Latin name

Scorpaena guttata

Other names

Spotted scorpionfish, scorpion, rattlesnake, bullhead, scorpene, sculpin; Spanish: rascacio californiano.


The fish has a stocky and slightly compressed body, as well as a large head and mouth. The coloration is red to brown, with dark spots on the body and fins, this fish is capable to change color abruptly to blend in with the background. It has large pectoral fins, 12 venomous dorsal spines, and venomous anal and pelvic fin spines. If these spines penetrate the skin, there is intense and excruciating pain in the wound area almost immediately. If more than one is punctured, the wound can cause shock, respiratory distress or abnormal heartbeat, sometimes leading to hospitalization of the victim.


In the eastern Pacific, the species is found from Santa Cruz, California, to Punta Abreojos, Baja California, including a closed population in the northern Gulf of California and on Guadalupe Island in Mexico.


These fish usually live in caves, crevices and rocky parts of bays along the shore, from just below the surface to depths of 600 feet. Resting quietly during the day among rocky reefs and kelp beds, they surface at night, and night divers often see them in the open near kelp beds and elgrass beds. Some are sometimes found on sandy or muddy bottoms.


Can grow to 17 inches and live for 15 years.

Life history and Behavior

The fish begin to spawn at the age of 3 or 4 years. Spawning takes place from April to August, most often at night. Eggs are laid in a single layer and hatch within 5 days.

Food and feeding habits

It feeds on crabs, squid, octopus, fish, and shrimp.


No information

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Scorpaeniformes
Family Scorpaenidae
Genus Scorpaena
Species S. guttata
Conservation status Data Deficient
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 15
Maximum body weight, kg No information
Maximum length, cm 40
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Scorpionfish, California

Tags: Scorpionfish, California