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FAQs on Grunts, Sweetlips, Family Haemulidae

Related Articles: Grunts & Sweetlips

Related FAQs: 

"What am I doing here?". Doomed Oriental Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus orientalis in a tank.

Fish Identification       12/6/12
8-12 months ago I bout this pair of fish from my local fish store. The owner, who I happen to be good friends with, was unsure what they were but he believed they were some kind of Australian squirrel fish or Bigeye.
<Mmm, no; a Haemulid>
 I have asked a few forums for help and no one has been able to I.D. them for me. A little info about them: they are marine fish and predatory. They don't hesitate to hunt down live feeders and shrimp small enough to swallow whole but will also tear apart large fish fillets. However, They are not aggressive to other tankmates. Currently they are about 5 inches in length and have grown an inch or so since the time I bought them. They swim throughout the entire water column and always together so I assume they are a schooling species. I would love to know what they are. Thanks for any help!
<Think these are French Grunt juveniles; Haemulon flavolineatum
Bob Fenner>

Sweet lips color change   8/23/11
Almost 2 months ago I bought a small oriental sweetlips from my lfs it's about 50% bigger but there's been no color change I was wondering at what size do they start changing to adult color and is 2 months good for a sweet lips
<Color change behavior varies... w/ size and age a bit... Do see here:
re your species, appearance at the stated sizes... and the linked files above per your second question. Bob Fenner

sweetlips. Stkg., sel.     7/9/11
hi I got a small sweetlips today from the lfs.
<Almost all such specimens die mysteriously. I take it you've read on WWM re Plectorhynchines.>
I know they can get huge and are hard to get feeding. but I saw it eat frozen brine at the store.
<... can't live on this>
my main question is tank size. I'm seeing conflicting reports some say 240g minimum some say 500g plus. my tank is 400g 6' long 44" wide and 30" tall.
some are saying its too small. the lfs said it would be fine and they are very trustworthy and care about the fish they sell. what do you think? btw I have a CB butterfly that's well over a year old a pipefish that's 4-5 months a mandarin and a flounder. so no problem with hard to feed fish.
<This fish could live in such a size, volume, but it will very likely be dead soon. Bob Fenner>

marine fish treatment Chloroquine phosphate and copper combo, Sweetlips  12/2/10
Hi have spent some time searching/reading on your site but cannot find an exact answer!
I have been treating with CUPRAZIN which contains chelated copper, at a low dose to my system as I thought I had a Whitespot problem. It seems though that not only do I have a mild Whitespot problem the real problem is Amyloodinium! A Lineatus Sweetlips
<This genus is hard to keep/sustain in captivity.>
I have is absolutely plastered in small grey specs and is struggling for breath. I freshwater dipped it
<And returned to the same infested system I take it>
which has definitely eased his breathing but obviously not cured him!
T add to the problems I have a porcupine puffer on the system which past experience tells me is not going to tolerate anymore copper,
(sat on floor breathing deep and slow gulps!) and dwarf angels so I am loath to increase the dosage. The system is separate tanks all linked as I was hoping to begin importing fish to subsidise the hobby. (That is how I acquired the parasites!!)
<... You're a "bit away" from being capable of such enterprise apparently.
I would invest in Ed Noga's V. 2 Fish Disease, Diagnoses and Treatment, for sure>
The filter is only a couple of months old as well so I cannot use the CUPRAZIN at full strength.
<Copper exposure at other than physiological doses is not of any use...>
My question is can I treat with CHLOROQUINE PHOSPHATE while the copper is still in the system?
<You can... but the copper presence may weaken the host fishes in addn. to the CP>
I have about .25mgl
I don't think I have time to remove the copper first without losing the fish.
I really like this fish
<Again... see WWM re these Grunts... not aquarium suitable>
and deliberately ordered it for myself as I will provide it with the space it needs, and it is feeding well in
spite of being so sick.
<Almost all "die mysteriously" in spite of such apparent feeding>
Some of the other fish are showing signs but not as bad, I really don't want to lose anymore! (I have lost a coral beauty, and two clowns, maybe copper/parasites)
Hope you can help.
Cheers, Andrew
<Mmm, ahhh... I do wish we could spend time face to face. Do seek out Noga's work. Bob Fenner>
Re: marine fish treatment Chloroquine phosphate and copper combo 12/2/10
Thanks for the reply, I would like to add that I am not new or inexperienced at marine fish keeping,
These fish came in to me direct from the Philippines
<... I have worked in the industry for decades, including in the PI>
and the majority were healthy but this one fish has infested an otherwise healthy system.
I know this is the risk with
importing, I just wanted advice regarding the mixing of chemicals!
I appreciate too what you say regarding the grunts, but I have had success with Harlequins in the past even eating artificial foods and growing very fast, I had to pass the fish on because of a house move but assume he is still growing. I grew it from 3-9 inches in about 12 months.
<Thank you for this>
I am not suggesting they are easy just that as with some corals, giving up because they are difficult may be short sighted, provided the keeper is willing to put in the effort.
I hope I am not wrong I guess I shall find out in time!
Thanks for the reff I will look for the book you suggested, and I appreciate the info your site gives.
<Ed was my "roomie" at the recent Fish Health Conference in Maine where we both presented... I have the older, first ed. and use it often>
Out of interest CP seems very cheap over here in the UK, or has it just dropped in recent months?
<I do think so>
Sounds like a useful tool to keep in the cupboard!
Thanks again, Andrew
<Welcome. Thank you for this further input. Cheers, BobF>

My Oriental Sweetlips/Behavior, & comp.  1/29/10
My Oriental Sweetlips is doing great, eating well, and getting along with everyone and everything.
<If your Sweetlips is Plectorhinchus lineatus, you are doing very well indeed.
A very difficult fish to keep/acclimate and will require a very large system.>
But he has this odd obsession with picking up mouthfuls of sand and bringing it over and spitting it all over my tongue coral. When I go to clean my coral off, he feels the need to swat me with his tail. And as soon as I'm done, he heads right back to covering the coral again. Any idea on why he feels the need to "hide" my tongue coral?
<Not trying to hide anything, looking for food in the form of crustaceans, small Fireworms, serpent stars, snails, and Polychaete worms in the sand bed. Have a look here.
James (Salty Dog)>

