I finally finished the Parrotfish collection! This is the third installation of my fish coloring book featuring several species of Parrotfish – many of which are a very common sight when snorkeling, diving, or even just walking along the docks! I think my niece will really enjoy these fish – especially because they big enough to be easy to spot – even for a 6-year-old newbie snorkeler. Not only are Parrotfish a fairly common sight, but I think they are also some of the most beautiful fish I’ve seen and should be a lot of fun to color!
Learn about the Parrotfish Family
The Parrotfish Family is an especially fun and interesting group of fish to learn about. These beautiful, brightly colored fish grow to be between one to four feet long and can live up to seven years in the wild. Parrotfish spend most of their day scraping algae off of coral – although this causes some damage to the coral, they are actually providing a critical service to keeping the coral healthy. Without the removal of algae by parrotfish and other algae eaters, coral would very quickly be overgrown and unable to get enough light for their symbiotic algae to photosynthesize the food coral needs to live.
Of course, no cleaning service is perfect, Parrotfish also eat the coral and chew up the calcium-carbonate skeletal structures using their amazing teeth. They have large, incredibly strong front teeth for scraping algae and many smaller teeth in their throat for grinding up the coral skeletons. They can’t digest the coral skeletons so they poop out the ground up bits of coral as sand. In fact, most of the beautiful white sandy beaches in tropical places are entirely made up of parrotfish poop!
Parrotfish are busy all day munching away on coral, but at night, they make their own pjs! Parrotfish have a special organ on their heads that can secrete mucus that they wrap themselves in. Once they are all ready for bed, wrapped in their mucus-y blanket, they settle down to sleep – usually on the sand under some rocks or coral. Scientists think this mucus wrap is mainly to protect them from night time predators by hiding their smell, but it may also protect them from parasites that live in the sand and on the surfaces that the parrotfish rest on while sleeping.
It can be very difficult to identify the different species of Parrotfish because most of them go through at least two or three dramatically different physical changes that include changes to their coloration, patterns, and even their sex. Parrotfish can repeatedly change their sex to balance genders in their local area in order to increase their reproductive success.