Fun Stoplight Parrotfish Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Stoplight Parrotfish Facts For Kids

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Stoplight parrotfish (scientific name, Sparisoma viride) is a fish found in the western Atlantic ocean's tropical clear waters. It ranges from Bermuda to Brazil, including Florida, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. The favored habitat of the stoplight parrotfish is the coral reef. It relies on the corals like the staghorn coral, boulder star coral, and elkhorn coral for shelter and food. It is often seen grazing among the algal coral reef. The most novel feature of the stoplight parrotfish is its sexual dichromatism. The female fish can change their sex into males to aid low population densities. The males who stay males are called primary males and the female fish who change into males are known as secondary males. Primary males and females remain a reddish-brown color whereas the secondary males turn into a beautiful emerald green color. The stoplight parrotfish has predators like jacks, snappers, and moray eels. It is also a fairly popular eating fish. As per its IUCN status, the stoplight parrotfish is a species of Least Concern.

For more relatable content, check out these rainbow cichlid facts and black phantom tetra facts for kids.

Fun Stoplight Parrotfish Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Dead and live coral, detritus, branched corals, elkhorn corals, boulder star corals, finger corals

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

50-150 eggs

How much do they weigh?

Up to 3.5 lb (1.6 kg)

How long are they?

10-23.6 in (25.4-60 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Reddish-brown, pale red, black, white, gray, green, orange, yellow

Skin Type

Large scales

What were their main threats?

Humans, Snappers, Moray Eels, Jacks, Bar Jacks, Northern Red Snappers, Dog Snappers

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Coral Reefs, Seagrass Beds, Clear Waters


Gulf Of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, Florida, Tropical Western Atlantic Ocean, Brazil To Bermuda









Stoplight Parrotfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a stoplight parrotfish?

The stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) is a fish.

What class of animal does a stoplight parrotfish belong to?

The stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) belongs to the Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish) class of animals.

How many stoplight parrotfish are there in the world?

It is unclear how many stoplight parrotfishes are there in the world since these reef fish are very abundant within their habitat range.

Where does a stoplight parrotfish live?

The stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) calls the tropical waters of the western Atlantic ocean their home. These reef fish range from coastal habitats in Brazil to Bermuda and this includes places like Florida, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

What is a stoplight parrotfish's habitat?

Stoplight parrotfish chiefly inhabit packed coral reefs for the protection, shelter, and nutrition they provide. Branched finger corals that are 0.4-0.8 in (1-2 cm) wide are particularly ideal for them. Juveniles of the stoplight parrotfish are also seen in seagrass beds. Adults are more likely to be seen over reefs bases or slopes in shallow waters. Clear waters are preferred by stoplight parrotfish and they live at depths of 9.8-164 ft (3-50 m). The density of the population seen in offshore coral reefs is greater than that in the inshore reefs, mainly because of increased fishing activities near the shore. The various types of corals found in a stoplight parrotfish habitat are staghorn corals, boulder star corals, and elkhorn corals.

Who do stoplight parrotfish live with?

Stoplight parrotfish mostly live alone but may also be seen in small groups. They are observed getting aggressive with others of their own species.

How long does a stoplight parrotfish live?

The average lifespan of stoplight parrotfish is seven to nine years. Although, many individuals have been found to live for 15-20 years with the maximum known age of a fish being 30 years. The conservative average of seven to nine years is due to reef degradation and commercial fishing.

How do they reproduce?

Stoplight parrotfish reproduce by spawning and laying eggs. They can spawn all throughout the year in reefs in deep waters. There are primary and secondary males. Primary males form a group to mate with a single female whereas secondary males mate with individuals female fish. Secondary males are also known to keep and defend harems of three to seven female fish and they mate with them every day. Sexual maturity is attained by stoplight parrotfish when they are four years old.

An astounding feature about stoplight parrotfish is that they exhibit sexual dichromatism. This means that the female fish can change sex and become secondary males. Before undergoing a sex change, the fish reproduce as females. Breeding is most common in the summer months. Eggs are released in deep areas where they are not disturbed by the water current so much. After juveniles hatch, they return to shallow areas of the reef. After the eggs are deposited, not much parental care is displayed by the stoplight parrotfish.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the stoplight parrotfish species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature is Least Concern.

Stoplight Parrotfish Fun Facts

What do stoplight parrotfish look like?

