The poachers are a family (Agonidae) of small, bottom-dwelling, cold-water marine fish. They are also known as alligatorfishes, starsnouts, hooknoses, and rockheads. Poachers 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 few rays. The swim bladder is not present.
At 42 centimetres (17Â in) in length, the dragon poacher Percis japonica is the largest member of the family, while Bothragonus occidentalis is 7Â cm (2.8Â in) long as an adult; 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. They live at to 1,280Â m (4,200Â ft) deep, with only a few species preferring shallower, coastal waters. All but one species are restricted to the Northern Hemisphere.