Members of this group are found in marine, brackish, and fresh waters. Among the grunters, Amniataba occur in ponds, lakes, and reservoirs, as well as fast-flowing streams or pools in those streams; one species also ventures into mangroves in estuaries. Bidyanus and Syncomistes also occur in rivers, lakes, or reservoirs. Inhabitants of fast or occasionally slow-flowing rivers or rocky creeks include Hannia, Hephaestus, Leiopother-apon, and Pingalla. One species of Leiopotherapon has adapted to high-salinity desert waters. Scortum subspecies prefer clear streams or rivers, but are also found in lakes. Inhabitants of slow-flowing, turbid rivers and streams, or swamps include Pingalla. Lake-dwelling grunters include Hephaestus. Lagusia, Mesopristes, Pelates, Pelsartia, Rhynchopelates, and Terapon can be found in fresh and brackish water reaches of rivers and streams, or in bays.

Percichthyids are found mainly in freshwater streams, rivers, or lakes. A few species occur in reservoirs. Some species, such as Lateolabrax, also enter estuaries and are found in coastal waters. However, Howella spp. are an exception. They are pelagic in mid- or deepwater depths and migrate towards the surface at night. Some species may be benthic as adults. The blackfishes are found mainly in clear rivers or streams, sometimes at higher elevations. Pygmy perches prefer either streams and rivers, ponds, or wetlands. The Chilean perches are also found in streams.

Kuhlias inhabit coastal marine and brackish waters, usually in the water column. Some species have adapted to freshwater habitats, mainly rivers and streams, and one, K. rupestris, is well adapted to upper freshwater reaches. Juveniles of marine species frequent tide pools. The snooks and giant perches are either resident in marine or estuarine waters, usually in association with mangroves or lower freshwater reaches of rivers (i.e., Centropomus, Hypopterus, Lates, and Psammoperca) or freshwater lakes, reservoirs, and rivers (such as Lates). Adults of some species may frequent deeper water than juveniles.

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