Do you have a moment to talk about the Parrotfish?
So a few years ago, I got to go Snorkeling in the Virgin Islands and I saw these vibrant turquoise fish:
So when we got home there was lots of fish Identification happening... and I learned that this is a Stoplight Parrotfish. So when I was thinking about what kind of factoid to put out this week.. I thought I'd spotlight some of the nifty "weird" things.
Parrotfish have teeth, that are fused together a bit to look like a birds beak, that's how they got their name. These teeth continually grow because the fish uses their teeth to scrape and grind on algae and corals. They digest the edible bits.. and then poop out coral sand! A single fish can "produce" and average of 200 pounds of sand every year!
But wait... there is more! Similar to clownfish, most parrotfish change gender during their lifetimes. However, unlike the clown fish they primarily start as rather plain looking females. (The stoplight for unknown reasons can start life as a male, but its a male that has the coloration of a female and will not change gender. He doesn't reproduce the same way as his more colorful male counterparts either.)
Here's an example of a parrotfish in the "initial stage" (From wikipedia because my photos of the ladies were not very good at all!)
When these fish were first discovered, because they looked so different they were thought to be separate species!
But WAIT! That's not all that's a bit odd.....Many parrotfish spit out a mucus cocoon to sleep in at night to protect them from predators. It is believed that the mucus helps mask their smell, and may help give them advance warning on some predators.
And that is the weird... yet beautiful parrotfish!