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Clingfishes are fishes of the family Gobiesocidae, belonging to the order Gobiesociformes. They are widespread throughout tropical and warm temperate waters, particularly in the marine waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Most species shelter in shallow seagrass beds and reefs, clinging to rocks, algae and seagrass leaves. Some species shelter in sea urchins or crinoids, or cling onto the bodies of larger fish.
Clingfishes are typically small fish, with most species less than 6 cm (2.4 in) in length. They have tapering bodies with single dorsal fins, and flattened heads. In most species, their pelvic fins are modified into a sucking disc. The lateral line is well developed, but may not extend to the posterior parts of the body.
The skin of clingfishes is smooth and scaleless, with a thick layer of protective mucus. They have a cryptic colouration, and in some cases can rapidly change colour to match their background.
The classification of the clingfishes varies. FishBase places Gobiesocidae as the only family in the order Gobiesociformes, under the superorder Paracanthopterygii; whereas more official classifications within the United States, for example ITIS, place them in the suborder Gobiesocoidei of the order Perciformes, under superorder Acanthopterygii. ITIS lists Gobiesociformes as invalid and has been verified by the standards set forth by ITIS.
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- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Gobiesociformes" in FishBase. october 2012 version.
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