| Ecological Descriptors
Parrotfish owe their name to the shape of their mouth. Instead of teeth they have two beak-like plates, like parrots. They have even rows of large, noticeable scales on their bodies. The development of parrotfishes is complex and accompanied by a series of changes in color (polychromatism). Individuals usually mature as females (Initial Phase) although IP males exist, with females some later changing to the male sex (Terminal Phase). Large robust scales are prominent.
Terminal phase: Shades of blue/ green overall. Margin of tail straight when expanded. Basal 2/3 pectoral fin dusky, +/- black blotch at base. Tail centre yellow/ white with translucent margin. Can be mottled and belly often lighter.
Initial phase: Mottled to solid shades of brown or light grey. Base of tail and caudal fin pale to bright yellow. Pectoral and anal fins reddish to pink. Can rapidly change to pale shades of grey to brown or tan with no yellow on tail....in this phase can be difficult to tell from pale phase of Redtail Parrotfish, S. chrysopterum.
Juvenile phase: Similar to IP, unless very small when all Sparisoma spp start looking alike, with spots etc, although the Stoplight Parrotfish retains spots until later.
Prefers shallow areas of coral rubble and seagrass habitats to 15m depth (cf. the easily confused Redtail Parrotfish, S. chrysopterum, which is generally found deeper than Yellowtails). Juveniles or initial-phase adults rapidly assume a mottled pattern and blend with the substratum when they come to rest on the bottom. It feeds on benthic algae and seagrass.
Protogynous hermaphrodites, with some IP females transitioning to TP males (IP males exist). Spawning is a group activity in similarly colored males and females (IPs), but TP males form leks, where the TPs compete for mates. Length at sex change = 16-25 cm. There are different colour phases during the sex change, the drab or initial and the terminal phase. The terminal phase show that the fish has become an adult male and occurs at a length of 25cm. Spawning occurs daily and year round with the species forming aggregations of between 100-400 fish. The spawning involves a single female and 2-15 males. The sex ratio during spawning is three males to one female. The aggregations usually occur at a depth of 18m which is of a greater depth that the water they are usually found in, shallow waters of 1-15m. The fertilization process is external, sperm are released into the water around the female.
Yellowtail Parrotfish TP
Yellowtail Parrotfish IP
(C) Bart Hazes
Yellowtail Parrotfish IP