Parrotfish feeding preference


This video captures a terminal phase (TP) Stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) preferentially eating the Tall ecomorph of the coral Favia fragum. The video is shot on the edge of the reef habitat, where TP Sparisoma viride are common. There are 3 colonies of each ecomorph (Tall and Short) epoxied to the feeding array (= cinderblock). The Tall colonies are in the two center positions, and on the corner facing the camera. Notice how the fish “tastes” a Short ecomorph colony first, then heartily consumes all three Tall ecomorph colonies before moving on.

These results match those from a large-scale transplant experiment, where > 95% of the Tall ecomorphs were consumed and killed within three days. Sparisoma viride is the only Caribbean parrotfish capable of crushing coral colonies, with an excavating jaw morphology in the TP phase. The TP phases prefer well developed reef habitat, which provides the habitat complexity to defend territories for feeding and mating.