28 photos - 12 species


There are 26 genera with over 100 species.

They are closely related to the triggerfish.

They also look similar, although the filefish have a slimmer and longer body.

They also have only one or two (instead of three) dorsal spines.

Depending on the species, they reach a size of between 4 cm and 1.1 m.

Acreichthys tomentosus

Bristle-tail filefish or Aiptasia-eating filefish

Maximum length: 7 cm

Depth: 1 - 25 m

Can adapt coloration to the substrate.

Has a V-shaped marking (not always visible) in the middle of the side.

Found on sandy areas near the coast and on slopes with small algae fields.

Mostly traveling singly.

Photos 1 - 2 Astrid: Lembeh Strait North Sulawesi

Photo 3 Johnny: Lembeh Strait North Sulawesi

Aluterus scriptus

Scrawled filefish, Broomtail filefish or Scribbled leatherjacket

Maximum length: 1m

Depth: 2 - 80 m

Largest filefish species.

There are different color variants.

Shy and solitary.

The scales have small spines and are as rough as a file, hence its name.

Photo: 1 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Photo 2 Johnny: El Quesir Egypt

Photos 3 - 5 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Cantherhines fronticinctus

Spectacled filefish

Maximum length: 25 cm

Depth: 2 - 25 m

This filefish is a less common filefish,

usually seen in sheltered seaward reefs with rich coral cover but also in harbors.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Bangka Island North Sulawesi

Cantherhines macrocerus

Whitespotted filefish, American whitespotted filefish or

Whitespotted limefish

Maximum length: 45 cm

Depth: 3 - 25 m

Visible, enlarged belly appendage, orange spines on the tail root, whitish snout.

There are two color forms, one with large white spots, the other without spots.

Swim in pairs over the reef, and usually both varieties.

Curious, with slow movements you can get close to them.

Photo 1 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Photo 2 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Cantherhines pullus

Orangespotted filefish

Maximum length: 21 cm

Depth: 5 - 20 m

White spot on the caudal fin and body covered with orange spots.

The most common color form has broad dark brown and narrow dull yellow longitudinal stripes.

Color can fade or become completely brown.

It is usually found near the bottom, hidden in gorgonians and staghorn corals.

Shy, hides in holes and crevices when approached.

Photo 1 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Photos 2 - 3 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Cantherhines pardalis

Honeycomb filefish, Honeycomb leatherjacker or Wire-netting filefish

Maximum length: 25 cm

Depth: 1 - 25 m

Brown honeycomb pattern with a white spot on the root of the tail.

It is regularly found on coral-rich slopes of lagoons and on outer reefs,

as well as in seagrass and kelp zones, always close to hiding places.


Photo 1 Johnny: El Qesir Egypt

 Monacanthus ciliatus

Fringed filefish, Cuckold or Leather-fish

Maximum length: 13 cm

Depth: up to 50 m

The filefish is found on sandy and rocky bottoms.

However, it is more often found on grass beds or sea grasses, for example, where it hangs upside down.

Photos 1 - 2 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Monacanthus tuckeri

Slender filefish

Maximum length: 10 cm

Depth: 3 - 20 m

Its body usually has a white net pattern.

Otherwise its body, snout and head are slender and elongated.

Its coloration ranges from brown to grey, or yellowish to reddish brown,

its coloration can change drastically, fading or darkening to camouflage itself.

Its ventral lobe usually has a yellowish edge.

It lives in reefs, usually vertically between the branches of a gorgonian,

where it is difficult to spot due to its good camouflage.

Not shy, you can get close as it does not want to leave "its" gorgonian.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Photo 3 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Oxymonacanthus halli

Red sea longnose filefish

Maximum length: 7 cm

Depth: 0.3 - 30 m

Blue body with orange spots.

It can be found as a pair or in small groups between Millepora fire corals

or in Acropora thickets from which it eats the polyps.

Photo 1 Johnny: El Qesir Egypt

Photo 2 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Paraluteres prionurus

Blacksaddle filefish

Maximum length: 10 cm

Depth. 1 - 25 m

Mimics the venomous jugfish Canthigaster valentini

almost identically in color and shape, which protects it from predators.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Bangka Island North Sulawesi

Pervagor nigrolineatus

Blacklined filefish

Maximum length: 8 cm

Depth: 1 - 25 m

Very difficult to find, hides immediately when there is movement in its surroundings. 

Can be found in corals, sheltered lagoons, or in sandy and muddy substrates.

Photo 1 Johnny: Lembeh Strait North Sulawesi

Pseudomonacanthus macrurus

Strap-weed filefish

Maximum length: 18 cm

Depth: 3 - 25 m

Also known as the bowfin filefish, it is found in shallow coastal areas,

often in reefs but also in regions overgrown with algae in coastal waters.

Adult specimens are usually found in pairs.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bangka Island North Sulawesi

Photo 2 Astrid: Bali Indonesia