fishes text index | photo index
Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes > Family Monacanthidae
Bearded filefish
Anacanthus barbatus

Family Monacanthidae
updated Sep 2020

Where seen? This long filefish with a 'beard' was seen on Cyrene Reef during a seine net survey of the fishes there. It is also sometimes seen on other shores. Elsewhere it is found in shallow waters in sandy, weedy areas, also muddy estuaries and mangroves. It is said to be seen lining up with ropes, seawhips, large stringy-type sponges, as well as mangrove roots. It may also float over the open bottom and may stand on its head. In this way, it may mimic mangrove propagules, sea pens and probably seagrass.

Features: To 35cm. Highly elongated fish with a long body flattened sideways, and a long large tail fin. It has an upturned mouth and a barbel under its chin that it can straighten out so that the fish looks like a pointed stick. Like other filefishs, it has a flap under its body but it is tiny.

Sometimes mistaken for other fishes that resemble sticks. Here's more on how to tell apart stick-like fishes commonly seen on our shores.

Tanah Merah, Sep 11
Photo shared by Neo Mei Lin on her blog.

Cyrene Reef, May 08

Tiny uptuned mouth.
Barbel under the chin
that can be straightened out.

Like other filefishes, it has a flap under the body.

Bearded filefish on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Tanah Merah, Feb 11
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Sentosa Marina, May 2018



  • Sam Shu Qin. Bearded leatherjacket at Sentosa. 31 July 2018. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2018: 72-73 ISSN 2345-7597. National University of Singapore.
  • Tan Heok Hui and Lee Bee Yan. 31 October 2014. Bearded leatherjacket from Changi. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 290
  • Allen, Gerry, 2000. Marine Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
  • Lieske, Ewald and Robert Myers. 2001. Coral Reef Fishes of the World Periplus Editions. 400pp.
links | references | about | email Ria
Spot errors? Have a question? Want to share your sightings? email Ria I'll be glad to hear from you!
wildfactsheets website©ria tan 2008