Common amongst Labrisomids: small, often elongate fishes; largest species about 20 cm standard length, most under 10 cm standard length. Head usually with cirri or fleshy flaps on anterior nostrils, eyes, and laterally on nape; gill membranes continuous with each other across posteroventral surface of head. Each jaw with an outer row of relatively large, canine-like or incisor-like teeth, often with patches of smaller teeth behind; teeth usually also present on vomer. Dorsal and anal fins long, frequently highest anteriorly; dorsal-fin spines often flexible, outnumbering segmented dorsal-fin soft rays; 2 usually flexible spines in anal fin; pelvic fins inserted anterior to pectoral-fin bases, with 1 spine not visible externally; all fin rays, including those of caudal, unbranched (simple). Cycloid (smooth to touch) scales present at least posteriorly on body. Body coloration: varying from drab to brilliant hues; usually with irregular vertical bands, spots, or marbled pattern. Species distinguished by: dorsal fin consisting of spines and 7 to 37 segmented rays; cirri on anterior nostril and bove eye usually 2; two or more cirri on each side of nape just anterior to dorsal-fin origin; pectoral-fin rays usually 16; length of shortest pelvic-fin ray (third ray very difficult to see) contained fewer than 4 times in length of longest ray; pelvic-fin soft rays 3 (innermost ray may be reduced in length and folded over middle ray); scales in lateral-line series 40 to 69 (some scales in posterior portion of lateral line may lack sensory tubes, but are included in count); pectoral-fin base naked; maxillary bone sheathed; small teeth present behind large teeth in outer row (small teeth inconspicuous and easily knocked out while probing); teeth absent on palatines; distinct, dark blotch at bases of posteriormost dorsal-fin spines (Ref.52855).