By Bob Goemans
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 Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides (Harlequin Sweetlips, Clown Sweetlips)

Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides
Lacepede, 1801

Harlequin Sweetlips, Clown Sweetlips

Not Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable


These fishes belong in the Order Perciformes and Suborder Percoidei as members of the Family Haemulidae (Grunts & Sweetlips), which include 2 Subfamilies, 17 genera and 150 species. The two subfamilies are: Sweetlips (Plectorhinchinae) and Grunts (Haemulinae).

Grunts can actually make a grunting noise by grinding their teeth with the sound resonating in the swim bladder. The Genus Anisotremus or sometimes referred to as the Porkfish genus, contains about 10 described species with only one of minor interest to hobbyists. Even then, it requires a large aquarium and carefully selected tankmates. As to those in the Genus Haemulon, there are several that occasionally make it into the trade, yet get far too large for most home aquariums.

Sweetlips are quite similar, however their lips are much thicker, hence their name. And they are somewhat more delicate and therefore more difficult to maintain.

Most of these fish live by day in caves and/or shipwrecks and venture out at night to feed on benthic invertebrates. They are excellent community fishes in the peaceful aquarium, and are fairly shy bottom feeders that need a diet consisting of meaty-type foodstuffs. Colorful as juveniles, but less desirable as adults because of their physical size.

Those having possible hobbyist aspects are described below.

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