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Related FAQs: Marine Life of the Tropical West Atlantic, Tropical West Atlantic 2

Related Articles: TWA Invertebrates, Algae, Vascular Plants, Introduction to Fishwatcher's Guide Series Pieces/Sections, Lachnolaimus maxiumus/Hogfish, Hogfishes of the Genus Bodianus

The Tropical West Atlantic: Bahamas to Brazil, Part 8

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11,


Bob Fenner  

Parrotfishes, Family Scaridae. A few TWA parrotfishes are employed in the trade, but most should not be. Most specimens adjust poorly to captivity, dying from hunger and "depression" in the corner of a distant aquarium. Of the few species of this wrasse-related family that survive in any numbers in aquarium settings (given the selection of a healthy, well-adjusted, small size individual), two hail from our topic area. These are the Striped, Scarus croicensis (3) and Princess Parrot, S. taeniopterus (3). Unfortunately, good numbers of Redband, Sparisoma aurofrenatum (3), and Stoplight Parrots, S. viride (3), among other "misc." colored and not Caribbean Parrots are sold in the trade. These algae and coral eaters should be left in the ocean.

Ecotype: Found swimming around rocks and the coral heads they scrape for food.

Scarus coelestinus Valenciennes 1840, the Midnight Parrotfish. Western Atlantic; Bermuda to Brazil. To thirty one inches in length. A beautiful one here in Bonaire.

Scarus coeruleus (Bloch 1796), the Blue Parrotfish. Western Atlantic; Maryland to Brazil, West Indies. To nearly four feet in length. Bahamas and Cozumel pix. 

Scarus guacamaia Cuvier 1829, the Rainbow Parrotfish. Western Atlantic; Bermuda, Florida to Argentina, northern part of the Gulf of Mexico. To nearly four feet in length. Bahamas and Tobago pix of terminal males. 

Scarus taeniopterus Desmarest 1831, the Princess Parrotfish. Western Atlantic; Bermuda to Brazil. To fourteen inches overall length. Likely the most commonly utilized species (of only a handful) used in the ornamental trade of this family. Due to better collection, holding and shipping more arrive in good condition and live. Though most are dead within a month of collection. Juvenile, initial and terminal phase individuals in Cancun (first) and Bahamas shown. 
Scarus vetula Bloch & Schneider 1801, the Queen Parrotfish. Western Atlantic; Bermuda to Argentina. To two feet in length. A smaller species that occasionally makes its way into pet-fish markets. Bahamas pix of an initial phase and profile of a terminal one. 

Sparisoma atomarium (Poey 1861), the Greenblotch Parrotfish. To ten inches in length. Tropical West Atlantic. At right: Some initial phase pix taken in the seagrass beds in about twenty feet of water off of Cozumel. Juvenile, initial and terminal phase individuals off St. Thomas. 

Sparisoma aurofrenatum (Valenciennes 1840), the Redband Parrotfish. Western Atlantic; Bermudas to Brazil. To eleven inches in length. An occasional pet-fish import. Does as well as any other Parrotfish... i.e. not well in captivity. Shown below: juvenile, initial (and mottled one from Cozumel) and terminal phase individuals from the Bahamas. 
Sparisoma viride (Bonnaterre 1798), the Spotlight Parrotfish. Tropical West Atlantic; Florida to Brazil. To twenty five inches maximum length. Pictured below, juvenile, initial and terminal phase specimens in the Bahamas. 

Jawfishes, Opistognathidae, are abundant species in the TWA (12 described species, plus 7 to be). Three of these substrate dwellers are utilized in our interest. The Yellowhead Jawfish, Opistognathus aurifrons (2); Dusky Jawfish, O. whitehurst (2); and Longjaw Jawfish, O. macrognathus (2) all make suitable tankmates for any variety of peaceful marine aquarium. Most are lost from JUMPING OUT; keep your top entirely covered.

Ecotype: Sandy to gravelly substrate habitats.

Opistognathus aurifrons (Jordan & Thompson 1905), the Pearly or Yellow Head Jawfish is one of the most popular aquarium fishes collected in the tropical west Atlantic. It deserves it's status as the most collected and used Jawfish species; being a light blue anteriorly, grading to creamy white and yellow toward the rear half, and spending more time outside of it's tunnels than other jaws once established. To four inches in length. Note gravel at wholesalers in this image.

Opistognathus macrognathos Poey 1863, the Banded Jawfish. Tropical west Atlantic. To eight inches in length. Here doing what the family does most all the time. Lie in wait for a food item or territorial challenger to come/happen by. Photo taken in St. Lucia, Caribbean.

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11,

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