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FAQs on Scats, Family Scatophagidae, Behavior

Related Articles: Scats Scats and monos; Old favourites and new species for the brackish water aquarium by Neale Monks,

Related FAQs:  Scats 1, Scats 2, Scat Identification, Scat Compatibility, Scat Selection, Scat Systems, Scat Feeding, Scat Disease, Scat Reproduction


Red Scats, dark coloured: unhappy...   7/16/09
I am the owner of a 55 gallon brackish tank, that in less than a month will be a 90 gallon. I have 1 archer, 2- Mons, 1- Columbian shark,
<A schooling species; best kept in groups of 3 or more.>
1- Green Scat, and 3- baby red scats. I am having a problem with the Red scats in that they are almost black in color.
<Hmm... usually this happens when they're unhappy; do review water chemistry in particular: juvenile Scats aren't fussy, but I would make sure they're in moderately brackish, not freshwater, conditions. I mention this because some people think brackish water is freshwater with a teaspoon of salt added per gallon of water. It's not! I'd be aiming for SG 1.005 at 25 C for this collection of fish; in other words, about 9 grammes of *marine salt mix* per litre of water (about 1.2 oz per US gallon).>
They are eating well, swimming great, and are very active.
<All good signs; a healthy Scat is a hungry Scat. Do look for signs of bullying though; not necessarily from one another -- Scats tend to be quite placid -- but from the Monos and possibly the Archer. Monos are semi-aggressive fish, and while they rarely bother Scats, it might happen at feeding time if the Monos were much bigger than the Scats. Archers tend to be aggressive towards one another unless kept in a big group, and while I've never seen them harass a Scat, they are predatory, and again, if there's a big size difference, the Scats might be being made to feel insecure. The big Green Scat might be bothering the smaller one, but to be honest, I don't think that's very likely.>
I spend almost 10 minutes every morning looking over every single one of my fish, and today I noticed, what appears to be an Ich spot on the blackest of the baby red scats.
<You shouldn't get Ick in a brackish water system; the Ick parasite is very intolerant of salt. So again, check the specific gravity, and get back to me with that number and the temperature, so we can calculate the salinity and determine whether Ick is likely.>
This little guy has been so dark the whole time he has been with his buddies, and I do not know what to do for him to make him regain his vibrant color.
<Generally, Scats are very very hardy fish, and provided they're feeding, tend to be robust and long-lived. They are of course herbivores, so for good health they need a "green" diet containing things like cooked peas, blanched curly lettuce, and Sushi Nori; supplement this with small invertebrates, particularly krill, chopped cockle, etc.>
Can you give me some advice on what my options are? Would it be better to put him in a net breeder?
Any info you have will be greatly appreciated!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Red Scats - 7/16/09
The SG is 1.006 as of 10 min ago, and the temp is between 78 and 79. It's not digital, so I can not be exact.
<It's close enough. For what it's worth, at 26 C/79 F, an SG of 1.006 is about 30% seawater salinity, or 10.5 ppt.>
All other water conditions are perfect. Nitrates are 0, and ammonia is 0 as well. I do water changes every few weeks, because I know that Scats are a dirty fish.
<Hmm... would recommend at least 10-20% water changes per week. By all means economise on salinity if cost is a factor: better to give them clean water at SG 1.005 than dirty water at 1.006!>
All of my fish are on a stick diet of blood worms, brine shrimp (Grow Myself, so they are live), Krill, veggie rounds, Cichlid pellets, and cichlid flakes. I also 'throw in' greens about once a week, but it is generally lettuce.
<Do be careful here; some anecdotal evidence certain types of lettuce are better than others; green curly ("English") lettuce is the best, red lettuces perhaps the worst; iceberg lettuce essentially useless.>
The food is altered daily, so they get feed the same food once every 6 days. They get feed once a day, in the evening. I also remove any left over food.
<All sounds good.>
The baby Red Scats range from the size of a nickle, to about the size of a half dollar. I have three, and the middle one was harassing the others, so he is now in 'time out', and has been for multiple days.
<Be careful with this idea of confining aggressive fish. Fish aren't naughty children! When you confine a fish, you remove it from its social connections with other fish, both good and bad. So when it's let loose again, it is forced to re-assert its position in the hierarchy, and that means more fighting. In no way do fish feel chastened by being confined, so as you'll doubtless see, confining a fish does nothing to reduce aggression in the long term.>
The other fish are VERY large, but the little scats seems to be picking on the big guys, not the other way around.
My Monos are average 6 in from top fin to bottom fin. The shark is about 8 inches. The Archer is about 10 inches.
<Wow, that's a big Archer! Presumably either Toxotes jaculatrix or Toxotes chatereus; both big fish, though rarely so big as yours in captivity. I'm impressed!>
The green Scat is about 5 inches long, just in the body. I did for get to mention that my Archer does get live feeders every other week. I do not know if he is supposed to, but he likes them.
<Don't use them; for reasons discussed elsewhere on WWM, feeder fish are dangerous to use (read up on fat content, thiaminase, and parasites). Also, the use of feeder fish tends to make predatory fish more aggressive, for reasons not altogether clear to me.>
When I get out of class tonight, should I do a 25%water change?
<If a water change is due, sure. But it won't change social behaviour any.>
Should I raise the temp?
The spots on the biggest Red Scats is now more like a little white line. I have never seen this before, but the spot on his front fin looks like a piece of pollen or something that has stuck to him. I guess it could not be Ich, but I do not know what else it could be.
<Unlikely Ick in a brackish water aquarium. But could be physical damage; if the white line shows signs of infection, then treat as per Finrot with a suitable antibiotic or antibacterial. You might even use Melafix as a preventative, though it's value as a treatment is limited.>
These little guys are VERY active, and are always swimming at the front of the tank waiting to be fed. I also know that the Red Scat in time out is not dark colored at all.
<I see.>
I really have no idea what to do at this point. Any tips, and help will be greatly appreciated.
<My gut feeling is that there's a pecking order thing going on here, and adding one or two more Scats would cause the aggressor to spread his attentions against them all, allowing each of the weaker Scats a bit more peace and quiet. This sort of thing isn't uncommon with Monos and Archers, but I must admit I haven't noticed it with Scats.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Skittish scats Hi guys. <and gals...Ananda here today...> I have a couple of silver scats in a tank with 2 green Chromides a couple of bumblebee gobies and a small spotted puffer.   <I hope you have a big tank...both the scats and the Chromides get fairly large.> The scats are much bigger than anything else in the tank.  The problem :  the scats are extremely skittish.  When I go to feed them (twice/day) they go ballistic and bounce off of everything in the tank.   The other fish don't behave this way.  They will nip at my fingers if I put them in the water - in fact, up until about two weeks ago the scats did the same thing.  pH is about 8, temp about 78, ammonia is essentially 0 ppm.  I'm concerned that they will injure themselves.  They seem to be very robust and in very good health.  Also, I went back to the LFS where I purchased them and the ones remaining are plenty calm enough. <Several possibilities here. Your scats may be feeling cramped in the tank. Or your specific gravity may not be what they would prefer. Or they could be nervous about getting their fins nipped by the puffer. Also check your nitrates.> Any tips? <Yep. Start reading the brackish FAQs here! :-) http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm> Thanks Andreas <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Ruby Scats Dear Crew, I'm sorry to bother you, but I've posted in a couple of forums and haven't been able to get an answer.   <No bother at all, this is why we're here. :o)> Do ruby scats change color when they're sick/stressed?  I saw a pair I'd like to get, but they're very dark and not showing the colors I've seen on the net. <Nearly all fish will change color when sick or stressed but don't rule out normal color variations that occur within every species too. Do read and view the pictures at  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm for more info, especially notice the color variations between the 'greens' and the 'rubies' and the notations beside the pictures.> I was worried about disease and whether it would be worth bringing them home (no physical signs for fungus/bacteria/external parasites).   <With a proper QT period you should be fine. Do ask about how long they've been at your LFS. If it's only been a few days or a week, ask them if you can put a deposit to have them hold the fish until you're sure they are well.> I've read up on their tank parameters and feeding requirements, which wouldn't be a problem. <Very good> Thanks in advance! <You're welcome! Ronni>

