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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes > Family Monacanthidae
Feathery filefish
Chaetodermis penicilligerus

Family Monacanthidae
updated Sep 2020

Where seen? This amazing 'fluffy' fish is sometimes seen on some of our shores, near seagrasses and coral rubble. It may be quite common but just overlooked due its superb camouflage. Sometimes a few small ones may school together, the group resembling flotsam. It was previously called Chaetodoerma penicilligera. It is sometimes also called the prickly, tasselled or leafy filefish.

Features: To about 31cm, those seen about 8-10cm. Smaller ones 2-3cm sometimes seen among seagrasses. Body more disk-shaped (circular). Distinguished by thick feathery tassel-like extensions all over the body including the dorsal spine. Dark stripes along the sides of the body, sometimes with short bright blue lines. Seen in a wide variety of colours from shades of green, blue, purple and brown. Tail fin large, triangular and mostly transparent.

Only a little bigger than a seagrass leaf.
Changi, May 05

Looks just like seaweed.
Pulau Sekudu, Aug 06

Three fishes together resembling flotsam.
Tanah Merah, Sep 11

Tanah Merah, Sep 09

Tassels even on its dorsal spine.
Human uses: It is considered good eating in some places although it is not known to be marketed.

Feathery filefishes on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Changi, Nov 18
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Beting Bronok, Jun 17
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Siloso, May 09
Photo shared by Ivan Kwan on his blog.

Big Sisters Island, Aug 08
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on flickr.

Tanah Merah, Jun 09
Photo shared by James Koh on flickr.

Tanah Merah, Jun 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Pulau Semakau, Sep 11
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Pulau Hantu, Jun 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.



  • 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.
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