Parrotfish are classed as herbivores and play an essential role in maintaining a healthy reef ecosystem. They limit the establishment and growth of algal communities that would otherwise inhibit coral growth. Parrotfish are aptly named because of the shape of their mouth or beak, with have evolved into a fused plate that allows these fish to take bites out of hard corals. Although it may seem like eating precious and slow growing coral is bad for coral reefs, parrotfish play a role in removing dead coral, exposing the hard reef matrix below which will then allow new corals to colonies the area and grow.
Bumphead Parrotfish - Bolbometopon Muricatum
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Perciformes Family: Scaridae Genus: Bolbometopon Species: Bolbometopon Muricatum
Bumphead parrotfish are the largest species of parrot fish and are able to reach lengths of approximately 1.2 meters! One fully grown individual is able to ingest 5 tonnes of reef carbonate a year (Bellwood et al., 2003). However they are not considered to be a threat to coral reefs as they are extremely vulnerable to over-exploitation, listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered species, and are considered rare or uncommon through out most of their normal range.
Bellwood, D.R., Hoey, A.S., Choat, H. 2003 Limited functional redundancy in high diversity systems: resilience and ecosystem function on coral reefs. Ecology Letters 6: 281-285.