Parrotfish have distinct teeth, which are fused into powerful beaks they use to munch chunks of coral to get to the algae that lives inside the coral animal. The rock and coral skeleton is then ground up through their teeth and digestive system and they poop it out as sand. Most of the sand on the beach (more than 70%) is created from parrotfish waste! A large parrotfish can poop up to 1 tonne of sand over a year. Parrotfish go through different stages in their lives; parrotfish are born female, they live in harems with one dominant male. When the male dies the largest female will transform into a male. Females and juveniles are generally dull in colour and patterns. Adult males generally outshine the females with bright colourful patterns. Many species secrete a mucous cocoon around themselves at night when sleeping. It is thought they do this so their scent is disguised from predators. They are vulnerable to overfishing and play an important role in keeping algae cover down on the reef making them extremely valuable in the reef eco system.
Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum)
They can be quite large; reaching up to 126cm. Bumphead parrotfish are identified by having a massive lump on their forehead. This is used to bump into the coral, breaking off pieces to get to the coral polyps to eat.
Male bullethead parrotfish (Chlorurus sordidus)
Male bullethead parrotfish are commonly seen on the reef. They have beautiful colourings, yellows, greens, blues and purples, with a pale green tail base. They have a rounded head with yellow cheeks and green shading around the eye. They are usually solitary found close to the reef biting the coral to eat the algae inside the polyps. (up to 40cm)
Female Indian parrotfish (Chorurus capistratoides)
Indian parrotfish are commonly seen on the reef. The females are a duller red and silver colour with a pinkish snout and tail and 4 to 5 whitish bars across the length of the body. Indian parrotfish can reach lengths of up to 40cm.
Male roundhead parrotfish (Chlorurus strongycephalus)
The male roundhead parrotfish have a rounder head, green to bluish-purple colourings on body with a yellow shading on cheek under the eye. They are frequently seen close to the reef either by themselves or with smaller females, feeding on coral polyps. (up to 70cm)
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