Re My Oriental Sweetlips/Behavior 1/31/2010
But he is not eating them, I have all different kinds of shrimp, hermit crabs, star fish, and snails...he only eats what I give them...nothing is missing.
<Lucky you! But likely not for long.><<Agreed... the shrimps will be gone. RMF>>
He just picks up sand and swims over to where my tongue coral is and drops it on top of my coral. 99% of his life in my tank he is next to that coral. I have been watching him a lot and he doesn't even bother with any of it...and like I said before, he gets along with all my other fish. I can promise you one thing if he does start eating any of it, his cute fishey tail will be out!!!
<Sounds good. James (Salty Dog)>

125 gal tank eel and small mouth grunts, comp.  - 02/12/09 There is a 125 gallon tank for sale that has all the equipment, including a wet/dry sump, protein skimmer, Phosban reactor, chiller and heater. I was thinking about buying this tank and putting a jeweled moray eel, and I was thinking about putting 2 small mouth grunts <Haemulon chrysargyreum> that I saw at my LFS that looked cool, and I read where they are pretty hardy and look like they get big enough where the eel will not eat them. <Yes, but they also need to have a good size relation to the moray (at least (!) 1/3 of its length) when bought. It would be good to introduce the grunts first and let them get used to their new environment before adding the eel.> Will these be compatible or if not do you recommend any other fish with the jeweled moray eel? <Should be OK given a sufficient size when introduced. Small grouper species like the Honeycomb Grouper Epinephelus merra generally also work as tank mates with morays. Choose fish with an adult size of about 9 to 12 inches and prefer fish that do not swim too much (e.g. a 125 gallon is too short for a 12 inch tang in my opinion). Lionfish, triggers and puffers work for many people as eel tank mates, but are not as a whole among my recommendations. A peaceful trigger specimen might be an exception, but avoid those triggers who have a "bal" anywhere in their generic name.> Thanks for your help. <Welcome. Marco.>  

Spotted Sweetlips/Compatibility 1/15/09 Hi, <Hello Eva> I am interested a Spotted Sweetlips (clown sweetlips). <Mmmm.> Don't worry, I am not about to run off and get one right now. I know sweetlips in general are highly not recommended. I have done research into the care of these fish, so I know they are said to be more than a little difficult to care for. <Yes, acclimation to captive foods for the most part.> I have had a Fu Manchu for 8+ months (doing great) which are known to be picky about the foods they eat. <Not nearly as difficult as the Sweetlips.> Therefore, I have a few types of feeders (not goldfish) that are gut loaded prior to being lunch to be nutritious. So appropriate food isn't a problem. <Hopefully not.> The tank I would like to put one in is a 120 gallon tank. <This tank will be too small. You must be aware that even if you have success with this fish, they can grow to 2 1/2 feet.> The rockwork is mostly toward the back of the tank (but not against the back glass) with lots of arches and caves. For filtration there is sump, filter sock, protein skimmer, along with macro algae and live rock in the middle chamber of the sump. There are two returns from the sump as well as a Koralia and maxi-jet for extra flow in the tank. If I get a Spotted Sweetlips (a little one maybe 3-4" in length) how quickly is it going to outgrow a 120 gallon tank? <Quickly, I'd say within a year your tank will be too small.> The current stock in the 120 gallon is a 3" Percula Clownfish, a 3" Scopas Tang, a 5" Red Sea Sailfin tang, a 6" False Scorpion (Centrogenys vaigiensis), a 5" Fu Manchu, a 5" Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish, and an 8" Lawnmower Blenny. All have always been healthy and peaceful with each other. Would there be a conflict with a Spotted Sweetlips and current stock? Other than snails and shrimp; what kinds of tank mates should be avoided? <Yikes! Your tank is too small for what you have right now, I wouldn't be adding any fish. As far as which fish to avoid, anything the Sweetlips can't swallow.> Any other info/advice you would give me? <Get a larger tank for these fish or thin it out.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Eva

Atlantic Porkfish in the Home Aquarium? 1/26/07 <Hi Joe.> As I was surfing the web trying to find a colorful school of fish that could go into a tank with large predators (Miniatus Grouper, Lionfish, Eel).  I stumbled across the common Atlantic Porkfish.  Some have compared these to Bluegill for Florida as they are so common.  My question is this...  Why are these not common in the home aquarium trade?   <Size, appetite.> Do they not live well in home tanks, kill tankmates, etc...? There has to be something because my research tells me that they range from 6-10" and max at 15", are parasite eaters <This only as juveniles>, do not bother other fish, are <very> hardy, and uncommon in the salt trade (very cheap), while still very attractive.  So please help me understand what makes these fish such a bad choice for the home aquarium?  BTW, the tank in question is a 240 (96x24x24). <Not a bad choice at all. Smaller fish can/will become meals, but they are *generally* non-aggressive to tankmates when in a small group. I think you have enough room to keep three or less.> I would really like to know if there is a problem with these before I put them in this tank. The info on them is pretty hard to find on the web. <Check this out, if you haven't: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gruntfaq.htm and also Fishbase.org -GrahamT.> Thanks, Joe

