As the name implies, they are small fish that have skin with a velvet texture. They are generally flattened in shape, with small pelvic fins, and a fleshy pad under the head, which, in at least one species, forms a sucker for attaching the fish to the sea floor. Some also have venomous spines. They live on the sea bottom close to the shore, at depths of up to 100 metres (330 ft).
There are about forty known species of velvetfish, although, since they are rarely seen, it is likely that there are many more remaining to be discovered. The species are grouped into 17 genera.
A recent study placed the waspfishes into an expanded stonefish clade (Synanceiidae) because all of these fish have a lachrymal saber that can project a switch-blade-like mechanism out from underneath their eye.
- World Register of Marine Species link: Aploactinidae (+species list)
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Aploactinidae" in FishBase. December 2012 version.
- Eschmeyer, William N. (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 176. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
- Smith, W. Leo; Smith, Elizabeth; Richardson, Clara (February 2018). "Phylogeny and Taxonomy of Flatheads, Scorpionfishes, Sea Robins, and Stonefishes (Percomorpha: Scorpaeniformes) and the Evolution of the Lachrymal Saber". Copeia. 106 (1): 94–119. doi:10.1643/CG-17-669.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Willingham, AJ (13 April 2018). "Stonefish are already scary, and now scientists have found they have switchblades in their heads". CNN.
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