Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory

Labridae: Scarinae

Labridae: Scarinae


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CAAB: 37386000

Subfamily Scarinae

Parrot Fishes, Parrotfishes

Compiler and date details

27 May 2017 - Dianne J. Bray, Douglass F. Hoese, Gerald R. Allen, Norbert J. Cross, Matthew M. Lockett & Connie J. Allen

23 April 2016 - Dianne J. Bray, Douglass F. Hoese, Gerald R. Allen, Norbert J. Cross & Connie J. Allen

Gerald R. Allen, Norbert J. Cross & Connie J. Allen


Scarines occur worldwide in tropical seas, typically inhabiting coral reefs, although several species are usually associated with weed or seagrass beds. The subfamily comprises 100 species in 10 genera (Eschmeyer & Fong 2012). The Australian fauna includes 32 species belonging to seven genera with an additional 9 species known from external territories (Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island).

The group has traditionally been treated as a separate family, the Scaridae. However, several studies (Bellwood 1994, Gomon 1997, Russell 1988, Westneat & Alfaro 2005 and Clements et al. 2004) have shown that the Labridae is composed of several groups or tribes and that the parrotfishes are more closely related to some labrids than others. Consequently we treat the group as a subfamily here.

Parrotfishes are robust fishes with large scales, a distinctive beak formed by fusion of dental plates and well-developed pharyngeal teeth used for crushing coral rock. They feed mainly on benthic algae and detritus that they scrape from dead coral rock. Parrotfishes are renowned for their sexual dimorphism. Females of most species are able to transform to the male sex. Juveniles, initial adult stage males and females, and terminal stage males may exhibit different colour patterns, with the terminal stage males usually having the brightest colours. Some species secrete a mucous cocoon that surrounds their body at night when they sleep. The maximum length is 1.2 m, but most scarines are under 50 cm.

The Australian parrotfishes have been reviewed comprehensively by Choat & Randall (1986), Bellwood & Choat (1989), Randall et al. (1990) and Bellwood (1994) and many of the Australian species are treated in Bellwood (2001). Many Australian species are treated in Allen & Erdmann (2012). Although Hutchins (2001) recorded Scarus scaber Valenciennes, 1840 from Western Australia, this species is restricted to the Indian Ocean and has not been recorded form Australia. S. scaber is very similar to S. dimidiatus and S. oviceps, which are found in Australian waters.


General References

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Bellwood, D.R. 1994. A phylogenetic study of the parrotfishes family Scaridae (Pisces: Labroidei), with a revision of genera. Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 20: 1-86 [Date published 14/Jul/1994]

Bellwood, D.R. 2001. Scaridae. pp. 3468-3492 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Bellwood, D.R. & Choat, J.H. 1989. A description of the juvenile phase colour patterns of 14 parrotfish species (family Scaridae) from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 41(1): 1-41

Choat, J.H. & Randall, J.E. 1986. A review of the parrotfishes (Family Scaridae) of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia with description of a new species. Records of the Australian Museum 38: 175-228

Clements, K.D., Alfaro, M.E., Fessler, J.L. & Westneat, M.W. 2004. Relationships of the temperate Australasian labrid fish tribe Odacini (Perciformes; Teleostei). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 575-587

Gomon, M.F. 1997. Relationships of fishes of the labrid tribe Hypsigenyini. Bulletin of Marine Science 60(3): 789-871 figs 1-39, 4 tables

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Checklist of the fishes of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 63: 9-50

Parenti, P. & Randall, J.E. 2000. An annotated checklist of the species of the labroid fish families Labridae and Scaridae. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute, Grahamstown 68: 1-97

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Russell, B.C. 1988. Revision of the labrid fish genus Pseudolabrus and allied genera. Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 9: 1-72

Westneat, M.W., Alfaro, M.E., Wainwright, P.C., Bellwood, D.R., Grubich, J.R., Fessler, J., Clements, K.D. & L. Smith. 2005. Local phylogenetic divergence and global evolutionary convergence of skull biomechanics in reef fishes of the family Labridae. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 272: 993–1000


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
27-Jul-2017 LABROIDEI 27-May-2017 MODIFIED Dr Dianne Bray (NMV) Dr Doug Hoese (AM) Dr Matthew Lockett (AM)
12-Feb-2010 (import)