The filefish is related to the triggerfish from the Balistidae family and are members of the Monacanthidae family. They have a more elongated body and flatter body than the triggerfish. Its ‘monikers’ are leatherjackets and foolfish.

Peculiar of note is that the first dorsal fin consists virtually of only one thin ray. You will find that the skin is covered with scales of a smaller size.

The habitats or living environments of a filefish varies; from lagoons with seaward reefs and to beds of seagrass to estuaries. Some are keen on patrolling near dense patches of seaweed, called sargassum.

The filefish isn’t particularly renowned for its aquatic qualities; it isn’t a very good swimmer. They appear solitary, in small groups or in pairs. Some species are herbivorous, feeding on algae only, some are invertivores, feasting on tunicates and gorgonians, or nibble on corals, classified as corallivores.

Family Members

Broom Filefish

Size up to 20 cm  (0,65ft). Depth up to 18m (59ft)

Look out for sandy areas, patches of rubble and coral heads and you’ll have a big chance to hit upon the diurnal and solitary broom filefish. It can be identified by its slate grey/brownish coloration and a dozen of brownish crossbars. It has high and compressed features.

Harlequin Filefish

Size up to 7 cm  (0,23ft). Depth up to 12m (39ft)

The diurnal harlequin, tiny as it may be, is a spectacularly beautiful fish, its blue body dotted with orange/yellow spots, giving rise to the moniker of orange-spotted filefish. It lives in pairs on fringing reefs, living the life of a corallivore.

Scribbled/Scrawled Filefish

Size up to 110 cm (3,6ft). Depth up to 80m (262ft)

The solitary and diurnal scribbled filefish has an elongated, compressed body with an olive-greenish tone, decorated with black spots and blue-striped accents. It’s tiny medial fins do not contribute to a fast locomotion, whilst roaming for algae, anemones and tunicates in lagoons or on outer reef slopes.

Other Family Members

Fuzzy Filefish

Lozenge Filefish

Honeycomb Filefish