Parrotfish (various)


Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family:    Scaridae
Size:    Length: 8 to 36 inches (20 to 91 cm) 
Weight: Unknown
Diet: Algae, coral polyps and occasionally molluscs
Distribution: Tropical Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans
Young:  Thousands of  eggs
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Fry
Lifespan: Average 5 to 6 years



·         Scientists once thought there were over 350 different kinds of parrotfish, but it is believed now that there are 80 in total.

·         Hawaiians once considered parrotfish so special that only royalty could touch them.

·         Some parrotfish can change their colours to match their surroundings. 



With their rainbow hues, dominant parrotfish males are among the most colourful fish found in coral reefs. Females and non-dominant males are more often a dull red, brown or grey—they are never as brightly coloured as the dominant males. Parrotfish have large, thick scales. They have an unusual-looking mouth, with large teeth that are fused together to create a beak that resembles those of parrots. Older males of some parrotfish species develop a hump on their forehead. Parrotfish born male remain that way; however, some females turn into males after they have bred for at least one season, because there are so few males.  



Parrotfish are native to the tropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, around northern Australia, eastern Africa, southern Asia, Hawaii, the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico. They live amongst the coral reefs. 


Feeding Habits

Parrotfish eat up to six pounds of algae per day, using their teeth to scrape algae from dead coral rocks. They also eat soft bodied coral polyps. The polyps make their way through their digestive system and are released as white coral sand. Parrotfish also occasionally eat molluscs. 



Parrotfish can produce eggs at any time of the year, although more are produced in summer than at any other time. When the females spawn (release their eggs), the males fertilize them. The eggs hatch into larvae in approximately 25 hours. The tiny larvae have no faces when they emerge, but grow a mouth within three days. 



Parrotfish are active by day and at night, they sleep on the reef bottom. Some species bury themselves in the sand. Others secrete a mucous that envelopes and protects them as they sleep. 



Parrotfish are not a conservation concern. 



Parrotfish Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US