Common name: Velvetfishes



Small bottom-dwelling scorpionfish relatives found mostly in tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific.

Velvetfishes have a long-based dorsal fin that originates far forward on the head, large pectoral fins, and large prickly scales that give the fishes their characteristic velvety appearance.

These extremely well-camouflaged ambush predators live amongst algae or rubble on or near rocky and coral reefs. Although many species are rarely encountered, they should be handled with care as the fin spines are venomous.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Velvetfishes, APLOACTINIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jul 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

Worldwide there are 48 described species in 17 genera (Eschmeyer & Fong 2012), with more than 20 species in 14 genera known from Australian waters.


Bray, D.J. 2017

Family Resources

Australian Faunal Directory


Allen, G.R., Cross, N.J., Bray, D.J. & Hoese, D.F. 2006. Aploactinidae. pp. 911-916 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3 2178 pp.

Eschmeyer, W.N. & Allen, G.R. 1978. Neoaploactis tridorsalis, a new genus and species of fish from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia (Scorpaeniformes : Aploactinidae). Records of the Western Australian Museum 6(4): 443-448 figs 1-2

Johnson, J.W. 2004. Two new species and two new records of aploactinid fishes (Pisces: Scorpaeniformes) from Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 56(2): 179-188

Johnson, J.W. 2008. Family Aploactinidae. pp. 501-503 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Kojima, J-I. 1988: Scorpaeniformes (pp. 777-887). In Okiyama, M. (ed) An Atlas of the early stage fishes in Japan. Tokai University Press, Tokyo.

Leis, J.M., A.C. Hay & A.G. Miskiewicz. 2004. Larval development of the rare Australian aploactinid fish Matsubarichthys inusitatus (Pisces: Scorpaeniformes). Zoological Studies

Leis, J.M. & Rennis, D.S. 2000. Scorpaenidae (Scorpionfishes, Stonefishes) (pp. 226-235). In Leis, J.M. & Carson-Ewart, B.M. (eds) 2000. The larvae of Indo-Pacific coastal fishes: a guide to identification. Fauna Malesiana Handbook 2, Brill, Leiden. 850 p.

Mandrytsa, S.A. 2001. Lateral Line System and Classification of Scorpaenoid Fishes (Scorpeaniformes: Scorpaenidei). Perm : Perm State Univ. Press pp. 1-393.

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Poss, S.G. 1994. Family Aploactinidae. pp. 506-509 figs 451-453 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.

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.

Poss, S.G. & Allen, G.R. 1987. New Australian fishes. Part 18. A new species of Cocotropus (Aploactinidae). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 48(1): 79-82

Poss, S.G. & Eschmeyer, W.N. 1978. Two new Australian velvetfishes, genus Paraploactis (Scorpaeniformes : Aploactinidae) with a revision of the genus and comments on the genera and species of the Aploactinidae. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 41(18): 401-426 figs 1-14

Poss, S.G. & Eschmeyer, W.N. 1980. Xenaploactis, a new genus for Prosopodasys asperrimus Gnther (Pisces: Aploactinidae), with descriptions of two new species. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 42(8): 287-293.

Poss, S.G. & Johnson, G.D. 1991. Matsubarichthys inusitatus, a new genus and species of velvetfish (Scorpaeniformes: Aploactinidae) from the Great Barrier Reef. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 104: 468-473.