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Related FAQs: Indonesian Biotopes

Indonesia Underwater: Scorpionfishes Fishes of All Sorts

Bob Fenner

Dactyloptena orientalis

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Order Scorpaeniformes, the "Mail-Cheeked Fishes", 25 families, about 166 genera, 1,271 species. There are " a bunch " of "scorpionfishes" to put it mildly. All have large heads, most with large eyes and mouths to match... for the most part sedentary to slow moving, stalking fishes... many are venomous... with hollow dorsal fin spines that can inject (with mechanical pressure) powerful proteinaceous toxin... These stings HURT! Mechanically and chemically. Here we'll list just the commonly encountered shallow marine species in our area of Indonesia.

    Suborder Dactylopteroidei, Family Dactylopteridae, the Flying Gurnards. Two genera, about 7 species, three in Indonesia.

Dactyloptena orientalis (Cuvier 1829), the Oriental Flying Gurnard. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, East Africa to Hawai'i, Tuamotus, Marquesas. To 40 cm. Demersal; lives on shallow sandy bottoms. Only member of genus found on oceanic islands. N. Sulawesi images.

    Suborder Scorpaenoidei. Contains world's most venomous fishes. Seven families, about 96 genera, 544 species.

        Family Scorpaenidae, the Scorpionfishes and Rockfishes. 56 plus genera and 388 species.

            Subfamily Sebastinae, the Rockfishes. Important foodfishes. Four genera, about 128 species.

            Subfamily Scorpaeninae, various Scorpionfishes. 15 plus genera with more than 150 species.

Genus Parascorpaena: Seven species. One or two in Indo.

Parascorpaena mossambica (Peters 1855), the Mozambique Scorpionfish. Indo-West Pacific; East Africa to Australia, the Society Islands. To ten cm. in length. N. Sulawesi specimen. 

Genus Pteroidichthys: Two species. 

Pteroidichthys amboinensis Bleeker 1856, the Ambon or Hairy Scorpionfish. To about three inches in length. West Pacific. N. Sulawesi (Lembeh Strait) pic. http://www.fishbase.org/Summary
/SpeciesSummary.cfm? ID=23889&genusname=

Genus Rhinopias

Rhinopias frondosa (Gunther 1892), the Weedy Scorpionfish. Indo-Western Pacific; East coast of Africa to the Carolines, southern Japan. To 23 cm. in length. N. Sulawesi specimen by Bob F, close-up of an aquarium specimen by Anthony C.. 

Genus Scorpaenopsis:

Scorpaenopsis diabolus (Cuvier 1829), the False Scorpionfish. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Hawai'i, Micronesia, Australia. To 30cm. Right, in Hawai'i. Below: N. Sulawesi images. 

Scorpaenopsis papuensis (Cuvier 1829), Papuan Scorpionfish. To ten inches in length. Indo-pan Pacific. A juvenile in N. Sulawesi. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/

Scorpaenopsis venosa (Cuvier 1829), the Raggy Scorpionfish. Indo-West Pacific; East Africa to the Philippines, down to Australia. To a foot in length. Often found lying on top of soft corals and sponges, disguised, waiting for a meal to come by. Shown here in N. Sulawesi, Indonesia.

            Subfamily Sebastolobinae. Three genera of five species.

            Subfamily Plectrogeninae. One genus, two species.

            Subfamily Pteroinae. The Lionfishes and Turkeyfishes:

Dendrochirus biocellatus (Fowler 1928), the Two/Twin-Spot, Roo or Fu Man Chu Lion is unmistakable with it's two eye spots on the rear dorsal fin area, and two whisker-like appendages extending from the lower jaw. To almost five inches in length. A wide-spread species found throughout the tropical Indian Ocean to the western Pacific, Mascarenes to Micronesia. Aquarium images.

Dendrochirus brachypterus ("Brack-hip-tur-us") (Cuvier 1829), The Shortfin Dwarf Lion is a rarer, more heavy bodied dwarf, often showing up with a good deal of yellow, brown and green mixed with red markings. Brach dwarfs are aptly named in reference to their very large pectoral fins with almost no emerging ray tips. This is one of the most personable marine species, quickly getting to recognize and respond to it's owners presence. Indo-West Pacific; East Africa, Red Sea to southern Japan, Australia, Micronesia. Here in the Red Sea and Mabul, Malaysia.

Dendrochirus zebra (Cuvier 1829), the Zebra Turkeyfish, is the most common dwarf lion is similar in many ways and degrees to P. antennata and P. sphex. The one sure distinguishing mark of D. zebra is the presence of two white spheres on it's caudal peduncle. To ten inches in length in the wild. Indo-West Pacific; Red Sea, East Africa, to Southern Japan, Australia. In Sulawesi.


