The CARE designation is a designation used by Blue Zoo Aquatics to indicate that we have elected to self-regulate the sale of this animal either because of the species' status in the wild or its general unsuitability for the majority of home aquaria. Because Blue Zoo Aquatics commonly works with public aquaria, researchers and advanced aquarists, we do offer this species for sale, but we request you contact us first to discuss the animal’s husbandry requirements.
If you are interested in this species, please contact Director of Marine Ornamental Research Mark Martin.
The reason parrotfishes often don’t survive in the aquarium has to do with their diet, their adult size and their high levels of stress, which, more often than not, leads to disease.
The only parrotfishes that can be recommended for home aquarium use are the queen parrotfish (Scarus vetula), the spotlight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) and the bicolor parrotfish (Cetoscarus bicolor). Even these three species are only recommended for public aquaria, scientists and expert aquarists who can provide a mature system of at least 150 gallons and are prepared to meet the fish’s dietary needs.
“If you really like the look of a parrotfish,” Mark Martin, director of marine ornamental research at Blue Zoo Aquatics, suggests, “take a closer look at their cousins—the wrasses, many of which do make excellent aquarium species and are much better suited for aquarium use.”
In a typical reef aquarium, the aquarist does not often keep dead coral skeletons as a matter of practice, and so the parrotfish will turn to living coral, which it will not differentiate from the dead, algae-laden coral skeletons it is used to consuming. When the parrotfish eats the living coral, it is not actually eating the coral itself. Instead it is processing and utilizing the zooxanthellae in the tissue of the coral as food energy.
As a result of this feeding behavior, most reef aquarists who keep expensive and difficult to find corals do not keep parrotfishes in their reef tanks. In the fish only system, however, it is quite difficult to keep up with the fish’s dietary needs.
Please read "Queen of the Green", which was published in Blue Zoo News about the role of parrotfishes as primary grazers on degraded coral reefs.
For more information, please see the interview Blue Zoo News conducted with Dr. Peter Mumby in May 2008 concerning his research on parrotfishes and the resilience of Caribbean coral reefs. In the interview, Dr. Mumby makes a case for self-regulation of this important, albeit little understood, herbivorous fish.