Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Scatophagus argus, Leopard scat, Spotted butterfish, Spotted scat

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body quadrangular, v compressed
head profile steep
D: 1st spine points forwards, deep notch after spines
D&A soft parts = large lobes
silvery + large black spots
mouth small, horizontal, not projectable



Scatophagus argus (Linnaeus, 1776)

Spotted scat, Leopard scat, Spotted butterfish

Body quadrangular, strongly compressed; upper head profile steep; eye large, a little smaller than snout; snout rounded; mouth small, horizontal, not protractile; teeth simple, conical, in several rows on jaws; gill membrane forms a free fold across isthmus of throat under gills; dorsal fin XI, 16-18, 1st spine points forwards,  a deep notch between spines and soft rays; anal fin IV, 14-15; rear edges of dorsal and anal fins ~vertical;  pectorals 16; tail fin rounded (juveniles) to truncate; pectoral fins 16-17; pelvic fins I, 5; head, body, caudal fin, and soft parts of anal and dorsal fins covered with small ctenoid scales.

Color: greenish silver; body with black spots (smaller than eye) arranged in approximate rows, in large adults those may be faint and only on upper flank. Juvenile: smallest fish with 5-6 broad dark bars, 2 on head, 4 on body; larger fish spotted.

Reaches 35 cm

Lives in estuaries, harbors and lower parts of streams.

Depth range 0-5 m.

Indo-west Pacific; introduced to southeast Florida.

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  • Marine
  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Freshwater
  • Estuary
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Detritivore
  • Omnivore
  • Data
  • Soft corals/hydroids
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Detritus
  • Sponges/seasquirts/bryozoa
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Data
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • Exotic (Introduced)
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • All species.
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • All species..
  • Continent only
  • Exotic (Introduced)
  • GC non-endemic
  • Vagrant
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 35
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 5