fishes text index | photo index
Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes
Lobotes surinamensis

Family Lobotidae
updated Sep 2020
Where seen? This fish floats on its side with its head down, so it resembles a drifting leaf or bit of floating rubbish. It was seen at Tanah Merah. Elsewhere, adults are found in bays, coastal areas and muddy estuaries and lower reaches of large rivers. Ocassionally near reefs and among floating objects far out at sea. Young fishes may be found drifting with sargassum weed, pretending to be floating leaves. 

Features: 20cm to 1m. The forehead is steeply sloping and humped. The tail fin and the ends of the dorsal and anal fins are rounded and about equal sized, thus giving the impression that the fish has three tails. Colours varies from dark or reddish brown with dark mottles to pale. Adults are dark brown or greenish yellow above, silvery grey below; pectorals pale yellow, other fins darker than body; caudal fin with yellow margin.

May be mistaken for the Brown sweetlips.

Tanah Merah, Jun 09

Tanah Merah, Jun 09
What does it eat? It feeds on small fishes and crustaceans that live on the bottom.

Human uses: It is eaten in some places.

Tripletails on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Tanah Merah, Feb 11
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Family Lobotidae recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.

  Family Lobotidae
  Lobotes surinamensis



  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
  • Allen, Gerry, 2000. Marine Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
  • Lieske, Ewald and Robert Myers. 2001. Coral Reef Fishes of the World Periplus Editions. 400pp.
links | references | about | email Ria
Spot errors? Have a question? Want to share your sightings? email Ria I'll be glad to hear from you!
wildfactsheets website©ria tan 2008