Bicolor Parrotfish

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Scientific name: Cetoscarus bicolor

The basics:
In the wild, they are found continuously roving and grazing on stony corals, gnawing and scraping at dead coral substrates for their algal growth, and excreting copious amounts of fine coral sand in the process. A large Parrotfish like the Bicolor Parrotfish can produce up to 2,200 pounds or 1 metric ton of sand per year. In tanks, this activity is greatly restricted without the required areas, which reduces the Parrotfish's vitality, leading to inactivity and settling down on the tank bottom. In the wild, Parrotfish are in almost constant search and eating mode on the reef during the day, stopping to sleep only at night.

The juvenile Bicolor Parrotfish is white in color with an orange band across its face. It also has orange to light brown on its dorsal and caudal fins. After the juvenile stage, they enter the initial phase in which they are either male or female and are relatively drab in color. Females have a two-toned body where the top half is yellow and the scales on the bottom half of the body is green with black tips. Most of the female’s head is light grey in color and the small region under the mouth is almost black. The fins are also black in color. The colors of the supermale are brighter. A mature Bicolor Parrotfish has a spotted face and a blue body with additional colors on the fins. Parrotfish have bright orange eyes in all three phases.

Color changes as they mature. Juveniles are white with an orange band on their face and orange to light brown on their fins. The next phase includes fish with drab colors like yellow, light grey, black, and green scales with black tips. The last phase includes brightly hued fish with yellow spots on a blue body.

25-30 inches

The Bicolor Parrotfish has a peaceful temperament, but is difficult to maintain under typical aquarium conditions. These Parrotfish spin a cocoon around their body by secreting a thick coat of mucus as a sort of sleeping bag. They sleep in these slimy bubbles that hide their scent and protect them from infection by parasites. This protects them in the wild from nighttime predators like Moray Eels, which hunt with their sense of smell. In the wild, juvenile Bicolor Parrotfish swim alone while the adults are found in small groups. Terminal phase males always live within a certain area, defending a particular territory. They have a non-competitive nature so they must not be mixed in the aquarium with aggressive, food-greedy species like large Basses and Damsels.

The Parrotfish is huge in size and therefore requires a 300-gallon (or larger) aquarium with plenty of swimming room. The aquarium should contain live rock, hard corals, and mature algae growth. Skeletons are acceptable. The Bicolor Parrotfish will eat algae off the corals and rocks, and chew on the hard corals to eat the animals within. They must be provided a suitable hiding and sleeping space like a nice coral or base rock cave with low illumination. Bicolor Parrotfish use their parrot-like beak to rasp algae from coral and other rocky substrates. In captivity, their teeth may get overgrown because of the lack of material to wear them down. Due to these shortfalls it may be difficult to keep them in aquariums.

Vigorous circulation and filtration is required since Parrotfish are avid eaters and prodigious producers of body mucus, especially the species that spin their nightly sleep cocoons. Krill, shrimp, clams, mussels and the like in their shell can be given to supply their calcium intake and to wear down their teeth. These foods can be placed at the top of their habitat for example a coral or a rock because this is where Parrotfish feed on the reef.

72.00-78.00 °F


55.000-150.250 mg/L


awesome fish, extremely advanced aquarist


salinity changes, specific dietary requirements, home aquarium, huge fish, reef tank

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