Spotted Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides Lacépède 1801

Other Names: Harlequin Sweetlips, Many-spotted Sweetlips, Spotted Blubber-lips

A Spotted Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides, at Matamanoa, Fiji. Source: Paddy Ryan / License: All rights reserved


A greyish sweetlip becoming whitish below, covered in dark brown spots, with large fleshy lips. Juveniles have large well-defined creamy-white spots on a brown background. Immature fish have a combination of large white spots and smaller dark spots.

A series of juvenile Spotted (Harlequin) Sweetlips at Panagsama, Moalboal, Philippines.

Video of a juvenile Spotted (Harlequin) Sweetlips possibly mimicking a poisonous flatworm.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Spotted Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides Lacépède 1801

More Info


Coral Bay, Western Australia (including offshore reefs), and Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, around the tropical north to the southern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, with juveniles south to Nelson Bay, New South Wales; also Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific.
Inhabits coral-rich areas of clear lagoon and seaward reefs. Adults shelter near or beneath ledges and in caves during the day, while juveniles often hide among corals.


Dorsal fin XI-XII, 18-20; Anal fin III, 7-9; Gill rakers 9-12 + 1 + 27-32 = 36-43; Lateral line (tubed scales) 52-59. 
Body depth 2.4-2.5 in SL; Lips fleshy, swollen with age; chin with 6 pores, no median pit; longest dorsal-fin ray 16-25% of standard length, almost equal to length of soft dorsal-fin base in small specimens, more than 1/2 length of soft dorsal-fin base in adults; lips fleshy, moderately swollen with age. Scales ctenoid (rough to touch); Caudal fin deeply forked with broadly rounded lobes in juveniles; only slightly forked to emarginate in adults. 


Adults with numerous dark brown spots, generally larger than size of pupil; pelvic fins spotted, darkening with age; juveniles brownish with large, well-defined creamy white blotches on body that include brown spots with age; gradually becoming greyish with large, deep brown spots.


Species Citation

Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides Lacépède 1801, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons Vol. 3: 134. Type locality unknown.


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Spotted Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides Lacépède 1801


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. 

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Russell, B.C. 1986. Part VII Fishes. pp. 79-103 in Berry, P.F. (ed.) Faunal Surveys of the Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef and Seringapatam Reef, northwestern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 25: 1-106 

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21 

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. 

Davis, T. 2016. First records of three fishes, and southern records of a further four fishes, from New South Wales, Australia. Check List 12(6): 1-6. 

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp.  

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. 

Hutchins, B. 2004. Fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 66: 343–398 

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6 

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270 

Lacépède, B.G. 1800. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : chez Plassan Vol. 2 632 pp. 20 pls (Pl. 13, figure and name only)

Lacépède, B.G. 1801. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : chez Plassan Vol. 3 558 pp. 34 pls. See ref at BHL

McKay, R.J. 2001. Haemulidae. pp. 2961-2989 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 5 2791-3379 pp. 

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp. 

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs. 

Russell, B.C., Larson, H.K., Hutchins, J.B. & Allen, G.R. 2005. Reef fishes of the Sahul Shelf. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory Supplement 1 2005: 83-105

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37350014

Depth:2-30 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish (juvs)

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:50 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map