Distribution: Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific. Protrusible mouth. Most jaw teeth with gaps between them; teeth usually jutting outward. Dorsal fin 8-21 spines (usually less than15), 6-21 soft rays. Anal fin 4-6 spines (often 3), 7-18 soft rays. Cycloid scales, generally large to moderate, 25-80 along the side (may be small and over 100 if small. Lateral line interrupted or continuous. Vertebrae 23-42. Snout elongated in the genus Gomphosus. Size, shape and color very diversified. Most species are sand burrowers; carnivores on benthic invertebrates; also planktivores, and some small species remove ectoparasites of larger fishes. Most species change color and sex with growth, from an initial phase (IP) of both males and females, the latter able to change sex into an often brilliantly colored terminal male phase (TP). Males dominate several females; all Indo-Pacific species are pelagic spawners. Most species do well in aquaria, and young Coris are particularly popular. Maximum length about 2.3 m, many are less than 15 cm, the shortest being 4.5 cm. Medium to large species are important food fishes.
Source: FishBase: a Global Information System on Fishes