Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Family: SCARIDAE, Parrotfishes

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

D IX (slender, flexible), 10, no notch
beak of fused teeth
tooth plates in throat
A III, 9
LL in 2 sections
large smooth scales



Parrotfishes are readily recognized by having a parrot-like beak that is formed from fused teeth; those tooth plates with a central joint or suture; some species with 1-2 short canines on the rear outside of the beak; large crushing plates covered in molar teeth on the top and bottom of the throat form a “pharyngeal mill”; most have elongated, slender to ovoid, bodies; a single, unnotched dorsal fin with IX slender, flexible spines, 10 rays; anal fin III, 9; scales smooth and large, 22-24 on the lateral line; lateral line broken into two parts.

This tropical family is distributed worldwide; it contains 10 genera with about 108 species. In the Greater Caribbean there are 16 species from 4 genera: 10 endemics, 6 West Atlantic.

Note: Recent genetic analyses have shown that parrotfishes actually belong, as a distinct subfamily, in the wrasse family (Labridae). However, in line with common usage, here we keep the two families separate.