Introduction A Closer Look at Parrotfish Coral Reef Ecology Methods Data/Results Discussion

Rainbow parrotfish observed in Bermuda

What are Parrotfish?

Parrotfish Taxonomy
    Kingdom: Animalia                                 All Parrotfish are members of the Scaridae family. Currently 80 species have been identified,
    Phylum: Chordata                                  twelve of which have been identified living in the waters surrounding Bermuda.
    Class: Actinopterygii
    Order: Perciformes
    Family: Scaridae

                Parrotfish are unique in that they have the ability to change their sex throughout their lifetime. Primary males are fish that are born male and stay male throughout their life, while secondary males are males that are born female and become male when they reach sexual maturity. These males have the brightly colored coloration in part for which the Parrotfish owe their name. The primary males and females are much less brightly colored and are often very difficult to tell apart.

Adult Stoplight Parrotfish                                 
                            Initial Phase Stoplight Parrotfish                                                          Supermale Stoplight Parrotfish
 The Supermale is a male terminal phase parrotfish that leads a "harem" of female parrotfish in a school. If the supermale dies, the largest female in the group changes sex to become male and also assumes the colors of the supermale.               

Why are they called "Parrot"fish?

    As described above, Parrotfish are often sought after because of their beautiful coloration, as seen below. This is an example of the secondary male. The beautiful patterns of the secondary males are often compared to those of the tropical Parrot.

Parrotfish also have a very unique feature resembling a beak (like that of the Parrot) that allows them to scrape their primary food source, algae, off of the hard substrates (both rock and coral) on which the algae is found. This beak is part of their jaw, formed by fused teeth.

Stages of Life

Most of the Scaridae fishes go through three unique phases of life throughout its lifetime, averaging approximately five years. The first stage is the juvenile phase lasting from birth until the fish reaches the initial phase. This is a phase of sexual maturation and the fish is able to change its sex during this stage. As the fish ages, it enters the terminal phase, aquiring its final sex at this time. The fish is fully colored by this point. Because of the complete color spectrum change between sexes and between phases, it was thought that the Scaridae family actually had many more species than are currently believed to exist. The ease in which the parrotfish switches between male and female and between drably colored and radiantly colored makes it incredibly difficult to identify the species of the fish.

    Stoplight Parrotfish - Sparisoma Viride
I chose to work with two specific species of the Scaridae family, both of which I saw often at both Tobacco Bay and Whalebone Bay. One
of these species was the Stoplight parrotfish, a beautiful fish that has a wide range of colors. The dully colored fish in the image below is a female or a primary male.

        Kingdom: Animalia        
        Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Actinopterygii
        Order: Perciformes                                 Rainbow Parrotfish - Scarus guacamaia
        Family: Scaridae                                 The second fish I chose was the rainbow parrotfish, one of the larger
        Genus: Sparisoma                               species of parrotfish.
        Species: Viride                      
                                                             Kingdom: Animalia
                                                        Phylum: Chordata
                                                         Class: Actinpterygii
                                                         Order: Perciformes
                                                      Family: Scaridae
                                                                                           Genus: Scarus
                                                                                                    Species: Guacamaia

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