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Species: Nicholsina usta, Emerald Parrotfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

oblong, snout: long, straight top profile
IP: pale red-brown
TP green, body scales blue bars; 2 blue bars eye to mouth; blue spot behind eye
teeth in rows, separate



Nicholsina usta (Valenciennes in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1840)

Emerald Parrotfish

Body elongate, robust; snout relatively long, front head profile straight; a small cirrus at edge of front nostril; teeth not fused into a beak, free, with flattened pointed tips, in 2-7 overlapping rows; without canines on side of rear of top jaw; large crushing plates of molar teeth form “pharyngeal mill” in throat; gill membranes with free fold of skin at midline under throat; dorsal fin IX, 10, no notch between spines and rays; anal fin III, 9; pectoral rays 13; scales large, smooth; median predorsal scales 4-5; a single row of 4-5 scales on cheek below eye; lateral line in 2 sections.

Initial phase: pale greyish brown, sometimes with 2 broad dark stripes along mid-side and back; Terminal phase: mottled greenish on back, head under mouth yellow; two diagonal red & blue stripes on cheek (one from eye to rear of mouth); a diagonal blue bar from top of eye to center of mouth; a blue spot immediately behind eye; iris red; body scales with short blue bars; dorsal, tail and anal fins with irregular network of red lines.

Size: to about 30 cm.

Habitat: common on algal-covered reefs, and on rubble bottoms with sufficient shelter, also on seagrass beds.

Depth: 1-73 m.

New Jersey to Brazil.

Note: Its sister species are N. collettei from the E Atlantic, and N. denticulata from the E Pacific.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Herbivore
  • Data
  • Benthic macroalgae/seagrasses
  • Benthic microalgae
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 30
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 73