Body strongly compressed, ranging from very deep in Pentaceros (shown in figure) to only moderately deep in adult Pentaceropsis; head encased in exposed, rough, striated bone; no supramaxilla; single dorsal fin with 4-15 strong spines and 8-29 soft rays; anal fin with 2-5 strong spines and 6-17 soft rays; pelvic fins large, with one long, strong spine and five soft rays; scales small; 24-27 vertebrae. These fishes are commonly called boarfishes in Australia.
Seven genera in three subfamilies: Evistias, Histiopterus, and Zanclistius in Histiopterinae (spinous dorsal fin base shorter than soft dorsal fin and vomer toothless); Paristiopterus and Pentaceropsis in Paristiopterinae (spinous dorsal fin base longer than or equal to soft dorsal base and vomer toothless), and Pentaceros and Pseudopentaceros in Pentacerotinae (spinous dorsal base much longer than soft dorsal base and vomer with teeth), with a total of about 12 species (Parin and Kotlyar, 1988; Humphreys et al., 1989).
Family NANDIDAE (397)—Asian leaffishes. Freshwater (occasionally brackish water); southern Asia.
Head usually large; mouth usually large and highly protrusible; dorsal fin continuous; caudal fin rounded; lateral line incomplete or absent; pelvic fin usually scaly axillary process. Many are vicious predators. At rest, most look deceptively like drifting leaves. Maximum length about 21 cm, attained in Pristolepis fasciata.
As with many families, this one has been split in various ways by past authors. G. Barlow and coauthors in a 1968 study erected a new family for Badis badis and concluded that it descended from a proto-anabantoid stock. Gosline (1971) recognized three families, Badidae, Nandidae, and Pristolepidae, and placed them at the start of his Percoidei. K. F. Liem in a 1970 study argued that nandids (Nandinae here) resembled relatively advanced Percoidei. He also placed Badis and Pristolepis in separate families and did not believe that they bear a close affinity to his Nandidae. Although acknowledging the diversity of the group, Nelson (1994) placed the following taxa and the Polycentridae in one family, Nandidae. I now recognize Polycentridae in its own family based on Britz (1997), Berra (2001), Springer and Johnson (2004), and the statement in Britz and Kullander (2003) that "There is no evidence of a close relationship between the Polycentridae and the Nandidae + Badidae." The classification is provisional and further studies are needed to show what the sister-group relationships are before a cladistic classification can be established.
Four genera with about 21 species.
Subfamily Nandinae. Pakistan, India, and southeastern Asia (to Borneo).
Anal fin with three spines.
One genus, Nandus (Pakistan to Borneo), with possible three species.
Mouth relatively small and only slightly protrusible; no subocular shelf; dorsal fin with six or seven spines and 6-10 soft rays; anal fin with three spines and 6-8 soft rays; lateral line scales 23-33.
These are colorful fishes that can change its color quite rapidly. Maximum length about 8 cm. This taxon was recognized with only one species in Nelson (1994), Badis badis.
Kullander and Britz (2002) provided evidence that Nandus and Badis form a monophyletic group, and I keep them in the same family (although they recognized Badinae at the family level).
Two genera, Badis (12) and Dario (3), with 15 species, more may be described (Kullander and Britz, 2002).
Subfamily Pristolepidinae. Small area of peninsular India and Sri Lanka, southeastern Asia, and parts of Malay Archipelago (e.g., Sumatra, Java, and Borneo).
Mouth relatively small and only slightly protrusible; subocular shelf present. The most widespread species, Pristolepis fasciata, has dorsal fin with 13-16
spines and 14-16 soft rays; anal fin with three spines and eight or nine soft rays; lateral line scales 26-28.
One genus, Pristolepis, with about three species.
Family POLYCENTRIDAE (398) —Afro-American leaffishes. Freshwater; tropical western Africa and northeast South America.
Characters suggesting monophyly are given in Britz (1997), based on egg morphology, and Springer and Johnson (2004). Anal fin with four spines in Afronandus sheljuzhkoi, 9-12 in Polycentropsis abbreviata,, and 12 or 13 in the South American species. Parental care is given to eggs and larvae. See comments above under family Nandidae.
Four genera with four species. In Africa there are two monotypic genera, Afronandus (streams in Ivory Coast and Ghana) and Polycentropsis (West Africa). In South America there are at least two species in separate genera, Monocirrhus polyacanthus (Guiana and the Amazon lowlands) and Polycentrus schomburgkii (synonym punctatus) (Trinidad to Guiana) (Britz, 1997; Berra, 2001; Britz and Kullander, 2003; Springer and Johnson, 2004).
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