Harlequin Sweetlips Hello Crew <Hello Greg> I have a 90 gal tank 3 years old 75 lbs live rock +/- 5" sand bed Sump, Refugium, Etc. Inhabitants 1 Ocellaris clown (used to be two, the result of a Green brittle star) Thanks LFS !! 1 Rabbit (sold as blue line)? 1 Yellow Tang 1 Bi Color Angel 1 Brittle star Misc. Snails, Hermits Etc. And 1 Harlequin Sweetlips, The subject of my question. (Thanks Again to my LFS ) I purchased this fish approximately 2 years ago. At that time it was approximately 2.5 "-3" in length.  I was told it would not get much larger than 4 to 5". I later found your site and began researching my inhabitants. This fish is now 6-7", healthy, a voracious eater, and quadrupled in mass. I know it is rapidly outgrowing this tank. I would go to a larger tank. To prolong his stay with us, as it is totally amazing the transformation of this fish from young to, dare I say adolescent. My questions are: If this fish where to reach it's full adult size, how large a tank? Any suggestions as to where to look for a new home for this fish? How much more time do I have to either upgrade, or find a new home? <Greg, I'd like to say that I think you must be doing things right. The Sweetlips is not an easy fish to keep for any length of time, as getting them to eat prepared foods seems to be the problem with these. Congrats. Bad news is, they can reach lengths of up to 2'5", so you can imagine the size of tank you will need in the future. I would have to say a minimum of a 240 with just him in it. I would see if there is a public aquarium in your area that would be interested in him. In a facility like that he would get the proper care as you have been giving him. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for a totally awesome website! Greg  <You're very welcome.> Grunts, Porkfish & Sweetlips, Family Haemulidae  Hello Bob,  <Hi Jim>  Just wanted to drop you a note saying "Great Job" on the porkfish article. I recently bought one of these fish (yellow Atlantic Porkfish, juvenile) In the beginning I was really enjoying this fish as he had some type of personality. As I or my wife went over to the tank he seemed to follow us from side to side almost looking for a friend (funny as that may seem). Then I noticed a relationship had developed between him and my Percula Clown. The two were inseparable. Well only to find out three days after I introduced this Porkfish to my aquarium, I am now 1 Cardinalfish, and 1 Percula Clownfish SHORT. That's right! The clown and the porkfish became literally inseparable until the porker's next bowel movement anyway.  <Yeeikes!>  Well, enough for the history. I just wanted to say thank you because I was, despite the loss of these two considerably smaller fish, considering several of these fish. My next purchase was to be an apple sized Derasa Clam. Knowing what I know now, thanks to your article, I am not going to be purchasing anymore of the porkfish family. In fact, I need to rid my tank of the one I have so I can introduce the Clam and some inverts.  <I see... am glad we are in agreement... I am at times overly negative in assessing the appropriateness of organisms for aquarium use...>  So, Thank you for your well heeded warning. Look forward to seeing more of your articles.  Jim Neel  <Do write a bit most days, thank you. Bob Fenner>

Painted Sweetlips 3/9/04 Hi Bob, I hope you can help. <Adam at your service today.> I bought a house that had a salt water aquarium about 1 yr ago and have put fish in it about 1 month ago. (When bought, had OLD maroon clown-still living, (this comes by way of the previous owners and the guy who will clean the tank and helped me pick the fish), blue angel and Foxface-all old, which died. <If I am reading this correctly, the only fish remaining from the previous owner is a maroon clown....  A very aggressive fish!> I just put about 10 juvenile fish in the tank, one of which is a Painted Sweetlips. The Sweetlips is doing fine: eating and active, but has an eye problem. His right eye is cloudy and looks swollen. I do not know what to do for him. <10  fish is a lot to add in a short period of time, especially without a lot of experience to guide your choices.  Please observe your new pets carefully for bullying, disease and that everyone is getting food.  One cloudy/swollen eye is generally an indication that it got bumped or scraped.  These types of injuries generally heal quite well with no intervention.  As long as the fish is behaving normally and eating, I would let it run it's course.> The clown was a bit territorial toward the Rock angel and Sweetlips in the beginning, but Sweetlips stays pretty much on his side of the tank so the clown doesn't bother him much anymore. <The maroon clown will be quite territorial toward most any other fish.  If you are referring to the Caribbean "Rock Beauty Angel", these fish have a dismal record in captivity. They are obligate sponge eaters and generally will not accept prepared foods.  Even when they do, it doesn't seem to meet their nutritional needs.  Some "angel formula" frozen foods contain sponge and are highly recommended here.> I don't know if he was injured or has a contagious disease or what. Do you have any advise, resources etc regarding his eye? I also have a Scopas Tang, which looks blotchy in color and seems rather isolated. I read the information on the Tang, but I don't know if maybe he is sick. <No worries with the Sweetlips.  Tangs sometimes take a few days to get acclimated, but it sounds like yours may be the victim of aggression.  I would observe for bullying and decide whether to give up the tang or the bully.> Again, maybe I am too hypervigilent--new to this hobby etc.  Thanks in advance for your feedback.  Kass Humphress <Welcome to the hobby, and good luck!  Read, read read!  WWM is a great resource, please do take full advantage.  Adam>

Conflicting Reports! <Hello! Ryan with you today> I just did a little more research on a fish I bought the other day and it is bad news. <Yikes!> I usually go by The pocket expert guide on Marine fishes by Scott w. Michael to make choices.  I was in the fish store and I have a 90 gallon tank and they had a juvenile two striped Sweetlips.  I went to my trusty guide and was amazed to see he only needed a tank of 75 gallons and a max length of 11.8 inches. So I bought him.  He is small now only 2.5 inches or so.  After doing some more reading I am getting conflicting points of views.  One place says One meter Or three feet....OUCH THAT IS BIG. <It surely is>  Others say 11.8 Such as pocket guide pg.161. <Frustrating to get conflicting information.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gruntfaq.htm Quoted ( Do know this fish (see image right): aka the Two striped Sweetlips. Though one of the hardier of the genus, this fish is very hard to keep in captivity... Grows to about a foot overall length, if it should live. Eats meaty foods, some of which it stirs out of the gravel. Needs plenty of room, quiet tankmates, hiding places. It would likely consume the Feather Duster, Shrimp over time. Bob Fenner ) <Yes, I actually just read this before attempting to help you!> So who is right and who is wrong.  I hope the smaller is true.  Cause later I will have to sell him or buy a bigger tank. <Everything I've heard is around the 16-20 inch range.  Even if he only hit 12 inches, he'd be seriously cramped in your system.  I'd replace him for something more suitable.  Best of luck! Ryan> Thanks Terry Rickman

