Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stoplight Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride)

 Stoplight Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) - Fused teeth, resembling beaks, and brilliant colors give the parrotfish its name.  The beaks are used to scrape algae and coral polyps from the coral heads, and in so doing they ingest limestone from the reef and excrete the residue as sand.

Photo by Stephen Frink

Stoplight parrotfish (Sparisome viride) - With their bright colors and a beak shaped like that of a parrot's, "parrotfish" is the obvious name for this common Keys' reef dweller.

Photo by Stephen Frink

unused, from 2010

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The Stoplight parrotfish is a sex-changing fish inhabiting coral reefs in Florida, Bahamas, the Caribbean, eastern Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda, and Brazil. Its typical length is between 30 and 45 cm, but it can reach 60 cm at times.

The colors of the Stoplight parrotfish in the initial phase, (first postcard), when it could be either a male or a female, are dramatically different from those in the terminal phase, (second postcard), when it's definitely a male.

Their pharyngeal teeth grind up coral rock that the fish ingests during feeding. After they digest they excrete the rock as sand helping to create small islands and the sandy beaches of the Caribbean. One parrotfish can produce 90 kg of sand each year.

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