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The initial phase has very variable coloration. The smaller fishes can be a dark brown to light gray and they may or may not possess a light band surrounding a dark spot on the caudal peduncle.
Larger fish can show a series of irregular rows of small, light spots towards the tail or they may have the light band surrounding the dark spot on the caudal peduncle. The terminal phase, male, is also variable and may have a large tan area on the flanks or on its caudal peduncle. It has a rounded snout.
Chlorurus sordidus is widespread throughout the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region, Red Sea included.