Sweet Lips With A Silver Tongue? Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I just got a Oriental Sweetlips 4 days ago. I haven't seen it eat since I got it. When I watch the thing it will bite at the live rock I have and pick up a mouthful of sand and sift through it. Is this behavior normal? I have tried to get the fish to eat brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and squid but with no avail. What else can I try? The fish looks like its getting along but I still want it to eat. <Well, these guys are actually quite tough to induce to eat for many hobbyists. You're trying all the right foods, as far as I'm concerned. However, another thought that I have is snails...That's right- snails. In nature, these fishes do eat snails, small crabs, and polychaete worms that reside in...the sand! Apparently, the behavior that the fish is engaged in is natural foraging. I'd find a source of small "Reef Janitors" (small herbivorous snails and crabs) and let 'em loose in your sand bed. You can get these kits from many e-tailers, and this may be a good (albeit expensive) way to tide this guy over until he adapts to a captive diet. Don't give up...Keep trying!> I also have another question, What would be good beginner corals and what fish would be great for a mini- reef. <Wow! That's one of those questions that there are about 10 million answers for...Many of the Zooanthids and Corallimorphs ("mushroom corals"), and some of the more common soft corals, such as Sarcophyton and Sinularia can be sturdy, interesting, and adaptable animals for newer hobbyists. However, just because they can be simple to care for does not mean that they are indestructible! They do need to be provided with acceptable conditions, including light, current, and water chemistry, in order to thrive. I'd recommend Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" for more great information on all kinds of corals!> Also can you have a bubble anemone and corals in the same tank. <I would not recommend it> I appreciate your help.  Dave <Any time! Regards, Scott F>

Sweetlips & Anemone(8-17-03) Hello  <Howdy, Cody here today.> I just got a small 2" Oriental Sweetlips today. And was wondering what they eat, the guy at the LFS said to feed him Mysis shrimp or brine shrimp, <Always research BEFORE you buy.  These fish rarely live very long in an aquarium and needs large quarters.  Try feeding him some krill or live ghost shrimp then wean him onto frozen foods.  Also stay away from the brine as it is almost nutritionally useless.>  .. but the little won't eat the brine shrimp. But he keeps picking up sand in his mouth and sifting through it. I also have another question about some anemones I saw at the pet store, the store was selling these anemones under name "Atlantic Anemone's" and I was wondering if they were a good host for a pair of percula clowns.  Any insight would be very much appreciated.  Thanks <Look for bubble tip or long tentacle.  But only try keeping anemones after you have some experience and the proper equipment.  Cody>

Tempting A Sweetlips... Hello <Hi there! Scott F. at the keyboard today!> I just got a small 2" Oriental Sweetlips today. <Well - he won't stay small for long! These guys can hit almost 3 feet in length! A BIG tank is in order down the line!> And was wondering what they eat, the guy at the LFS said to feed him Mysis shrimp or brine shrimp, but the little won't eat the brine shrimp. But he keeps picking up sand in his mouth and sifting through it. <These fishes are rather difficult to feed in captivity for many people, especially at small sizes. The goal is to get them to eat the Mysis, chopped squid, etc. However, they often are reluctant to eat prepared foods initially. Some people tempt them with live black worms or live brine shrimp, at least to get them eating. It's going to take some experimenting on your part...Keep trying!> I also have another question about some anemones I saw at the pet store, the store was selling these anemone's under name "Atlantic Anemone's" and I was wondering if they were a good host for a pair of percula clowns. <These anemones are probably Condylactis species. They are among the hardier anemone species that you can keep in captivity, but they need strong lighting, good circulation, Clean, stable water conditions, and adequate food to stay healthy. It is very rare, indeed, for these anemones to play host to Clownfishes. It does happen now and then, but it is hardly a natural situation, as clowns are not found in Atlantic waters.> Any insight would be very much appreciated. Thanks <A pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

Feeding spotted Sweetlips and tankmates! just bought a spotted Sweetlips juv  and the first day I brought him home he ate ghost shrimp but I also have to massively overfeed with ghost because my Lionfish and hawkfish are pigs . <I would "feed them first", with other meaty foods... like cut fish, silversides, frozen/defrosted krill...> .so I got frozen brine shrimp and I see the spotted Sweetlips eating them but it also spits some of them out, should I just stick to ghost shrimp? <Sweetlips (family Haemulidae, subfamily Plectorhinchinae) do eat mainly "mouth-size" crustaceans, but I would try to introduce other species (Glass shrimp, crayfish...) in the hopes of augmenting overall nutrition. Bob Fenner>

-Juvenile harlequin Sweetlips- Greetings WWM Crew, <Hellooo, Kevin here> Thank you for taking the time to help me out. I had a question concerning a Harlequin Sweetlips. I always loved the coloring on this fish due to it's silky white color and finally got one today. Unfortunately, I just read your FAQ on this fish and found out that it is an expert fish that dies frequently. <Very true, even if they lived they grow much too large for most aquariums.> I see a bundle of these fish every time I go to the fish store and figured that it was just an average fish. <Sounds like the person ordering these guys is very misinformed. Since info on these critters is readily available, even in Scott Michaels pocket guide, there's no excuse for the store not knowing!> I put him in my 80g tank today and he was very energetic. He didn't show any signs of being shy. The second I put him in, he started sucking on all of my live rock. Now I am most concerned about his feeding. I also read that he likes to eat at night time which would be good because I have a few aggressive fish that would probably out eat him during the day. I just checked on him 30 minutes after turning off the lights but he seems to be resting. He is hovering over the sand with his face tilted down and is not investigating the rocks and sand like he was during the day. Does this mean he is not really a nocturnal feeder? <Give it a few days to resume normal behavior, it's gone thru the tremendous stress of another capture and transport and is in a completely new environment.> So what would be the best time to feed him and what is he most likely to eat? Right now he is about 2" long. I have a medium sized Heniochus and Bird Wrasse that are very selfish eaters. I am afraid that he won't be able to beat these guys to the food during the day and they hardly ever leave scraps behind. <This is something that should have been planned ahead for. It will indeed be very difficult to feed him with these others in there. It would be worth it to try a nighttime feeding, but I don't believe they're nocturnal. Good luck, and try to research this stuff before you buy it... -Kevin> Much Thanks, Rocko

