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Scientific Classification

Subfamily: Caracanthinae

  • Caracanthus

Subfamily: Pteroinae

  • Brachypterois
  • Dendrochirus
  • Ebosia
  • Parapterois
  • Pterois

Subfamily: Scorpaeninae

  • Hipposcorpaena
  • Hoplosebastes
  • Idiastion
  • Iracundus
  • Neomerinthe
  • Neoscorpaena
  • Parascorpaena
  • Phenacoscorpius
  • Pogonoscorpius
  • Pontinus
  • Pteroidichthys
  • Pteropelor
  • Rhinopias
  • Scorpaena
  • Scorpaenodes
  • Scorpaenopsis
  • Sebastapistes
  • Taenianotus
  • Thysanichthys
  • Ursinoscorpaenopsis
  • Yacius[2]
Lionfish range map in 2009
Lionfish range map in 2009.jpg

Scorpionfish are any of the species of bony fish in the taxonomic family Scorpaenidae. They are best known for being the world's most venomous fish, named the scorpion of fish for its multiple sharp, venomous spines.[3] They are mostly found in the Indo-Pacific. Sometimes they can be confused with the cabezones, of the genus Scorpaenichthys. They are different, but very similar families[4].


A red Lacey Scorpionfish Rhinopias aphanes

Scorpionfish have large, uneven, spiny heads and compacted bodies. They are well camouflaged with tassels, warts, and colored spots. Some of them can change color to match their surroundings[5].It can blend with its surroundings making its prey think that the Scorpionfish is a piece of reef, where it would normally hide. There the Scorpionfish attacks its deceived prey[6].

Scorpionfish also have venomous spines on their backs and fins[7]. The spines are venomous because venom from venom sacks is secreted and coats the spines. Scorpionfish are calm creatures and do not often attack. If they feel threatened,in order to defend themselves they stick out their dorsal spines[8].

As many other venomous animal, the Scorpionfish has a fantastic display of colors to warn off predators. The only difference is that these colors are not permanent like most animals because it would ruin its camouflage abilities, so instead it used technique called "flashing", in which it can change its colors at will[9].


Scorpionfish are oviparous, which means they lay eggs. The eggs are laid in a clear or greenish, gelatinous walls of hollow pear-shaped sacks, which floats near the surface. The eggs hatch within 5 days[10]. The breeding time for Scorpionfish is usually in late spring or early summer[11].When it's time to spawn, some Scorpionfish travel up to 220 miles to meet their mate. There, they gather on the ocean floor during the day and raise to the surface at night to spawn[12].


Devil Scorpionfish S. diabola hiding under rocks waiting for its prey.


  • Scorpionfish usually feed on crustaceans, cephalopods and other smaller fish. It uses a lie-in-wait strategy, remaining motionless and trapping its prey with its large mouth when it comes near. The mouth opens up as a giant hole that works as a vacuum sucks its prey in and instant (15 milliseconds)[13]. The Scorpionfish does not only go after smaller prey, but also, thanks to its enormous mouth, they are able to swallow prey over half its own size [14].


  • This mostly sedentary life does have its downsides for the Scorpionfish. It becomes the host to parasites, algae and crustaceans due to the endless amount of time it spends motionless waiting for its prey. To the Scorpionsfish's advantage, it has the ability to shed its outer layer, making it easy for it to get ride of the unwanted parasites[15].
  • Most Scorpionfish are mainly found in the colder regions of the worlds oceans, only a handful are found in warm oceans.They usually inhabit shallow waters, but can be also found in a depth of 7200ft[16]. For the most part they are solitary creatures, living in caves or reefs[17],but may be found in pairs during mating season.[18].

Aquarium Care

Despite being poisonous, Scorpionfish are now also found in aquariums because of their attractive colors. Taking care of these fish can be easy, but you must follow some basic requirements.


  • Usually they are given live foods like ; fresh water fish or marine water fish.However you must chose carefully because feeding them goldfish continually can lead to thiamine deficiency, which can kill the fish due to loss of nervous system coordination. To prevent this tragedy , you can enhance with prepared foods.

Other fish

  • You must be careful when placing other fish in the tank because most likely the Scorpionfish will eat them, or they can harm each other. Example: scorpionfish will consume the toadfish and vice versa.


  • When making your aquarium make sure to keep the natural environment based on the requirements of your particular species[19].

Scorpionfish Sting

When you are swimming in a shallow sea, coming across a Scorpionfish is possible. If you accidentally step on its spines,in less than a minute, the Scorpionfish will raise its spines and sting you. The venom from the spines are very risky, and the first thing to do is to wash the area with warm water. Seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible. After the sting you might have the fallowing symptoms: pain, swelling, diarrhea, fainting, vomiting, paralysis, delirium, and nausea [20].