyngiformes | Salmoniformes | Scorpaeniformes | Siluriformes | Stephanoberyciformes | Stomiiformes | Synbrachiformes | Synbranchiformes | Syngnathiformes | Tetraodontiformes | Zeiformes

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Ray-finned fish
Fossil range: Latest Silurian–Recent
Atlantic herring
Atlantic herring
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclass: Osteichthyes
Class: Actinopterygii
Klein, 1885

See text for orders.

The Actinopterygii are the ray-finned fish. They are the dominant group of vertebrates, with over 27,000 species ubiquitous throughout fresh water and marine environments.


Traditionally three grades of Actinopterygii have been recognized: the Chondrostei, Holostei, and Teleostei. The second is paraphyletic and tends to be abandoned, however, while the first is now restricted to those forms closer to extant Chondrostei than to the other groups. Nearly all fish alive today are teleosts.

A listing of the different groups is given below, down to the level of orders, arranged in what is believed to represent the evolutionary sequence down to the level of superorder. The listing follows FishBase[1] with notes when this differs from Nelson[2] and ITIS.[3]

  • Subclass Chondrostei
    • Order Polypteriformes, including the bichirs and reedfishes
    • Order Acipenseriformes, including the sturgeons and paddlefishes
  • Subclass Neopterygii
    • Infraclass Holostei
      • Order Lepisosteiformes, the gars
      • Order Amiiformes, the bowfins
    • Infraclass Teleostei
      • Superorder Osteoglossomorpha
      • Superorder Elopomorpha
        • Order Elopiformes, including the ladyfishes and tarpon
          Order Albuliformes, the bonefishes
          Order Notacanthiformes, including the halosaurs and spiny eels
          Order Anguilliformes, the true eels and gulpers
          Order Saccopharyngiformes, including the gulper eel
      • Superorder Clupeomorpha
      • Superorder Ostariophysi
        • Order Gonorynchiformes, including the milkfishes
          Order Cypriniformes, including barbs, carp, danios, goldfishes, loaches, minnows, rasboras
          Order Characiformes, including characins, pencilfishes, hatchetfishes, piranhas, tetras.
          Order Gymnotiformes, including electric eels and knifefishes
          Order Siluriformes, the catfishes
      • Superorder Protacanthopterygii
        • Order Salmoniformes, including salmon and trout
          Order Esociformes the pike
          Order Osmeriformes, including the smelts and galaxiids
      • Superorder Stenopterygii
        • Order Ateleopodiformes, the jellynose fish
          Order Stomiiformes, including the bristlemouths and marine hatchetfishes
      • Superorder Cyclosquamata
        • Order Aulopiformes, including the Bombay duck and lancetfishes
      • Superorder Scopelomorpha
      • Superorder Lampridiomorpha
        • Order Lampriformes, including the oarfish, opah and ribbonfishes
      • Superorder Polymyxiomorpha
      • Superorder Paracanthopterygii
        • Order Percopsiformes, including the cavefishes and trout-perches
          Order Batrachoidiformes, the toadfishes
          Order Lophiiformes, including the anglerfishes
          Order Gadiformes, including cods
          Order Ophidiiformes, including the pearlfishes
      • Superorder Acanthopterygii
        • Order Mugiliformes, the mullets
          Order Atheriniformes, including silversides and rainbowfishes
          Order Beloniformes, including the flyingfishes
          Order Cetomimiformes, the whalefishes
          Order Cyprinodontiformes, including livebearers, killifishes
          Order Stephanoberyciformes, including the ridgeheads
          Order Beryciformes, including the fangtooths and pineconefishes
          Order Zeiformes, including the dories
          Order Gobiesociformes, the clingfishes[4]
          Order Gasterosteiformes including sticklebacks, pipefishes, seahorses
          Order Syngnathiformes, including the seahorses and pipefishes [5]
          Order Synbranchiformes, including the swamp eels
          Order Tetraodontiformes, including the filefishes and pufferfish
          Order Pleuronectiformes, the flatfishes
          Order Scorpaeniformes, including scorpionfishes and the weaver fish
          Order Perciformes 40% of all fish including anabantids, bass, cichlids, gobies, gouramis, mackerel, perches, scats, whiting, wrasses


  1. ^ R. Froese and D. Pauly (editors) (February 2006). FishBase.
  2. ^ Joseph S. Nelson. Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-54713-1.
  3. ^ Actinopterygii (TSN 161061). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Accessed on 3 April 2006.
  4. ^ In ITIS, Gobiesociformes is placed as the suborder Gobiesocoidei of the order Perciformes.
  5. ^ In ITIS, Syngnathiformes is placed as the suborder Syngnathoidei of the order Gasterosteiformes.

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