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Can You Eat Parrotfish?

Called the Rainbows of the Sea, pretty prrotfish are exceptional and unique, with numerous strange and extraordinary characteristics.

Can you eat parrotfish, though? You can, but please don’t. Read on to find out why.

Green-blotched Parrotfish

Do People Eat Parrotfish?

What Do They Look Like?

There are 95 different species of parrotfish in the Scaridae family. They get the name from their unique parrot-like beaks, which they use to scrape algae from rocks when feeding.

colorful parrotfish swimming

The beautiful colors they display in blues or greens, with hues of yellow, purple, pink, and red, help to conceal them and identify their own species in their crowded and colorful environment.

Parrotfish (Parrot Fish) from the Florida Keys

Parrotfish can live for up to seven years and range from less than one to four feet in length. They also have the incredible ability to change their sex throughout their lifetime.

Where Do They Live?

Parrotfish live in shallow seas around tropical and subtropical reefs, seagrass beds, and rocky coastlines in all the oceans around the world.

tropical island where parrotfish live

Parrotfish are vital for the ecosystem as they eat algae off coral reefs, which help the coral to flourish and stay healthy.

Colorful Parrot Fish

What Does It Taste Like?

Parrotfish are not really eaten in the United States. On tropical islands across the globe, they are extremely popular.

The parrotfish diet of algae gives the tender white meat a very delightful, unique, and sweet shellfish flavor.

Traditional BBQ parrotfish with mango salsa

Parrotfish taste delicious doesn’t matter if they are fried, grilled, baked, or steamed. When you purchase parrotfish, please make sure that it was responsibly sourced.

Can You Eat It Raw?

Raw parrotfish is considered a delicacy in certain parts of the world. It is a Polynesian tradition to eat parrotfish raw.

Historically, it was only allowed to be eaten by the king.

Is It Healthy?

Like all fish, parrotfish are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium.

Colorful parrotfish are sold in a popular marketplace

To keep your bones, heart, and brain healthy, it’s recommended to eat fish twice a week.

These psychedelic beauties play a pivotal role in keeping coral reefs healthy.

With their enormous contribution to the environment, however, it is crucial that we take the utmost care to keep them safe and protected.

How Big Are the Largest Parrotfish?

The largest parrotfish is the green humphead parrotfish that thrives in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

This parrotfish can reach 4 feet 11 inches with a weight of 165 pounds, and the males are usually larger than the females.

Why Are They So Amazing?

The parrotfish is a wonderous and astounding creature that has fascinated ichthyologists for centuries.

Parrot fish looking at camera closeup

One of the most fascinating facts about parrotfish is that they blow mucus bubbles from their mouths to create a protective blanket around themselves when they sleep.

This makes it difficult for nocturnal predators such as moray eels to spot them while they slumber.

Parrotfish have the toughest teeth in the world: roughly 1000 teeth in 15 rows are cemented together to form the beak.

They have extra teeth down their throats to help them break down the coral they chew on into white sand.

This controls the algae population and creates surfaces for baby coral to grow and thrive.

Shoal of colorful tropical fish, Stoplight parrotfish

It is estimated that one parrotfish can poop out over 1000 pounds of sand a year! (And now you know why tropical beaches are so white and beautiful.)

Why Must Parrotfish Be Protected?

Parrotfish eat invasive algae that can quickly overgrow a reef and kill the coral. They create the perfect environment for young coral to grow.

Coral reefs support an abundance of underwater life and protect coastlines from storms and erosion.

Final Thoughts

Coral reefs also provide over half a billion people with food and income worldwide.

Parrotfish do not only protect the coral reefs but also contribute to the economic wellbeing of coastal communities that depend on the reefs for their survival.

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