Spotted Scat

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Scatophagus argus - (Linnaeus, 1766)
Spotted Scat

A popular brackish-water species for properly sized aquaria.


Spotted or Common Scats are very popular fish for the brackish-water community tank. They can be kept either singly or in groups, and quickly become tame enough to hand feed.

Colouration is highly variable, but typically juveniles are bright brassy-green in colour and covered with dark brown spots. Adults are similar, but the contrast between the spots and the body colour may diminish.

The most widely seen variant is the Red-Headed Scat, distinguished by the presence of red patches on the forehead and dorsal surface. (See image above.)

They require brackish water: SG 1.005-1.025

Family: Scatophagidae

Other common name(s):

  • Common Scat
  • Red-Headed Scat

Native range:

Habitat: Primarily estuaries, mangroves and harbours, often around human habitation. Scats are gregarious and move in schools searching for anything edible. In the wild they feed extensively on plant material and algae, but they also take fecal matter of other fishes and even humans, from whence their name, Scatophagus, which literally means "dung eater".

Maximum length: 38 cm (15 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 208 L (55 gal)

Water: Brackish 24 °C (75 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: All levels.


Omnivore. Will eat almost anything, but needs lots of green foods to stay healthy. Spirulina flake and other herbivore foods make a good staple, augmented with sushi Nori, blanched curly lettuce, chopped spinach, thinly sliced cucumber, etc. Filamentous algae is eaten with gusto! Supplement these green foods with chopped seafood and frozen foods such as bloodworms and krill.

Aquarium Compatibility

Scats are best kept in groups or with other fish of similar temperament. They mix extremely well with Monos and brackish water cichlids such as Green Chromides.

Other good tankmates include Sailfin Mollies, Archerfish, Colombian Shark Catfish and brackish water Siamese Tiger Fish.

They are not really predatory, but it would be unwise to trust them with very small tankmates such as Guppies.

Special Care

Warning: Scats possess sharp spines in the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins that some authorities maintain are equipped with venom glands. Be careful when netting these fish and avoid handling them as far as possible.


Not known in aquaria.


While the maximum length recorded is 38 cm (15 in), 20 cm (8 in) is more typical in home aquaria.

Reference: Brackish Water Fishes
Image credit: JJ
Text credit: NM