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Cusk-Eels and Relatives: Ophidiiformes

Physical Characteristics

Most cusk-eels and their relatives are long and thin. The dorsal (DOOR-suhl) and anal (AY-nuhl) fins are very long, reaching the tail fin in some species. The dorsal fin is the fin along the midline of the back. The anal fin is the fin along the midline of the belly. The tail fin of these fishes is small, sometimes just a bony point. Cusk-eels and their relatives are about 1½ inches (4 centimeters) to 6 feet, 6 inches (2 meters) long. Some species have long, thick barbels (BAR-buhls) on the chin. Barbels are feelers used for the senses of taste, touch, and smell. Cusk-eels often have black or brown markings or bands extending the length of the body. Some relatives are covered with small spots, and others are colorless. Some species have long pectoral (PECK-ter-uhl) fins, which are the front pair and correspond to the front legs of four-footed animals. Scales can be absent, but when present, they generally are small. The pelvic fins are either very small or absent. The pelvic fins are the rear pair and correspond to the rear legs of four-footed animals.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesCusk-Eels and Relatives: Ophidiiformes - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Pearlfish (carapus Bermudensis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, THEIR RELATIVES CUSK-EELS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS