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Clown Sweetlips

(Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Expert   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: 30"
• Minimum Tank Size: 240 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Indo-Pacific
• Family: Haemulidae   • Species: Grunts   • Aquarium Type: Fish Only

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Clown Sweetlips native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Clown Sweetlips or Harlequin Sweetlips is native to the Indo-Pacific and is typically found near reef slopes at depths ranging from 5 to 100 feet. The Clown Sweetlips is a remarkable species that completely changes appearance and swimming habits as it matures from a juvenile specimen to an adult. As a juvenile the Clown Sweetlips will mimic the undulating swimming habits of a noxious flatworm or nudibranch in order to deter predators from eating them, then as they mature their coloration and swimming motion will change completely as they grow into the adult grouper like shape and adult size of up to 30 inches in length.

The Clown Sweetlips also have the ability to produce a grunting noise by grinding their pharyngeal teeth, which they can amplify with their swim bladders. The Clown Sweetlips is a great choice for the expert hobbyist and it will surely be the center of attention and conversation in very large reef or fish-only with live rock aquariums.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Clown Sweetlips in the home aquarium.

The Clown Sweetlips requires an aquarium of at least 240 gallons and should be provided with plenty of live rock and hiding places (especially as a juvenile). They are known to be completely peaceful and should only be kept with passive and peaceful species (as juveniles they will easily be bullied by aggressive tank mates). In a reef environment they will not bother corals, but as they mature they will eat crustaceans, mollusks, polychaete worms, shrimp, small fish, and serpent starfish. Juveniles can be more reclusive during the day and will hide in caves and crevices within the rock work as well as around corals, but they will come out at night in search of food.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Clown Sweetlips.

The Clown Sweetlips is a nocturnal carnivore and can be a finicky eater (especially as a juvenile) when first introduced to an aquarium; they should initially be fed live brine shrimp, black worms and ghost shrimp (in order to trigger a feeding response). Once they are eating well and are comfortable within an aquarium, they can then be introduced to frozen or freeze-dried foods such as vitamin enriched brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, chopped krill, and various prepared carnivore pellets and flake foods.

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