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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes
Family Haemulidae
updated Sep 2020
Where seen? These thick-lipped fishes are sometimes seen on some of our shores. They usually hide during the day and are more active at night.

What are sweetlips? Sweetlips belong to Family Haemulidae. According to FishBase: the family comprises of 17 genera and 150 species. They are found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Members of the family also called grunts or grunters. Members that belong to the genus Plectorhinchus are called sweetlips because of their thick lips.

Features: Most sweetlips go through elaborate colour changes as they mature. The juveniles are often boldly spotted or striped, growing up to become adults that are totally different; usually plain with small spots or many thin lines. Some young sweetlips like the Harlequin sweetlips and Painted sweetlips typically swim by 'wagging' their large tails resulting in a twisting motion.

What do they eat? Young fishes eat plankton but grow up to be carnivorous adults, feeding on small fishes and small animals living on on the sea bottom. These fishes have teeth not only in the jaws but also in their throats.

Human uses: Some species are considered valuable seafoood. They are caught by spear, line and nets; and marketed fresh or salted.

Some Sweetlips on Singapore shores

Brown sweetlips

Harlequin sweetlips

Painted sweetlips

Family Haemulidae recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
*Lim, Kelvin K. P. & Jeffrey K. Y. Low, 1998. A Guide to the Common Marine Fishes of Singapore.
^from WORMS
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Record, etc)

  Family Haemulidae
  *Diagramma pictum (Painted sweetlips or Kachi)

Hapalogenys analis

Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides
(Harlequin sweetlips)
+Plectorhincus chrysotaeni
(Gold-lined sweetlips)
Plectorhinchus cinctus
Plectorhinchus gibbosus
(Brown sweetlips)

Plectorhinchus pictus

Pomadasys argenteus
Pomadasys grunniens
Pomadasys hasta=^Pomadasys argenteus
Pomadasys kaakan
(Javelin grunter)
Pomadasys maculatum=^Pomadasys maculatus
(Saddle grunter)
Pomadasys olivaceus=^Pomadasys olivaceus

  • Jeffrey K. Y. Low & Koh Kwan Siong. 26 Februrary 2016. Gold-lined sweetlips in the Singapore Strait, Plectorhincus chrysotaeni. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2016: 24-25
  • LIM K.K.P. First record of Hapalogenys analis (Teleostei: Perciformes: Haemulidae) from the Indoñ-Australian region. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 1994 42(4): 983-985.
  • 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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