Dying Sweetlips Hello <Hi Irma, PF here tonight> I just got home and my Oriental Sweetlips (yes, I know a poor choice of fish, no need to tell me again--I found out too late once I visited your site-which is VERY helpful btw....) is lying on its side gasping for air and twitching ever so often... I tried feeding it thinking... I don't know what...and it got up swam around tried to eat, then it seemed as if it COULDN'T swim and sort of went vertical and sank to the bottom...it did this a few times and now it is just lying there gasping for air and its gills looked puffed out a bit I have a 29G tank with 2x Percula Clowns 1x Yellow Clown Goby 1x 3 Striped damsel 1x Pygmy Angel Turbo snails 2x Peppermint shrimp 3x Hermit crabs (2 red 1 blue) The Ph is reading slightly lower than normal 7.8 and everything else looks fine (except for my recent battle w/green algae). Any thoughts on what is going on? It would really break my heart if it died...even though I now know I signed its death warrant when I purchased it. Thanks, Irma <In all honesty, you should return the fish. The store should never have sold it to you in the first place. You didn't include your acclimation procedure. As an aside, that's a lot of fish for that size tank, especially given the aggressive nature of damsels, and that angel's need for space. I'm thinking it may be stress from the acclimation, or it could also be related to it's collection (possible cyanide poisoning), or just the stress from the holding tank. These are delicate fish unfortunately. Good luck with it, PF> Re: dying Sweetlips <Hello again Irma> Ok I know I haven't gotten your response yet, but its gone from frantic gasping to "hiccupping" and it looks as if is probably going to die any second...I added baking soda to the water to raise the pH although I can't imagine that is the cause of death considering everyone else is swimming around happily... It's almost a no-brainer...I'm assuming that "Sweetie" is too big for my tank which seems like the obvious scapegoat for its demise... *panicking* ~Irma <I hope you didn't add it directly but dissolved it first, and slowly added it. pH is a logarithmic scale, 7 is ten times as acidic as 8, so a rapid change is very bad for the animals. As for tank size, this is an animal that can reach well over 20" in size. I have no idea how big your fish is, so I can't make any guesses as to the appropriateness of the tank size. Hopefully he's pulled through, if he does, do return him, and in all honesty try and find a more ethically minded place to shop. Good luck, PF>

Re Dying Sweetlips 06/15/03 <Hello again Irma, wish this was under better circumstances> Thanks for your response, alas my poor sweetie has died just a few short minutes after my emails yesterday. As for returning the fish, my LFS are not too customer friendly when it comes to their employees misinforming ignorant customers who become smitten by beautiful (and pricey) fish and refused to take it back after I bought it and realized it had Popeye once I got it home. (sorry about the run on) The Popeye cleared  up on its own after two days and the fish seemed happy swimming around and had a very healthy appetite. But we know its fate already. <Sorry to hear that, unfortunately your situation with your LFS is far to common, see if you can find another, better store. It is well worth it, trust me on this one. I drive 120 miles to my preferred store, as I not only know I am getting quality livestock, and advice, but also more reasonable prices.> As for the survivors, they all seem pretty happy and get along pretty well although the pygmy angel and striped damsel do this odd "dance" where they fan at each other with their hind fins and I can't tell whether or not its aggressive behavior or what. They don't nip at each other so its hard to tell. <Probably a territorial display.> Thanks for taking the time to respond. <That's what we're here for, have a better one, PF> Irma Re dying Sweetlips, round 2, 6/15/03 <Hello again Irma> YIKES.  I added the baking soda directly! But again, all seems well in my little community, no one seems sick and its been well over 24 hrs (and still no rise in the pH) but that's good to know! After browsing the site I decided I am going to do the premix in a 5 gallon bucket w/airstone and all because I think its my tap water that is causing this pH problem. <Maybe, have you tested it yes?> But would algae cause it as well? I have this funky white foamy spongy looking algae overtaking the bottom of the tank and the water becomes cloudy then clears up and reclouds again. <The cloudiness sounds like maybe a bacterial bloom, or perhaps your algae is sporing. That also sounds less like an algae (which should be red, brown, or green) or perhaps a marine fungae or a variety of sponge.> Hopefully a water change and a new method of replenishment will help but do you have any suggestions about what's going on? And an ideal pH for my fish would be 8-8.2? <Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and read up on the other articles too, lots here about water chemistry. Sorry for all of the questions! <No problem, if you never ask questions, you'll never learn anything.> ~Irma

Yes its another hopeful Sweetlips question! I have been into salt water aquariums for quite some time and enjoy the hobby very much. I am still learning on a trial and error basis like many hobbyist. I recently purchased two spotted Sweetlips from the LFS. I know that these fish are shy when it comes to eating so I had the guy at the fish store feed them before I purchased them to make sure they ate and they did. <Good idea> It has been 5 days since I purchased them and they are continuing to eat even though I have to drop the food into the live rock caves that they hide in when I approach the tank. <These fishes typically feed toward nightfall> The food I feed them so far has been spectrum pellets and a variety of frozen foods with these such ingredients bloodworms, beef heart, daphnia, glassworms, shrimp Etc. <Mainly juveniles feed on crustaceans in the wild> I thought at the time I bought them that as long as they eat they would be fine but now I searched through the articles on your website and have found its not an eating problem it is a nutrition problem that people are having with these fish. <And, or perhaps just "genetic plausibility" that they adapt so poorly to captive conditions. Most die "mysteriously" within a few days to weeks of capture> My two spotted Sweetlips are still getting accustomed to the tank and explore a little bit during the day but when I approach the tank most of the time hide in the live rock crevices in the tank. They become very active at night when the dimmer blue light comes on just before the lights shut off completely. <Yes, this is their behavior on the reef> They swim around the tank sometimes picking at the live rock with their mouths. Now my questions is still even though I have read that extra care is needed what list of foods are good to feed them and what additives if any should I add to their food? <Try some larger (though not more than mouth-size) crustaceans (live if you can), perhaps soaked in Selcon before offering> Also is feeding live food necessary I have never done this and am skeptical about putting fresh water foods into my tank and if I do feed them live food if recommended what are the downsides to this? <There are always the possibilities of introducing pests, parasites in this way> Any help so I can keep these fish happy would be greatly appreciated Thanks! <Do keep good notes re your efforts, report to others your successes, failures with these fish. Bob Fenner>

Sweetlips For the last 3 months are so my Sweetlips has been getting Popeye. He gets it for 1-2 weeks and then goes away. I feel that the tank is to small instead of some type of infection. He is about 7 inches in a 90 gallon tank. I treat the Popeye with Epsom salt and it goes away. What do you think? <That your fish is right at a "balance point" of health/disease. These species (Plectrorhinchines) are not easy to keep in captivity. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/haemulid.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm and the Related FAQs to both (linked, in blue, above). Bob Fenner>

