Sombre Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus unicolor (Macleay 1883)

A Sombre Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus unicolor, at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Source: Anne Hoggett / License: CC BY Attribution

An olive-brown, tan, or greyish-brown sweetlips with the rear margin of the gill membrane dusky, with an underlying reddish colour, and a bright yellow caudal fin bright yellow in juveniles, to dull yellowish or greenish brown in adults. 
This species was previously considered to be a synonym of Plectorhinchus schotaf which occurs in the Western Indian Ocean.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Plectorhinchus unicolor in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Feb 2020,

Sombre Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus unicolor (Macleay 1883)

More Info


From Rottnest Island north to the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia, and Lizard Island, Queensland, to the Tweed River, New South Wales, and Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. on the east coast. Elsewhere the species is known from southern Japan, Taiwan, Guam, West Malaysia, Indonesia (Bali and Banyuwangi, East Java), and southern Papua New Guinea.
Inhabits coastal rocky reefs and rocky headlands with a rich growth of brown macroalgae and moderate wave action. Usually solitary or in small groups in depths of 1–10 m, Small juveniles prefer subtidal rocky reefs with moderately high wave action.

Species Citation

Diagramma unicolor Macleay 1883, Proc. Linn. Soc. N. S. W. 1 8(2): 261. Type locality: China Straits, New Guinea.


Dianne J. Bray

Sombre Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus unicolor (Macleay 1883)


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

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. (as Plectorhinchus schotaf)

Coleman, N. 1981. Australian Sea Fishes North of 30°S. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 297 pp.

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp. (as Plectorhinchus schotaf)

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 (as Plectorhinchus schotaf)

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.

Hutchins, J.B. 2003. Checklist of marine fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. pp. 453-478 in Wells, F.E., Walker, D.I., & Jones, D.S. (eds). Proceedings of the Eleventh International Marine Biological Workshop: The Marine Flora and Fauna of Dampier, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum.

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) (as Plectorhinchus schotaf)

Johnson, J.W. & Worthington Wilmer, J. 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. Abstract

Macleay, W.J. 1883. Contribution to the knowledge of the fishes of New Guinea. No. 4. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 8(2): 252-280.

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls.

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. (as Plectorhinchus schotaf)

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. (as Plectorhinchus schotaf)

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. 1983. Annotated checklist of the coral reef fishes in the Capricorn-Bunker group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Special Publication Series 1: 1-184 figs 1-2 (as Plectorhinchus schotaf)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37350013

Depth:1-10 m

Fishing:Recreational fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:64 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map