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FAQs on Scats, Family Scatophagidae, Systems

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 Behavior, Scat Compatibility, Scat Selection, Scat Feeding, Scat Disease, Scat Reproduction,

Make sure the other life present can stand the same conditions, not too tasty. 

Heaters and scats?      11/26/13
Hi there,
I have a 65gal corner tank and just installed a heater fit for "up to 100 gallons". The temperature in this tank, which contains my red scat, was 70 degrees when I first pot the heater in. Overnight, it rose to about 81degrees.
<? This heater is not thermostatic? Has no control setting?>
 I unplugged it, feasting that even on it's lowest setting it's still too strong for my tank.
<If so, then it's defective. Return/exchange it for another. See WWM, bb's for input re brands/manufacturers>
How warm is too warm for a juvenile scat?
<Upper 70's F is about right... too warm will shorten this animals life>
Will the heater just keep warming the water indefinitely?
<Hopefully no. You need a thermostatic make>
 I'm new to heaters, so this is troubling.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Addendum to heaters/scats       11/26/13

Sorry about this, I just remembered additional questions.
<No worries>
There is a vent about 3 to 5 feet from the tank. One side of the tank is adjacent to my arcadia door, and I have that area insulated with layers of blanket so that as little cold passes from the door to the glass as possible. Now, if I keep the house heater at a steady 74 degrees, will this possibly eliminate the need for my overactive heater?
<I'd still use one. BobF>
The vent from which the warm air comes is, as I said, only a very sort distance from the tank.
Thanks again.

Scat Confusion, sys./salt use     6/29/13
Hello again. I suppose I'm becoming a frequent writer. Today I was told that to be using marine salt to raise the salinity of my scats tank (he's about four inches at the moment) was NOT the way to go- I should be using aquarium salt because marine will raise calcium, and this could damage my fish's organs and shorten his lifespan (!!).
<Utter rubbish. Who told you that…??? Scats live in the SEA. So the one thing you can be sure of is that they LOVE marine aquarium salt mix and the high calcium carbonate levels it brings. Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, or the generic brand of your choice -- it's all good.>
Well, after having been using marine salt for two months to gradually raise the salinity, we're at 1.004, and now I'm petrified I'm putting my little friend in danger.
He acts just fine- eats like a pig, reacts to me being near him with excitement (ohboyfoodfoodfood)...the only thing I've noticed is that his color is dark, and when he was at my work, they were bright. Am I harming him? How should I reverse this?
<See above.>
I was told to simply cease using marine salt and just use aquarium from now on to get the salinity up...I really hope I haven't harmed him. (I've been cycling the new 65 gallon I plan on putting him in...also with marine salt!! Would I reverse this the same way- or would a water change and then aquarium salt do the trick?)
-long winded Tori
<Rest easy, Tori; you are doing the right thing. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Scat Confusion    6/29/13

Good. My levels read as such- ammonia is at <1, nitrates/nitrites at 0. pH is ~8.2. Salinity now at 10. I wonder what could be making his colour so dark, then.
<Scats appreciate big tanks, strong water currents, and above all else, reasonably high salinity. Try upping the specific gravity to at least 1.005 and see what happens.>
On the calcium test (i used the Nutrafin test), it was two drops before the water turned people...so his calcium is low. Is there anything you can think of to brighten him up again?
<Carbonate hardness and calcium content of the water will go up with more marine salt being used. Furthermore, mix in some coral sand with any gravel used in the tank. Ideally, add a good handful of crushed coral into the canister filter (a filter media bag may be useful here).>
I don't know what could be stressing him to cause the darker colors. Thank you, though!
<Dark colours on Scats and Monos are usually environmental. Cheers, Neale.>
<<And secondarily from social (bullying) issues. BobF>>
Re: Scat Confusion    6/29/13
Environmental? Do you mean water quality wise, or literal environment (he seriously blends in perfectly with the tank and the decor. Sometimes its a chore to find him even when he's right in my face)?
<Either/any… you need to consider widely… water chemistry, pH stability, salinity, current (turnover/hour), tankmates, etc… Do start here:
Follow the links at top for more… the requirements of this species and its genus are quite well understood.>
Do you have any further suggestions about reviving the bright colors- other factors I may be missing? Thanks again...you guys are life savers.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Scat Confusion    6/29/13
Oh! And should I worry about magnesium and calcium? Where should they be for a small scat of about four inches or so?
<Decent water chemistry (high carbonate hardness + use of quality aquarium salt) should take care of this/these. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Scat Confusion    6/29/13
My bad! Last PS of the evening- I totally JUST realized that you're the same Neale Monks who wrote the book I've been devouring at work- the Brackish Fishes book. In my efforts to become a brackish specialist I've been reading it cover to cover, and I enjoy it very much!
<I'm very glad to hear this!>