Not So Sweet(Lips)! I think I may have made a bit of a mistake with this decision. I purchased 4" juvenile Yellow-banded Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus lineatus , by impulse, mostly because of it's beautiful bright yellow color and stripes... and yes I did read all about this fish first at WWM. <Recognizing and owning up to mistakes that we make is the best way to learn how not to repeat them, so it was not in vain> I have had him for about 5 days now and I have yet to see him eat. I have tried everything the site suggested, from live black worms, blood worms, clams, formula 1, to flakes but he just hides during feeding time. <Despite their potentially huge size, these fishes can be very shy, particularly when first introduced into a captive situation> I do have a substantial amount of live rock in the main tank (180 Gallon tank), approx. 40 lbs. of it.  Is it possible that this fish is getting food from the live rock in worms, crustaceans copepods? Is this enough food? <Well, in nature they forage at night over sand patches and outcrops in lagoons, looking for crustaceans which form the basis of their diet, so it's possible, but I don't think that it's able to derive its entire sustenance from this foraging in captivity. He'd probably decimate your population of these animals in short order> He does appear to be thinning out but has not lost much in energy as he zips around the bottom searching for food. How do entice this guy to start eating prepared foods, blood worms, formula 1? It's also hard for him because the other fish are quick to get these foods before they get down to the bottom where he hangs out. Thanks, Chris <You may have to target feed him by dropping or dangling the food items right in front of him with a long skewer. Otherwise, he may need to be moved. Don't give up! Keep trying! Good Luck, Scott F.>

Re: Sweetlips I emailed you on Thursday regarding treatment for my yellow banded Sweetlips and hadn't gotten a response yet I guess you guys are swamped with emails. <I see where your previous email is still in Craig's in-box... he's been out of town> Since my last email my fish has developed Popeye in his other eye there are also pockets of air in his eye. <Not good> In case you lost my previous email this is a brief description. As you know my fish has Popeye I wasn't sure if it was trauma to the eye or water quality. <Hard to state with these fishes (Plectorhinchinae), the grunts called Sweetlips... they rarely survive the rigors of capture, shipping... for long. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/haemulid.htm and the associated FAQs file> I have a 90 gallon tank and when ever I feed the Sweetlips flies around to tank to stuff has much food into his mouth crashing in to the side of the tank. I have started treatment with Epsom salt but was think of moving his to Qt tank thoughts on this. <I would move this fish, provide a piece of PVC pipe or fitting for it to hide in, keep the lighting low or off. Try feeding live or frozen/defrosted small crustaceans toward night time... As this is what these fishes feed on and when in the wild. Bob Fenner>

Porkfish Hey guys.  I recently went to a pet shop and saw the Anisotremus virginicus (Atl. Porkfish) cleaning a Clown Trigger. I asked the salesperson about it and he said they are not cleaner fish so I didn't buy him. <ha!> When I got home, I researched them on the internet and found out that they are usually cleaners. <yes... extremely common cleanerfish as juveniles> Can you give me info on that. <like many Atlantic fishes including juvenile angelfishes and some wrasses, Porkfish are active cleaners as juveniles. As adults, though, they stop the activity and simply become huge, fast-growing eating machines> Also, can you tell me what they eat (reef safe or not) and how big they get? Thanks in advance. <not even remotely reef-safe. They are hardy fishes that eat anything and everything. For further information... please make use of the google search tool on the main index page (www.wetwebmedia.com). A keyword search produces a full page of links and then some. The main survey page is here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/haemulid.htm be sure to explore the ancillary pages and links at the top including the FAQ's in the archives. Also, do make use of fishbase.org... type in the common name or scientific and get a very reliable overview of any fishes. Best regards, Anthony>

Lazy Student, Grunts dear Mr./Mrs. I'm a graduate student in marine science & fisheries major, I need a help to find about a fish , I got few information about it but still I need more, so I wish to get what I need here in that website. Family: Haemulidae (grunts) 1- Global zoogeography of family 2- type of food and feeding behaviour 3- type of preferred habitat 4- reproduction which include:-         - spawning frequency or season         - Age at first maturity         - Nature of sexes         - number and size of eggs         - Courtship behaviour         - parental care         - larval movement and distribution         - Adult migration 5- major predator thanks <You can find all the above on a search of the family, genera and species... through a literature search pursuant to looking up the group on www.fishbase.org Otherwise, take a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm re searching for pertinent literature. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sweetlips I have had my Sweetlips in a qt tank for 2 weeks which is treated with formalin along with fresh water dips every other day and his ick condition has gotten worst any idea's on what I can do. <I'm really not sure what more can be said or done that hasn't been already. Numerous e-mails about this fish and several reminders about the archives on this site alone have hopefully given you some insight into the husbandry of Sweetlips and many other aspects of marine aquarium keeping. This animal is overwhelmingly a poor choice for most any aquarium. Most Sweetlips are dead with months of collection. I honestly never expected the fish to live (added to a community tank first without quarantine no less) but did and do still hope for the best. At this point... you may simply need more time of it is going to work out. Other less natural and chemical procedures may just be pot luck, but use your discretion to try them (as you noticed in the marine fish disease and treatment content in the archives). The struggle of this fish should underscore to you, my friend, the great importance of researching an animal's needs before purchasing it. Impulse purchases are often fatal to the animal. Again, I wish you the best of luck. Anthony.>

Re: Sweetlips Thank you very much for all your help I'm just very disgusted in myself for buy the fish and not doing research before doing so. <You are on the brink of learning my friend (a good place to be). First must come the provocation of "desire" (you are emotionally stirred-up), then enlightenment. Perhaps you can/will/have saved others, including hapless plectorhines, from similar predicaments. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Sweetlips I just purchased an oriental Sweetlips and he is eating very well. <arghhhhhh!!!! This is one of the worst fish to buy/support. The criticisms in popular literature about this fish (like many challenging species) is not that they do not eat captive foods...but that they do not survive on them (dietary deficiency). Your chances of this fish living to see 6 months without a LOT of work from you are low... single digits> Unfortunately I didn't read up on the fish before purchasing it and I see in your description it says rarely lives for any period of time. What does that mean and why is that?  <above> Also do all oriental Sweetlips change colors or does that depend on the species <one species... and yes, turns into a butt-ugly adult fish. To keep this animal healthy it needs gut loaded live food. I have a friend that actually has a pair over 16 yrs old. His secret to success is consistent with everyone else's that I've heard. You will need a tank of live feeder fish... freshwater guppies or grass/ghost shrimp that breed work well. Before feeding the guppies DAILY to your Sweetlips, you will want to feed them (stuff their bellies) with a wide variety of marine foods and vitamins (Selcon soaked Pacifica plankton, mysids and Sweetwater plankton top the list). This is necessary and expensive if you are not breeding the guppies. If you are willing, you may very well enjoy this beautiful creature for many years to come. Alas, if you cannot and feed standard dry and frozen fare instead, you will almost certainly watch it die within months. Do plan to get it a better home of necessary. If you keep it. plan for an adult size over 12" long. My friend has a single pair in a 300 gallon display and they still look cramped. My apologies for the soapbox <smile> but you have learned the hard way like too many of us. Please research a fish before you buy it and always quarantine first. Best regards, Anthony>

