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Scatophagus argus, tetracanthus and multifasciatus

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Scats - Scatophagus spp.

Photos & Comments

Scatophagus_argus_1.jpg (17kb)
Photo Credit: Griszka Niewiadomski

Name: Scatophagus spp.**
Origin: Indo-Pacific Estuaries

Size Tank pH Temp
30 cm 250 L 8.0 26°C


**Note: There are 3 different species of Scats: the Spotted Scat (Scatophagus argus), the Banded Scat (Scatophagus tetracanthus) and the Spot-Banded Scat (Scatophagus multifasciatus) which has a mixture of spots and bands (photo). For now we'll keep comments for all 3 species on this page, but if you submit a comment please specify which species you own, so we may later separate the pages. Contributions of good, original photos (not from books or the web!) for S. multifasciatus and S. tetracanthus are welcome!

Contributed by Marcos Avila

I have two multifasciatus, also called Silver Scat. This interesting fish from New Guinea and parts of New Caledonia is quite the find indeed. As their more readily available cousins Scatophagus tetracanthus (Striped Scat) they are quite a hardy species. These are quite adaptable fishes. As juveniles they can tolerate freshwater, therefore are often sold as a freshwater fish, however to ensure good health salt MUST be present in the water. As the fish matures, it should be kept at the higher end of the brackish scale or at the lower end of the marine scale(1.015-1.020). Not much is known about the fish's breeding habits, however it is believed that they do spawn in marine waters. The young will then supposedly migrate up streams to waters of less salinity. This is when they are collected for retail sale. A lot can be found in areas where sewer pipes dump into bodies of water. This is how they get their ever popular nickname “s*** eaters”. However it is inconclusive as to weather they actually do eat the waste or the organisms that feed on the waste. They are primarily vegetarian fishes, and shouldn’t be trusted with plants. They are rather peaceful with other fishes and members of their own kind. They need fairly hard/alkaline waters in order to thrive. They do appreciate a spacious tank, and reach a size of around 10 cm. In conclusion, the Silver Scat despite being a bit pricey, is an excellent introductory fish into the world of brackish fishes.

Contributed by Lynn Smith

I have owned all three: silver, green-spotted, as well as the ruby red. They all seem to have their own quirks. I've had my silver for the longest, about 2 years. I purchased him at roughly 5 cm, he's now 18-20 cm and seems to be one of the healthiest fish I've ever owned. This species is by far the hardiest of all three. He's been the lone survivor of an Ich outbreak, as well as a rid-ich overdose which actually killed all my brackish water fish, bala sharks, blood parrot, dwarf cichlids and arowana. The silver scats are really tough to kill. As they grow older their black stripes fade. I have kept all three scats (ruby, silver, green) with a 40 cm arowana, 18 cm bala shark, 17 cm datnoides, 10 cm sebae mono and a 13 cm frontosa in the same 300 L tank for over 9 months. The scats seem to do fine in freshwater and grow pretty well. It has been noted that scats are fin nippers and aggressive. To clarify, they are only aggressive to each other. I've seen some really aggressive ones where they've ripped quarter sized patches out of each other over time. And there are also docile ones too, depends on the individual. It is a guarantee that they will fin nip any fish if they grow to 8+ cm and the owner still refuses to feed them anything less than flake food. By this time they need either frozen or pellet. They only fin nip because they are starving and flake food isn't a good substitute like pellet. I recommend hikari cichlid pellets. If you have a fin nipping problem, just switch over to lettuce or pellets and I'll guarantee that it'll go away. I had that problem with my silver and green to the point where they would punch buckshot sized holes out of my 15 cm plecos. Then I started feeding them the pellets which filled their tummies and all is better.

Contributed by N. Tuck

I have 4 silver scats and they are by far my favorite fish in the tank. They are very active all day, and get along great with each other, as well as all the other fish in the tank. They swim right to the front of the tank every time someone walks up close to it. I think they're just always hungry, but it appears like they're just coming up to say hello. Previously, I had a pair that grew very fast. After they died, I bought these four and they seem to be growing at a much slower rate.

Contributed by Frankie

I have two Silver Scats. They are, as afore-mentioned, very harty fish. However, when they are just between juvenile and adolescent age, they do get some sort of white spots which in my experience has lead to death. The red scats are much hartier than their silver cousins. Beware, they eat anything green, so live plants in your aquascape are promptly devoured by these notorious vegetarians.

Contributed by a visitor

I have a trio of Scats - Scatophagus argus - which are kept in my brakish water setup along with a dozen Monos and a few Sailfin Mollies. Scats do get very friendly and are fun feeding with bare hand. But now the bottom line...Scats carry a mild venom in their first dorsal spine! I learned it the hard way! The 'scratch' on my skin hurt me for a full day!

Contributed by Shabbir Rupawalla

I have had five spotted Scats for over a year. They are always together, but for the feeding time. After feeding they madly chase each other. They eat almost everything in very large quantities. But their favourite dish is Fresh Green Corinder leaves. When fed with corinder leaves, they just don't look at any other flake or frozen food at all. They have grown almost to the double of the size in a period of 10 months (now 10 cm in diameter).

Contributed by Rajan Tamhankar

I have a silver scat in a community tank and he is fun to watch, but a big time bully. I have have two figure eight puffers and they are docile when said to be aggressive. The scat has already ripped off one of their fins. I am going to transfer him to another tank.

Contributed by Thomas

I love silver scats. I used to have around 8 banded scats at one stage but have sold some and given others away. I now have 3. They are cool little fish and I have noticed that they can't stand to be alone. They always have to be in group. I found that when I mixed them with other fish such as mollies they become bullies, but then get used to the idea of another species around. I have only ever seen these banded scats and no others. I can't wait till they get bigger!

Contributed by Kirra

I have had two (what I think are) red scats for more than two years. They are now deep brown and their fins and tail are also brown. One is bigger at about 18 cm and another is about 15 cm. So I think it is male (the biggest) and female (the smallest). They also have a completely different shape of forehead and mouth. Biggest has longer part of jaws and mouth and female has shorter and more suare (if you look from a side). About keeping them in brackish water and marine water, mine are in full freshwater conditions in a big community tank. The Scats eat well, they have grown in that tank since they were about 5 cm big, and all the fish and the scats are very healthy and playful. Scats get on quite well with each other, though they quarrel occasionally, but not much. They look very happy and playful and never harned any fish (some of which are very small compared to them). They are defenitely one of my favorite fish and come to the glass and interact with you with their big brown eyes.

Contributed by Liuba

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