Eschmeyer's Catalog of Fishes is the authoritative reference for taxonomic fish names, featuring a searchable on-line database.
Richard van der Laan and Ronald Fricke
The family-group names of Recent fishes are to be found in:
Van der Laan, R., W. N. Eschmeyer & R. Fricke 2014 (11 Nov.), Family-group names of Recent fishes. Zootaxa 3882 (1), 1–230. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3882.1.1
The family-group names used for fossil genera can be found in:
Van der Laan, R. 2018 (11 Oct.), Family-group names of fossil fishes. European Journal of Taxonomy 466, 1-167 (https://doi.org/10.5852/ejt.2018.466).
Family-Group names are taxa between the genus and order – typically these are families, subfamilies and tribes, and they contain one (or more) genus. Other categories are sometimes used, such as superfamily. An available family-group name can be raised or lowered to another family-group category, keeping its same type genus and same authorship (poorly understood by most workers). Family-group names are regulated by the code and are subject to priority. However, ichthyologists have ignored priority of family-group names. Most comprehensive works, as by Jordan and Günther, do not have accurate authors and dates for families and subfamilies. Most current authors also do not provide accurate authorships and dates or they do not provide any authorships and dates at all.
A database was begun by Eschmeyer's Catalog of Fishes staff in the 1980s; this was based initially on Fowler’s “Fishes of the World” and his unpublished manuscript and notes provided by the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. This was used in part by Ferraris & de Pinna (1999) in their listing of higher-level names of catfishes – the only major publication in ichthyology on family-group names.
As families are split into smaller categories to show relationships of species, one can search this file. If you divide a family or subfamily into three tribes, one will be the nominal-typical one, and it will retain the author and date of the family or subfamily. One needs to search for available family-group names based on all genera and synonyms in the two remaining tribes. Then the oldest available name must be used for each tribe; if there is no available name, then a new name is warranted.
A worker wishing to create a new family-group name can use the list of family-group names in the following way:
- First determine the desired level, such as subtribe, tribe, subfamily or family.
- Check to see if any of the genera (and their synonyms) to be included in the new taxon are in the family-group names list.
- If none is in the list, then a new name can be proposed according to the Code.
- If one genus to be included in the new taxon is in the list of family-group names, check the original reference and transfer the name to the desired rank with the correct suffix. Do not change the stem of the family-group name.
- If two or more genera to be included in the new taxon are in the list of family-group names, check the original references, take the oldest name (to satisfy the rule of priority) and transfer the name to the desired rank with the correct suffix.
- Check if the stem to be used has been used in a family-group name for any animal, not only fishes, to avoid homonymy. This can be done efficiently by searching for the stem on Google.
Acknowledgments: George Burgess, Dave Catania, Thomas Fraser, Jon Fong, Jesse Grosso, Mysi Hoang, Jean Huber, Tomio Iwamoto, Kenneth Monsch, Hiro Motomura, Larry Page, Stuart Poss, Rob Robins, David Smith, Bill Smith-Vaniz, Ron Watson.
This series serves to provide the most up-to-date taxonomic treatment of the families of recent fishes.
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