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Seaweek 2010: Oceans of Life - ours to explore; ours to restore


• Sweetlips are a widespread, large family with an estimated 120 species in about 18 genera. The largest member of this family reaches over two feet in length.

• Sweetlips are mostly reef dwellers, commonly associated with coral reefs or rocky areas, sheltering in caves or shipwrecks during the day, and feeding mainly at night over sand and rubble in search of benthic invertebrates such as worms, zooplankton and small crustaceans.

• Sweetlips are often seen in small groups or as solitary individuals. • Most swim close to the substrate in an unusual way by waving the tail in an exaggerated manner.

• The adults differ from related or similar fish by its small mouth with thick lips. • Sweetlips are medium to large fishes with thickened lips (where they get their name from), small conical jaw teeth, pharyngeal teeth (in throat), small to medium scales, continuos dorsal fins, and usually truncate to rounded tails.

• Reef Check Australia identify and monitor sweetlip species. Sweetlips are a common food fish (although not in Australia). Low numbers are an indication of overfishing.

Interesting Fact: Sweetlips go through a drastic change in coloration and pattern from the juvenile to adult phases.

Further Links:

• Pet Education:




A Sweetlip caught by a recreational fisher
from GBRMPA Image Collection

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