are a family
) of small bottom-dwelling cold-water marine fish
. They are notable for having elongated bodies covered by scales modified into bony plates, and for using their large pectoral fins
to move in short bursts. The family includes about 47 species in some 20 genera, some of which are quite widespread.
The pelvic fins are nearly vestigial, typically consisting of one small spine and a couple of rays. The swim bladder is not present.
At 42 cm, the dragon poacher Percis japonica is the largest member of the family, while the pixie poacher Occella impi maxes out at just two centimeters; most are in the 20-30 cm range.
Poachers generally feed on small crustaceans and marine worms found on the bottom. Some species camouflage themselves with hydras, sponges, or seaweed.
Some species are known as alligatorfishes, starsnouts, hooknoses, and rockheads.