Scatophagus argus

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Spotted scat
Scatophagus argus (Wroclaw zoo)-2.JPG
Scientific classification
S. argus
Binomial name
Scatophagus argus
(Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Cacodoxus argus
  • Chaetodon argus
  • Chaetodon atromaculatus
  • Ephippus argus
  • Scatophagus argus argus
  • Scatophagus argus atromaculatus

Scatophagus argus, or the spotted scat,[1] is a species of fish in the scat family Scatophagidae. It occurs in two basic color morphs which are called green scat and ruby or red scat. This fish is generally distributed around the Indo-Pacific region, to Japan, New Guinea, and southeastern Australia. They live in coastal muddy areas, including estuaries, mangroves, harbours, and the lower courses of rivers.[2] They are popular aquarium fish usually used to eliminate algae in the fish tank.


The body is strongly compressed. The dorsal head profile is steep, with a rounded snout. The body is greenish-brown to silvery with many brown to red-brown spots. Spines and rays of the dorsal fin are separated by a deep notch. Small ctenoid scales cover the body. Juveniles are a greenish-brown with either a few large, dark, rounded blotches, or five or six dark, vertical bars.[2]

Since S. argus can live in embayment regions, as well as quite far upstream in freshwater rivers, they can adapt to varying salinities. As fry, they live in freshwater environments, but as they mature, they move to saltwater environments. They do not live in temperate waters, as they require at least a little warmth (21 to 28 °C).[3]

The common scat is omnivorous and an indiscriminate eater. In 1992, biologists Barry and Fast reported adult scat from the Philippines were primarily herbivorous, while the juveniles preferred zooplankton. Although scat were named for their purported habit of feeding on offal (Scatophagus argus is translated from Greek to "spotted feces-eater"), it may be a misnomer as this behaviour has not been confirmed in diet studies.[2]

As a food source[edit]

Scatophagus argus is fished for and eaten by some people from its original environment, and can sting with small spikes in its anterior parts, inflicting a venom that causes great pain and dizziness. Treatment of the wound is often done by soaking the infliction in hot water.[4]


The Acanthocephala Pararhadinorhynchus magnus

As most fish, the common scat harbours parasites. The Acanthocephala Pararhadinorhynchus magnus has been described from the intestine of this fish in waters off Vietnam.[5]


  1. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2016). "Scatophagus argus" in FishBase. April 2016 version.
  2. ^ a b c "scat (Scatophagus argus) - FactSheet". Retrieved 2014-07-13.
  3. ^ "Scatophagus argus". Retrieved 2014-07-13.
  4. ^ Gisha Sivan; K. Venketesvaran; C.K. Radhakrishnan (15 September 2007). "Biological and biochemical properties of Scatophagus argus venom". Toxicon. Elsevier Ltd. 50 (4): 563–571. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2007.05.002. PMID 17599379.
  5. ^ Van Ha, Nguyen; Amin, Omar M.; Ngo, Ha Duy; Heckmann, Richard A. (2018). "Descriptions of acanthocephalans, Cathayacanthus spinitruncatus (Rhadinorhynchidae) male and Pararhadinorhynchus magnus n. sp. (Diplosentidae), from marine fish of Vietnam, with notes on Heterosentis holospinus (Arhythmacanthidae)". Parasite. 25: 35. doi:10.1051/parasite/2018032. ISSN 1776-1042. PMC 6057740. PMID 30040609. open access