Side profile is a deep oval, with a short tapered posterior section leading to the tail fin, with it’s long streaming outer rays. The body is covered with toughened scales.The enlarged head accounts for almost a third of the total length, and is characterised by the small mouth, with it’s large frontal set teeth, giving rise to the parrot bill appearance.
The dorsal fin consists of two separate sections. The anterior portion, which lies above and slightly forward of the pectoral fin, is composed of 3 stout and roughened spines. These decrease in size towards the posterior and are membrane bound. The these act in unison, so that the first spine cannot be depressed until the second has done so. This spine arrangement of the anterior dorsal fin is used by the fish, to wedge itself into available crevices, and make it’s extraction very difficult.The posterior dorsal fin, has a very similar shape to that of the anal fin. Both are wide based rayed fins, with a high frontage.The pelvic fin is a vestigial roughened spine.
The back tends to be a greyish to olive brown in colour, that is mottled, and may give rise to a number of wide vertical bands, all of which fade towards the pale lower sides, and white belly.The fins have a peppering of pale bluish dots and lines, especially towards their bases.
Nest-pit builders, with the eggs being deposited in the cavity excavated by the female, during the summer, and guarded by the male. Unsure if they now breed in Irish waters.
Tends to be a mid-water fish (5 to 30m), of rocky substrates and wrecks. Shoals tend to be bound very closely to their relatively small territories once they arrive here in the spring and summer.
Diet would seem to mainly consist of molluscs and crustaceans.