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Bullethead ParrotfishBullethead parrotfish
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Tetraodontiformes Family: Scaridae Genus: Chlorurus Species: sordidus  
Scientific name: Chlorurus sordidus
Common name: Bullethead parrotfish
Hawaiian name: Uhu

Bullethead parrotfish are the most abundant parrotfish on Turtle Reef and range across the entire Indo-Pacific from the Red Sea and East Africa eastward. Juveniles begin life with horizontal black and white stripes, three of each, and tend to stick together in small groups as they forage for algae. As they develop and grow they lose their stripes and gain a white tail with a central black spot. At this stage they begin to mix with large schools of the adult intermediate phase females that are distinguished by three pairs of white spots on their flanks and lose the white tail. The Terminal Phase, a male, is solitary and patrols his territory, within which the intermediates live, and fiercely defend it against other males.

Parrotfish as a group have a complex reproductive strategy. Most species are sequential hermaphrodites, meaning they begin life as females and a small number may finally end up as male. But to complicate matters there are some species that also have juveniles that are males looking like females that may mature to have a different reproductive strategy to the terminal male.

Parrotfish are very important grazers of algae on the reef. On an undisturbed reef they keep algal growth in check. Equipped with fused teeth they scrape the algae from the rocks ingesting large quantities of coral rock that passes through their system. In the course of a year a single large parrotfish may contribute as much as 5000 pounds of coral sand to the reef. They are, therefore, particularly critical members of the reef community because supply vital habitat for numerous species.

[Back to Reef Species Guide]