The Reef 5 category of the Big 5 competition includes Parrotfish, Job Fish, Tuskfish, Trout (up to 80cm), and Cod (up to 80cm but excluding malabar, estuary and potato cod). You can find the entire species list here. In this weeks 'Species Identification' blog, we will look at the beautiful, and sometimes cunning, Parrotfish.
What do Parrotfish look like?
Parrotfish are one of the esiest species to identify - simply by their characteristic beak, and often bright colours. But with over 80 different species, their colours and shapes can vary greatly!
Where can I find Parrotfish?
It is best to look for them on semi-shallow coral reefs, in tropical and subtropical oceans around the world.
How can I hunt Parrotfish?
Parrotfish are largely considered to be herbivores, so burlying to attract them won't work. It is best to look for them on semi-shallow coral reefs. They are notoriously flighty in certain locations and move quickly. However, on the more untouched coral reefs, such as in the coral sea, parrotfish are plentiful and quite easy to approach in the water. Try to spear the fish in the head. Parrotfish are very soft, and have a large soft gut cavity, so they can easily tear off once speared! They are also notorious for rubbing themselves on the reef to tear the spear free.
Are Parrotfish good eating?
Parrotfish are typically great eating with lovely, soft white flesh. It is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. In Polynesia, it is served raw and was once considered "royal food," only eaten by the king! Parrotfish are great eating, almost no matter how they are cooked - raw, fried, grilled, baked, or added to a curry.
When you spear a parrotfish, it is important to remember to gut the fish as soon as possible, preferable straight after being speared. The guts in the fish, if left, can make the fish fowl.
Any other general info about Parrotfish?
Parrotfish use their beak-like teeth to grind up coral and coraline algae, digesting it as sand - be careful not to put your fingers in their mouth! A single Parrotfish can produce up to 90kg of sand in a year! In fact, some scientists estimate that 30% of the sand you see on reefs is actuall Parrotfish poo! In this way, Parrotfish are very important to the reef biome as they prevent algae from killing corals - so be careful to limit the number of Parrotfish you take from an area. Almost all species of Parrotfish start as females, and change to males as they mature. In most species, the females are dull red, brown or grey, and the males are green or blue with bright yellow or pink patches.
Which species of Parrotfish are not included in the Reef 5 competition?