One of the brightest representatives of the marine fauna, causing incredible emotions from a bright, juicy, multi-colored color, is a parrot fish. Considering such a creation, one admires how nature “mocked” this creature. They are photographed and videotaped because they are considered one of the most beautiful inhabitants in the marine fauna.
Origin of the species and description
Scientists discovered this fish in 1810 and, at the same time, made the first discovery. They called this genus parrot or scary. They belong to the class of ray-finned fish, the detachment – wrasses. The international scientific name for the parrotfish is Scaridae. It lives mainly in tropical and subtropical zones, in warm waters, where the temperature is at least +20 degrees.
Favorite habitat for fish — Coral reefs. They stay only near them, as they feed on the food that is on the coral polyps. She is not aggressive, even a little friendly. A person can swim with her quite calmly, and she will allow herself to be photographed. And due to the fact that the fish swims very slowly, it is a pleasure to shoot them on camera.
But there are times when a diver does not behave carefully and can catch a “parrot”. A frightened fish will do harm by biting with its powerful teeth that are as strong as steel or by striking with its tail. And there will be no trace of friendliness in this fish.
Appearance and Features
The fish acquired its name thanks to its beak, which is similar to the beak of a parrot — non-retractable mouth and fused incisors on the jaws. The size of an adult is from 20 cm to 50 cm, there is one species of fish where the size can be 2-2.5 times larger (green cone-fronted & # 8212; Bolbometopon muricatum). Its length can reach 130 cm, and weight up to 40 kg.
The external color is shades of blue, purple, green, with elements of red, yellow, orange spots. The colors of the fish are very diverse: you can find fish exclusively green or blue, or they can be completely multi-colored. Or tricolor, a lot depends on what species they belong to and where they live.
Video: Parrot Fish
Powerful forehead, fusiform body and several functional fins. The pectoral fins of the fish are very developed, but if you need to gain speed, running away from predators, then the — tail. Eyes with orange irises located on the sides of the head.
The jaw is made up of two plates, consisting of two sets of teeth. They are fused and allow the “parrot” to scrape food from the corals, and the internal pharyngeal teeth crush it. “Teeth are made of a material called fluoropatine. It is one of the most durable biomaterials, harder than gold, copper or silver, which makes the jaw powerful.
The dorsal fin consists of 9 spikes and 10 soft rays. Tail with 11 rays. Scales are large cycloid. And there are 25 vertebrae in the spine.
Where does the parrot fish live?
The habitats of “colorful” fish are shallow reefs of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans, as well as the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Red seas. You can meet both single fish and small groups swimming at shallow depths, approximately from 2 to 20 meters.
Each fish has its own separate shelter, which it defends. Therefore, when they gather in small flocks in their area of u200bu200bthe reservoir, they drive away any stranger who encroaches on their possessions. This moment is very important for them, because in their “house” they hide at night from other dangerous marine animals.
Diving divers often encounter them near coral reefs because this is a favorite habitat. Divers film them on video and take pictures. These fish swim slowly, which lends itself very well to filming. They can be seen only during the day, as at night the fish hides in their “houses”.
Unfortunately, such fish cannot be kept at home. Due to the specific structure of the teeth, which require a special biomaterial for tooth grinding. And these can only be reef-forming corals, which a person is not able to supply fish with constantly.
The only places, other than diving sites, where you can see and consider this fish nearby are large aquariums. There they are supplied with everything necessary for the fish to feel like they are in their habitat. And anyone can see such beauty up close.
What does a parrot fish eat?
Parrot fish are herbivores. Coral polyps and algae are preferred as the main course. They scrape young algae plants from dead coral substrates, and small pieces of coral and stones enter the stomach with the vegetation. But this is even good for fish, as they improve digestion. After digesting marine invertebrates, fish defecate them as sand, which subsequently settles on the sea floor.
Parrot fish save corals from death and suffocation by scraping young algae from coral reefs, and they also eat decomposed worms, mollusks, plants, sponges, etc. This process is called bioerosion. Because of this, they were called coral reef orderlies.
They like to eat in the lagoons. It is there that a large number of favorite delicacies of fish. They try to get there with the onset of the tide. Some varieties of parrot fish, of which there are more than 90 species, feed on a variety of mollusks and other bottom animals that live in the depths of the sea.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
The way of life of fish is mostly solitary. He tries to be on “his” site, not far from his shelter, in order to hide in his house in case of danger. Such places are located near the gorges of coral reefs, caves. And it does not leave its habitat, since all the main food is found on the reefs.
