© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS Parasite communities are similar to free-living communities; decay of similarity over geographic distance, theory of island biogeography, species–area relationships and nestedness have been documented in both communities. Ecological succession has been studied in free-living communities but has rarely been examined in parasite communities. We use seriation with replication to test the hypothesis that succession of parasite community structure is deterministic, thus developing throughout consecutive changes along the fish ontogeny, via a seriated pattern. 12 306 marine fishes (95 species) were studied. In 40 species, a seriated pattern was detected; 25 had a tendency towards a seriated pattern, and for 31 species, succession was at random. Age-classes for each host species explained deterministic successional patterns for whole parasite communities and ectoparasites. Richness and number of age-classes explained this pattern for endoparasites. Seriated successional pattern was evident for parasite communities of long-lived marine fish, indicating that parasite communities follow sequential changes over time, like many free-living communities.