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Regal Parrotfish Scarus dubius (Bennett, 1828)
The common name parrotfishes for this family is well chosen because of the bright colors of most species and the beak-like dentition formed by the fusion of teeth. Also unique is the pharyngeal dentition which consists of series of molariform teeth on upper and lower bony plates at the back of the throat, the upper convex, the lower concave.
Parrotfishes lack a true stomach and have a very long intestine. All have a single unnotched dorsal fin of 9 spines, 10 rays, and an anal fin of 3 spines, 9 rays.
Like the wrasses from which parrotfishes are believed to have evolved, the juveniles are often very different in color from the adults, and there are usually two strikingly different color patterns associated with sex. Most species undergo sex reversal from female to male as they change color from a drab phase (generally gray or reddish brown, termed the initial phase) to a more gaudy color phase (usually dominated by green or blue-green, called the terminal male).
Some species are both female and male in the initial phase; spawning in this phase occurs in aggregations dominated by males. Others are only female in the initial phase. Terminal males tend to establish sexual territories in which they maintain a harem of females; they court and spawn with individual females.
Parrotfishes feed by grazing on algae from rock surfaces; when the surface is dead coral, they scrape into the limestone. Some species take algae growing on the surface of sand, ingesting sand at the same time. A few of the larger species feed in part on live coral (leaving a characteristic mark showing the median suture of the dental plates).
The algae, along with the bits of rock, coral, and sand, is triturated in the pharyngeal mill, making it more digestible. In the process, limestone rock fragments are ground into sand, and sand into finer sand. Parrotfishes, therefore, are a major producer of sand in coral-reef areas.
Chlorurus sordidus (initial phase) (Forskall, 1775) Uhu
Chlorurus sordidus (female phase) (Forskall, 1775) Uhu
Terminal males mainly green, with a vertical pink line on scales, usually with a suffusion of yellow over most of side of body; dental plates blue-green; initial phase dark brown, becoming red at front of head; able to turn on a double row of whitish spots or a broad pale bar at base of caudal fin containing a large dark spot; dental plates white; caudal fin truncate.To 16 inches (40 cm). Indo-Pacific.
Scarus psittacus (initial phase) (Forskall, 1775) Uhu
Scarus psittacus (terminal male phase) (Forskall, 1775) Uhu
To 12 inches (30 cm). Indo-Pacific; common in the Hawaiian Islands. Initial phase often seen in small schools. First described from the Red Sea.
Scarus dubius (initial phase) (Bennett, 1828) Lauia
Scarus dubius (terminal phase male) (Bennett, 1828) Lauia
Terminal Males orange-pink with a vertically elongate blue-green spot on scales and narrow blue-green bands on head; initial phase brownish red, becoming red on lower part of head, with 2 or 3 narrow pale stripes on abdomen; pectoral rays usually 14 (15 in the species of Chlorurus).
To 14 inches (35.5 cm). Hawaiian Islands. More common in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands than in the main islands.
Chlorurus perspicillatus (initial male phase) (Steindachner, 1879) Uhu uliuli, Uhu 'ahu'ula
Chlorurus perspicillatus (terminal male phase) (Steindachner, 1879) Uhu uliuli, Uhu 'ahu'ula
Terminal males (uhu uliuli) blue-green with orange-pink dots anteriorly and orange-pink edges on scales posteriorly; head in front of eye lavender with a blue-edged bar across forehead; initial phase (uhu'ahu'ula) dark reddish brown with red fins and a broad white bar at base of caudal fin.
Attains 24 inches (61 cm). Hawaiian Islands. Formerly classified in Scarus. Callyodon ahula Jenkins is a synonym. Initial phase sometimes seen in aggregations.
All information and pictures in this section are from John E. Randall's Shore Fishes of Hawai'i by permission of the author.
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