Okay...whew. I think I'm done with post-haste thoughts, now- now I'm just curious about where his calcium and magnesium levels should be, or if I should even worry about those.
<See previous; in short, no, assuming salinity and hardness are adequate, they'll be taken care of.>
That, and other factors that could make him so dark. Sorry again if I seem a bother- this is my first brackish fish, and I adore him. I want him to be happy! :)
<Does he have tankmates? Scats are gregarious, and mix well with their own kind and with Monos and Green Chromides. Avoid two specimens though… three or more Scats works better, or singletons with trios of Monos or Green Chromides. Cheers, Neale.>

Aiptasia... Scat sys., acclimation to SW-BW-SW...   8/5/08 Hi Bob, I was just reading your Aiptasia article, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aiptasia.htm You mention Scats as eaters of Aiptasia; sounds useful. My only comment is you certainly don't need to acclimate them between fresh to > salt across weeks. Frank Schaefer in the Aqualog book talks about instantly taking these fish from one to another without causing > problems except with buoyancy. I think that's perhaps a little sudden, but certainly the drip method over 40-60 minutes works fine. Cheers, Neale <Mmm, have seen Scatophagids make such rapid transitions twixt marine, fresh, sewage water in the wild... I shy on the conservative side though when putting all in print... am not so sure the renal damage that might occur inadvertently with/for hobbyists (actually not them, but their Scats!). BobF>

Re: Aiptasia  8/5/08 Hi Bob, I'd have put "conservative" at 6 hours -- equivalent to one change of the tide between salt/fresh. Do like the idea of them swimming into "sewage water"! Cheers, Neale <Am very sure you know the transliteration of the genus, family names... Yuck! Cheers, and later to rinse my mouth with beers, BobF>

Scats, Monos, Neale's pc. on WWM   6/22/08 <No biggee as they say. I take it you want to replace the existing pc. on WWM with this? BobF> Re: Scats, Monos   6/22/08 Indeed. I tried to match the font, format so that you can simply cut 'n' paste. <Appreciated. Will post/supplant> You may wish to comment/correct the paragraphs on use of Scats and Monos in marine aquaria. I've essentially said they're excellent for fish-only systems, but their predatory (Monos) and omnivorous (Scats) habits make them less good in reef tanks. <Mmm, okay... am more "liberal" in my estimations/utterances re such issues of suitability... After all... these fishes/species are indeed encountered on reefs... Cheers! BobF> Thanks! Neale Re: Scats, Monos   6/22/08 Hi Bob, <Big N> I wouldn't disagree, and have often seen both in public aquarium reef tanks, where they seem to do very well. (Here in the UK at least, Monos are staples for "big fish" systems alongside nurse sharks, groupers and the like.) <Am out visiting in Portland, OR, and an old friend/associate in the trade, "R.D." has opened a marine livestock whlse. op. here recently... and was shipped a whole bunch of M. argenteus!!! It'll be a while selling these here> Just concerned that a Scat would demolish macroalgae without a second though, and Monos can/will eat small crustaceans, though apparently zooplankton feeders in the wild. Fishbase reports Scats to a depth of only 4 m (presumably at sea). Seem "fishy" to you? <Mmm, no... have seen these poop eaters mainly along coastlines, near freshwater, sewage, human outfalls... only in such shallow water. Cheers and biers, BobF> Cheers, Neale

