Clingfishes are largely inshore fishes adapted to clinging to the substrate. Thus, they are able to colonize high-energy habitats and withstand breaking waves and surging waters. Many species occur on or under boulders and rocks, in crevices, and on rocky slopes and rock faces. Species adapted to living in tide pools are capable of remaining out of water for a number of days, if they are kept moist and out of sunlight. Other species are found in close association with corals, soft corals, sponges, and ascidians. Some species live among crinoids or sea urchins. The crinoid clingfish, Discotrema crinophila, lives secluded among the arms of crinoids. Dia-demichthys lineatus has strayed from the general clingfish body plan by evolving an elongated shape that nearly mimics the long spines of Diadema sea urchins. Other species cling to the blades of sea grasses and to seaweed and kelp. Some members of the genus Gobiesox occur in freshwater streams. Singleslits also live in inshore marine waters, usually in shallow tide pools and often under stones or in close association with seaweed, the stems or branches of which they may cling to or wrap around with their prehensile caudal fins and flexible bodies.

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