The Stareye Parrotfish Calotomus carolinus is also known as the Christmas Parrotfish, Starry-eye Parrotfish, Bucktooth Parrotfish and Caroline’s Parrotfish. As with all the Parrotfish there is considerable divergence in looks between the juveniles and the adults.
To make it even more difficult there are regional variations and some females change into males which are very brightly colored. These are known as Supermales. The Stareye parrotfish are the most widespread species of Parrotfish. Their teeth do not fuse into a beak as with other parrotfish hence the regional name of Bucktooth Parrotfish.
The juvenile Stareye Parrotfish pictured below is mixture of purple brown and green with short red lines radiating from its eye that develop as the fish grows. A juvenile without the lines is pictured below.
The initial phase females, as they mature develop purple marks across the body and the “star” around the eye becomes more prominent. This can be seen three images down. The terminal phase males are more of a blue green colour with more purple markings across the body and a more enhanced star around the eye.
They are able to vary their colouration as evidenced by the 45cm specimen above photographed at night sleeping on a wall at about 27 meters. They grow up to 50 cm in length.
STAREYE PARROTFISH IN THE WILD
The Stareye Parrotfish may have a wide range, however they are not that common in Tanzanian waters. The juveniles are far more common than the adults, presumably as a result of being overfished. It is rare to see an adult male and they seem to be very reclusive on the mainland coast. The juveniles and initial phase females are usually seen on reef flats from 15 to 20 meters, often close to a drop off. The males we have only sighted on a few occasions. None of the stages are easily approachable and they usually take off when a diver gets close.
The Stareye Parrotfish is found across the Indian Ocean from East Africa across into the Pacific as far south and east as the Galapagos Islands. They are found as far north as the Ryuku Islands south of Japan.
The Stareye Parrotfish feed on a variety of algae and sea grass.
Parrotfish are unusual in that they have the ability to change their sex throughout their lifetime. At birth both males and females are present and these are referred to as primary males and females. The primary males and females are less colorful and are often difficult to tell apart. Secondary males are born female and change their sex when prompted by social cues such as the absence of another secondary male. These secondary males are often referred to as Supermales because of the brightness of their colors.
Stareye Parrotfish are not commonly kept in aquariums although some public aquariums may occasionally keep them for public display. This is both a function of their size and the difficulty in providing them with food.
All the Parrotfish are heavily exploited in Tanzania both by trapping and netting. Parrotfish carry a heavy premium on price, particularly the blue parrotfish. They make very good eating.
STAREYE PARROTFISH CLASSIFICATION