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Scrawled filefish
Aluterus scriptus
(Osbeck, 1765)

Description:
Elongate, strongly compressed filefish with a long, broom-like tail. Snout concave. Body olive brown to gray in color, with blue to blue-green spots, irregular lines and black dots (A. scriptus 2). The elongated first spine of the front dorsal fin cannot be locked (A. scriptus).
Size up to 110 cm.
Juveniles may be yellowish brown with dark spots.

Habitat:
Inhabits lagoons and seaward reefs, down to 120 m. Occasionally are seen under floating objects. Feeds on algae, seagrass, hydrozoans, gorgonians, anemones and tunicates.
Juveniles are found in seagrass beds, where they imitate the blades of seagrass by assuming a posture with their heads pointed downwards whereas the tail performs undulating movements.

Distribution:
Common to occasional Florida, Bahamas and Caribbean.

Remarks:
Filefish have very small spines on their scales, which make their skin feel rough, almost like leather. In former times, seaman dried the skins and used these to light their matches.

Scrawled filefish (Aluterus scriptus)