The pectoral fin of a spotted scorpionfish

Ray-finned fishes

Ray-finned fishes are a very diverse class, about half of all vertebrates being ray-fins. They get their name from the form of their fins - bony struts with a web of skin covering them. Familiar fish such as the goldfish, cod and seahorse are all members of this class.

Scientific name: Actinopterygii

Rank: Class

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The following habitats are found across the Ray-finned fishes distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Adapted to swimming Adapted to swimming
Adaptations for swimming enables animals to move around in water. Animals that can swim proficiently (natatorial) fall into three categories.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Fossil types

Learn more about the other animals and plants that also form these fossils.

Exceptional preservation Exceptional preservation
Normally, only the hard parts of animals and plants - shell, bone, teeth and wood - are preserved as fossils. However, every now and then conditions permit the preservation of soft parts and create treasure houses of information for palaeontologists.


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Bony fish
  5. Ray-finned fishes

BBC News about Ray-finned fishes

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.