Sparisoma cretense

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Sparisoma cretense
Rhodes Aquarium - Sparisoma cretense.jpg
Sparisoma cretense.jpg
adult male (above),
adult female (below)
Scientific classification
S. cretense
Binomial name
Sparisoma cretense

The Mediterranean parrotfish (Sparisoma cretense) is a species of parrotfish found at depths up to 50 m (160 ft) along rocky shores in the Mediterranean and the eastern Atlantic, from Portugal south to Senegal.[1][2][3] It is generally common, but uncommon or rare (locally even absent) in the northwestern Mediterranean and in the Adriatic Sea.[1][4] It prefers relatively warm temperatures and there is an ongoing northward range expansion, probably because of global warming.[5][6][7] The primary adult habitat is rocky reefs, especially in areas with macroalgae, but they may visit adjacent seagrass patches. Juveniles also occur more widely in the latter habitat.[8][9]

In parts of its range it is a commercially important food fish.[10] Although some populations have been affected by fishing pressure,[11] it is not considered threatened.[1] It has been studied in detail in parts of its range, including the Azores.[12][13]


Several males and females on sale at a fish market in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

The Mediterranean parrotfish feeds primarily on epilithic and coralline algae, but may also take epiphytic algae (growing on seagrass) and small invertebrates.[9][14] The jaws and dentition are specially adapted to this feeding.[15][16]

It primarily breeds during the summer, from July to September,[2] but breeding can occur as early as May and late as December.[8] It is a diurnal fish, but spawning is around dawn or dusk and can occur in pairs or groups.[12][17] The pelagic eggs hatch into free-swimming larvae. The pelagic stage for the eggs and larvae is 50–60 days in Sparisoma parrotfish, after which they settle on rocky reefs and among seagrass.[18]



As its relatives, this parrotfish starts as female and then changes to male (known as the terminal phase). However, unlike most of its relatives, it is a secondary gonochorist. This means that some females do not change sex (they remain females throughout their lives), the ones that do change from female to male do it while still immature (reproductively functioning females do not change to males) and there are no males with female-like colours (known as initial phase males in other parrotfish).[12][17][19]

Juveniles less than 7 cm (3 in) long are mottled with a yellowish head and have undifferentiated gonads (not male or female). Immatures that are 7–12 cm (3–5 in) long are mottled brownish and have immature female gonads (ovaries).[17] If stressed, they adopt a pattern with broad horizontal white stripes.[5] At larger sizes, the adult colours appear and the male or female gonads are mature.[17] The adult females are red with a yellow-edged greyish saddle shape on the back and a yellow spot at the base of the tail. The males are overall greyish with paler underparts and no distinctive markings, although typically with blackish bars on the throat and opercular.[17][20][21] Adults reach a maximum length of about 52 cm (20 in),[22] but most are 15–30 cm (6–12 in) long.[4][21] There is an almost complete overlap in the sizes of the adult females and adult males, although the former are on average smaller than the latter.[12][22]


