- Common Name
- Genus Species
- 10 genera
- Parrotfish have thick, heavy bodies and large scales. They are found in tropical waters throughout the world and appear in a wide variety of colors, which may change depending on their sex, status, or maturity.
- Rainbow parrotfish (Scarus guacamaia) may grow up to 1.2 m (4 ft) in length
- Algae and coral
- Oviparous (egg laying), pelagic spawners
- Tropical waters throughout the world
- Coral reefs
- Global: No data
- IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed
- The name "parrotfish" is derived from their fused teeth, which bear close resemblance to a bird's beak. Their teeth are specialized for scraping algae and invertebrates from coral and rocks. Another set of teeth (pharyngeal teeth), are located on the floor and roof of their throats. The pharyngeal teeth crush the ingested materials.
- Parrotfish are generally social and may be found in schools of around 40 individuals. Sometimes an adult breeding male called the supermale leads these schools. Supermales are typically sex-reversed females and are strongly territorial and habitually drive other males away from their areas.
- Schools of parrotfish graze over a reef much like a herd of cattle over a grassy field. Large amounts of calcareous materials are consumed and excreted by schools of parrotfish. In just one year, one parrotfish may convert a ton of coral into sand.
- For more information about bony fishes, explore the Bony Fishes InfoBook.
Ecology and Conservation
Other types of fishes, crustaceans, and occasionally moray eels prey upon parrotfish. Humans may impact them indirectly through destruction of the reefs where they dwell, but none are considered endangered or threatened. In fact, they are found in great numbers throughout many tropical reefs.
Andrews, A., Parham, D. and W. Street. Bony Fishes. SeaWorld Education Department Publication. San Diego, SeaWorld, Inc. 1995.
Burgess, W. and H.R. Axelrod. Pacific Marine Fishes. Book 1. Neptune City, NJ. T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Ltd. 1971.