Dums family (Sciaenidae) is part of the order Perciformes and is composed of marine species (Atlantic, Indian and Pacific), brackish water and even fresh water (the latter case especially in South America). They generally inhabit shallow waters and close to continental regions, being absent on isolated islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Although they are mostly associated with sandy or muddy bottoms, there are species of the Dums family that can be found in coral reefs.

Dums have a head with large cavernous channels, which are part of its lateral line system, and extending to the base of the tail fin. They have between 3 and 7 pores on the edge of the jaw and between 2 and 5 on the inside of the jaw, which are usually visible to the naked eye. They usually have a single barbel or a set of small barbels on the chin of some species. The position and size of the mouth is variable among species, but it has numerous small teeth that are arranged in bands on the jaws, the outermost row of the lower jaw, as well as the inner row of the upper jaw, slightly longer than the rest of the teeth. The eyes have a size that varies depending on the species, and can be between a third and a ninth of the length of the head. The body of the Dums is usually elongated and somewhat compressed laterally, with sizes ranging from 5 cm to 2 meters. The coloration is variable among the different species, from silver to yellowish, dark brown, and often with dark spots, vertical bars or longitudinal lines.

Dums are characterized by a high dorsal fin, which is divided into two portions by a deep notch. The first portion of the dorsal fin has 6-13 spines, while the second portion has 1 spine which is followed by 20-35 soft radii that extend almost to the base of the tail fin. The anal fin is formed by 1 or 2 spines that generally are not very robust, being the second spine longer than the first one. After the anal fin spines, 6 to 13 soft spokes follow. The caudal fin is slightly emarginated to rounded, never being forked. Finally, the pectoral fins are short and rounded in some species, while other species have long and pointed pectoral fins. In both cases, the pectoral fins are formed by between 15 and 20 radii.

One of the characteristics of this fish family is that the Dums are capable of generating sounds. For this they use their swimming bladder as a resonance chamber. Certain species are very important because they are caught for human consumption. A total of 283 species are known in the Dums family, grouped into 67 genera.