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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes > Family Lethrinidae
Spangled emperor
Lethrinus nebulosus

Family Lethrinidae
updated Sep 2020
Where seen? Colourful juveniles are sometimes seen on some of our shores, near seagrasses and reefs. Elsewhere, the fish is found in reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and sandy and rocky shores. Adults are solitary or in small schools; juveniles form large schools in shallow, sheltered sandy areas, among seagrasses, algae or sponge habitats at various depths.

Features: To about 70cm, those seen on the intertidal about 15cm. Like other members of the Family Lethrinidae, it has large scales in a 'distinctive pattern' -- a kind of diamond pattern. Overall body colour pale, yellowish or bronze, lighter below. Sometimes irregular dark indistinct bars on sides and a square black blotch above pectoral fin bordering below the lateral line. Three blue streaks or series of blue spots on the top of the head from the eyes. Fins whitish or yellowish; the pelvic dusky, the edge of the dorsal fin is reddish. Juveniles variable with blotches or stripes and changes with habitat.

Sisters Island, Jul 10

Pulau Sekudu, May 12
What does it eat? It eats echinoderms, molluscs and crustaceans, and to some extent on polychaetes worms and other fishes.

Human uses: It is valued as seafood. This species can survive for long periods in salinities as low as 10 parts per thousand and therefore it is a potential estuarine aquaculture species.

Spangled emperors on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Chek Jawa, Jun 21
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Sentosa Tg Rimau, Nov 20
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook

Kusu Island, Jul 20
Photo shared by Dayna Cheah on facebook.

Terumbu Raya, Aug 14
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Beting Bemban Besar, Aug 12
Photo shared by Russel Low on facebook.

Pulau Salu, Apr 21
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

  • 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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