The Ambassidae occurs in coastal marine, brackish, and fresh waters, mainly in protected areas with overhanging or emergent vegetation, such as mangroves; swamps, ponds, ditches, billabongs, creeks, and deep holes in rivers are among the freshwater habitats where these fishes may be found. The Polyprionidae frequents deep slope rocky reefs and pinnacles, rock bottoms, or sand flats and kelp beds at depths of 16-1,968 ft (5-600 m), or more, depending upon the species. These fishes also associate with shipwrecks, and at least one species has been found inhabiting structure around a deep water thermal vent system.

The Serranidae, owing to its great diversity, frequents a wide variety of habitats in tropical and temperate marine, brackish, and freshwaters. Many species are found on seaward or protected coral or rocky reefs, often hiding in caves, holes, and crevices, under corals and ledges. Some species hover above some form of structure or swim actively in the water column. Some frequent sand, mud, rubble, mangrove, sea grass, or algal flats in estuaries and rivers, as well as on reefs. Others, such as most fairy basslets (subfamily Anthiinae), hover over deep slopes or pinnacles on reefs. Soapfishes (tribe Grammistini) and Swissguard basslets (tribe Liopropomini) are often associated with caves, crevices, or holes. Depth ranges vary, depending upon the species, from one to over hundreds of meters.

The Grammatidae lives in close association with structure, mainly holes and corals on coral reefs at depths down to over 1,198 ft (365 m); most species are found below 98 ft (30 m). The Callanthiidae prefers coral and rocky reef habitats at depths usually greater than 66 ft (20 m). The Pseudochromi-dae is often associated with structure on coral reefs, usually in holes, tubes, or caves, under rocks and corals, or in crevices, but some species may also be found on rubble flats. One species of eel-blenny (subfamily Congrogadinae) lives among sea urchin spines. Depth ranges vary from one to over 180 ft (55 m). The Plesiopidae is also found among holes, under rocks, and in caves but, these fish emerge at night to move along the bottom. The Glaucosomatidae occurs on deeper offshore rocky reefs, hard flat bottoms in deeper water, and possibly coral reefs as well. Depth ranges are 33 ft (10 m) to well over 656 ft (200 m). The Opistognathidae excavates burrows in sand and gravel on coastal reefs and flats.

The Priacanthidae dwells among rocks or corals on seaward coral and rocky reefs, occasionally on deeper flats, at depths of a few to over 656 ft (200 m). The highly diverse Apogonidae utilizes an equally diverse array of habitats. A number of species associate with structure, usually branching or eroded corals and rocks, on coral and rocky reefs. Others frequent holes, caves, crevices, ledges, rubble, silty or sandy bottoms, algal beds, sea grasses, mangroves, sponges, and even sea urchin and crown-of-thorns starfish spines. Still others occur in estuaries, rivers, creeks, ponds, and lakes, usually in association with structure. Depending upon the species and habitat, depths range from 3 ft (1 m) to over 262 ft (80 m). The Sillaginidae is found in shallow coastal waters, usually over sand or mud flats, and often along beaches; some species enter estuaries. The Malacanthidae may be found on coral and rocky reefs, deep sand and rubble flats, and, at least for one species, in shallow brackish water habitats. Depths range from 33 ft (10 m) to 1,640 ft (500 m), but most species occur in less than 656 ft (200 m) of water. The Rachycentridae swims in the pelagic water column but is also associated with structure, such as oil or sulfur drilling platforms, offshore piers, and drifting logs. The Carangidae is associated with a variety of coral and rocky reef habitats that range from sand, rubble, mud, algal and sea grass flats, boulder fields and old lava flows, and the water column inshore and in the open ocean. Some species enter estuaries and rivers or brackish water ponds. Depth ranges vary from 3 ft (1 m) to over 656 ft (200 m). The Menidae is found on inshore sand and mud flats, off deeper coral reefs, or in estuaries. The Leiognathidae frequents inshore sand and mud flats; some species enter freshwater. The Bramidae is pelagic, dwelling on deep-slopes and shelves, and is usually found at depths of over 656 ft (200 m).

The Lutjanidae is found mainly on seaward or protected coral and rocky reefs, usually in association with coral formations and rocks, but also hovering in the water column. Other species frequent sea grass, algal, rubble, and sand flats. A few species occur in estuaries, and one species ranges from marine to freshwaters, where it shelters in mangroves or similar kinds of emergent vegetation. Deep water species are associated with pinnacles. Depth ranges are from 3 ft (1 m) to over 1,476 ft (450 m). The Caesionidae swims in the water column over coral reefs, especially along outer slopes and lagoon pinnacles. The Lobotidae occurs in two widely divergent habitats. Juveniles and smaller adults may be found in the open sea, often around floating vegetation, flotsam, and jetsam. Alternately, these fishes may also be found on inshore flats and estuaries. The Gerreidae frequents inshore sand and mud flats, and may enter brackish or freshwater on occasion. The Haemulidae may be found on coral and rocky reefs, where they shelter near or under ledges. Some species are also found in brackish and freshwater. Members of the Dinoper-cidae are found in association with rocky and coral reefs, usually in caves or under ledges, to a depth of about 164 ft (50 m); juveniles may be found around rocky shorelines. The Sparidae is found on coral and rocky reefs, rubble and sand flats, or, rarely, in brackish and freshwater habitats. The Lethrinidae and the Nemipteridae also frequent coral and rocky reefs, as well as rubble, sand, and sea grass flats. The Polynemidae can be found on mud and sand flats in marine and brackish water, although some species also occur in similar habitats in rivers. The Sciaenidae inhabits a variety of habitats including mud, sand, and rubble flats and beaches, shell reefs, coral and rocky reefs, and flooded salt marshes. Some species may also be found in freshwater rivers and lakes. Depth ranges vary from 3 ft (1 m) to over 328 ft (100 m).

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