#23: Our Reef Residents - Parrotfish

Parrotfish are found in tropical waters all over the world. They are named for their parrot-like beaks which are used for crunching corals and encrusted rocks in search of algae, their main food source. Parrotfish swim by flapping their pectoral fins, giving the appearance that they are flying through the water.

Some species of parrotfish excrete a mucous bubble that envelops their bodies at night when they are at rest. Depending on the species, they can range in size from seven inches (green blotch parrotfish) to five feet (rainbow parrotfish). Identifying the different species can be quite challenging due to the dramatic changes in shape, color, and markings that occur as they mature. In many species the females and juveniles look similar, while the adult males look completely different. The adult males are usually much more colorful with ornate combinations of blues and greens highlighted with red, yellow, and pink. The different age groups are classified as "phases." They include juvenile phase, initial phase, and terminal phase.

Stoplight Parrotfish -- Initial Phase

Stoplight Parrotfish --Terminal Phase

This is our rainbow parrotfish

He is only about a foot long now, but he could get as big as five feet when full grown!

There are currently six species of parrotfish in the Giant Ocean Tank; princess, striped, redband, stoplight, rainbow, and yellowtail. They are all doing quite well, but the yellowtail is by far the most successful. We have two yellowtail parrotfish; one is only a few inches long, while the other is a little over a foot. The larger one was introduced to the GOT as a new species several years ago when it was no bigger then a few inches itself.

The smaller one came from our 2008 Bahamas fall collecting expedition, and has only been in the GOT for a little over a week.

- Sherrie



  1. Does the GOT parrotfish eat algae off the windows like Myrtle?

  2. What do you feed the parrot fish in the GOT?
    Have any of them tried to nibble the fiberglass coral?


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