Southern Red Scorpionfish, Scorpaena papillosa ergastularum (Richardson 1842)

Other Names: Chained Scorpionfish, Common Red Gurnard, Common Red Rock Cod, Red Rock Cod, Southern Red Scorpioncod, Southern Rockcod

A Southern Red Scorpionfish, Scorpaena papillosa, at Tranmere, Tasmania. Source: William T. White. License: All rights reserved

A mottled reddish-brown to brown or blackish scorpionfish, often with a broad white band behind the eye, and a dark margin on the rear of the body scales. 
This Southern Red Scorpionfish is the only species in the genus Scorpaena with a pair of coronal spines on the interorbital space.
Wibowo & Motomura (2020) determined that Scorpaena papillosa comprised two subspecies, with S. papillosa ergastulorum occurring in south-eastern Australia, and S. papillosa papillosa in New Zealand..

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Scorpaena papillosa ergastularum in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jun 2024,

Southern Red Scorpionfish, Scorpaena papillosa ergastularum (Richardson 1842)

More Info


Lennox Head, New South Wales, to SW of Flinders Island, South Australia, and possibly further west to Fremantle, Western Australia. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand. Inhabits coastal reefs, with larger individuals preferring deeper waters.


Dorsal fin 10-11 rays.
Lacrimal bone with two upwardly directed spines, the anterior spine arising from the anterodorsal margin of the lacrimal bone and not part of lateral lacrimal spine.A pair of coronal spines on the interorbital space.


This well-camouflaged ambush predator feeds on a range of invertebrates, especially crustaceans, and fishes.


Taken as bycatch in commercial fisheries.

Similar Species

The Southern Red Scorpionfish is often confused with the Eastern Red Scorpionfish, Scorpaena jacksoniensis, a species with many filaments on the head. 

Species Citation

Scorpaena ergastulorum Richardson 1842, Annals and Magazine of Natural History ns 9(57): 217. Type locality: Port Arthur, Tasmania.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Southern Red Scorpionfish, Scorpaena papillosa ergastularum (Richardson 1842)


Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G. 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin 584 pp. 110 pls. (described as Synanceia papillosaSee ref as BHL

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp. (as Scorpaena papillosa)

Coleman, N. & Mobley, M. 1984. Diets of commercially exploited fish from Bass Strait and adjacent Victorian waters, southeastern Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 35(5): 549-560. (as Scorpaena papillosa)

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. 

Johnson, J.W. & Motomura, H. 2008. Family Scorpaenidae. pp. 488 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. (as Scorpaena papillosa)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. (as Scorpaena papillosa)

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. (as Scorpaena papillosa)

Kuiter, R. & Kuiter, S. 2018. Coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp. (as Scorpaena papillosa)

Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 1. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 5(3): 302-444 (as Scorpaena cruenta)

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp. (as Scorpaena papillosa)

Poss, S.G. 1994. Family Scorpaenidae. pp. 477-494 figs 428-441 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. (as Scorpaena papillosa, in part)

Richardson, J. 1842. Contributions to the ichthyology of Australia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History ns 9(57): 207-218 See ref at BHL

Richardson, J. 1842. Descriptions of Australian fish. Part 1. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 3(1)5: 69-131 figs 4-6 (p. 90, described as Scorpaena militarisSee ref at BHL

Whitley, G.P. 1964. A survey of Australian Ichthyology. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 89(1): 11-127 (as Ruboralga ergastulorum)

Wibowo, K. & Motomura, H. 2020. Review of the Scorpaena papillosa species complex (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae) with description of a new species from southwestern Australia. Zootaxa 4852 (5): 527–546 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287008

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-188 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:30 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map