Brown Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus gibbosus (Lacépède 1802)

Other Names: Black Sweetlip, Blubber-lip Bream, Brown Blubber-lips, Brown Sweet-lips, Dusky Sweetlips, Hairy Hotlips, Harry Hotlips, Rubber-lip Bream, Silver Grunt, Silver Javelin

A Brown Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus gibbosus, at North Solitary Island, New South Wales, July 2016. Source: Ian Shaw / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A robust silvery-grey to brownish sweetlips with dark scale margins, a dark face, large rubbery lips, a dark narrow bar on the front of the gill cover, a black margin on the rear of the gill cover, and dark rear fins. Juveniles drift mimic dead leaves by drifting on their sides.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Plectorhinchus gibbosus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jul 2024,

Brown Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus gibbosus (Lacépède 1802)

More Info


Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, around the tropical north to Flinders Island, Tasmania; also Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean, and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Indo-west-central Pacific, from South Africa across south-east Asia and China to northern Australia and east to Polynesia.
Inhabits sheltered reefs and estuaries in shallow coastal waters, entering mangroves and occasionally freshwaters - occurs in upper estuaries more than other species in the genus.


The specific name is from the Latin gibbosus (= humpbacked) in reference to the high rounded dorsal profile of this species.

Species Citation

Holocentrus gibbosus Lacépède 1802, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 4: 344, 389. Type locality: unknown.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Brown Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus gibbosus (Lacépède 1802)


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. & Steene, R.C. 1979. The Fishes of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Aust. Natl. Parks Wldlf. Ser. Spec. Publ. 2. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service 81 pp. 15 pls. 

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp. 

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.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 

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. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp. 

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 

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3) 

Johnson, J.W. & Wilmer, J.W. 2015. Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus, a new species of sweetlips (Perciformes: Haemulidae) from northern Australia and the resurrection of P. unicolor (Macleay, 1883), species previously confused with P. schotaf (Forsskål, 1775). Zootaxa 3985(4): 491–522

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Lacépède, B.G. 1802. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : chez Plassan Vol. 4 728 pp. 16 pls. See ref at BHL

Larson, H. 2012. Plectorhinchus gibbosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T196408A2454631. Downloaded on 23 June 2018.

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.

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., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. 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. 

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37350012

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:8-25 m

Habitat:Reef associated, estuaries

Max Size:75 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map