(pricklebacks), a family of marine fishes of the order Perciformes. The elongated body may reach a length of 60 cm but is usually shorter. The dorsal and anal fins are long, and the ventral fins, if present, are short. The dorsal fin is covered with prickles. Pectoral and ventral fins are absent in the coral prickleback (Azygopterus corallinus). The lateral line in some species is very complex, consisting of several longitudinal lines with short, occasionally joined branches.
There are eight subfamilies, embracing 54 species. Pricklebacks are most varied along the coasts of the North Pacific. Only five species occur in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. About 30 species are found in the USSR; they include representatives of the genera Stichaeus, Lumpenus, Chirolophis, and Alectrias. Pricklebacks are coastal bottom fishes, rarely living at depths greater than 200 m. The males of some species protect the egg mass. Many pricklebacks are eaten by commercial fishes.