Parrotfishes belong to the Scaridae family, which has about 80 species in the circumtropical regions. Their characteristic feature is the mouth, which has two robust incisor teeth that are joined and create a "beak" that can easily break madrepores and pick up tiny algae off the rocks.
Their body is covered with large scales and has a single dorsal fin; the pectoral fins are well developed and their brilliant coloration varies according to sex and age.
Female parrotfishes change sex during their lifetime. These fishes also use their pectoral fins for propulsion and feed mostly on algae during the day.
Thanks to their special teeth, parrotfishes can break and crush madrepore corals, which they expel in the form of fine-grained sand. This characteristic of the Scaridae is responsible for the coralline beaches: the annual production of this fine sand by a single parrotfish has been estimated at hundreds of kilograms.
At night these fishes sleep in the reef crevices, wrapped in a "case" of mucus that they secrete to protect themselves from predators.
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