ocean nutrition

Feeding Guides Detail

back

Wrasses & Parrotfishes

Image Description

General Information

About 400 species of fish, including Hogfish, are described as Wrasses. Parrotfish are very closely related, but are classified in their own family. Like Wrasses, they swim with their pectoral fins, are hermaphrodites and change sex as a reproductive strategy, spawn in large aggregations, feed during the day, and sleep at night (with some species covering themselves with a mucus “cocoon”).

Wrasses are extremely diverse and vary greatly in size and shape, from one-inch long, cigar-shaped individuals to 8-foot fish that weigh several hundred pounds. They are usually brightly colored and often change patterns as they grow from juveniles into adults. During the day they comb the reef for food, swimming with their pectorals in a start-and-stop fashion. Though feeding habits vary from species to species, these fish are generally carnivorous, opportunistic feeders. Most have prominent canine teeth that sometimes give them a buck-toothed appearance. They use these specialized teeth to pull mollusks or crustaceans off of rocks and then crush them with their additional pharyngeal teeth.

Parrotfish are noted for their bright, parrot-like colors (predominantly red and green) and their sharp beaks with which they scrape dead coral and rock to feed on algae. On most coral reefs you can find the bite marks of these fish, where they have scraped off some of the coral in their quest for algae, pulverizing the hard calcarious material with their teeth. All coral sediment that is ingested is eliminated as sand. It is estimated that, around coral reefs, approximately one ton per acre per year of sand is produced by coral material that has passed through Parrotfish!

Aquarium Care & Feeding

Dwarf Wrasses and juvenile Wrasses will accept dry flakes and pellets as well as various frozen foods. Larger Wrasses will prefer meatier frozen foods like clams, shrimp, and small fish. Aquascape the aquarium so that there are plenty of hiding spaces. Having a sandy bottom might benefit species that bury themselves to hide or sleep. Wrasses are hyperactive and can sometimes disturb more sedate and shy fish in the aquarium. Due to their method of feeding on living and dead coral skeletons in their quest for algae, most Parrotfish are not suitable for home or hobbyist aquariums.