Scarus psittacus (Forsskål 1775)
Scarus psittacus (Forsskål 1775)
Genus: , ,

Scientific Name: Scarus psittacus

English Name: Common parrotfish

Creole Name:

French Name: Perroquet commun

IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (LC)


Dorsal spines: 9; Dorsal rays: 10; Anal spines: 3; Anal rays: 9

Small to small-medium sized parrotfish with moderately full body. 2 rows of cheek scales 1(5-7), 2(4-7). Lips cover three-fourths to all of dental plates. 
0-2 canine teeth posteriorly on side of upper and lower dental plates (large terminal males usually with 2 upper and 1 lower tooth, Initial phase usually 
with 1 upper and 0 lower teeth). Dental plates white in both phases. Caudal fin of Initial phase slightly emarginate and Terminal phase deeply emarginate.

Initial phase: body brown to reddish brown, shading to light orange-red on thorax. Iris orange-brown to brown. Dorsal fin brown to orangish brown with a 
large diffuse dark brown spot on first interspinous membrane, and a narrow pale margin. Anal fin orangish brown to brown with a narrow pale margin. 
Caudal fin brown with a narrow whitish distal margin. Pectoral fins with brown rays, pale membranes, and a small triangular blackish spot at upper base. 
Pelvic fins orange-red.

Terminal Phase: Colour is variable and pattern complex. Prominent features are the green and pink stripes on the belly and the yellow colouration on the 
caudal peduncle and dorsally. A detailed description, derived from Randall & Bruce (1983) is given below:

Detailed description Terminal phase: scales of body about half green and half pink, the green arranged in 4 or 5 longitudinal series of spots on side of 
caudal peduncle and as 3 stripes on abdomen. There may be yellow along the back, especially dorsally on caudal peduncle; head above level of lower edge 
of eye greenish, the nape often mixed with orangish, the snout often lavender-blue; lower part of head light orange-red to salmon-pink; a blue band on 
upper lip extending across snout, along lower edge of orbit, and passing a short distance posterior to orbit. 2 green bands extending dorsoposteriorly 
from orbit, one from centre and one from upper edge. A submarginal green band usually present on operculum at level of pectoral base. Lower lip and chin 
with 2 transverse blue bands, and ventral part of head with a longitudinal blue-green streak. Iris yellow to orange, the upper edge green. Dorsal and 
anal fins light orange to pink with a blue margin and a blue band at base, the dorsal (and sometimes the anal) with a median longitudinal series of faint 
green spots which may be partially or completely joined to form a diffuse stripe. caudal fin light orange (in life the lobes lavender-pink), with blue 
upper and lower and posterior borders, lobes suffused with lavender-pink and a vertical series of blue spots in centre of fin with a diagonal band of 
blue joining the uppermost blue spot to posterior margin and another connecting lowermost spot to margin. Pectoral fins with blue upper and lower rays 
linked by blue across base, the intervening rays orange, the extreme base of fin pink to orange with a dark spot dorsally. Pelvic fins blue, the second 
and third rays and adjacent membranes largely orange.


Maturity: Lm unknown. Range 11 – 14.8 cm. Max Length: 34 cm TL.

During a 2019-2020 survey of the parrotfish fishery (Nevill 2020) two terminal phase speciimens over 34 cm TL were recorded, the largest being 35 cm TL 
constitutiong a new record for this species.


Habitat and Ecology:

Inhabits reef flats and lagoon and seaward reefs (depth 2-30 m). Initial phase fish usually form small feeding schools. Graze on benthic algae. Oviparous, 
distinct pairing during breeding.

Fishery Status:

This species is not protected or subject to fishery regulations. It is caught in the trap fishery where it is a common and sometimes numerous component 
of the catch.


Randall & Bruce undertook much of their work on this species at Aldabra. Their 1983 paper includes the following remarks verbatim: “Most of the remaining 
specimens from which counts were made were from Aldabra. The largest initial phase (which may be male or female) measured 175 mm SL, 210 m TL, and weighed 
176 g. The largest terminal male was 220 mm SL, 274 mm TL, and weighed 395 g. Bruce discussed the unusually small size of mature females and terminal males 
of S. psittacus observed in sea grass beds at Aldabra. We examined the Aldabra material for sexual identities. Forty-eight initial-phase fish yielded 39 
females and 9 primary males; 28 terminal- phase specimens yielded 13 primary, and 15 secondary males. The junior author observed both group and pair 
spawning at Aldabra in the months of October, January, July and August (hence perhaps spawning is throughout the year). Group spawning took place at the 
mouths of Passe Femme and Passe du Bois at a time when a strong current was running out of these channels.



Bellwood, D.R. Scaridae, Parrotfishes, FAO
Choat, J.H. et al. (2012). Scarus psittacus. The IUCN Red List 2012: (31/03/19).
Froese, R. & D. Pauly. (Eds.) (2019). FishBase. (31/03/19).
Nevill, J.E.G. (2020). Assessment and Valuation of the Parrotfish Fishery to Support an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries. Project Report. 
Randall, J.E. & Bruce, R.W. (1983). The Parrotfishes of the Subfamily Scarinae of the Western Indian Ocean with Descriptions of Three New species. 
Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology. Number 47 March1983 ISSN: 0073-4381


Nevill, J.E.G. (2019). Scarus psittacus, Common parrotfish. Seychelles Seatizens. (updated 20/08/22).  

Upload your videos
Share this post

Comments (84)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Start typing and press Enter to search

Generic filters
Exact matches only
Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.