Loosetooth Parrotfish, Nicholsina denticulata
The Loosetooth Parrotfish, Nicholsina denticulata, whose common Spanish name is pococho beriquete, is a species in the Parrotfish or Scaridae Family, known collectively as loros and pericos in Mexico. Globally, there are only three species in the genus Nicholsina, two of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.
The Loosetooth Parrotfish have elongated robust bodies and are more aerodynamic than most other Parrotfish. The females and males of the initial phase (IP) have a drab brown coloration with mottled gray and reddish tones, which allows them to blend in with their surroundings. The terminal phase (TP) males are greenish brown with a red throat and a red dorsal fin. Their anal and pectoral fins are a deep red with black tips; their dorsal and pelvic fins are transparent red; their caudal fin is rounded; and their dorsal fin has a black spot near the front. The Loosetooth Parrotfish do not have traditional parrot-like teeth; instead their teeth are free rather than being fused to the beak and have flattened pointed tips. They lack canine teeth. Their caudal fin is blunt and their body is covered with large scales.
The Loosetooth Parrotfish are found in and around rocky coral reefs at depths up to 35 feet. They reach a maximum length of 32 cm (13 inches). They forage during the day, feeding on algae and corals. They are a rare, poorly studied species and very limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Loosetooth Parrotfish are found in all waters of the Pacific, however, they are not abundant and only found in isolated locations.
The Loosetooth Parrotfish can be easily confused with the exceedingly rare Stareye Parrotfish, Calotomus carolinus (square caudal fin with extended end rays).
The Loosetooth Parrotfish are not considered an important food fish due to their size. They are normally caught by commercial fishermen as a by-catch while utilizing nets.
Loosetooth Parrotfish, Nicholsina denticulata, terminal phase (TP), male. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, July 2009. Length: 24 cm (9.4 inches).
Loosetooth Parrotfish, Nicholsina denticulata, terminal phase (TP), male. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, April 2014. Length: 32 cm (13 inches). Identification courtesy by Dr. Robert N. Lea, Monterey, CA.