Harlequin Sweetlips (spotted sweetlips) Care

These fish act kind of like a grouper, but they’re actually in the grunts family. You’ll normally spend about $50 for them as a juvenile. They are peaceful fish, reef safe fish – they are not going to mess with your corals, but they can eat the invertebrates in the tank.

Tank size

In the very end, you need a 180 gallon at least, a good six-foot-long tank, because these guys do get huge. Now if you do get one as a juvenile and you expect to upgrade your tank, I would at least get a 55 gallon for them as a juvenile – I’m telling you they need a lot of room whenever they get bigger.

Care level

Meant to be expert only, a lot of people have a big problem with their feeding. A lot of times they don’t do well, going into the tank and feeding frozen cubes and food that isn’t live. So a lot of times people will feed them things like ghost shrimp and they love them. It’s like feeding a lionfish, sometimes you got to keep feeding those live shrimp, and then eventually they’ll start getting used to you and feeding on other things.

So that’s the main thing that would make them expert only, and then the other thing would be having such a big tank. You have to have a large tank to keep these fish because they do get huge.


They’re a very peaceful fish, the only time you’ll ever see them being aggressive is when they’re eating, they’re always going to be the first ones to eat every time. So make sure your other fish are getting fed too.

Are Harlequin sweetlips fish reef safe?

They do not mess with your corals, they’re actually found in reefs in the wild. They’re not going to mess with that kind of stuff, but the problem is they do see shrimp and other small fish as prey, especially when they get bigger. So you definitely have to watch out for that.

Water parameters

  • Temperature: 72°F to 78°F
  • Carbonate hardness: 8 to 12dKH
  • pH: 8.1 – 8.4
  • Salinity 1.020 – 1.025

Spotted sweetlips maximum size

They can get a whopping three feet long (36 inches). Especially for a fish keeping in your tank. And you can expect them to at least get half that within the first couple of years of their life. A lot of times putting them already in a really big tank will help you a ton because they can grow really fast.

The colors of the fish

They start with a brown and white pattern, almost looking like a clownfish, but eventually, as they do get older you’ll see them begin to change and the brown starts to take over a lot, and then it’s like their body turns white, and they have black spots all over, they almost don’t even look like the same fish.

Diet – what Sweetlips fish eat?

They are a carnivore, one of the most difficult things is feeding them. Make sure whoever you’re getting them from, ask them what they’ve already gotten him to eat.

The ones I’ve taken care of it have actually done really well about eating. I’ve just been feeding them different kinds of shrimp, different kinds of clams, or little pieces of squid, and they’ve done really good about eating.

So definitely try everything you can to make sure this fish gets eaten, and sometimes you might have to feed them some live food to get them going.

Also, as I mentioned – as they do get older, they will see shrimp and other fish as small snacks for them, so make sure to put them with fish he’s not going to see as a snack.


These grunts fish normally are in a pack, they’re in like a school swimming around in the ocean. So I would not be surprised if multiples in a tank would work fine together.

The only thing is if you get three of them you’re about to have 3 fish in your tank – that is two feet long swimming around. So they’re gonna cause a tank to be really dirty unless you have a really good filtration system on it.

So feed them really good, but also make sure you’re remembering doing some water changes, or changing the filters out, because they are heavy eaters. I know a lot of people say they do a lot better whenever they’re fed multiple times a day. They like to eat a little bit, but a lot of time during the day.

Make sure you have a good rock structure for them. A lot of times they like to hang back in the cave little bit, and kind of poke their head out and then swim in between little caverns and then other times they’ll be completely out swimming around.

Make sure you have plenty of options for him to be comfortable in your tank, you also don’t want to put them with really aggressive fish, because he isn’t much of one to protect himself. He is a very peaceful fish for a large fish that he is actually is not that aggressive, so make sure you don’t put them in there with something that’s going to beat them up.

You will notice whenever they’re young, they swim just like a clownfish they have that little wavy motion going on, and they actually do that in order to predators not getting them at whenever they are young, and as they get older they tend to just swim normally like a fish.


Other than that I think that pretty much hits on everything you need to know about harlequin sweetlips and how you can maybe think about getting one in your tank.

The main thing is just you need a big tank. You just can’t get away with it, he’s gonna get huge.

Make sure you’re feeding them a lot, and make sure whenever you first get them, your options for live food definitely need to be in there, in case he’s not much up for the food you’re feeding them at first.

Make sure you got a good rock structure for them to swim around in. Put them with peaceful groupers like the Panther groupers, tangs, angels, and different fish like that, and they do really well.

You can put them in reef tanks because they’re not going to mess with the corals, but it kind of limits you on what fish and creatures you can put in your reef tank if you wanted him in there.

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