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

Family Haemulidae
updated Oct 2019
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, so at first glance, it appears to have no tail. Adults are uniformly dark grey to brownish or blackish. Lips swollen and thick especially in adults.

May be mistaken for the Tripletail and juvenile Sickletfish.

Same fish rapidly changing ...
Labrador, Oct 04

..colour and patterns.

Tanah Merah, Aug 09
Make like a dead leaf: 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. .

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.

Brown sweetlips on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Punggol, Sep 18
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

Changi, Aug 20
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

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

East Coast Park, Aug 18
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

Berlayar Creek, Nov 20
Photo shared by Arjun Sai Krishnan on facebook.

Pulau Tekukor, Nov 20
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Small Sisters Island, Aug 21
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

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

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

Pulau Hantu, Sep 13
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09
Photo shared by Ivan Kwan on 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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