Parapterois heterurus (Bleeker 1856), the Blackfoot Firefish. Indo-West Pacific; East Africa to Southern Japan. To eight inches in length. N. Sulawesi (Lembeh Strait) pic. 


Pterois antennata (Bloch 1787), the Antennata Lion or Broad-Banded Firefish to science. This is the third lion confused with the volitans and Luna species. You won't make this mistake. Antennata lions have strikingly different pectoral fin rays. These are long, the thickness of pencil lead and bright white. Also, remember the connection, between the name Antennata for it's relation to the black and white antennae (supraorbital flaps) and the six prominent spots on their face. To eight inches long. One in a typical day-time pose (apparently inverted) in Fiji, the lower in Moorea, French Polynesia, and one in N. Sulawesi.

Pterois miles (Bennett 1828), the Devil Firefish. Indian Ocean and Red Sea. To fourteen inches in length. An occasional import from the Red Sea, though so similar to the Volitans and more expensive to transport to the west that is rarely seen in the U.S. Red Sea images. 
Pterois mombasae (Smith 1957), the Frillfin or Mombasa Lionfish. Indo-West Pacific; South Africa to Sri Lanka, New Guinea. To a bit over six inches in length. This one at Quality Marine in Los Angeles. 

Pterois radiata Cuvier 1829, the Two-Bar Lion is the Radial Firefish. The most chameleonic of lions showing overtones of green, black and various shades of red over shocking white. The salient identifying characteristic of this species is the two while horizontal bars on the caudal peduncle, the part of the body right before the tail. N. Sulawesi and Red Sea specimens. To nine inches.

            Subfamily Setarchinae. Three genera, five species.

            Subfamily Neosebastinae. Two genera, twelve species.

            Subfamily Apistinae. Three monotypic genera.

            Subfamily Tetraroginae, Sailback Scorpionfishes or Wasp Fishes. 11 plus genera and 35 species.

Ablabys taenionotus (Cuvier 1829), the Cockatoo Waspfish. Tropical West Pacific; Indonesia, Philippines, Australia. To six inches in length. Found on sand and mud bottoms. N. Sulawesi photos.

Hypodytes rubripinnis Temminck & Schlegel 1843. Northwest Pacific; Japan, Philippines. To four and a quarter inches in length. Aquarium photos.

Paracentropogon longispinis (Cuvier 1829), Wispy Waspfish. To 8 cm. Indo-West Pacific; Thailand, Indonesia, Australia. Nocturnal for the most part. N. Sulawesi pic. 

            Subfamily Minoinae. One genus, 11 species.

            Subfamily Choridactylinae (Inimicinae). Two genera, ten species.

Inimicus didactylus (Pallas 1769), the Bearded Ghoul. Indo-West Pacific; Thailand to Vanuatu, up to China. To eight and a half inches in length. Very venomous to the touch. Aquarium photos. Below: Pix in N. Sulawesi.

            Subfamily Synanceinae, the Stonefishes proper. Six genera, ten species.

9 Genera, 31 Species: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/FamilySummary.cfm?ID=578

Synanceia horrida (Linnaeus 1766), the Estuarine Stonefish. Distinguished from the more common S. verrucosa by its much more elevated eyes. Aquarium photo. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/

Synanceia verrucosa Bloch & Schneider 1801, the Stonefish. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, East Africa to French Polynesia. To sixteen inches in length. The celebrated rock-like pug-ugly Stonefish (there are others called by this name). Worlds most widely distributed stonefish and most venomous. Here in an aquarium, and S. Sulawesi.  http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/CountrySpeciesSummary.cfm?Country=Indonesia&Genus=Synanceia&Species=verrucosa

    Family Caracanthidae, Orbicular Velvetfishes. One genus, four species.

    Family Aploactinidae, the Velvetfishes. Approximately 17 genera and 37 species.

    Family Pataecidae, Australian Prowfishes. Three genera and nine species.

    Family Gnathacanthidae, the Red Velvetfish. One species.

    Family Congiopodidae, the (bizarre) Racehorses, aka Pigfishes, Horsefishes. Four genera, 9 species.

    Family Triglidae, the Searobins or Gurnards. Divided into two subfamilies and three Tribes. 

Suborder Platycephaloidei, Crocodilefishes, Flatheads. Three families, 23 genera, about 75 species.

    Family Bembridae, the Deepwater Flatheads. Four genera, five species.

    Family Platycephalidae, Crocodilefishes or Flatheads. 18 genera of about 60 species.

Cymbacephalus beauforti (Knapp 1973), Crocodilefish. Western Pacific. To 50 cm. Fishbase coverage. N. Sulawesi image.  

    Family Hoplichthyidae, the Ghost Flatheads. One genus, ten species

And more I/we'll eventually list and go over like the sculpins/cottids, agonids/poachers, hexagrammids/greenlings... but not today.

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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