Common in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region: Seychelles to the Society Islands, north to Japan, south to Lord Howe and Rapa Islands. In Australia recorded from Geraldton in Western Australia, across the tropical north including the Gulf of Carpentaria and Torres Strait, the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef in Queensland to the central coast of New South Wales, and including Lord Howe Island.
Frequents reefs, offshore islands and rocky outcrops, adults usually under coral heads or in caves, juveniles in shallow lagoons. Depth 3 - 50 m.
Red/brown spots over body and fins with dark bar along upper edge of operculum, distinguishes it from related Goldspotted Sweetlips, Plectorhinchus flavomaculatus. Adults relatively easy to approach, may be seen singly or in small groups. Often found at cleaning stations if out in open. Great colour variation in life stages, top photograph shows small (20 mm) juvenile, larger juvenile in middle with adult at bottom. Grows to 84 cm.
R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.169.
Atlas of Living Australia website at https://bie.ala.org.au/search?q=Plectorhinchus+picus. Accessed 01/07/18.
FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. https://fishbase.ca/summary/Plectorhinchus-picus.html. Accessed 01/07/18.