Oceanospirillales are metabolically and morphologically diverse, with some able to grow in the presence of oxygen and others requiring an anaerobic environment. Most Oceanospirillales are prefer or require high salt concentrations to grow. While they grow in diverse niches, all Oceanospirillales derive their energy from the breakdown of various organic products. All Oceanospirillales are motile except for members of the genus Alcanivorax.
The order Oceanospirillales was first described in 2005 in the second edition of Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, consisting of six families and with the type genus of Oceanospirillum. In 2007, a seventh family was added with the identification of Litoricola lipolytica and the creation of its family Litoricolaceae.