Petting Scats, Unusual??? I'm not sure if you respond, but as I was cleaning  my tank I noticed that my silver scats were swimming near my hand. Sometimes  brushing up against me softly, while the other fish stayed at the other  side of the tank afraid. Then slowly a scat swam between my hand and the  glass of the tank, then settled in my palm.  I was quite shocked at  the affection they were showing so I pet one with my finger. As I pet it, it  folded is top fins back, breathed slower, and relaxed in my  hand.  I thought it was just a coincident but as I  cleaned. I chanced fate, and attempted to pet the other scat, and the same thing  happened. I've been stung by an other aggressive scat before  and soon gave it away. So I'm quite careful around them when I clean. But  I've never heard of a small tank fish getting chummy with me.  Weird  huh??? Have you heard of this behavior before with  scats??? >> A lot of larger fish will loose their fear of the keeper, and will approach the hand that feeds them, I would not be surprised if your scats do this. But please be very careful, getting stung by larger scats can be very painful. You may be able to start hand feeding your scats if they are that friendly. But Be Careful, Oliver

Mottled Coloration in Scat  8/22/05 Hi WWM Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I need your expertise. Does this look like Velvet to you? See how about 3/4 of my Scats body is dark brown? Is this normal coloration based on mood in Scats? I can't tell if they were like this when I bought them and I'm getting paranoid or if they are sick. The facts... I have a 55g BW tank, about 1.007 specific gravity with 2 Colombian sharks, 3 mollies, 3 platies (starter fish, moving to a new home when I have the money for the tank), a milk spotted puffer, a Betta (neighbor didn't want him anymore, had to adopt), 3 green scats and 4 glass catfish. Before you lecture me about being overcrowded, they are all juvenile and will be split up into separate tanks as I can afford to set them up. <Just to let you know (so you can start saving), the scats will eventually need around 50g/fish & require SW as adults.  The puffer will also require salt water.  The Columbian sharks are schooling fish that grow quite huge (up to 18") & need marine conditions as adults.  Please put the Betta in a 2g bowl (or larger).  It will be killed with the aggressive fish you have & will not appreciate the salt.> Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate about 20 PPM and PH is about 7.6 to 7.8. <BW fish are best kept at a steady pH of around 8, generally by using aragonite as substrate.> The water is clear and everyone seems happy and healthy, with the exception of the scats. One of them appeared to be very sick yesterday. He was hanging out behind the power head and would not eat. The other two scats were beating up on him real bad and he was doing nothing to defend himself. I looked all over the net for info about what might be wrong before finally deciding that he was probably just getting picked on too much. I cut the top off a 2 liter coke bottle, cleaned it up real good and poked holes in for water flow. I caught him in it and dug it down into the gravel. This protected him from the other two Scats. I checked him this morning and he seemed much better. I let him out and fed everyone and he ate and was his normal racing around the tank self. Now he's doing it again, and I've been watching him close all day, there hasn't been any excessive aggression by the alpha. This coloration issue may be new or it may not be, I'm not entirely sure. I've never seen velvet before, can someone help? Oh, and I did a 50% water change today. <I would say this is stress coloration, due to his being picked on.  You could try moving  the decor around a bit to alter territories.  Make sure there is plenty of decor to break up lines of sight & ample room for everyone to have their own territories.  I'm afraid, even though you are aware of the fact that these fish need larger tanks, it will be sooner than you think.  Scats grow quickly, are messy eaters & high waste producers.  ~PP> Thanks, Erik in Oceanside P.S. Two of the three Scats have this coloration, the third is all green except the spots. The alpha, one of the discolored ones, has shown no signs of stress, neither has the third that has no discoloration.

Aggressive scat problem  3/7/06 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I bought one  green scat and put it in my aquarium and he hung out at the top looking lonely (30 gallon, hexagonal display tank).  So I bought him a brother to keep him company, a red scat 2X his size.  He happily beat the living daylights out of brother red.  So I did some research and found they are schooling fish and that what my scat did often happens in groups of two.  So I bought a third (smaller) green scat.   Now he mainly beats up on the big red scat, but when the red one hides in the newly decorated garden of algae, he beats up on the small one.  Any ideas what to do?  I've been feeding him krill (supposedly the act of tearing it apart will give him an outlet for his aggression) but still no luck.  I'm out of options. <As far as I know, scats are not schooling fish, <<Mmm, are in the wild. RMF>> they do not get lonely.  Since an adult scat gets as large as a dinner plate, I suggest a much larger tank.  There is no room for territories in your tank.  They require at least 50g each & marine conditions as adults.  ~PP> Thanks, Judy

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