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Temporal range: Miocene to Present[1]
Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides.JPG
harlequin sweetlips, Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Haemulidae
Genus: Plectorhinchus
Lacépède, 1801
Type species
Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides
Lacépède, 1801
  • Euelatichthys Fowler, 1904
  • Gaterin Forsskål, 1775
  • Leitectus J. L. B. Smith, 1952
  • Pluchus J. L. B. Smith, 1949
  • Pseudohelotes Guimarães, 1882
  • Pseudopristipoma Sauvage, 1880
  • Spilotichthys Fowler, 1904

Plectorhinchus is a genus of grunts, the sweetlips, found in fresh, brackish, and salt waters.

Description and characteristics[edit]

These fish have big, fleshy lips and tend to live on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific in small groups or pairs. They will often associate with other fishes of similar species; several species of sweetlips sometimes swim together. They are usually seen in clusters in nooks and crannies or under overhangs. At nightfall, they venture from their shelters to seek out their bottom-dwelling invertebrate prey, such as bristleworms, shrimps, and small crabs.

Sweetlips' colouring and patterning changes throughout their lives. For example, the adult ribboned sweetlips (P. polytaenia) develops more stripes with age. Juvenile sweetlips generally look quite different from the adults, and often live solitary lives on shallower reef sections. Juveniles may be banded or spotted and are usually a completely different colour from the adults of their species. Small juveniles have an undulating swimming pattern, possibly mimicking poisonous flatworms as a means of predator avoidance.[2][3]

Juvenile Lesson's thicklip (P. lessonii) off Taiwan


The 28 currently recognized species in this genus are:[4]


  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology 364: 560. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  2. ^ Debelius, H. Asia Pacific Reef Guide. 2001. ISBN 3-925919-56-2
  3. ^ Debelius, H. Indian Ocean Reef Guide. 2001. ISBN 978-3-931702-67-0
  4. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2014). Species of Plectorhinchus in FishBase. December 2014 version.