Sweetlips with Ich? I have been doing fresh water dips and adding formalin to the qt tank with daily water changes yet my Sweetlips is still showing signs of ick he is still eating very well and doesn't look like he is effected by the ick. I have been treating them for a week do you think I should up the dosage of formalin or maybe add something to the fresh water dip or just continue with the treatment as is. Always appreciate you suggestions thank you <to be honest... a week of consecutive daily FW dips and W/C's in a medicated QT usually shows at least some, if not significant. improvement. You may want to buy or browse a good book on fish diseases to try to confirm if it is truly Ich (something we regrettably cannot do via e-mail). I would not increase the dose, again because this fish is sensitive to meds (the reason we did not do copper). We get e-mail almost weekly on this species. It is categorically sensitive, disease prone and best left for species specific tanks and advanced aquarists. My advice would be to continue as you have been especially since the fish is eating well (no brine shrimp right?...else he is starving on it). Selcon soaked food fed to the fish (or fed to the prey like guppies, before they are fed to the Sweetlips) would be helpful. Odds aren't great though, I must admit. Hoping you have a trooper there. Anthony>

Update on Sweetlips and UV 1 Hi Bob, Hope all is well with you. I just wanted to update you on my progress with the Sweetlips. Well like you advised I moved the fish to a copper free environment, my main tank, it has been about five days now. After the first day or so the fish still would not swallow any foods but put them in it's mouth. As of Sunday it started eating again, regular frozen formula for dinner and some pellets for breakfast. <Ah, great> It had about 70% of it's usual diet for dinner last night and accepted pellets again this morning. I am very happy as it was beginning to show signs of weight loss. <A bad sign with these fishes (Plectrorhinchines... don't try to say this three times fast) as you know> I have began soaking all foods at every feeding to help gain his weight back. So hopefully nothing changes, thanks for the help. By the way I am finally a believer I ordered a copy of your book last night after getting rave reviews, so hopefully in a couple of days I'll be getting it, I'm excited.  <I as well> I was reading the section last night on WWM about UV sterilizers, and I have a question. I currently have a TetraPond GreenFree UV1 Clarifier, they are used in ponds are you familiar?  <Yes, quite> Well It recommends the usage of a 9w Phillips bulb. After reading the FAQ, I realized that for my size tank a 125 gallon, you recommend the use of a 20-25w bulb, do you think I could change the wattage of the bulb and have the unit still function. I mean will it cause a overheating, or for that unit that's as much wattage as it can take. <Worth investigating... the "kill rate", flow of water, suspended solids... many factors go into how effective an ultraviolet sterilizer is in a given application. No worries here re overheating, melting of fixture... but unlikely other wattage lamps will fit the fixture.> I notice tetra also has UV 2 & 3 bulbs, would one of those bulbs fit my unit.  <Perhaps... do contact them, ask. They do have a nice website: http://www.tetra-fish.com/> Thanks for advise on the Sweetlips I look forward to reading your book.. Gillian emailing from work today. <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Update on Sweetlips and UV 1 Thanks Bob, I'll email them and cross my fingers about the Sweetlips.. Enjoy your day. PS I downloaded the picture of the clown fish off the website today, my first time downloading from the site. Gillian <Ahh, great... a nice aquarium pic... for only 96k bytes... Many more to go... I switch my active desktop backgd. daily... and keep my light tables on... makes me (partially) believe I'm in the tropics! Bob Fenner>

Flukes (and success with a Sweetlips!) Hi Bob, Happy new year, sorry to bother you so early, but I have a question. My Red Sea regal angel, for some time now I have noticed that every now and then gets some, splinter like white things from it's body, Sometimes from the head, or body. They stay on for about two days or sometimes as the day progresses they disappear. I didn't worry about it because the fish continues to be the beauty of the display. Normal behavior and eating as usual. Is there a cure for this, how can I treat it and will it eventually kill the fish.  <Mmm, perhaps this is a trematode... I would try a facultative cleaner here... first a Lysmata species of shrimp... not likely to kill the fish outright (the flukes), but debilitating, perhaps disfiguring just the same...> I was on the WWM last night and that how I kind of determined the fish as flukes. Please offer advice this is my most prized fish. Also, can adding copper to a system cause a fish to stop eating or not as much as before. <Absolutely... copper cancels much of "smell, taste" sensations> I added copper to my quarantine tank, which has a Sweetlips and Kole tang for ick. The Kole tang still eats, but the Sweetlips has stopped.  <Yikes... Sweetlips aren't easily kept... as you know from looking over WWM no doubt... not good that yours has ceased feeding... would move it ASAP to a non-coppered, less-stressful setting> He will put food in his mouth but not swallow. The ick has cleared it's been about 7 days now, do you think I should add carbon back to the system or do a water change. I think the copper has curbed his appetite. Thanks for the advice, Bob and hope all is well. Gillian <Much to "judge" in the way of presumed benefits/risks in our hobbies... Bob Fenner>

Re: Flukes So Bob, you're saying there is a possibility that the Sweetlips may not eat again. <Unfortunately, this is the common plight: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/haemulid.htm> I will remove the copper at once. Is there any way to totally get rid of flukes on the regal angel. <Hopefully this is a digenetic species, needing an intermediate host species or two... and will "cycle out" on its own... otherwise the Cleaner may eradicate it> What about good water quality. I have some cleaner shrimp, but they are lazy, they hide when the fish go next to them. I don't think they'll help. To me the flukes appear to be internal, when they pop through the skin of the fish. Are there any other treatment options for flukes. What do you mean when you say the fish will debilitated. I don't want this Bob, help me Thanks <Not likely "popping out, through"... there are some chemical treatments, but I would try another cleaner... maybe a Labropsis wrasse... Bob Fenner>

