Scrawled Leatherjacket, Aluterus scriptus (Osbeck 1765)

Other Names: Figured Leather-jacket, Scribbled File-fish, Scribbled Leatherjacket, Scribbled leatherjacket filefish

A Scrawled Leatherjacket, Aluterus scriptus, at Bunaken Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Source: Bernard Dupont / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-ShareAlike


A large greyish, brownish or greenish-brown leatherjacket with a very large tail. The body is covered in dark spots and electric blue lines, and often has a dark blotch on the sides. Juveniles are sometimes yellowish-brown with dark spots.

Although Scrawled Leatherjackets usually inhabits reefs, they are occasionally seen under floating debris.

Video of a Scrawled Leatherjacket at Cebu in the Philippines.

Video of a Scrawled Leatherjacket at Balicasag Island, Bohol, Philippines.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Aluterus scriptus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Scrawled Leatherjacket, Aluterus scriptus (Osbeck 1765)

More Info


Found worldwide in tropical seas.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin II, 43-50; Anal fin 46-52.


Omnivores - feed on algae and seagrass, and a range of benthic invertebrates including gorgonian corals, colonial anemones, tunicates and hydrozoans.

Species Citation

Balistes scriptus Osbeck, 1765, Reise nach Ostindien und China: 145. Type locality: China and Bahamas.


Dianne J. Bray

Scrawled Leatherjacket, Aluterus scriptus (Osbeck 1765)


Allen, G.R. & M.V. Erdmann. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Volumes I-III. University of Hawai'i Press / Tropical Reef Research, Perth, Australia.

Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1988. Fishes of Christmas Island Indian Ocean. Christmas Island Natural History Association, Christmas Island, Indian Ocean, 6798, Australia. 197 p.

Allen, G.R. & W.F. Smith-Vaniz. 1994. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Res. Bull. 412:21 p.

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. 1977. Descriptions of three new genera and eight new species of monacanthid fishes from Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 5(1): 3-58 figs 1-13

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Monacanthidae. pp. 3929-3947 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls.

Osbeck, P. 1765. Reise nach Ostindien und China. Rostock 565 pp. 13 pls.  [translated from Swedish by J.G. Georgi]

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37465045

Behaviour:Reef associated, & around floating debris

Depth:2-100 m

Max Size:110 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map