Feedings: Plaster of Paris for the Parrotfish

Did you know that parrotfishes actually EAT coral? It's true. Well, kind of. Here's what happens: Parrotfishes have fused teeth that form "beaks" which are used to scrape algae from dead coral rock, which is made mostly of calcium carbonate. In the process, large amounts of coral are taken in, ground up by bony teeth plates and the algae is extracted for consumption.

You can see the peas embedded in the block

Our GOT coral is artificial, made of fiberglass and urethane, so the parrotfish can't perform the usual grazing. But also made mostly of calcium carbonate is—you guessed it—Plaster of Paris, so it's perfect for these bricks of peas we put in the GOT for our parrotfishes. It keeps them happy and healthy :-)

A diver places the block on a coral ledge, giving visitors a great view

The block tends to draw a crowd

But it's the parrotfish that really benefit from this particular feeding

The action of scraping their teeth on the plaster can file down their teeth, keeping them healthy and trim

And they get a tasty treat—always eat your vegetables!

The parrotfish, and other fishes, dine on these crafty blocks of Plaster of Paris every week or so. So now if you see a curious white brick nestled amid the colorful corals, you'll know about the specialized feeding that's taking place inside the Giant Ocean Tank.

Learn more about parrotfishes from our researchers and global explorers.

Oh, and we'll be posting a video of this feeding event soon. Stay tuned!

— Chris

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