Synonyms: Cacodoxus argus, Chaetodon argus, C. atromaculatus, Ephippus argus, Sargus maculatus, Scatophagus macronotus, S. ornatus
Physical description: A stocky, tall bodied fish with lateral compression and an arched back. The front part of the dorsal fin is low to the body and the caudal fin is fan-shaped. Both the head and the mouth are small. The coloration varies with age and slightly with distribution. Generally the flanks are yellow to brown with a greenish-yellow iridescence. The flanks are marked irregularly with black spots. The fins are body colored.
Size/Length: To 12" (30 cm)
Similar species: Red Scat ( Scatophagus argus arromaculatus) of fresh, brackish, and salt water habitats in Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. The body coloring of the Red Scat is more red than that of the common Scat. This sub-species is sometimes sold under the synonym, S. rubifrons. The Silver Scat ( Scatophagus multifasciatus) from coastal India to Tahiti. This species has a silver body color with a silver sheen in reflected light. The Silver Scat reaches only 4.7" (12 cm) in length. The African Scat ( S. tetracanthus) is a rare, but beautiful species from coastal East Africa. It has a base body color of yellow with seven black, transverse bands. This species reaches 16" (40 cm) in nature, although usually reaches a maximum length of 12" (30 cm) in captivity.
Habitat: Inhabits tropical brackish and salt water habitats of coastal areas in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Found along the coast from India to Tahiti.
Aquarium: A 36" (91 cm) or 35-45 gallon (132-170 L) tank is suitable for fish up to 6" (15 cm) in length. Larger fish require more spacious tanks. Use a fine gravel or preferably a coral sand bottom. Include hiding places among rocks and leave open swimming areas. This species is strongly herbivorous and consumes nearly any plants put in the tank. Thus Java Fern, which is poisonous, should not be used.
Water chemistry: pH 7-8.5 (7.9), 12-30 dH (20), 68-86°F (20-30°C). Recommend a 1.5 to 3 % addition of salt. Add 11-23 Tsp. of salt for every 10 gallons (15-30 g/10 L).
Social behavior: A peaceful, but active schooling species that should be kept in groups of four or more. The Scat is a fine brackish or salt water community species as long as it is not combined with small fish.
Suggested companions: Monos, Puffers, Archers, Arius catfish
FOOD: A greedy eater that will accept nearly any food. Live; small fish, crustaceans, worms, insect larvae, aquatic insects; chopped meat; plant matter; vegetable; lettuce, spinach, peas; oatmeal; pellets; tablets; flakes.
Breeding techniques: Unknown
Breeding potential: 10. Breeding has been unsuccessful.
Remarks: The addition of salt gives the fish better health and coloration. Young Scats can be kept in fresh or brackish water, but adults prefer salt water as they live mostly in the ocean. These fish consume great quantities of food, therefore regular water changes are essential. Scats undergo a metamorphosis while young. The young have large heads and sturdy bony plates in the larvae stage. As they mature, their armored plating undergoes a change resulting in the familiar body cladding of adult fish. The Scat is known for its habit of feeding on ocean sewage in its natural habitat, hence the name Scatophagus (dung-eater).
Difficulty of care: 6. This hardy species requires brackish water conditions.