Spotted Sweetlips (species: Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides) in Lizard Island area: all known taxa (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides
Spotted Sweetlips

©Paul Asman: Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides at Clam Garden, Lizard Island. The small fish in foreground is Neopomacentrus azysron.

©Lyle Vail: Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides on the reef slope between Bird and South Islands, Lizard Island Group.

©Andy Lewis: A juvenile Spotted Sweetlips
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Haemulidae
Genus Plectorhinchus
Species Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides



Distinguishing features

A medium to large sized cream-white fish with numerous dark brown spots over the body and fins. Juveniles marked with a complex pattern of dark brown lines and dots, and swim in an erratic manner close to the bottom, mimicking toxic flatworms.


  • Up to 72 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Areas of reef close to sand in shallow lagoons, passes and reef fronts. Usually seen resting during the day close to caves and overhangs.

Can be found on reefs near sandy bottoms in most locations around the island.


Sweetlips feed at night over the sandy lagoon floor, taking molluscs and other invertebrates from the soft sediment. They ingest large mouthfuls of sand and filter the food out using their gill rakers. There is little published information on their ecology.

Web resources


  • Becker, J.H.A. (2006). Interactions between cleaner shrimp and their client fishes on coral reefs, Ph.D. thesis, University of Queensland. LIRS catalog number 978.
  • Ceccarelli, D.M., M.J. Emslie and Z.T. Richards (2016). Post-disturbance stability of fish assemblages measured at coarse taxonomic resolution masks change at finer scales. PLOS One, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0156232. LIRS catalog number 1971.
  • Grutter, A.S. (1994). Parasites in the cleaning interactions between Labroides dimidiatus and fish, Ph.D. thesis, James Cook University, Townsville. LIRS catalog number 438.
  • View all references