Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

parrotfish the common name of fish of the family Scaridae, which are found in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate waters around the world. Their teeth are configured somewhat like a parrot’s beak, to facilitate their crunching of coral, from which they filter out the algae which they eat, excreting the sand. Their activity is thought to be a principal factor in the wearing down of coral reefs.

Parrotfish are related to the wrasse family, and resemble them both in having bright coloration which varies with age and sex and in their habit of sleeping at night; but some of them grow to a larger size than any wrasse and they can be distinguished by the fusing of their front teeth into a ‘beak’.