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General information

The Monodactylidae is a family of fish within the Perciformes commonly referred to as monos, moonyfishes or fingerfishes. All are strongly laterally compressed with an approximately disc-shaped body and tall anal and dorsal fins. Unusually for fish, there are scales on the dorsal fin and sometimes on the anal fin as well. The pelvic fins are small, sometimes vestigial. They are of moderate size, typically around 25 cm in length, and Monodactylus sebae can be taller than it is long, measuring up to 30 cm from the tip of the dorsal fin down to the tip of the anal fin. It is these long, scaly fins that has given them the name of fingerfishes. Most are silvery with yellow and black markings; the juveniles are especially attractive and most species are popular as aquarium fish see below.

The family contains six extant species in two genera, Monodactylus and Schuettea. They are distributed along the coastlines of Africa, India and southern Asia, and as far west as Australia. Species of Monodactylus in particular commonly occur in estuaries. They are truly euryhaline and can live in freshwater for extended periods. Moonyfishes are predators and feed primarily on smaller fish and invertebrates. They are found primarily in shallow water and form large groups called shoals.

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