Fun Bumphead Parrotfish Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 08, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Discover interesting Bumphead parrotfish facts.

In this article, we will be talking and learning about one of the most fascinating creatures that inhabit our oceans, the Bumphead parrotfish. The name comes from the fact that they use their large foreheads to ram into corals and feed on algae and live coral.

They have quite a few other names such as Bumpheads, Humphead parrotfish, giant parrotfish, buffalo parrotfish, and also double-headed parrotfish.

You can always come across this keystone species while you scuba dive.

It maintains the marine ecosystem by keeping a check on algae growth on coral reefs since algae is a big part of the Bumphead's diet. Found in small aggregations, these fish are often victims of overfishing which has caused their population to dwindle.

Read on to the very end of this article to learn about the wonders of the Bumphead parrotfish fish. If you enjoy reading this article, make sure you check out American shad and white tuna.

Bumphead Parrotfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a bumphead parrotfish?

The bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) is the largest species of parrotfish.

What class of animal do a bumphead parrotfish belong to?

Bumpheads, with the scientific name Bolbometopon muricatum, belong to the class Actinopterygii. Furthermore, bumpheads belong to the family Scaridae and genus Bolbometopon.

How many bumphead parrotfish are there in the world?

Bumpheads (Bolbometopon muricatum) are listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature  Red List of threatened species. The exact number is not known, but the trends suggest that their population is decreasing.

Where does a bumphead parrotfish live?

The bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) inhabit oceans. More specifically, bumphead parrotfish live close to coral reefs. They cover regions in both the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. To the south, they are commonly spotted along the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, and they are also found in the Red Sea.

What is a bumphead parrotfish's habitat?

While adult humphead parrotfish can be found in deeper waters, juveniles are found in shallower waters with seagrass beds. Humphead parrotfish may linger around in dark sea caves or wreckage of sunk ships.

Who do bumphead parrotfish live with?

Humphead parrotfish live in small schools, but at times this group may exceed 75 individual fish in ideal habitat regions of clear lagoon reefs.

How long do bumphead parrotfish live?

A bumphead's life span is up to 40 years. Bumpheads grow slowly and take about three years to mature and grow slowly.

How do they reproduce?

There is courting behavior observed in the bumphead parrotfish during the early mornings of the lunar cycle. Green humphead parrotfish mate in a large, tightly packed group of about 100 fish.

Males release sperm, and females release the eggs in open water. The fertilized eggs lead to the development of larvae which is at the mercy of the currents. It takes about three years of feeding in shallow lagoons for juveniles to join the adults in deeper waters.

Interestingly, most humphead parrotfish are born female. Males, too, have hermaphroditic features. When the dominant male that leads the group dies or leaves, one of these hermaphroditic females will go through physiological changes to become a male and take over as the dominant fish.

What is their conservation status?

The humphead parrotfish is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) Red List. The primary reason for their decreasing rate is overfishing.

Scuba-assisted spearfishing, as well as commercial fishing, almost brought the species to extinction in Fiji. The fact that these fish take a while to mature and reproduce also makes it difficult to revive their population with ease.

Many island nations and island communities are enforcing laws to make sure that these fish continue to thrive in our oceans. Unfortunately, It hasn't yet been possible to go to the length of outright banning their hunting.

Bumphead Parrotfish Fun Facts

What do bumphead parrotfish look like?

These fish are large in both size and mass. As the name suggests, the most distinguishing feature of this fish is its bulbous foreheads. Their teeth are exposed and look like a beak. Their scales are colored dull gray and green. A male and female are indistinguishable from each other.

How cute are they?

Whether you would call them cute is really up to you. One may find their bulbous heads intimidating, others may find exactly that feature endearing. Yet, their exposed teeth plates do not give them the most pleasant appearance.

How do they communicate?

It is not yet known the extent to which these fish interact with each other. Scientists are observing their behavior in many coral reefs to understand how they communicate.

How big are bumphead parrotfish?

The green humphead parrotfish is the biggest species of parrotfish, both concerning mass and length. Bumpheads may be as long as 4.2 ft (1.28 m) in length and may weigh about 100 lb (45.3 kg). Blue whales are 25 times bigger than this species.

How fast can a bumphead parrotfish swim?

The green humphead parrotfish uses its pectoral fins to swim. There is no reliable observation of how fast they can swim.

How much does a bumphead parrotfish weigh?

The green humphead parrotfish is the heaviest species of parrotfish, weighing in at about 100 lb (45.2 kg)

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no unique names given to the male and female humphead parrotfish. Notably, almost all fish of this species start as female and change their sex if the dominant 'supermale' dies or leaves.

What would you call a baby bumphead parrotfish?

There is no separate name for baby bumpheads. Although you can refer to them as larvae right after bumpheads hatch and as they develop into adults, you may call them juvenile humphead parrotfish.

What do they eat?

Green humphead parrotfish feed on algae that grows on the coral. Bumpheads use their pharyngeal teeth to grind their food, that is, algae and coral, into a paste.

This fish digests the algae, and the rest of the coral is converted into tons of sand-like sediment, passed out as poop. It is this sediment that makes up part of the white sand on the beaches you so love to walk on and feel on your feet.

Are they dangerous?

This fish is not particularly dangerous, although they do ram their head hard into coral reefs. They also have exposed teeth that may look threatening. Despite that, they do not pose any serious threat to humans or any other fish in general too. Parrotfish can be eaten and is a delicacy in Jamaica.

Would they make a good pet?

The green humphead parrotfish is a creature that roams freely in the oceans feeding on reefs. It is hard and perhaps cruel to keep them as pets. You may be able to spot bumpheads in the wild if you get a chance to visit the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Yaeyama Island, or an aquatic life zoo.

Did you know...

The sediment that comes from the poop (excreta, to be more scientifically appropriate) of the parrotfish makes up a significant percentage of the white sand that is found on any white sand beach around the world.

This is because the parrotfish, like the bumpheads, feed on a few tons of coral reef carbonate every year which they are unable to digest.

Why are parrotfish important?

Bumpheads and parrotfish, in general, play a crucial role in the marine ecosystem. Their diet consists of large volumes of algae and live coral, so they eat the reefs which have algae on them.

This dietary choice helps coral reefs stay healthy and clean. By feeding on the algae that compete with the coral, they can help the reefs thrive.

It must be noted that coral which has algae growth is eaten by parrotfish. This is not too much of a threat to the coral's health because had the algae growth been left unchecked, it would've been bad for the coral reef and consequently sea and marine life at large.

What is a unique adaptation that the parrotfish uses while sleeping to keep predators away?

Many species of parrotfish cover themselves in a mucus cocoon to hide from their predators as they are sleeping in coral caves. This cocoon helps them hide from predators both visually and by masking their scent.

These predators may not be as big and scary as sharks but they are parasites that suck the blood of parrotfish. You could say these fish species make their blankets of sorts while sleeping.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fishes including white cloud mountain minnow, or requiem shark.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable fish coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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