; subclass Actinopterygii, order Gadiformes)
A family of marine fish that have an elongate and slender body, a relatively large head, and a slimy skin with small scales. The dorsal and anal fins are confluent with the tail fin; the rudimentary pelvics are just in front of the rounded pectorals. All are bottom-dwelling species, but while Zoarces viviparus (eelpout), 46 cm, is common in shallow coastal waters, Melanostigma pammelas (Pacific softpout), 10.2 cm, has been found at depths greater than 500 m. Although Z. viviparus is a live-bearing species, others, e.g. Macrozoarces americanus (ocean pout), are egg-layers. There are at least 65 species, found in the temperate to cold waters of the Arctic and Antarctic.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.