Sweepers are small, tropical marine (occasionally brackish) perciform fish of the family Pempheridae. Found in the western Atlantic Ocean and Indo-Pacific region, the family contains approximately 26 species in two genera. One species (Pempheris xanthoptera ) is the target of subsistence fisheries in Japan, where the fish is much enjoyed for its taste. Sweepers are occasionally kept in the marine aquarium.
Deeply keeled, compressed bodies and large eyes typify sweepers, their form somewhat like hatchetfish; both cycloid and ctenoid scales may be present. The small, short dorsal fin begins before the body's midpoint and may have four to seven spines; the anal fin is extensive and usually has three spines. The mouth is subterminal and strongly oblique. Species of the genus Parapriacanthus have much more cylindrical bodies.
Some species possess photophores. All but the curved sweeper (Pempheris poeyi) possess a gas bladder. The largest species is the common bullseye (Pempheris multiradiata) at 28 centimetres (11 in) long; most other species measure 16 centimetres (6.3 in) or less. Colouration is relatively subdued.
Characteristically shallow water, schooling fish (especially as juveniles), sweepers are nocturnal and seek shelter under ledges or in the caves, nooks and crannies of reefs or eroded, rocky shorelines during the day. They are often found sharing these hiding places with cardinalfishes and bigeyes, fellow nightowls. At night, sweepers forage for zooplankton, their primary food items.
The 26 species in two genera are:
- Genus Parapriacanthus
- Genus Pempheris
- New Zealand bigeye, P. adspersa Griffin, 1927.
- Dusky sweeper, P. adusta Bleeker, 1877.
- Black-tipped bullseye, P. affinis McCulloch, 1911.
- Bronze sweeper, P. analis Waite, 1910.
- Small-scale bullseye, P. compressa (White, 1790).
- P. japonica Döderlein, 1883.
- Klunzinger's bullseye, P. klunzingeri McCulloch, 1911.
- Black-edged sweeper, P. mangula Cuvier, 1829.
- P. molucca Cuvier, 1829.
- Common bullseye, P. multiradiata]] Klunzinger, 1880.
- P. nyctereutes Jordan & Evermann, 1902.
- P. ornata Mooi & Jubb, 1996.
- P. otaitensis Cuvier, 1831.
- Silver sweeper, P. oualensis Cuvier, 1831.
- Curved sweeper, P. poeyi Bean, 1885.
- P. rapa Mooi, 1998.
- Glassy sweeper, P. schomburgkii Müller & Troschel, 1848.
- P. schreineri Miranda-Ribeiro, 1915.
- Black-stripe sweeper, P. schwenkii Bleeker, 1855.
- P. ufuagari Koeda, Yoshino & Tachihara, 2013.
- Vanikoro sweeper, P. vanicolensis Cuvier, 1831.
- P. xanthoptera Tominaga, 1963.
- P. ypsilychnus Mooi & Jubb, 1996.
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