climbing perch, climbing gourami, or walking fish, any of several fish of the family Anabantidae, adapted to living in oxygen-depleted water or on dry land. They are not related to the true perch. The climbing perches are labyrinth fishes, a suborder of spiny-finned fishes of Africa and SE Asia that have a labyrinthine chamber over the gills that enables them to absorb and retain atmospheric oxygen. The climbing perch, Anabas testudineus, of SE Asia, is brown and reaches a length of 10 in. (25 cm). Climbing perches travel in search of water when their ponds dry up; they walk with jerky movements, supported by the spiny edges of the gill plates and propelled by the fins and tail. They are said to climb low trees. The land-walking mudskipper is of a different family. Climbing perches are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, family Anabantidae.
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