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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes > Family Haemulidae
Brown sweetlips
Plectorhinchus gibbosus

Family Haemulidae
updated Oct 2016
Where seen? These brown juveniles are sometimes seen on many of our shores, among seagrasses and near coral rubble. Often it is seen 'drifting' like dead leaves. Elsewhere it is found in shallow coastal waters, around reefs and in estuaries; also mangroves and occasionally freshwater.

Features: To about 70cm, those seen on the intertidal at low tide range from tiny ones around 2cm, to larger ones about 12cm. Juveniles are brownish with a transparent tail fin, adults are uniformly dark grey to brownish or blackish. Lips swollen and thick especially in adults. It can change colour rapidly from pale patterns to dark. Often seen in pairs or alone in shallow waters at low tide near the mid-water mark. Juveniles drift with the moving water mimicking floating leaves and flotsam, sometimes even tilting sideways to appear more leaf-like.

May be mistaken for the Tripletail (Lobotes surinamensis) and juvenile Sickletfish (Drepane sp.).

What does it eat? It eats small bottom-dwelling animals.

Human uses: This fish is considered excellent to eat and is harvested by handline and spear.

Same fish rapidly changing ...
Labrador, Oct 04

..colour and patterns.

Brown sweetlips on Singapore shores

Photos of Brown sweetlips for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map

Tanah Merah, Sep 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Cyrene Reef, Jul 14
Photo shared by Russel Low on facebook.

Sisters Island, Aug 07
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09
Photo shared by Ivan Kwan on his flickr.

  • Allen, Gerry, 2000. Marine Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
  • Kuiter, Rudie H. 2002. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia: A Comprehensive Reference for Divers & Fishermen New Holland Publishers. 434pp.
  • Lieske, Ewald and Robert Myers. 2001. Coral Reef Fishes of the World Periplus Editions. 400pp.
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