Blue-barred Parrotfish, Scarus ghobban Click to enlarge image
A Blue-barred Parrotfish photographed at night, at a depth of 6m, Shiprock, Port Hacking, New South Wales, January 2002. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 1m in length and up to 6.5kg in weight.


The Bluebarred Parrotfish is a widespread tropical species that has blue bars on the scales, hence the common name.


The Bluebarred Parrotfish can be recognised by its colouration, which varies as the fish grows.

Initial phase Blue-barred Parrotfish, are dull orange-yellow with five incomplete blue bars on the body. The dorsal and anal fins are yellow with blue margins. The caudal fin is emarginate.

Terminal phase Blue-barred Parrotfish are blue dorsally and yellow on the sides. They have a blue bar on each scale and blue bands extending backwards from the eye. The dorsal and anal fins are yellow with a blue margin. The caudal fin is lunate.

The species is a member of the fish family Scaridae, commonly known as Parrotfishes. One of the distinguishing features of scarid fishes is that the teeth in both jaws are fused into a parrot-like beak.

Blue-barred Parrotfish, Scarus ghobban
A Blue-barred Parrotfish caught at a depth between 1m and 2m, Angourie Pool, Angourie, New South Wales, March 2002. This fish was caught during the north-eastern New South Wales fieldtrip. Image: Mark McGrouther
© Australian Museum


The Bluebarred Parrotfish is usually found in shallow lagoons, seagrass beds (view "Halimeda, Hot Beds of Biodiversity!") and reefs habitats. It is often seen in murky, turbid waters.

The species is usually found at depths from 3 m to 30 m. Males are most often seen at a depth of approximately 10 m, while females prefer deeper waters.


It occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific, from South Africa and the Red Sea, north to Japan, south to Australia and east to French Polynesia.

In Australia the Bluebarred Parrotfish is known from the north-western coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country, and south to southern New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Feeding and diet

It feeds by scraping algae from rocks and corals.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Juveniles often form school, but adults are usually seen as solitary individuals.


  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 220.
  2. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  4. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 222.
  5. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 415.