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Filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus), are marine fish, which belong to the family of Monacanthidae. This is a vast family, which consists of about 100 species, which could be further divided into 25 different genera. These fishes have more common names such as shingles, leatherjackets and foolfish. These fish grow up to a size of (4 to 8) inches long. They vary in color from grass-green or olive gray to yellowish brown. Darker blotches or cross bands are present on their body. The anal and dorsal fins are pinkish in color and have three dark spots on their base. Their caudal fin is greenish, dark and pale in color.

Habitat and Behavior
These fishes are found in the tropical and subtropical parts of the Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. They are found in the shallow water of the sea and rarely found below the depth of 100 feet. These species are found in coral reefs, lagoons and sea grass beds. Some of them are found in estuaries and the younger ones are often found in open waters. These species vary in behavior. Some live alone, some in pairs and some like to live in groups. These fishes are not a very good swimmer and the reason is that they are very small with very small fins. They spent most of their time hiding in the sea weed.

As far as food habits are considered, they vary from each other in their family. Some of them are herbivores, which feed on sea grass and algae, whereas some of them are omnivores, which feed on plant matter as well as on small invertebrates.

Breeding / Reproduction
These fishes vary even in their reproductive behavior. Usually, the male of this species prepare the nest where the eggs are being deposited. When the eggs are deposited the nest is guarded either by the female or both the parents.

Filefish Varieties
Some of the popular varieties of filefish are as follows:


  • Colored Filefish
    : This species is also known as Blackheaded filefish because their head is black. The color of their body is red or orange. It is a non-aggressive and peaceful fish, which can be very well-kept in an aquarium of 30 gallon. They like to feed on scallop, squid, mysis shrimp, etc.
  • Matted Filefish
    : The color of these fish varies from tan, brown to mottled green. They are also peaceful and non-aggressive fish and are shy in their nature. These fish can be kept in an aquarium of 30 gallon. Their diet also consists of mysis shrimp, marine algae and squids.
  • Fantail Orange Filefish
    : These are very colorful fish with a colorful tail of black, yellow or orange color. The color of their body is brown or silver. They are also peaceful and non-aggressive fish and can be very well -kept in an aquarium of 50 gallon size. The diet of this fish consists of mysis shrimp, marine algae and squids.