Common name: Family TETRAROGIDAE - Fortesques, Sailback Scorpionfishes, Wasp Fishes



Well-camouflaged ambush predators with a large movable spine under each eye that can be projected outwards.

Like all scorpaeniform fishes, these bottom-dwelling fishes have well-developed venom glands associated with the sharp spines on the head and fins. They should be handled very carefully, as the wounds inflicted by their spines are extremely painful and potentially dangerous.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, TETRAROGIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

The  family Tetrarogidae, previously included as a subfamily of the Scorpaenidae, comprises 16 genera and about 40 species In Australia, 13 genera and 15 described species are known.

Family Distribution

Widespread in the tropical and temperate Indo-west Pacific, and in the south-eastern Atlantic off southern Africa; found in a variety of coastal marine and estuarine habitats. The Bullrout, Notesthes robusta, is usually confined to fresh water.

Family Description

The family is defined by a number of internal characters, including the lack of a narrow sensory canal between the pterotic and preopercular bones, the anterior dorsal proximal pterygiophores are sutured to the neurocranium, and the lack of a supracarinalis anterior. The lacrimal bone (infraorbital 1) is highly mobile, hinged to the lateral ethmoid dorsally and abutting but not firmly bound to the first suborbital bone (infraorbital 2) posteriorly. The ventral-most pectoral-fin rays are not detached or separated from the more dorsal pectoral-fin rays; second suborbital bone (third infraorbital) is notably longer than deep, not covering the entire cheek, and usually not forming a wide connection to the preopercle. The skin at the gill openings is connected to each other or not broadly connected to isthmus.

Family Size

Although one species grows to about 81 cm in length, most are relatively small and less than 15 cm in length.

Family Colour

Well-camouflaged fishes, usually with mottled colour patterns.

Family Feeding

Well-camouflaged ambush predators that feed mostly on other fishes and crustaceans.

Family Reproduction

Oviparous, sexes separate. Eggs and larvae are planktonic.

Family Commercial

Some species are of minor commerical interest.

Family Remarks

Tetrarogidae: Greek, tetra = four + Greek, rogos = wrinkled


Dianne J. Bray


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