The parrot fish is a very unique fish that keeps on changing. This fantastic fish gets the first part of its name from its beak-like teeth. The parrot fish’s “beak” is used to eat its interesting food: coral. Coral is scraped off with the biting beak which crushes these hard pieces into sand-like fragments. In fact, a lot of the sand in the parrot fish’s range is made up of puny particles of undigested crushed coral. The reason they expel the coral fragments is that the parrot fish do not actually use the coral but the algae that lives inside the crunchy coral. Larger parrot fish can create up to one ton (907 kg) of this sand in one year! These amazing aquatic animals live in almost all tropical seas where coral is abundant. Parrot fish are head-ache-makers, for scientists who classify them, for several reasons. These same tricks make them interesting as well. First of all, in many species of parrot fish, males lead groups of females called a harem. If the male dies, one of the females will actually turn into a male and lead the group! If another male comes, the fish that changed will sometimes turn back into a female. If you think that is confusing, just wait! Parrot fish also change colors! Because of these confusing changes, scientist at one time thought that there were over 300 parrot fish species. They have now narrowed down that number to 80 or fewer species. Some real parrot fish species include the Bi-color parrot fish, which is shown in the picture at the top of the page. The photo to the left is of the Stop-light parrot fish, and the next picture down is of the Rusty parrot fish. These fish shown are only three of the many species of parrot fish which contain almost every color you can think of. These species also vary in size from only one foot (30 cm) to four feet (120 cm). They also grow to weigh 45 pounds (20 kg) and sometimes even larger. The rainbow parrot fish (not shown) is one of the largest in weight and in length. One more odd and somewhat gross thing about these fish is what they wear to bed. Each night, some of these many species cover themselves in a balloon of mucous which they secrete from an organ in their head. According to scientists, this technique helps mask their scent from nocturnal predators such as moray eels. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the page to leave your guess about what the next animal is!
- Bi-color parrotfish: Richard Ling
- Stop-light parrrotfish: Wikipedia user Adona9
- Rusty parrotfish: Wikipedia user David Stanford
- Mystery animal:Public domain