Common name: Scorpionfishes and their allies

A diverse group of bottom-dwelling fishes with a bony ridge, or stay across the cheek connecting the bones under the eye with the gill cover - often called mail-cheeked fishes. Most species have spines projecting from bony ridges on the head and some have spines projecting from the gill cover.

Many species are well-camouflaged ambush predators, often with elaborate cirri, filaments, leaf-like appendages and spiny ridges enhancing their camouflage. Scales are present or absent.

Gurnards (family Triglidae, also called searobins) have a pair of rostral spines projecting from the snout, large colourful wing-like pectoral fins and crawl over the bottom on their finger-like pelvic-fin rays.

Members of the group are widely distributed in tropical and temperate environments. Most are marine fishes, living in a range of habitats from rocky and coral reefs, to seagrass beds and muddy or sandy bottoms in depths ranging from less than a metre to about 2000 m. Species range in size from 2-3 cm to about 90 cm.

Most species have venom glands associated with their fin spines and the venom of some species has caused numerous fatalities.

Many species are commercially and recreationally important throughout their range and are regarded as excellent eating.

Flatheads (family Platycephalidae) are the most important finfish group taken by recreational anglers in Australia. Some species are traded in the aquarium industry.

Author: Dianne J. Bray

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Scorpionfishes & allies, SCORPAENIFORMES in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/order/44

Order References

Eschmeyer, W.N. (2008) The Catalogue of Fishes on-line. (California Academy of Sciences: San Francisco) Available from: http://www.calacademy.org/research/ichthyology/catalog/fishcatmain.asp (12 June, 2008).

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. (2006) Fishes. In: P.L. Beesley & A. Wells (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia Volume 35. Parts 1-3. Australian Biological Resources Study and CSIRO Publishing, 2248 pp.

Imamura, H. & Yabe, M. (2002). Demise of the Scorpaeniformes (Actinopterygii: Percomorpha): an alternative phylogenetic hypothesis. Bull. Fish. Sci. Hokkaido Univ. 53(3): 107-128.

Smith, W.L. & M.S. Busby. 2014. Phylogeny and taxonomy of sculpins, sandfishes, and snailfishes (Perciformes: Cottoidei) with comments on the phylogenetic significance of their early-life-history specializations. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 79: 332–352.

Smith, W.L. & Wheeler, W.C. (2004) Polyphyly of the mail-cheeked fishes (Teleostei: Scorpaeniformes): evidence from mitochondrial and nuclear sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 627-646.