Latin name

Scorpaenopsis oxycephalus

Other names

Small-scaled scorpionfish


It has an elongated body, tapering posteriorly. The orbit is narrow. The superior temporal and supraorbital spinules are simple. On the back of the head they are either absent or very flat. They have a very long snout, and adults have numerous tentacles that form a beard around the mouth. The supraorbital and posterior ophthalmic awn are strongly fused in adults. The space between the supraorbital awn is bare. Juveniles are slender with a high dorsal fin. 

Features of fish fins

The dorsal fin has 12 spines and 9 soft rays, and the anal fin has 3 spines and 5 soft rays. 

Fish colouring

These fish have a mottled and variable pattern of reddish brown coloration with white spots, often with a darker triangular area under the eye that extends back along the cheek. This species has a unique bright orange coloration and pattern that allows it to camouflage well among rocky reefs.


Widespread in the Indo-Pacific region, extending from the Red Sea south to Sodwana Bay in South Africa, across the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf east to New Guinea, south to Australia, and north to Taiwan and probably the Ryukyu Islands in southern Japan. In Australian waters, the species occurs on the northwest shelf off Western Australia, Cartier Island in the Timor Sea, and the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland, as well as Christmas Island. They have been reported from Falls Bay in South Africa. 


A marine tropical species, they inhabit the outer slopes of reefs and clear water channels at depths from 1 to at least 35 m, in areas with mixed rock and coral substrate. 


This species reaches a maximum published total length of 36 cm (14 inches), which is the largest species in the genus Scorpaenopsis.


Solitary species.

Food and feeding habits

A nocturnal predator that ambushes fish and crustaceans. 


Internal fertilization is used. 


Sometimes harvested by submarine fishermen and as bycatch in trawls.

Relationship with a person

In shallow water, swimmers may accidentally step on them, causing painful injuries from the venomous spines. 

Sometimes these fish enter the aquarium trade.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Scorpaeniformes
Family Scorpaenidae
Genus Scorpaenopsis
Species S. oxycephalus
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg No information
Maximum length, cm 36
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Not edible
Way of eating Predator

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