The parrotfish belongs to the Scaridae family.  They do resemble wrasses but for their fused dentition, resulting in beak-like plates the parrots on land are renowned for. It enables them to scrape and rasp and break and crush filamentous algae, herbivorous as they are, from dead coral rock. Some parrotfish also gorge on particles from the surface of coarse sand and feast upon living corals, seagrass and leafy algae. Odd sounds, produced with their teeth, are characteristic in the underwaterworld of the parrotfish, creating their own ‘audible’ world. It’s intriguing to hear the sound of subdued roaring, whistling, grinding and creaking noises, coming from their mill-like plates. The parrotfish doesn’t shy way from mingling with surgeonfishes, travelling considerable distances between their feeding grounds and sleeping and resting zones. It is diurnal, the body stout, compressed, oval and well-proportioned. At night it retreats in crevices of reefs, wrapped in a layer of mucus it produces to deter predators.


Family Members


Bicolour Parrotfish

Size up to 90 cm (2,95ft).  Depth up to 30m (98ft)

The timid and exquisite bi-colour parrotfish seeks comfort in deep lagoons and at seaward reefs. Its colouration changes with age, transforming from brownish and white to green with brilliant violet-edged fins at a more mature age. They feed on algae. The juvenile parrotfish is solitary. As adults, the bi-colour parrotfish behaves territorial and haremic.


Bumphead/Humphead Parrotfish

Size up to 130 cm  (1,31ft). Depth up to 50m (164ft)

The bumphead parrotfish stoically hoovers over sandy plateaus, coral-rich reef flats and outer reefs in slow motion, like a large submarine. The bumphead absorbs living corals. When it does, it produces a truly audible sound. It applies its forehead as a tool to break coral. It moves around in groups. The bumphead is male in its maiden stage; the females changing sex to turn into secondary males. The coloration changes in accordance with sex and age; brown and pink with speckled white at the first stage, eventually turning to green with yellow cheeks.

Bullethead Parrotfish

Size up to 40 cm  (ft). Depth up to 25m (82ft)

The bullethead parrotfish has a delicately rounded head. Its chromatic spectrum shows dark brown with pale grey accents and white dots and a pinkish head in ‘embryonic stage’, dramatically shifting towards fantastic greenish blue. They migrate considerably from their feeding areas with their herbivorous taste to their sleeping territories. Theb ullethead parrotfish has a strong appetite for algae it breaks from madrepores and then grinds.


Red Sea Steep-Headed Parrotfish

Size up to 70 cm (2,29ft).  Depth up to 35m (115ft)

The Red Sea steep-headed parrotfish is a familiar face in coral-rich zones and areas with seaward reefs, but recognized only in the Red Sea. It patro;s in company of congenders. The juveniles are solitary, equipped with horizontal white and black stripes. Males have a wonderful blue with a green and purple sheen, the sheen being yellow in females.  They feast upon algae, living in or on corals.


Rusty Parrotfish

Size up to 40 cm (1,31ft).  Depth up to 60m (197ft)

This is another endemic Red Sea species. The rusty parrotfish of the Scaridae is brown with an all-yellow tail from the start, changing into yellowish-green, garnished with typical green snout marks. It is most likely to be observed in areas with coral abundance. It’s territorial and socializes in harems. The rusty parrotfish feeds on algae, snatching it by pulverizing corals.


Other Family Members

Dotted Parrotfish

Dusky Parrotfish

Palenose Parrotfish

Purplestreak Parrotfish