Scatophagus in reef tank? Hello- <Hi Jane> I am wondering if a scat would do OK in a large reef tank. Would they eat all of my macroalgae or just nibble like a tang would? <Maybe... but likely not all of it. Should make a very interesting addition> I have been looking for an unusual big addition to my tank that eats a little algae but would leave corals and clams alone. I already have a Mono Sebae so I thought a weird brackish fish would be appropriate. Thanks very much. Your website is always a big help. I work in a fish store and recommend it all the time. -Lisa <Ahh, good to offer our help. Bob Fenner> <Marina's note: Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific has/had a beautiful collection of these fish in a "lagoonal" display - have never seen them look so good!>

Freshwater to brackish (Scats) 10/30/07 Hi there and thanks for taking time to read this. <Hello.> Last April I purchased 2 silver scats for my 55 gal FRESHWATER tank. This is a bit of a sore subject as my mom and pop fish shop sold them to me as FW fish, they claim to sell nothing related to salt or brackish water systems. Yeah right! I recently discovered several of the species of fish acquired from them are brackish which most likely explains their deaths (puffers, flounder and a shark species). <Brackish water fish can and do last long periods (certainly several months, but in some cases years) in freshwater. Unless these fish died after a period of multiple months, then there's no reason to assume lack of salt was fatal. Check other factors, such as water quality.> Although I am happy to say the Scats and Flounders are doing well, for now. <Don't bank on it. The sooner you move them to brackish water, the better.> They (the Scats) are getting close to 5 inches in length and from what I have read they would prefer to be converted to a brackish environment at about this size. <Correct.> This is a subject that I know next to nothing about but I am trying to educate myself about the brackish tank setup. <Many articles here at WWM to set you on your course. There are also at least two books on the subject, one edited by me for TFH, and another from Aqualog written by Frank Schaefer.> My question(s) are: How long can these guys live in a totally FW tank? <Months, but not indefinitely. After around 6 months you will notice them becoming more sensitive to opportunistic infections. Fungus, Finrot, Lymphocystis, and Pop-eye are all things that plague Scats kept in the wrong conditions.> Will adding aquarium salt, designed for FW, help or hinder them? <Not much help.> Are fish covered in the federal governments "cruelty to animals" laws? ( I know this last question is from left field but I thought I would throw it out there) <In theory many countries have rules about cruelty to vertebrates generally, including fish. Here in the UK, labs and zoos certainly do have to adhere to specific guidelines about avoiding suffering and providing adequate care. How these apply to home aquarists is less clear, but in theory you could be prosecuted. I'm not a lawyer and can't speak for your country (which you don't name) but I can tell you that here in the UK the Animal Welfare Act 2006 would allow a private citizen to be prosecute for things like "Failing to ensure the welfare needs of an animal are met" and "Causing an animal to suffer unnecessarily". Under this Act, the covered animals are any "living vertebrate animal", which includes fish. Of course, I should like to think anyone keeping fish would be adhering to the spirit of this law regardless of whether or not they were being forced to. After all, if a person doesn't want to care for an animal, then they have the choice not to keep that animal.> and finally- Is it best to start with a new tank for a brackish setup or can a tank that currently houses FW fish be converted? <It can be converted just fine. Go slowly so the filter adjusts. The minimum specific gravity for your fish is likely SG 1.005, or about 9 grammes of salt per litre of water. The optimum is about SG 1.010, about 15.5 grammes of salt per litre. Do a series of water changes over the next few weeks, adding slightly more salty water each time. Don't take the SG up by more than "two points" on the SG scale, i.e., no more than SG 1.000 to SG 1.002, or SG 1.002 to SG 1.004. Don't make bigger jumps than that because you could stress the filter bacteria. Some plants don't like salt. But that said, Scats eat all plants anyway so that's probably a moot point. Otherwise things like gravel, filters, heaters etc all work fine in brackish water even if bought for a freshwater tank.> It was bought used so I do not know what types of meds and chemicals the previous owners used. <Shouldn't make a difference. The only possible problem would be if the tank was really old and had a cast iron or steel frame. Metal corrodes in salty water. But I haven't seen a metal-framed tank for ages.> Thanks again for taking the time, My scitty-Scats and myself greatly appreciate it! Regards, ET <Scats are great fish, and Silver Scats among the greatest. Truly beautiful animals, with colours as lovely as any coral reef fish. Do enjoy them, and enjoy "slightly salty" fishkeeping. Good luck, Neale>

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