Spotted Sweetlips Click to enlarge image
A Spotted Sweetlips at a depth of 14m, Cormorant Pass, Great Barrier Reef off Lizard Island, Queensland, December 2001. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    chaetodonoides
    Genus
    Plectorhinchus
    Family
    Haemulidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 60cm in length.

Introduction

As its common name implies, the Spotted Sweetlips can be recognised by its spotted pattern that alters with growth.



Identification

Juvenile Harlequin Sweetlips under 7-8cm in length, are brown with large dark-edged, white spots (see bottom image). They swim with the head pointing down and with exaggerated fin movements resulting in an undulating motion. At this size the Harlequin Sweetlips is believed to be a nudibranch or flatworm mimic (see video). As juveniles grow, the brown base colour disappears and dark brown spots develop. Adults are white with dark brown spots on the body and fins.


Spotted Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides
A Spotted Sweetlips at a depth of 27 m, off Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, 22 October 2009. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Habitat

Juveniles live in lagoons, but adults live in deeper water and are often observed under ledges or in caves.



Distribution

This species is occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West Pacific.

In Australia it is known from north-western Western Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.