Key West Stoplight Parrotfish

If you're planning on enjoying Key West snorkel tours in the future, then there's a strong chance you'll be getting close views of many fascinating varieties of fish. The stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) is just one such example. As far as reef fish in the Caribbean go, sightings of stoplight parrotfish are comparatively frequent. These parrotfish are generally spotted in the western region of the Atlantic Ocean, whether in the water surrounding the Bahamas, Florida, Brazil or Bermuda. They tend to reside in the coral reef that are full of transparent waters. Stoplight parrotfish are typically seen in the daytime. At night, they're usually resting on the sandy floors. Young stoplight parrotfish are sometimes seen within seagrass beds, too. While stoplight parrotfish live in all parts of reefs, they're especially common in slopes and reef bases that are of little depth.

Like many fish, stoplight parrotfish are visually striking. Their gender and age determine the coloring of their bodies. Adult males are vivid blue and green with hints of pink. Their tails also feature yellow elements. Youngsters are both brown and red. Stoplight parrotfish can grow to 3.5 pounds in weight and 22 inches long. They possess sturdy jaws that are reminiscent of beaks, and their teeth are fused.

Stoplight parrotfish feed on soft algae and corals that appear on stone surfaces. Dead and live coral alike are their favorite forms of sustenance. Their approach to eating often involves digging out coral skeletons. They make significant holes using both their regenerative teeth and tough jaws. Although it looks like stoplight parrotfish are simply dining on coral, they actually receive their nutrients via the polyps that reside inside of the coral skeletons. As far as food choices go, stoplight parrotfish are particularly fond of finger coral, boulder star coral and elkhorn coral.

While you might enjoy observing stoplight parrotfish in their natural surroundings, some people like to eat them. People commonly retrieve them for food purposes. Humans aren't their sole predators, however. Moray eels, bar jacks and snappers all routinely prey on stoplight parrotfish. While stoplight parrotfish have a handful of predators, information on their defense techniques remains somewhat mysterious. While people regularly hunt stoplight parrotfish, they're not thought to be at any risk of endangerment or extinction.

You might be lucky enough to spot stoplight parrotfish on a upcoming Key West snorkel. If you ever visit an aquarium, you might see them there, too. They're commonly seen in aquaria due to their attractive and memorable coloration.

One fascinating fact regarding stoplight parrotfish involves their ability to switch genders while they're alive. Their gender switches are thought to happen as a means of dealing with small populations. When there aren't many breeding female or male parrotfish around, they sometimes change genders.

If you're on the lookout for stoplight parrotfish while snorkeling, don't expect to ever see them in big groups. They're often seen solo or amid tiny social units. Stoplight parrotfish are rarely spotted behaving fiercely toward other types of fish. When they're truculent, they're usually that way toward each other.