Anabantidae - a group of fishes with a labyrinth apparatus (Anabaceae), which is an enlarged pocket-shaped section of the dorsal part of the gill cavity, the folded walls of which are penetrated by a dense network of blood capillaries. Serves as an additional respiratory organ, allows some fish (perch crawler, gourami, etc.) for a long time to be out of the water and breathe atmospheric oxygen.
They have an elongated, laterally compressed body. Their snouts are short, with a small terminal mouth. Noteworthy is the development of the "labyrinth organ", which is a complex system of thin bony plates covered with mucous membrane with numerous small blood vessels. The organ is located in the adventitious suprajabral cavity. Due to the presence of this organ creeping fish are often called labyrinthine. The presence of the labyrinth organ gives crawling fish the ability to live in water extremely poor in oxygen and even quite a long time - out of water. Anabantidae periodically swim to the surface of the water body and swallow atmospheric air, which enters the labyrinth and is used for respiration.
Many Anabantidae are also interesting for the care they show for their offspring. Males of most species build a nest, usually on the surface of the water, from air bubbles and a special secretion produced in the mouth. Sometimes the nest is composed of debris from various plants. Then the male and female are located under the nest, which is a dense cluster of air bubbles, and begin spawning, hatching a series of portions of eggs. Usually the female hatch at one time 10-30 eggs, after which she goes into shock. The male at this time quickly picks up falling to the bottom or floating eggs and places it in the nest, in which he adds several portions of air bubbles. Once awake, the female greedily devours eggs not noticed by the male. After the end of spawning, the male drives away the female, sometimes with extreme fierceness. In the aquarium, a slight delay in removing the female leads to her death. However, occasionally there are cases when the female helps to pick up the eggs, but the attitude towards her male in this case does not improve.
Anabantidae are distributed in fresh and brackish waters of southern and southwestern Africa, India, Indochina, the Malay Archipelago and the Philippine Islands, China and Korea. They live in many water bodies, but mainly in heavily overgrown ponds and lakes, flooded rice fields, swamps, and also in heavily polluted water accumulations.
The family includes about 20 genera with more than 30 species. Species that reach larger sizes have tasty meat and are used as commercial fish. These are, for example, the creeper fish, gourami, threadfin, and chelostoma. Many small species, beautifully colored and interesting in their behavior, breed in aquariums: cockerels, lalius, macropods and others.