AskDefine | Define sweeper

Dictionary Definition



1 an employee who sweeps (floors or streets etc.)
2 a cleaning device with revolving brushes that pick up dirt as the device is pushed over a carpet [syn: carpet sweeper]
3 little-known nocturnal fish of warm shallow seas with an oblong compressed body

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. One who sweeps floors or chimneys
  2. A detector (for mines)
  3. A small, tropical marine perciform fish of the family Pempheridae, typically with deeply keeled, compressed bodies and large eyes.
  4. A defender who is the last line of defence before the goalkeeper
  5. A person who sweeps the ice ahead of the rock in play.
  6. A batsman who plays sweep shots
  7. A fielding position along the boundary; a fielder in this position
  8. A tree that has fallen over a river with branches extending into the water.

See also


Extensive Definition

Sweepers are small, tropical marine (occasionally brackish) perciform fish of the family Pempheridae. Found in the western Atlantic Ocean and Indo-Pacific region, the family contains approximately 26 species in two genera. One species (Pempheris xanthoptera ) is the target of subsistence fisheries in Japan, where the fish is much enjoyed for its taste. Sweepers are occasionally kept in the marine aquarium.

Physical description

Deeply keeled, compressed bodies and large eyes typify sweepers, their form somewhat like hatchetfish; both cycloid and ctenoid scales may be present. The small, short dorsal fin begins before the body's midpoint and may have 4-7 spines; the anal fin is extensive and usually has 3 spines. The mouth is subterminal and strongly oblique. Species of the genus Parapriacanthus have much more cylindrical bodies.
Some species possess photophores. All but the curved sweeper (Pempheris poeyi) possess a gas bladder. The largest species is the common bullseye (Pempheris multiradiata) at 28 centimetres in length; most other species measure 16 centimetres or less. Coloration is relatively subdued.


Characteristically shallow water, schooling fish (especially as juveniles), sweepers are nocturnal and seek shelter under ledges or in the caves, nooks and crannies of reefs or eroded, rocky shorelines during the day. They are often found sharing these hiding places with cardinalfishes and bigeyes, fellow nightowls. At night, sweepers forage for zooplankton, their primary food items.
At least one species, the small-scale bullseye (Pempheris compressa) of Australia, is known to enter coastal estuaries whilst young.


sweeper in German: Glas- oder Beilfische
sweeper in French: Pempheridae
sweeper in Lithuanian: Didžiaakinės ešeržuvės
sweeper in Dutch: Bijlvissen
sweeper in Polish: Zmiataczowate
sweeper in Portuguese: Pempheridae
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