The Painted Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus pica) is also known as the Magpie sweetlips, Black And White Sweetlips and Dotted Sweetlips. They are a species of grunt, closely related to the snappers, grunts have smaller mouths and teeth and thicker fleshy lips giving them the name sweetlips. They may also grind their teeth together when caught, emitting a grunting sound, hence the name grunt.
Juvenile Painted Sweetlips have a white body with squarish black saddle marks along the upper body and a white nose. The caudal fin is large and is covered in black spots and blotches. As they age the black marks on the upper body turn into spots The inside of the mouth and gill cover is a reddish color. They are quite an attractive looking fish and grow to up to 80 cm although 70cm is more common.
IN THE WILD
The Painted Sweetlips are very rare in Tanzania and we have only seen them in one spot, namely the bottom of the dive site known as Vinnies Wall on Octopus Reef off Bongoyo Island in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. There is a small community of about six or seven adult fish that live in a cave/overhang at around 45 to 50 meters. The juveniles are slightly higher up the wall in the same area at around 30 to 35 meters in depth.
The Painted Sweetlips doe snot seem to be recorded in East African waters but rather are found in Mauritius and Madagascar up to Socatra and across into the Pacific to Japan in the north and the Great Barrier Reef in the south.
The Painted Sweetlips are nocturnal feeders , feeding mainly on sand living crustaceans and worms.
Very little is known about their breeding habits but they are assumed to mate and lay and fertilize eggs into the water table above the reef.
They Painted Sweetlips is not usually exploited commercially and the taste of the meat is said to be average at best.
These fish grow quite large and because of this are not generally kept in private aquariums. Some public aquariums may keep them in their larger tanks.
PAINTED SWEETLIPS CLASSIFICATION
Species: P. pica