Yellowtail Parrotfish

Yellowtail Parrotfish, Sparisoma rubripinne

The Yellowtail Parrotfish, Sparisoma rubripinne, whose common Spanish name is loro coliamarillo, is a member of the Parrotfish or Scaridae Family, known collectively as loros or pericos in Mexico. The fish is also known as the Redfin Parrotfish. Globally, there are fifteen species in the genus Sparisoma, six of which are found in Mexican waters, all in the Atlantic.

The Yellowtail Parrotfish have elongated robust bodies that are somewhat compressed. Females in the initial phase (IP) are pale gray-brown and vary in color; their anal fin and pelvic fins have a red tint; their caudal base and their slightly concave caudal fin are yellow; their scales have dark edges; and they have a dark spot on their gill covers. Males in the terminal phase (TP) are overall gray-green with a dark blotch at the base of their pectoral fin; their concave caudal fin is a pale yellow crescent at the rear; and their eyes have a red iris. They have a blunt head with two white vertical lines under their chin. The area between their eyes is convex. Adults have 12 to 20 cirri on a flap on their front nostril. Their front teeth are fused into a beak with broad plates. They have one or two canines on the rear side of their top jaw. Their anal fin has three spines and nine rays and their dorsal fin is continuous with nine spines and ten rays. They have 17 gill rakers. Their lateral line is broken into two sections and their body is covered with large smooth scales.

The Yellowtail Parrotfish are found in and around coral reefs and adjacent seagrass and in algal bed environments at depths up to 100 feet. They reach a maximum length of 48 cm (19 inches). They forage during the day feeding on benthic algae and live corals. They are hermaphrodites and live in harems with a dominant male. At night they retire into self-made slimy sleeping bags for protection against predation. They have a lifespan of at least six years. They are a rare poorly studied species and very limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Yellowtail Parrotfish are found in all waters of the Atlantic but are exceedingly rare in the northwest portion of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Yellowtail Parrotfish is similar in shape to several other Parrotfish, however, its coloration allows it to be readily identified. The fish pictured below presents an identification challenge as it lacks the traditional yellow tail found in adult Yellowtail Parrotfish.

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

Yellowtail Parrotfish, Sparisoma rubripinne, juvenile transitioning to initial phase (IP), female. Fish caught off the Anglins Pier, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida, March 2015. Length: 25 cm (10 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.