The parrotfish & bedtime

When we bed ourselves down at night we have bed frames, mattresses, and sheets — there’s no such luxury in a coral reef. There is, however, mucus.


Parrotfish are colourful fish that live amongst the coral reefs of our tropical oceans. Their patterns and colours are so unique and personal that identifying them between gender and species can be a nightmare, least helped by them changing gender repeatedly throughout their lives.

They can grow to around 4 foot in length, and they’re key players in bioerosion. By day, they feast on algae by ripping off chunks of coral, crushing it with the teeth in their throats, and slurping up the algae-rich polyp inside. Much of the sand around a coral reef is parrotfish poo.

After their hard days’ graft, it’s time for bed. They find themselves a cosy nook in the coral and excrete a mucus bubble from their gills that’s big enough to surround them. Once snuggled into their mucus sleeping bag, they fall asleep and dream of fishy things.


In the morning, they wake, have a breakfast of mucus, and set-out on their day.

Exactly why they blow a mucus bubble to sleep in leaves scientists stumped. It could be to mask their scent from nighttime predators or a sort-of mosquito net to deter parasites.

It could be, they just want to snuggle down comfy at night. Waking up Monday morning, like:


This pug all snug in a rug is too cute not to include.

This gives a whole new meaning to ‘making your bed’.

Tomos James