This sweetlips is found throughout the South Pacific in coral rich lagoons and along reefs. It’s also known as the “harlequin sweetlips.”
  • Size

    24 inches (60 cm)
  • Diet

    Crustaceans, mollusks, fish
  • Range

  • Habitat

    Coral-rich lagoons and seaward reefs

Physical Characteristics

  • Body has white base with black spotting throughout, including dorsal, anal and caudal fins. Pectoral fins are dark.
  • Juvenile is brown with large white blotches.
  • As individual ages, more spots appear. Eventually, spotting reverses from white-spotted to black-spotted.
  • Common length of 24 inches (60 cm) with a maximum of 28 inches (72 cm).
  • Maximum weight of 15 lbs. (7 kg).

Animal Fact

The spotted sweetlips is dark with white spots as a juvenile, and as it grows, it’s color reverses to a white background with dark spots.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of crustaceans, mollusks and fish.
  • Nocturnal feeder.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Maldives and Cocos Islands of the Indian Ocean and in the Western Pacific from Sumatra to Fiji, New Caledonia, the Ryukyu Islands and Rowley Shoals.
  • Found in coral-rich lagoons and seaward reefs at depths ranging 1 to 98 feet (1-30 m). Juvenile appears around corals.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Adult is solitary, spending its days near ledges and caves.
  • Juvenile could possibly mimic a toxic flatworm as defense.
  • Also called “harlequin sweetlips.”


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