Golden Scorpionfish, Parascorpaena aurita (Rüppell 1838)

Other Names: Byno Scorpionfish

A Golden Scorpionfish, Parascorpaena aurita, on Erskine Reef, Capricorn-Bunker Group, southern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, March 2017. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey via the Atlas of Living Australia. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A mostly greyish to brownish scorpionfish (sometimes reddish) with indistinct darker blotches, an indistinct dark blotch on the upper side in front of the first dorsal fin, often a yellowish snout, and many radiating lines on the iris.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2016, Parascorpaena aurita in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jun 2024,

Golden Scorpionfish, Parascorpaena aurita (Rüppell 1838)

More Info


Shark Bay region to One Tree Island, Queensland, and at Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea, although known only from scattered localities in the Northern Territory. Elsewhere the species is common and widespread in the Indo-West Pacific, from Tanzania east to the Solomon Islands, Taiwan and southern Japan, south to Lord Howe Island, Australia. Inhabits shallow weedy, coral, rocky and rubble areas on reef flats or reefs slopes, usually propping on smaller coral blocks.


Dorsal fin XII, 8-9 (usually 9); Anal fin III, 5; Pectoral fin 16-18 (usually 17); Caudal fin 11-12 (branched rays); scale rows in longitudinal series 35–44; scale rows below lateral line 12–16; scale rows between last dorsal-fin spine base and lateral line 4–7; scale rows between sixth dorsal-fin spine base and lateral line 5–7. 
First and second suborbital ridges well separated, posterior portion of former overlapping anterior portion of latter; first ridge lacking spines, second ridge with two spines behind level of orbit; interorbital ridges well developed posteriorly from middle of eye, joining as a broad loop level with posterior margin of orbit, enclosing a relatively deep depression; occipital pit well developed, fairly deep; larger head and orbit, head length 42.0–48.3% (mean 45.3%) of SL and orbit diameter 11.6–15.2% (12.6%) of SL; longer upper jaw and pectoral fin, upper-jaw length 21.0–26.8% (23.1%) of SL and longest pectoral-fin ray length 28.6–36.5% (34.0%) of SL (Motomura et al. 2009).


Body strongly variegated, mainly brownish or greyish, suffused with irregular blackish, reddish, yellowish brown and/or white blotches; underside of head white, mottled with brownish or reddish blotches. Spinous portion of dorsal fin strongly variegated, but no distinct black blotches in both sexes. Soft-rayed portion of dorsal fin translucent white, with four poorly defined dark blotches. Lower portion of pectoral fin white, with poorly defined reddish-brown spots. Pelvic fin white basally, reddish-brown or brown distally. Anal fin whitish with three or four reddish-brown bands obliquely across the fin. Caudal fin translucent white, with three brownish or greyish bands; first band at base of fin, second at middle of fin, third at distal margin of fin. (Motomura et al. (2009)


Well camouflaged ambush pedator

Similar Species

Parascorpaena aurita lacks a black blotch on spinous portion of the dorsal fin. It differs from other species in the genus Parascorpaena (except P. picta) in lacking a suborbital spine below the eye, and usually having 17 or 18 pectoral-fin rays. The Golden Scorpionfish differs from P. picta in having the first and second suborbital ridges well separated, the posterior portion of the first ridge overlapping with the anterior portion of the second ridge (vs. ridges fused together in P. picta), well developed interorbital ridges forming a broad loop at the rear of the interorbit and enclosing a depression (vs. interorbital ridges weakly or moderately developed and not enclosing a depression in P. picta), a fairly well marked depression at the occiput (depression shallow to moderate in P. picta).

Species Citation

Scorpaena aurita Rüppell 1838, Fische des Rothen Meeres 4: 106, pl. 27(2). Type locality: Massawa, Eritrea, Red Sea


Bray, D.J. 2016


Australian Faunal Directory

Golden Scorpionfish, Parascorpaena aurita (Rüppell 1838)


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

Castelnau, F.L. de 1875. Researches on the fishes of Australia. Intercolonial Exhibition Essays. 2. pp. 1–52 in, Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 : Official Record. Melbourne. (described as a new species, Scorpaena bellicosa, from Nicol Bay, QLD)

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. (p. 112-113, Motomura et al. 2009 suggest that the fish described and figured as Parascorpaena sp. from south of the Lesser Sunda Islands is P. aurita).

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293.

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. Parascorpaena aurita. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T79800103A79800105. Downloaded on 23 November 2016.

Motomura, H., Sakurai, Y., Senou, H. & Ho, H.-C. 2009. Morphological comparisons of the Indo-West Pacific scorpionfish, Parascorpaena aurita, with a closely related species, P. picta, with first records of P. aurita from East Asia (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae). Zootaxa 2191: 41-57. Abstract

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 pp. 2069-2790.

Richardson, J. 1845. Ichthyology. 17-52 pls 7-8 (parts), 11-30 in Richardson, J. & Gray, J.E. (eds) The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror under the Command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839–43. London : E.W. Janson Vol. 2 139 pp. pls 1-60. (described as a new species Scorpaena bynoensis, from the Northwestern coast of Australia)

Richardson, J. 1846. Description of six fish taken by the officers of the Beagle on the coasts of Australia. 484-497 pls 1-4 in Stokes, J.L. (ed.) Discoveries in Australia. London : T. & W. Boone Vol. 1. (described as a new species, Scorpaena stokesii)

Rüppell, W.P.E. 1838. Neue Wirbelthiere zu der Fauna von Abyssinien gehörig. Fische des Rothen Meeres. Frankfurt Vol. 4, pp. 81–148, pls 22–33.

Whitley, G.P. 1931. New names for Australian fishes. The Australian Zoologist 6(4): 310-334 1 fig. pls 25-27

Zimmermann, C. & Kunzmann, A. 2001. Baseline respiration and spontaneous activity of sluggish marine tropical fish of the family Scorpaenidae. Marine Ecology Progress Series  219: 229–239. PDF Open Access

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287061

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-30 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:12 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map