  1. ^ a b c d Pollard, D., Yokes, B., Francour, P., Rocha, L.A., Choat, J.H., Clements, K.D., Russell, B., Myers, R., Lazuardi, M.E., Muljadi, A., Pardede, S. & Rahardjo, P. (2012). "Sparisoma cretense". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2018.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 9 March 2018.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2018). "Sparisoma cretense" in FishBase. March 2018 version.
  3. ^ Otero & Galeote (1996). Présence de Sparisoma cretense (L.) À Cadix (Sud-Quest de la Péninsule Ibérique). Cybium 20(4): 405-408.
  4. ^ a b Dulcic & Pallaoro (2001). Some new data on Xyrichthys novacula (Linnaeus, 1758) and Sparisoma (Euscarus) cretense (Linnaeus, 1758) from the eastern Adriatic. Annales 1: 35-42.
  5. ^ a b Astruch, Bonhomme, Goujard, Rouanet, Boudouresque, Harmelin & Harmelin-Vivien (2016). Provence and Mediterranean warning: The parrotfish Sparisoma cretense is coming. Rapp. Comm. int. Mer Médit. 41: 362.
  6. ^ Yapici, Filiz & Bilge (2016). Northwards range expansion of Sparisoma cretense (Linnaeus, 1758) in the Turkish Aegean Sea. Journal of Aquaculture Engineering and Fisheries Research 2(4): 201–207. doi:10.3153/JAEFR16022
  7. ^ Bianchi, Caroli, Guidetti & Morri (2018). Seawater warming at the northern reach for southern species: Gulf of Genoa, NW Mediterranean. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 98(Special Issue 1): 1–2. doi:10.1017/S0025315417000819
  8. ^ a b Espino, González, Haroun & Tuya (2015). Abundance and biomass of the parrotfish Sparisoma cretense in seagrass meadows: temporal and spatial differences between seagrass interiors and seagrass adjacent to reefs. Environ Biol Fish 98: 121–133. doi:10.1007/s10641-014-0241-z
  9. ^ a b Kalogirou, Corsini-Foka, Sioulas, Wennhage & Pihl (2010). Diversity, structure and function of fish assemblages associated with Posidonia oceanica beds in an area of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the role of non-indigenous species. J Fish Biol. 77(10): 2338-2357. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2010.02817.x
  10. ^ Cardigos, F. (2001). Vejas. Revista Mundo Submerso 58(V): 48-51.
  11. ^ Tuyaa, Ortega-Borgesa, Sanchez-Jerezb & Haroun (2006). Effect of fishing pressure on the spatio-temporal variability of the parrotfish, Sparisoma cretense (Pisces: Scaridae), across the Canarian Archipelago (eastern Atlantic). Fisheries Research 77(1): 24-33. doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2005.07.017
  12. ^ a b c d Afonsoa, Moratoa & Santos (2008). Spatial patterns in reproductive traits of the temperate parrotfish Sparisoma cretense. Fisheries Research 90(1-3): 92-99. doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2007.09.029
  13. ^ Projecto BARCA (Project Boat) - A project at Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas da Universidade dos Açores (Department of Oceanography and Fishery) at the University of the Azores (Universidade dos Açores) and studies of traditional fisheries.
  14. ^ Papoutsoglou & Lyndon (2003). Distribution of α-amylase along the alimentary tract of two Mediterranean fish species, the parrotfish Sparisoma cretense L. and the stargazer, Uranoscopus scaber L.. Mediterranean Marine Science 4(2): 115-124. doi:10.12681/mms.234
  15. ^ Monod, Hureau & Bullock (1994). Ostéologie céphalique de deux poissons perroquets (Scaridae: Teleostei). Cybium 18(2): 135-168.
  16. ^ Bullock, & Monod (1997). Myologie céphalique de deux poissons perroquets (Teleostei: Scaridae). Cybium 21(2): 173-199.
  17. ^ a b c d e de Girolamo, Scaggiante & Rasotto (1999). Social organization and sexual pattern in the Mediterranean parrotfish Sparisoma cretense (Teleostei: Scaridae). Marine Biology 135(2): 353-360. doi:10.1007/s002270050634
  18. ^ Domingues, Alexandrou, Almada, Robertson, Brito, Santos & Bernardi (2008). Tropical fishes in a temperate sea: evolution of the wrasse Thalassoma pavo and the parrotfish Sparisoma cretensein the Mediterranean and the adjacent Macaronesian and Cape Verde Archipelagos. Mar Biol 154: 465–474. doi:10.1007/s00227-008-0941-z
  19. ^ Sadovy & Shapiro (1987). Criteria for the diagnosis of hermaphroditism in fishes. Copeia 1987(1): 136–156. doi:10.2307/1446046
  20. ^ Debelius, H. (1997). Mediterranean and Atlantic Fish Guide: From Spain to Turkey - From Norway to South Africa, p. 221. ConchBooks. ISBN 978-3925919541.
  21. ^ a b Sparisoma cretense. Observadores del Mar, Mediterranean Fishes. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  22. ^ a b Morato, T., P. Afonso, P. Lourinho, J.P. Barreiros, R.S. Santos & R.D.M. Nash 2001. Length-weight relationships for 21 coastal fish species of the Azores, north-eastern Atlantic. Fisheries Research, 50: 297-302. doi:10.1016/S0165-7836(00)00215-0

Further reading[edit]

  • Projecto CLIPE – Efeitos climáticos na ecologia de peixes litorais [Climate effect on the ecology of coastal fishes].

External links[edit]