© Roger de la Harpe


Sweepers (Pempheridae)


Sweepers measure 8 cm on average, but can be up to 30 cm long.


Sweepers have small bodies, compressed bodies with a deep breast area, or keel, and one dorsal fin. They have large eyes and an extended lower jaw. They vary in colour from a copper reddish-brown to silver, and some are marked with darker or blue lines.

General Info

Sweepers belong to the Pempheridae family which consists of two genera and 26 species. During the day they can be found taking shelter in caves or under ledges, and they hunt at night-time. They normally live in large schools. Some have luminescent organs obtained from their food. They are pelagic spawners.


Sweepers feed on zooplankton and Polychaeta worms.


They can be found in all temperate and tropical oceans across the world.

Common Species

Cave sweeper - Pempheris vanicolensis
Dusky sweeper - Pempheris adustra
Slender sweepers - Parapriacanthus ransonneti

© Johan Boshoff