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Grunts (Sweetlips)


Grunts, grunters, sweetlips, rubberlips and hotlips are the common names used for the members of Haemulidae (Pomadasyidae) family. They occur in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. They are mainly saltwater fishes but can also occur in brackish and freshwater. They are recognized by having a single continuous dorsal fin of 9-14 spines and 11-26 soft rays. They are commonly called grunts, due to their ability to produce loud sounds by rubbing their pharyngeal teeth together.

Grunts are typically inactive during day when they shelter near or under ledges. They feed mostly at dawn or dusk, moving out from their shelters to feed on open sandy bottoms.

Haemulidae are divided into two subfamilies, Haemulinae and Plectorhynchinae (Sweetlips). These two groups differ greatly in diversity and distribution. Haemulinae which include most of the genera, are diverse in shape, ecology, and habitat. They have different feeding modes and prey items, and can occur from temperate reefs, coral reefs, sandy to muddy bottoms. Sweetlips are morphologically uniform, with an elongated body, a round head, and a subterminal mouth. Their colour and pattern change dramatically throughout their lives.

There are 19 genera and about 132 species of Haemulidae worldwide. Malaysia has 5 genera and 28 species of Haemulidae. There are 17 species of sweetlips and 11 species of grunters (Haemulinae from the Pomadasys genus only).



Scientific Name: Diagramma pictum  (Thunberg, 1792)
English Name: Painted Sweetlips
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 马头卢 ( (Mǎ tóu lú)), 尾油卿 (Wěi yóu qīng)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kaci, Kaci Mandi Abu
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสร้อยนกเขาจุดทอง (Plā s̄r̂xynkk̄heā cud thxng), ปลาสร้อยนกเขาทะเล (Plā s̄r̂xynkk̄heā thale)
Local Hokkien: Ka Chee
Main Identification Features: Dorsal fin with 9 or 10 spines, and 20 to 24 soft rays. Lack notch for dorsal fin. Adult silvery. Juveniles and sub adult have spots or stripes.
Size: Maximum total length about 100 cm, commonly to 45 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Reefs and sandy areas to estuaries, usually 5 to 50 m depth. Found solitary or in groups. Feeds on bottom invertebrates and small fishes.










Scientific Name: Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides  Lacepède, 1801
English Name: Harlequin Sweetlips, Many-spotted Sweetlips, Spotted Blubber-lips
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kaci Ketang
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสร้อยนกเขาดอกดำ (Plā s̄oyn nok k̄hau dok dảm)
Local Hokkien: Ka Chee
Main Identification Features: Body deep, compressed. Lip fleshy, moderately swollen with age. Chin with 6 pores but no median pit. Scales ctenoid (rough to touch). Dorsal fin with 11 or 12 spines and 18 to 20 soft rays. Soft part of dorsal fin very high, about equal to length of its base. Pelvic fin large, reaching beyond anus. Caudal fin deeply forked with broadly rounded lobes in juvenile, become only slightly forked to emarginate in adult. Juvenile brownish with large, well-defined creamy white blotches on body, gradually include brown spots and finally change into a pale grey background with large, deep brown spots in adult. Adult with black brown spots on pectoral and pelvic fins.
Size: Maximum total length about 72 cm, commonly to 40 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coastal inshore waters near reefs, to 30 m depth. Adults are solitary, stay near and under ledges or caves by day. Feed on crustaceans, mollusks, and fishes at night.








Scientific Name: Plectorhinchus chrysotaenia  (Bleeker, 1855)
English Name: Celebes Sweetlips, Yellow-striped Sweetlips, Goldlined Sweetlips
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kaci Celebes
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสร้อยนกเขา (Plā s̄r̂xynkk̄heā)
Local Hokkien: Ka Chee
Main Identification Features: Head and body blue-grey with 5 to 7 bright yellow longitudinal bands. Lips moderately swollen with age. Fins bright yellow to orange, without spots. Juveniles with fewer bands.
Size: Maximum total length about 51 cm, commonly to 40 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coastal inshore waters near reefs, 6 to 70 m depth. Found solitary or in inactive groups during the day. Feeds on small fishes, worms, and crustaceans.






Scientific Name: Plectorhinchus gibbosus   (Lacepède, 1802)
English Name: Harry Hotlips, Brown Sweetlips
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kaci, Tebal Bibir, Kakap Batu, Kaci Kakap
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาข้างตะเภาปากหมู (Plā k̄ĥāngtap̣heā pāk h̄mū)
Local Hokkien: Or Ka Chee
Main Identification Features: Dorsal fin with 13 to 14 dorsal spines, and 15 to 17 soft rays. Juveniles body brownish and caudal fin pink or transparent. Adults body uniform dark grey to brownish or blackish.
Size: Maximum total length about 75 cm, commonly to 45 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coastal inshore waters, around reefs and in estuaries, to 25 m depth.






Scientific Name: Plectorhinchus lineatus  (Linnaeus, 1758)
English Name: Yellowbanded Sweetlips, Diagonal-banded Sweetlips, Blackstriped Sweetlips
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kaci, Kaci Rajabau
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสร้อยนกเขา (Plā s̄r̂xynkk̄heā)
Local Hokkien: Ka Chee
Main Identification Features: Combination of diagonal or oblique black bands, black spotted yellow fin, yellow lips. Pectoral fins with a splash of bright crimson or scarlet red at the base.
Size: Maximum total length about 60 cm, commonly to 40 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Close to reefs, to 35 m depth. Nocturnal, rests during the day and feeds on benthic invertebrates at night.