False Stonefish, Scorpaenopsis diabolus (Cuvier 1829)

Other Names: Devil Scorpionfish, False Scorpionfish

A False Stonefish, Scorpaenopsis diabolus, at North West Solitary Island, New South Wales, April 2013. Source: Ian Shaw / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A mottled whitish, reddish, orange, bluish, green or purple scorpionfish, with a large black spot on the yellowish-orange inner surface of the pectoral fin. When threatened, False Stonefish warn predators by "flashing" its pectoral fins, exposing the brightly coloured inner surface. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Scorpaenopsis diabolus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/2124

False Stonefish, Scorpaenopsis diabolus (Cuvier 1829)

More Info


North West Cape, Western Australia, to Byron Bay, New South Wales, also Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical Indo-west-central Pacific - from East Africa and the Red Sea to the Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia, north to southern Japan, and south to Australia and New Caledonia.
Pairs or individuals inhabit weedy and coralline-algal areas, often on reef flats.


Dorsal fin XII, 8-10; Anal fin III, 5- 6: Pectoral fin 18.

Body with a large head, an arched back, a pointed snout, lachrymal bone with 2 or 3 spines over maxillary, first points forward, followed by 1 or by 2 close-set spines pointing down and back; suborbital ridge with 4 or more spinous points, usually more than 8-10 points of various sizes, not in a row; a shallow pit below front corner of eye; uppermost spine above the gill opening branched. Dorsal fins short. About 45 vertical scale rows on body.  

Species Citation

Scorpaena diabolus Cuvier, 1829, Le Règne Animal 2: 166. Type locality: 'le grand Ocean oriental' (= Indo-Pacific).


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

False Stonefish, Scorpaenopsis diabolus (Cuvier 1829)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

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Cuvier, G. 1829. Le Règne Animal, distribué d'après son organisation, pour servir de base à l'histoire naturelle des animaux et d'introduction à l'anatomie comparée. Paris : Déterville Vol. 2, Edn 2, i-xv + pp. 1-406.

Halstead, B.W., Auerbach, P.S. & Campbell, D.R. 1990. A colour atlas of dangerous marine animals. Wolfe Medical Publications Ltd, W.S. Cowell Ltd, Ipswich, England. 192 pp.

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.

Motomura, H., Béarez, P. & Causse, R. 2011. Review of Indo-Pacific specimens of the subfamily Scorpaeninae (Scorpaenidae), deposited in the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris, with description of a new species of Neomerinthe. Cybium 33(1): 55-73.

Motomura, H. & Matsuura, K. 2016. Scorpaenopsis diabolus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T69918624A70009965. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T69918624A70009965.en. Downloaded on 03 October 2018.

Poss, S.G. 1999. Families Scorpaenidae, Caracanthidae, Aploactinidae. pp. 2291-2358 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 2069-2790 pp.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E. & Eschmeyer, W.N. 2001. Revision of the Indo-Pacific scorpionfish genus Scorpaenopsis, with descriptions of eight new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes 34: 1-79

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287081

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-70 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:30 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map