As soon as night falls, the parrot fish secretes mucus around itself from its mouth, which forms a special protective film. Such protection prevents the smell emanating from the fish from spreading and revealing itself to predators who hunt at night using their sense of smell. This method also helps to heal wounds that have appeared in fish from reefs, since the mucus has an antiseptic effect.
For such a procedure, the fish spends up to 4% of all its energy, throughout the day. Such protection does not allow other blood-sucking parasites, such as isopods – from the groups of crustaceans. For the circulation of water in the cocoon, the fish leaves holes on both sides, allowing water to pass freely. With the onset of dawn, she gnaws through this film with her sharp teeth, and goes in search of food.
An interesting feature is that one parrot fish can produce up to 90 kilograms of sand annually, thanks to its unusual diet.” As mentioned above, stones and pieces of coral, getting into food along with algae, come out of it in the form of crushed sand. Such soft and fine sand can be found on the shores of the seas in which the parrot fish lives.
Social structure and reproduction
During spawning periods, parrot fish gather in flocks. There will definitely be one or two dominant males and several females in the pack. “But it happens that there is no male in the pack, and then there comes a moment when one female, most often the eldest in the pack, has to change sex – to become a hermaphrodite.”
The gender reassignment process takes several weeks. Thus, the parrot fish becomes a hermaphrodite. Hermaphrodites are individuals that are able to develop both caviar and spermatozoa. Such a process can occur in fish throughout life – several times. With the exception of one species – marble. This species does not change its sex.
After spawning, the eggs are fertilized by the male, and then they are carried away by their current to the lagoons. The development of eggs occurs during the day, fry appear, where in the depths of the lagoon they are in relative safety. It is there that the larvae grow and feed on plankton.
As they grow from fry to adult fish, they go through 2-3 stages, where they change their color. The fry have a solid color, with small stripes and specks. In an immature individual, purple, red or brown colors predominate. And the adult is already distinguished by bluish, green, purple hues. During its life, a parrot fish can change its color more than once.
As soon as fry appear from the larvae, they go to coral polyps, where young algae serve as the main food. There they find shelter for themselves. The lifespan of a parrotfish in its natural habitat is approximately 9 — 11 years old.
Parrot fish natural enemies
Parrot fish does not have an electrical charge, spikes or poison. For its protection, it uses only mucus. Therefore, one of the ways of protection is mucus, which she uses not only at night, but also during the day in case of danger. And the danger to it can come from a person who catches this type of fish because of its valuable, nutritional qualities and useful properties.
When catching fish with nets, it immediately and in large quantities begins to release its lubricant, but, unfortunately, this method of protection, when caught by a person using special equipment, is ineffective. And for humans, this cocoon is not dangerous, on the contrary, it has many useful properties and vitamins.
Blood-sucking parasites from the order of higher crustaceans can also be classified as enemies — isopods. Sharks, eels and other nocturnal hunters looking for parrotfish with their sense of smell. To expel strangers from their territory, a parrot fish gathers in a group. Using sharp movements and his strong teeth, he intimidates and drives him out of his familiar places in a flock.
Population and species status
In the family of these There are about 10 genera of fish:
- Green cone-fronted parrot fish – 1 species. The largest fish, weighing up to 45 kg, and up to 130 cm tall. They live on average up to 40 years, female and male individuals are painted in the same color. During fights, they can butt heads with their large foreheads.
- Cetoscarus – 2 species: Cetoscarus ocellatus and Cetoscarus bicolor. They grow up to 90 cm in length. Very brightly colored in rich colors. Sequential hermaphrodites – are born females, but then change their sex. This species was discovered in 1956.
- Chlorurus – 18 species.
- Hipposcarus – 2 species.
- Scarus (Scars) – 56 species. The sizes of most species reach 30 – 70 cm. Most species live in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Islands. It is there that the climate is constantly warm, and reef ecosystems are rich in food necessary for the growth and development of parrots.
- Calotomus (Kalotomy) – 5 species.
- Cryptotomus – 1 species.
- Leptoscarus (Leptoscars) – 1 species.
- Nicholsina (Nicholsina) – 2 species.
- Sparisoma (Sparisoma) – 15 species.
To date, approximately 99 species of parrotfish are known to scientists. But no one canceled the discovery of new varieties, and maybe in 10-15 years it will change for the better or for the worse. Due to changes in the climate, new species of fish may appear, or the population may decrease.
The parrot fish is one of those representatives that inhabit the world of the ocean to please with its colorful species. They benefit the corals (by cleaning them), humans by creating the sands we love to walk on. They give us the opportunity to take beautiful pictures and just admire. This fish is worth admiring, even if you have to visit the aquarium.