Stoplight parrotfish are known to have beaklike and strong jaws. The fused teeth form these jaws wherein the top teeth encompass the bottom teeth. Stoplight parrotfish also have pharyngeal, plate-like teeth. They have nine soft anal rays, three anal spines, ten soft dorsal rays, and nine dorsal spines.

The colors of the stoplight parrotfish vary with sex and age. The young fish have black scales and overall reddish-brown bodies. They also have white spots on their sides in the form of three rows. The caudal fin also has a vertical white bar. Juveniles have a pale red belly. Primary males and adult females keep this reddish-brown color. They are mottled white but do not possess distinct three rows of white spots or the white bar. Also, their scales have gray outlines with the red belly still present.

Secondary males (ones that were born as female fish but change to males) change colors and become green and have orange bands on their heads. Behind and above the gill openings and at the caudal fin base are yellow spots. At the end of the red-brown caudal fin, there is an orange-yellow spot in the shape of a sickle.

The Stoplight Parrotfish

How cute are they?

Stoplight parrotfish are very beautiful fish. They have gorgeous red and emerald green colors with large scales. Also, they have whimsical, funny expressions because of their fused teeth.

How do they communicate?

Like most other species of fish, stoplight parrotfish have a lateral line that can detect water vibrations. They also have an inner ear that is well developed and their two nares in the head have olfactory receptors for smell detection.

How big is a stoplight parrotfish?

Stoplight parrotfish are 10-23.6 in (25.4-60 cm) long which makes them four to eight times smaller than nurse sharks. The stoplight parrotfish size is also 6-16 times bigger than neon tetras.

How fast can a stoplight parrotfish swim?

Being parrotfish, the stoplight parrotfish species can probably swim at speeds of 1.6-2.1 mph (2.6-3.4 kph). They can also go into speedy, quick bursts using their caudal fins, and they use the pectoral fins to move in a vertical direction.

How much does a stoplight parrotfish weigh?

A stoplight parrotfish can weigh up to 3.5 lb (1.6 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males and females of the stoplight parrotfish species do not have specific names. It is important to make the distinction between primary and secondary males in this species.

What would you call a baby stoplight parrotfish?

A baby stoplight parrotfish would be called a fry or a juvenile.

What do they eat?

Stoplight parrotfish eat dead and live corals, detritus, branched coral, elkhorn coral, boulder star coral, and finger coral. They are more likely to feed on dead corals than live ones.

They themselves are known to fall prey to humans, jacks, snappers, moray eels, bar jacks, northern red snappers, and dog snappers which is the major danger they face.

Are they aggressive?

Stoplight parrotfish are only aggressive with others of their own species. They are not a danger to humans in the winter since they feed on corals mostly.

Spotlight parrotfish may be inadvertently dangerous to humans since it is a common eating fish. They may eat algae that contain toxins. When these contaminated fish are eaten by humans, they may get ciguatera poisoning. Exposure to this is not very fatal, but diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are involved. There may also be some cardiovascular problems like bradycardia and hypotension as well as neurological issues like muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and tingling and numbness in the extremities.

Would they make a good pet?

Stoplight parrotfish are not extremely popular as pets because of the specific care they need. Since they are so vibrantly colored, they are put on display by some public aquariums and some personal ones as well. The stoplight parrotfish care has to be on an expert level. They are peaceful and mild-mannered but are not reef safe and need plenty of roaming space in a tank size of at least 1,000 gal (4,546 L). They can be given a herbivorous diet but they are very active feeders. The tank should also have live rocks for shelter and grazing. They also accept invertebrates and smaller fish as food.

Also, since they require more space and are naturally wild and free-roaming, they do not do as well in captivity.

Did you know...

Stoplight parrotfish are huge contributors to the coral reef community as they feed on corals and regulate them. This is important for the human consumption of other reef fish and organisms.

The family Scaridae consists of about 90 parrotfish species, mostly found in the Indo-Pacific.

It is possible that yellowtail snappers eat stoplight parrotfish since they both share the geographic range and snappers are known predators of stoplight parrotfish.

Naming the stoplight parrotfish

The 'stoplight' in the name comes from the red and green coloring of the fish, as in the color of the lights in a traffic signal. The terminal phase or secondary males also have a yellow spot near one of their pectoral fins. The 'parrotfish' comes from their fused teeth which resemble the beak of a parrot.

Are stoplight parrotfish grazers?

Yes, stoplight parrotfish are grazers, habitually feeding on algae and dead corals. They have a high grazing rate.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these  pumpkinseed sunfish fun facts and fluke fish fun facts for kids pages.

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

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