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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes > Order Pleuronectiformes
Large-tooth flounders
Family Paralichthyidae
updated Sep 2020

if you learn only 3 things about them ...
Eyes on the left side of the body only.
Tail and dorsal and anal fins separated.
Found beneath the sand. Watch your step!

Where seen? These large flatfishes are seen on some of our shores, on sandy areas near seagrasses or near coral reefs.

What are large-tooth flounders?
Large-tooth flounders are flatfishes belonging to the Family Paralichthyidae (they were previously placed in Family Bothidae). According to FishBase: the family has 16 genera and 86 species. They are found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.

Grows to about 40cm long, those seen about 15-20cm. Body flat but typical fish-shaped. The head is large with bulbous eyes, both on the left side. The tail fin is well separated from the dorsal and anal fins. The tail fin is somewhat pointed over the middle portion. Has a fully developed lateral line on the blind side as well as the eyed side. The lateral line on the eyed side makes a distinctive curve over the pectoral fin (not really obvious in a living fish). The mouth is large, filled with teeth and many have enlarged canine teeth. The eyed side is usually speckled with spots of various sizes and matches the colour of its sandy surroundings.

Sometimes confused with other flatfishes. The Oriental sole looks very similar but it is right-eyed. The Three-spot flounder looks similar, is left-eyed too, but is more circular and has three large spots. Here's more on how to tell apart the flatfish families commonly seen.

Some species have a white patch
under the pectoral fin.
Changi, Jul 06.

Tail fin well separated from dorsal and anal fins.
Pulau Semakau, Sep 05

Eyes on the left side. Large mouth with canine teeth. Pelvic fin.

What do they eat? Large-tooth flounders hunt animals and fishes living on the bottom of the sea. They can swim quickly and are active during the day.

Human uses: Some larger species are considered excellent to eat and are economically important.

*Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by large external features for convenience of display.

Large-tooth flounders on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Changi Creek, May 21
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Changi, May 11
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Pulau Sekudu, Jun 14
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Changi, May 11
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Pulau Sekudu, Jul 15
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Beting Bronok, Jul 19

Photo shared by Abel Yeo on facebook.

Beting Bronok, Jun 16
Photo shared by Jonathan Tan on facebook.

Little Sisters Island, Jul 17
Photo shared by Lisa Lim on facebook.

Cyrene Reef, May 08

Photo shared by James Koh on his flickr

Cyrene Reef, Jan 19

Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Cyrene Reef, Jul 10
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog

Seringat-Kias, Feb 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his flickr.

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

  Family Paralichthyidae (previously in Family Bothidae)
  Pseudorhombus arsius (Large-tooth flounder)
Pseudorhombus javanicus (Javan flounder)
Pseudorhombus malayanus
Pseudorhombus neglectus
(Deep flounder)
Pseudorhombus oligodon
Pseudorhombus polyspilos



  • Tan Heok Hui & Kelvin K. P. Lim. 30 Jun 2017. Deep flounder, Pseudorhombus neglectus, at East Coast. Singapore Biodiversity Records: 2017: 73.
  • Lee Bee Yan, Tan Heok Hui & Kelvin K. P. Lim. 31 May 2017. Javan flounder, Pseudorhombus javanicus, at Tuas. Singapore Biodiversity Records: 2017: 73.
  • 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.
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