They have fused front teeth which acts like a beak to scrape algae from the coral which helps to keep it clean. They also display bright vibrant colours similar to parrots. This is the reason why they are called parrotfish. These fish feed on tiny organisms called coral polyps. They also scrape algae off of the coral reef. Occasionally they also take in bits of Coral which they then digest and excrete as sand. Parrotfish may produce up to a ton of coral sand per acre of reef each year. The sand they produce helps to build up our beautiful beaches which are great tourist attractions.
Parrotfish can undergo a sex change during periods of their life. It is believed that they undergo this sex change when there aren’t enough males or females in the group. The ones that are born male and stay males throughout their life are called Primary males. Secondary males are born females but change sex and colour to become males. These secondary males are also called supermales or terminal males. Primary males mate in small groups with one female and several males. While supermales mate with one female. The eggs hatch about a day later. Parrotfish can grow up to 20 inches and weigh 3.5 pounds.
The stoplight parrotfish has an important role to play in the Bahamas and our coral reefs. We have the third largest barrier reef in the world, located around the island of Andros which the parrotfish play an integral role in sustaining. Also their beautiful arrays of colours attract tourists, divers and explorers from around the world to come view our Bahamian waters.
Fun Fact: At night when the parrotfish is asleep they secrete a mucus sac that protects them from predators by masking their scent. If a predator was to try get into the sac the parrotfish would simple escape out the other side of the mucus sac.
Reef Fish Identification by Paul Humann,
Done by: Laron Bethel