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It is among the largest parrotfishes, growing to a length of up to 35 in (35 in). As in many of its relatives, it is a sequential hermaphrodite, starting as female (known as the initial phase) and then changing to male (the terminal phase). The initial phase is dark brown with a large cream patch on the upper part of the body. The terminal phase is very colourful, overall green with pink spotting to the body and edging to the fins. Juveniles are white with a black spot on the dorsal fin and an orange band through the eye.
Male bicolour parrotfish are territorial. During its lifetime, this fish changes sex twice and very large females change sex to become brightly coloured males. This parrotfish mainly feeds on algae.