Scarus guacamaia- Rainbow Parrotfish
The Rainbow Parrotfish, or Scarus guacamaia, is a species of parrotfish that has very striking colors along its body. Among its colors are orange, green, blue, and purple. It’s defining feature is the striking orange color on its face. The Rainbow Parrotfish also has an initial phase where they are a different gender. This species of parrotfish can grow to be one and a half to three feet long, and the depth they’re usually found at is ten to eighty feet. The diet of the Rainbow Parrotfish usually consists of the algae within coral polyps. They obtain the algae by using their beak-like mouths to crush the coral and obtain the nutrients from the coral polyps. The undigested coral is excreted and tends to make up a large majority of the sand and sediment in the territory of the fish. The coloring on the Rainbow parrotfish tends to change. The larger males are the more colorful and the females and the smaller males are a duller color.
Rainbow Parrotfish and other parrotfish species are essential to keep coral reefs healthy. Not only do they create sand and sediment by excreting unused, grinded up coral, but they also act as a middleman between corals and seagrass. Because corals and seagrasses compete for light and nutrients, the parrotfish can help to keep the competition fair. Although these processes are important for reef health, there are other things that need to be done to preserve the reefs.
Rainbow parrotfish go through several different phases in their life. The first phase is a sexually immature juvenile that is very dully colored. The next phase is the initial phase, where both males and females are sexually mature. Smaller males and females in this phase will have a bluish color but will not have received the bright orange and green markings that are seen in terminal phase adult males. In the terminal phase, only the adult males will possess the striking orange and green colors. Females and the smaller of the males will have the same blue color to them. There are also primary and secondary males in each family group. Primary males are born males, while secondary males are born females and then transition into males.Some interesting facts about the Rainbow Parrotfish are that they create mucus bubbles at night to sleep in. They also sleep in between rocks and corals to protect themselves from predation. The secondary males can also disguise themselves as females to try and join a harem, which is a group of females that have one dominant male.