Gouramies (Anabantiformes)

The Anabantiformes, collectively known as Labyrinth fish. are an order of freshwater ray-finned fish with two suborders, five families (Channidae, Aenigmachannidae, Anabantidae, Helostomatidae, and Osphronemidae) and having at least 207 species. In addition, some authorities expand the order to include the suborder Nandoidei, which includes three families - the Nandidae, Badidae and Pristolepididae - that appear to be closely related to the Anabantiformes. The order, and these three related families (classified as incertae sedis by the 5th edition of Fishes of the World), are part of a monophyletic clade which is a sister clade to the Ovalentaria, the other orders in the clade being Synbranchiformes, Carangiformes, Istiophoriformes and Pleuronectiformes. This clade is sometimes referred to as the Carangaria but is left unnamed and unranked in Fishes of the World. This group of fish are found in Asia and Africa, with some species introduced in United States of America.

These fish are characterized by the presence of teeth on the parasphenoid. The snakeheads and the anabantoids are united by the presence of the labyrinth organ, which is a highly folded suprabranchial accessory breathing organ. It is formed by vascularized expansion of the epibranchial bone of the first gill arch and used for respiration in air.

Many species are popular as aquarium fish - the most notable are the Siamese fighting fish and several species of gouramies. In addition to being aquarium fish, some of the larger anabantiforms (such as the giant gourami) are also harvested for food in their native countries.
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