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Rainbow Parrotfish - Scarus guacamaia - Large

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Marine Parrotfish come from the family Scaridae and are very different from the freshwater "Parrotfish" cichlids that most aquarists are familiar with. Parrotfish in the ocean and most closely related to wrasses in their biology and body shape and they share many characteristics (leading to some misidentifications among the two groups. Parrotfish are most notorious for their behavior of chewing on live rock and corals while they look for food. While they are seldom attacking the coral itself, they can damage live corals and reefs while they grind the live rock in an effort to scrape off the encrusting algae and inverts that they are actually targeting. It is thought by some that parrotfish contribute to the creation of much of the coral sand in reef areas of the ocean!

Parrotfish are also known for building mucus cocoons to protect themselves while they "sleep". Parrotfish are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that they may begin their adult life as females but may become male over time. As such, they may have different juvenile, female and male colorations as well as terminal phase male and initial phase male coloration.

Parrotfish can be difficult to feed in captivity and their nutritional needs can be difficult to meet even if the fish is feeding. Their mouth structures allow them to crush small snails and hermit crabs and to grind food material off of rocks. A very well established tank with plenty of well-seeded live rock is beneficial and the live rock may need to be replaced over time if ground down by the parrotfish. Corals may be damaged and keeping a parrotfish in a reef tank is not recommended. Feed a varied meaty diet of fresh, frozen and prepared foods to help wean the parrotfish onto an aquarium diet. Most parrotfish grow very large and the tank should be of an appropriate size to house the adult fish. Suitable tankmates would be larger, fairly peaceful to moderately aggressive fish like angels, tangs, triggers, groupers and similar fish. Though rare, parrotfish may prey on small fish. Crustaceans like crabs and shrimp may be eaten.

Visit That Fish Blog for more information from our marine biologists on gender switching in saltwater fish, Parrotfish mucous cocoons and other aquarium-related topics!


That Fish Place
Common NameRainbow Parrotfish - Large
Scientific NameScarus guacamaia
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