Scrawled Filefish – Aluterus scriptus

The Scrawled Filefish, also known as Scribbled Leatherjacket Filefish, Scrawled Leatherjacket, Scribbled Fish, Broom-tail File, Scrolled Filefish, Tobaccofish or Broomtail Filefish is a species in the order of the Tetraodontiformes and thus belongs to the superclass of the bony fish.

Scrawled Filefish - Aluterus scriptus Martin Osteichthyes bony fish diving canary islands species atlantic ocean
Scrawled Filefish – Aluterus scriptus


Aluterus scriptus has a brown, olive or grey colour, depending on the habitat. Its body is decorated with black and bright, blue dots. Its tail fin is light-dark striped. In addition, its body is elongated and laterally compressed.

The eyes of the Scrawled Filefish are prominent, large and orange with black pupils. On his forehead, between its eyes, it has a horn that he can erect orretract.

Aluterus scriptus is up to 110cm long.

Habitat and Distribution

The Scrawled Filefish lives in lagoons, coral reefs, rocky reefs, sea grass meadows, wrecks or in the open water, in depths down to 120m.

Near the coast, it can be observed mostly on steep walls or external reefs.

When diving in the Canaries it is rather rare to see. This is probably due to the fact that he is very shy and is already doing a runner on distant sightings.

Except in the Canary Islands, it is found worldwide in tropical and subtropical oceans or seas. Among other places, it is found in the western Atlantic, along the west coast of America and in the Pacific south of Japan all the way to the Great Barrier Reef.


Aluterus scriptus lives solitaire or in pairs.

It feeds on algae, crustaceans, sea grass, hydrozoa, gorgonians, molluscs and anemones.

In case of danger, it hides itself in cracks and erects its horn to wedge.

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