Boarfish are marine spiny-fined fish that belong to the order Perciformes. Fish designated with this name actually occur in two different families: Caproidae and Pentacerotidae. It should be noted that the majority of boarfish exist within the Caproidae family, while the family Pentacerotidae consists of fish mostly referred to as armorheads. The Caproidae family contains 2 genera and 18 species of boarfish. The two genera, Antigonia and Capros, are placed in different subfamilies. Additionally, the Capros aper is simply referred to as boarfish for its common name. In general, boarfish can be found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. For the most part, they can be recognized by their laterally compressed, deep bodies. Their backs are angular, and from the side they may hold a rhomboid or diamond shape. They have one long, single pin in their pelvic fin and five soft rays.
Boarfish in the Pentacerotidae family may have 4-14 strong spines in their dorsal fin, while boarfish in the Caproidae family may have 7-9 spines. Boarfish in the family Caproidae also have red colorations, a rounded caudal fin and a sharper snout at eye level. Boarfish consume crustaceans, worms, mollusks and sometimes starfish depending on the species. Looking at the Capros aper of the family Caproidae, these boarfish live in the marine neritic zone anywhere between depths of 40-700 m. The boarfish general inhabits the eastern Atlantic and western Mediterranean, living over rocks and corals. Trawls will also sometimes pick them up when scraping the sandy ground. The males are smaller than the females of this species. The average length of any boarfish in the family Caproidae appears to be roughly 18 cm. However, they can grow to nearly double that size depending on the species. The Capros aper usually grows to be 13 cm, but can reach a max length of 30 cm.
One example of a boarfish in the Pentacerotidae family is the Evistias acutirostris, otherwise known as the striped boarfish. Other names this fish may go by include the Japanese boarfish, sailfin armorhead, whiskered armorhead and whiskered boarfish. This boarfish lives in the Pacific ocean off the coasts of Japan and the Hawaiian Islands, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Lord Howe, and the Norfolk and Kermandec Islands. It’s a benthopelagic fish living over reefs and sand at depths of 18-193 m. It eats brittlefish as part of its diet. While rarely seen by divers, fishermen tend to catch these fish in their trawl nets. Monitoring any boarfish species can be difficult, but it doesn’t appear that there are any current species threatened or endangered for now. Currently, the biggest threats to boarfish are fishing and harvesting, both as a deliberate target and bycatch.