Redtail Parrotfish

Redtail Parrotfish, Sparisoma chrysopterum

The Redtail Parrotfish, Sparisoma chrysopterum, whose common Spanish name is loro verde, is a species in the Parrotfish or Scaridae Family, known collectively as loros and pericos in Mexico. Globally, there are fifteen species in the genus Sparisoma, six of which are found in Mexican waters, all in the Atlantic.

The Redtail Parrotfish have elongated robust bodies and are more aerodynamic than most other Parrotfish. Females in the initial phase (IP) have a tan background color with mottled patterns and can quickly change colors to match their surroundings. Their anal, dorsal, and pelvic fins are an orange-red color. They have a dark blotch at the base of their pectoral fin and a light saddle-shaped area on top of the base of their caudal fin. A key to identification is the crescent-shaped wide dark red band on the base of their crescent-shaped caudal fin. Males in the terminal phase (TP) are similar in color but with a turquoise belly. They do not have traditional parrot-like teeth. Their anal fin has 3 spines and 9 rays and their dorsal fin has 9 spines and 10 rays. Their body is covered with large scales.

The Redtail Parrotfish are found in coral reef and seagrass environments at depths up to 65 feet. Juveniles are found within seagrass beds where they are well camouflaged against the sea floor. They reach a maximum length of 46 cm (18 inches) and are common at 25 cm (10 inches). They forage during the day, feeding on benthic algae, corals, and seagrass. They are hermaphrodites and live in harems with a dominant male. They are not territorial and live in harmony with other species. The Redtail Parrotfish are a rare, poorly studied species, and very limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.

The Redtail Parrotfish are widespread in the western Atlantic and throughout the Caribbean Sea. In Mexican waters they are limited to waters of the Gulf of Mexico adjacent to the Yucatan.

The Redtail Parrotfish cannot easily be confused with any other species due to the wide red band on its tail.

The Redtail Parrotfish are considered to be an important food fish throughout the Caribbean. They are normally caught by commercial fishermen utilizing gill nets, pots, and traps. Current population assessments are indicative that the populations are stable and therefore not subject to overfishing.

Redtail Parrotfish, Sparisoma chrysopterum, initial Phase (IP) female. Fish caught from coastal waters off  Key West, Florida, March. Length: 24 cm (9.4 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Dean Kimberly, Atlanta, GA.  Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Redtail Parrotfish, Sparisoma chrysopterum, initial Phase (IP) female. Fish caught from coastal waters off  Key West, Florida, August 2014. Length: 26 cm (10 inches). Catch, photo and identification  courtesy of Dean Kimberly, Atlanta, GA.

Redtail Parrotfish, Sparisoma chrysopterum, initial phase (IP), female. Fish caught off the Anglins Pier, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida, March 2014. Length: 21.5 cm (8.5 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Redtail Parrotfish, Sparisoma chrysopterum, terminal phase (TP) male. Fish caught off the Anglins Pier, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida, March 2014. Length: 24 cm (9.5 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.