Redtail Parrotfish, Chlorurus japanensis (Bloch 1789)

Other Names: Japanese Parrotfish, Pale Bullethead Parrotfish, Palecheek Parrotfish, Red-tailed Parrotfish, Yellow-blotched Parrotfish

A terminal phase (male) Redtail Parrotfish, Chlorurus japanensis, at Ba, Western Fiji, April 2016. Source: Mark Rosenstein / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A small widely distributed parrotfish. Females are uniformly dark-brown with a distinctive reddish tail. The bicoloured males have a purplish-brown anterior with a yellow cheek, diagonally divided from the pale yellow rear area.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Chlorurus japanensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 Nov 2022,

Redtail Parrotfish, Chlorurus japanensis (Bloch 1789)

More Info


Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical west-Pacific. Although rare throughout its range, Redtail Parrotfish most commonly occur on shallow areas of exposed reefs, often in small groups.


Median predorsal scales 4; scales in cheek-scale rows 1(5-6), 2(5-6); pectoral-fin rays 15.


Herbivore - feeds on benthic algae.


The species has previously been known as Chlorurus capistratoides and C. pyrrhurus.

Similar Species

Although the similar Greenfin Parrotfish, Chlorurus sordidus, often has a pale yellow patch on the rear of the body, it does not have the diagonal division between colours as in Chlorurus japanensis.

Species Citation

Scarus japanensis Bloch 1789, Abhandlungen der Böhmischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, Prague 4: 244. Type locality: Japan or Java, Indonesia. 


Dianne J. Bray

Redtail Parrotfish, Chlorurus japanensis (Bloch 1789)


Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Bellwood, D.R. 2001. Scaridae. pp. 3468-3492 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Choat, J.H., Carpenter, K.E., Clements, K.D., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B., Myers, R., Lazuardi, M.E., Muljadi, A., Pardede, S. & Rahardjo, P. 2012. Chlorurus japanensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T190719A17794255. Downloaded on 17 July 2016.

Choat, J.H. & Randall, J.E. 1986. A review of the parrotfishes (family Scaridae) of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia with description of a new species. Records of the Australian Museum 38: 175-228. (as Scarus pyrrhurus)

Comeros-Raynal, M.T., Choat, J.H., Polidoro, B.A., Clements, K.D., Abesamis, R., Craig, M.T., Lazuardi, M.E., McIlwain, J., Muljadi, A., Myers, R.F., Nañola Jr., C.L., Pardede, S., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B., Sanciangco, J.C., Stockwell, B., Harwell, H. & Carpenter, K.E. 2012. The likelihood of extinction of iconic and dominant components of coral reefs: the parrotfishes and surgeonfishes.PLoS ONE Open access

Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls. (as Scarus japanensis)

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 2. Fusiliers - Dragonets, Caesionidae - Callionymidae. Australia : Zoonetics pp. 304-622.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. (as Scarus pyrrhurus)

Randall, J.E. & Choat, J.H. 1980. Two new parrotfishes of the genus Scarus from the Central and South Pacific, with further examples of sexual dichromatism. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 70: 383-419.

Randall, J.E. & Nelson, G. 1979. Scarus japanensis, S. quoyi and S. iserti — valid names for parrotfishes presently known as S. capistratoides, S. blochii and S. croicensis. Copeia 1979(2): 206-212.

Streelman JT, Alfaro M, Westneat MW, Bellwood DR, Karl SA (2002) Evolutionary history of the parrotfishes: biogeography, ecomorphology, and comparative diversity. Evolution 56: 961–971.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37386025

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-20 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:31 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map