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| Common names: filefish (English), leatherjacket (English), lija (Espanol) |
Aluterus scriptus (Osbeck, 1765)
Scrawled filefish, Scrawled leatherjacket
Body a very compressed elongated oval a long pointed snout, upper and lower profiles strongly concave; a small mouth that opens above center line; teeth moderately strong, six in outer row on top jaw and six or less on outer row on bottom jaw; gill opening a short slit on side before pectoral base; II dorsal spines, 1st long and slender, over eye, erectile, can be locked in position by small 2nd spine; dorsal II, 43-49; anal 43-49; pectoral 13-15; median fins rays unbranched; tail fin longer than snout, rounded, the back edge often ragged; tail base shorter than deep; scales minute, innumerable, equipped with small hairs, cover skin and give it a coarse texture like sand-paper; pelvic fins absent, no scales encasing area where pelvics should be; no patch of enlarged scales above pectoral base; lateral line inconspicuous.
Olive brown to grey with irregular blue spots and short lines and small black spots; pelagic juveniles may be brown with dark spots.
Size: grows to 110 cm.
Inhabits coral and rocky reefs, the young are sometimes seen around floating debris, at a considerable distance away from land; feeds on algae, hydrozoans, gorgonians, anemones, and tunicates.
Depth: 0-120 m.
Circumtropical distribution; southern Baja and the mouth of the Gulf of California to Ecuador, and all the oceanic islands.