Scat’s are found mainly around the northern coasts of Australia in estuaries and mangroves. They can also be found in similar habitats throughout the Asia-Pacific region in countries from India to Tahiti. The name “scatophagus” actually means “the dung eater” because of their feeding habits of eating just about anything. Scats are best kept in groups especially when young when the schooling instinct is greatest. Care should be taken if handling as scats as the spines can inflict painful wounds.
There are a few different types of scats but only the Red and Silver Scats regularly enter fresh water. The Red Scat (Scatophagus argus) is probably the most popular of the scats because of its colours. They are a round fish with a tall body and have spiky dorsal fins. The dorsal fins of both species are said to contain small amounts of toxins. They have vertical lines that run down the body that are a red to ruby colour when they are younger. As they mature they lose these lines and spots become more predominant.
Silver Scats are also round fish with a tall body and have spiky dorsal fins. They have vertical lines that run half way down the body that are black the rest of the body is covered in spots. As the fish matures they will lose the stripes and they will be replaced with spots.
Both Red and Silver Scats can grow to about 35cm, sometimes even larger in the wild. They can live anywhere between 10 and 15 years.
Scats are active fish so open swimming room is important. A 210 litre (55-gallon) aquarium is the minimum tank size recommended for scats, though a larger aquarium is always better. Providing the largest aquarium possible will allow the fish to reach their maximum size and potential.
Scats prefer hard, alkaline to brackish water conditions. A pH between 7.5 and 8.2, a general Hardness between 250 and 300 ppm and temperatures between 20°C and 30°C are all suitable conditions.
Scats are omnivores and will readily eat anything provided. Beef heart, dry foods and vegetable matter, such as spinach or algae are all acceptable. They also thrive on small crustaceans and aquatic insects.
Scats are very versatile fish that will mix with most species that inhabit similar water conditions. They are ideally suited to brackish community tanks with species such as, Archerfish, Monos, other Scats and Madagascar Rainbows. Avoid keeping anything small enough to fit in their mouths, as such fish are likely to be seen as food.
There are no physical external differences between the male and females and they have not been bred in captivity to date.
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