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Male and female Stoplight Parrotfish look very different. Both males and females have obvious beaks, but the similarities end there. Adult females display large, black and white scales and a bright red belly and fins. Their faces have an almost marbled appearance, with a swirling pattern of black and white, and a black beak. Females are 5 to 10 inches long on average. Adult males are bright green, with a yellow crescent on the tip of their tails, and a row of brilliant yellow scales at the tail base. A bright yellow spot marks their heads above the gills. Males are much larger than females, and measure 13 to 17 inches. Juvenile, or young, Stoplight Parrotfish, have dark reddish-brown bodies, lighter, yellowish heads, and are marked with three rows of white spots on the body, as well as a white bar at the base of the tail. They are 2-5 inches long.
Near Cooper Island, BVI.
Stoplight Parrotfish digest rocky coral and release the ground-up limestone as sand. Divers frequently see parrotfish releasing long lines of digested sand, which drift and hang like curtains in the water before settling gently to the ocean floor. Stoplight Parrotfish are some of the greatest fish producers of sand on the reef, and it is very likely that divers will see this behavior wherever Stoplight Parrotfish are present. Large parrotfish can produce up to 1 ton of sand a year.