The family of Spadefishes (Ephippidae) is a small group of species belonging to the order perciformes. They are mostly marine species, with some exceptions that can inhabit brackish waters. Their distribution is wide, and they can be found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Most species are associated with reefs, although some of them are more coastal and shallow waters, while other species can live up to 500 meters deep.
The body of Spadefishes is strongly compressed in the lateral plane. They have a small mouth, in which their jaws lack teeth. With a silvery base coloration, they may present areas of the body with yellow tones and vertical brown or black bands. The eyes are often located in one of the vertical bands of coloration, in order to pass unnoticed.
As for the fins of Spadefishes, the dorsal fin is unique and consists of 5 or 9 spines and 18-40 rays, with the spiny portion being very distinguishable from the soft portion. The anal fin has 3 spines and 15-28 rays. Both dorsal and anal fins have a triangular shape and are very symmetrical with respect to each other. Both the dorsal and pelvic fins are relatively long, while the pectoral fins are usually small and the caudal fin is slightly concave in shape.
Spadefishes are generally omnivorous species, feeding on both algae and small invertebrates such as certain tunicates, polychaetes, gorgonians and sponges. They can be confused with angelfishes, as they have a similar shape to angelfishes. Despite this resemblance, the two families are not closely related.
As a general rule, Spadefishes tend to be relatively curious species, forming small groups, although there are some more solitary species.
Spadefishes family, as we mentioned at the beginning, is a small group of species in which 15 species have been described in eight genera: Chaetodipterus (3 species), Ephippus (2 species), Parapsettus (1 species), Platax (5 species), Proteracanthus (1 species), Rhinoprenes (1 species), Tripterodon (1 species) and Zabidius (1 species).