Re: Flukes Well it was about 3 inches when I got first. A lot of personality, that's what attracted me to it at first. It had been in the store for about 2 weeks before I got it and was eating brine shrimp. I am good friends with the owner of the store and always ask them to hold fish for at least a week before I take it home. <A good practice> Anyway I fed mostly frozen formula one and two, sometimes angel formula for variety. It would eat dried green sea weed. Sometimes live mussels for a treat. Didn't care for flakes or krill.  <Me neither> Liked a whole cube of frozen food and not crushed. Would eat from your hand or nip fingers when doing water changes. This is by far one of the most intelligent fish I have ever had. I would compare it to Oscars (freshwater) which I had for many years. This fish is now well over 7 inches, incredible growth rate and it now has brighter coloration. I really hope I can save this one. I haven't killed a fish in while. That would be tough. Let me know if you any more info. Gillian Bob Fenner>

Re: Sweetlips Not encouraging news Bob. I have found the Sweetlips very easy to care for though, despite the info. I have had since March of 2001, <Outstanding> and besides the adding copper to the water, it ready accepted most foods. I going add the Sweetlips to my display tank, it's a yellow banded Sweetlips. I am hoping for the best Bob. I'll keep you posted, hopefully I can beat the odds. You take care and thanks for your continued support ..Gillian <You have beaten the odds! Great to read... may I ask, what foods did you get this specimen to take? At what size did you procure it? Any idea of where it was collected? Bob Fenner>

What is it? (bad news mystery fish purchase) Dear Bob, I purchased a fish and was told it was a oriental Sweetlips. They LFS gave me all the details about its care and told me it was compatible with my current tank inhabitants. <Hmmm> After reviewing what the oriental Sweetlips looks like, my fish doesn't look anything like it. I have attached a small picture of it to this email in hopes that you could identify it for me. <Take a look on our site (www.WetWebMedia.com) under the "Grunts" article... family Haemulidae, subfamily Plectorhinchinae... you will see this species (as a juvenile).... rarely lives in captivity.> I have looked at a lot of fish pictures but haven't found this one yet.... Thanks! Jeff <More investigation before investing next time my friend. Do you want to fuel the market for species that don't live in captivity? Bob Fenner>

Sweetlips not eating I was hoping you could help enlighten me on a problem I am having with a fish who is seemingly not eating. I wrote to you a week ago about a sick tang I have and gill disease. Well I believe I mentioned my Sweetlips also because you informed me that they are hard to keep in captivity. I am hoping for some guidance. I have been raising my SP gradually from 1.018 to 1.025 and it is currently 1.023. My chem levels check out. The fish only would eat Mysis, but lately he has stopped. He takes the food in, chews it and then spits it back out. I bought some ghost shrimp which have been eaten by "who?". Last night I saw him with a g-shrimp in his mouth, but he eventually spit it out and kind of nudged him. He was only vaguely interested in chasing them around the tank. <Yes, very typical> The fish is thin and obviously wants to eat. Krill isn't of interest and neither is any other frozen foods I have. Temp is 79 F currently - a bit difficult to raise with my heater (it says 84). This is a FO with a small amount of LR - 55 gallon with a Scopas tang, 6line wrasse, coral beauty, and two Percula clowns. Filtration is UGF, Penguin Biowheel and Inside tank Protein Skimmer. Any thoughts or ideas? <Many... perhaps start with reading fishbase.org for the genus Plectorhinchus (spelled differently in most fish books)... under what they list as "stomach contents analyses" for these Grunts (members of the family Haemulidae> Thank you so much for your help. Wendy <And please help me and yourself by spreading the word about the inappropriateness of these species for aquarium use... Your friend in fish, Bob Fenner>

Re: Sweetlips not eating Dear Bob: <Many... perhaps start with reading fishbase.org for the genus Plectorhinchus (spelled differently in most fish books)... under what they list as "stomach contents analyses" for these Grunts (members of the family Haemulidae> I have checked this out and viewed information for my particular species of fish, but I did not find the "stomach Contents analyses" section you mentioned. I have been rooting around the site for about a half hour but no luck. I did however investigate more on WetWebMedia and see that they eat a variety of stuff, including shrimp (in my case Mysis) but the other stuff I don't have access to. (Sorry re the confusion... on fishbase this is likely annotated as "foods", or as a list under the animal's general biology...) I am sorry that I will have to watch him die slowly from starvation. I've had him since the middle of end of January so he has lasted longer than most I guess. But it is hard to see him hungry but refuse his food. (Yes... and who knows? Perhaps this specimen will resume feeding...) Definitely, I will spread the word as I can about the inappropriateness of keeping this fish. This is heartbreaking. Wendy (I understand my friend. Bob Fenner)

Re: Sweetlips not eating Hi: When all is said and done, my fish was dead Friday evening. Thanks for showing me it was inevitable. He lasted a little over two months. What a shame. (Yes, my new friend... so sorry to have to relate such chicanery in 'my trade'... indeed, there are many organisms that should not be so easily offered... and so many more that are more appropriate for captive use. My thoughts are with you. Bob Fenner) Wendy

Yellow lined Sweetlips  I am very interested in the yellow lined Sweetlips, however, I can't seem  to find any information on them. On some compatibility charts it says that  Sweetlips can't be mixed with invertebrates, but all I have in my tank is a  feather duster, a cleaner shrimp, and sea anemone. Would this fish do any  damage to these specimens? I was also wondering how big they get, I have  never seen one over three inches. Any information you could give me on this  fish would be very helpful. The scientific name is Plectorhinchus  albovittatus. Thank you for your help. Sincerely, 

Do know this fish (see image right): aka the Two striped Sweetlips. Though one of the hardier of the genus, this fish is very hard to keep in captivity... Grows to about a foot overall length, if it should live. Eats meaty foods, some of which it stirs out of the gravel. Needs plenty of room, quiet tankmates, hiding places. It would likely consume the Feather Duster, Shrimp over time. Bob Fenner

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