Scatophagus argus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Scatophagidae

Scientific Name: Scatophagus argus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Spotted Scat, Argus Fish, Butterfish, Butter Fish, Common Scat, Leopard Scat, Scat, Spotted Butt, Spotted Butterfish, Spotted Butter Fish, Spotted Scad
French Pavillon Tacheté
Spanish Pingo Manchado
Chaetodon argus Linnaeus, 1766
Chaetodon atromaculatus Bennett, 1830
Chaetodon pairatalis Hamilton, 1822
Ephippus argus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Scatophagus aetatevarians De Vis, 1884
Scatophagus argus argus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Scatophagus argus ocellata Klunzinger, 1880
Scatophagus bougainvillii Cuvier, 1831
Scatophagus maculatus Gronow, 1854
Scatophagus ornatus Cuvier, 1831
Scatophagus purpurascens Cuvier, 1831
Scatophagus quadranus De Vis, 1884

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-02-04
Assessor(s): Collen, B., Richman, N., Beresford, A., Chenery, A. & Ram, M. (Sampled Red List Index Coordinating Team)
Reviewer(s): Carpenter, K.E., Livingstone, S. & Polidoro, B.
Contributor(s): De Silva, R., Milligan, H., Lutz, M., Batchelor, A., Jopling, B., Kemp, K., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Smith, J. & Livingston, F.
Scatophagus argus has been assessed as Least Concern.  This species has a very large distribution, extending from the Persian Gulf to the east coast of Australia.  Although harvested for food, medicine, and the aquarium trade, it is of little commercial importance.  This species is also able to utilise a number of habitat types that undergo large scale environmental fluctuations, indicating resilience and adaptability.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Scatophagus argus is distributed from the Persian Gulf, past India, and into the western Pacific.  Its distribution extends from Japan in the north, to New South Wales, New Caledonia, and Fiji in the south (Randall 2005).  The FAO (2001) states that the distribution of this species also extends further east in the Pacific, to French Polynesia.  Scatophagus argus has also been recorded from Micronesia.
Countries occurrence:
Australia; Bangladesh; Cambodia; China; Fiji; French Polynesia; Hong Kong; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Japan; Kuwait; Malaysia; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Myanmar; New Caledonia; Oman; Pakistan; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Samoa; Singapore; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Tonga; Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):4
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is no population information available for Scatophagus argus.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The scat, Scatophagus argus, is usually found in estuaries, harbours, mangrove sloughs, and the lower reaches of fresh water streams, especially those with high mineral concentrations.  Tiny juveniles float in the surface film (Kuiter and Debelius 2001).  This species feeds on benthic algae, plant matter, and small benthic invertebrates.  It is a schooling species.  Individuals typically grow to 20–30 cm.  Filipino fishers believe the dorsal, anal, and pelvis spines are venomous and capable of inflicting painful wounds.
Systems:Freshwater; Marine
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Scatophagus argus is harvested as a food source using traps and nets.  However, it is not thought to be of commercial importance due to its small size.  It is also used in Chinese medicine and for the aquarium trade.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Scatophagus argus is harvested as a food source using traps and nets.  However, due to its small size, it is not thought to be of commercial importance.  It is also used in Chinese medicine and for the aquarium trade.  However, due to the low commercial value of this species and its venomous spines, harvesting is not considered a major threat at present.

This species occurs in some estuarine environments that are subject to high levels of contaminants from shipping (oil and fuel leaks, ballast water, anti-fouling paints), coastal development, and pollution from upstream.  However, these are localised threats, and not known throughout its entire range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for Scatophagus argus.  However, it may occur in a number of marine protected areas.  Further research on the harvest levels and extent of harvest of this species is needed.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
12. Marine Intertidal -> 12.7. Marine Intertidal - Mangrove Submerged Roots

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.6. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 International : ✓ 

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