Clingfishes occur in marine and brackish waters in tropical, warm temperate, and temperate zones of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. General distribution patterns may be described best by relying upon Briggs' classification scheme, as modified here. Thus, the Trachelochismini consists of Southern Hemisphere relict species restricted, except for two Northern Hemisphere species, to temperate Australia and New Zealand. The monotypic Haplocylicini is endemic to New Zealand. Members of the Lepadogastrini occur in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, with one species found in deeper waters of southern Africa. The Cho-risochismini is monotypic and also is found in southern Africa, but in shallower, warm temperate waters. The Diplocrepini is distributed across the Indo-West Pacific, with one deepwater relict species occurring in the Caribbean. The Gobiesocini occurs in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific; some also are found in freshwater streams of the Caribbean, Central America, and Cocos Island in the eastern Pacific. One monotypic genus occurs in southern Africa. The Diademichthyini also is found in tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific region. Singleslits are restricted to temperate inshore waters of the southern Australian mainland, Tasmania, and Norfolk Island.
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