New species of parrotfish described


Brazilian ichthyologists have described a new species of parrotfish from the southwestern Atlantic.

Naming the new species Sparisoma rocha in a recent issue of the journal Zootaxa, Hudson Pinheiro, João Gasparini and Ivan Sazima distinguish it from congeners in the western Atlantic by its unique colour pattern.

Initial phase individuals are red overall with a brownish shade from the lower jaw to the abdominal cavity, with sparse orange blotches on the head, and a pale circumpeduncular band.

Terminal phase individuals are reddish brown with an orange stripe from the corner of the mouth to the end of the preopercle, with sparse orange blotches on the head and three pinkish to reddish stripes from about the midline of the body to the back.

The midline of the body to the belly is pale greyish green to whitish with a suffusion of pale reddish brown and there is a black spot on the base of the pectoral fins and a bright-yellow blotch below this spot.

Evidence from partial sequences of two mitochondrial genes also suggests that this species is distinct, as they do not match those of any known congeners.

According to the authors, Sparisoma rocha grazes upon epilithic algae growing on rocky and calcareous surfaces at 10–25 m depth.

The males are solitary, whereas the females may be encountered alone or in pairs and accompanied by juveniles. Small juveniles (about 2–5cm) associate with mixed groups of the cleaner wrasse Halichoeres penrosei and the Noronha wrasse Thalassoma noronhanum, all of which have a similar colour pattern (this association may be considered a form of social mimicry).

This species is named after ichthyologist Luiz Rocha.

For more information, see the paper: Pinheiro, HT, JL Gasparini and I Sazima (2010) Sparisoma rocha, a new species of parrotfish (Actinopterygii: Labridae) from Trindade Island, South-western Atlantic. Zootaxa 2493, pp. 59–65.