Painted Scorpionfish, Parascorpaena picta (Kuhl & Hasselt 1829)

Other Names: Marbled Coral-cod, Northern Scorpionfish

An Ocellate Scorpionfish, Parascorpaena mcadamsi, in Lembeh Straits, north Sulawesi, Indonesia. Source: Jim Greenfield / FishBase. License: All rights reserved

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2016, Parascorpaena picta in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Sep 2023,

Painted Scorpionfish, Parascorpaena picta (Kuhl & Hasselt 1829)

More Info


Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, to Moreton Bay, Queensland. Elsewhere the Painted Scorpionfish occurs in the east-Indo-West Pacific, from Thailand and Malaysia to northern Australia. Individuals are solitary on shallow coral and rocky reefs, including silty habitats in protected bays.


Dorsal fin XII, 8-9 (mostly 9); Anal fin III, 5; Pectoral fin usually 17 (rarely 16 or 18); Caudal fin (branched rays) 11-12; Gill rakers (total) 14-18; Lateral-line scales (pored) 22-24; Scale rows in longitudinal series 43–49 (mode 45); Scale rows below lateral line 15–18 (16); Scale rows between last dorsal-fin spine base and lateral line 6–8 (7); Scale rows between sixth dorsal-fin spine base and lateral line 6–8 (7); first and second suborbital ridges fused, forming a single ridge (Fig. 5) with two spines behind level of orbit, spines absent below eye; interorbital ridges poorly developed, not encircling a depression; occipital pit very weakly developed, nearly flat; smaller head and orbit, head length 40.1–46.3% (mean 43.6%) of SL and orbit diameter 10.5–13.0% (11.4%) of SL; shorter upper jaw and pectoral fin, upper-jaw length 20.0–24.0% (21.5%) of SL and longest pectoral-fin ray length 29.5– 36.7% (31.8%) of SL.


Lacks a black blotch on spinous portion of the dorsal fin.

Similar Species

The Painted Scorpionfish is very similar to Parascorpaena aurita. P. aurita has well developed interorbital ridges forming a broad loop at the rear of the interorbit and enclosing a depression (interorbital ridges weakly or moderately developed in P. picta, not enclosing a depression), a fairly well marked depression at the occiput (vs. depression shallow or moderate only in P. picta).Both species can easily be distinguished from other species of Parascorpaena by having usually 17 or 18 pectoral-fin rays (vs. usually 15 or 16 in the latter) and lacking a spine on the suborbital ridge below the eye.  (Motomura et al. 2009).

Species Citation

Scorpaena picta Cuvier & Valenciennes 1829, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 4: 329. Type locality: Java, Indonesia.


Bray, D.J. 2016


Australian Faunal Directory

Painted Scorpionfish, Parascorpaena picta (Kuhl & Hasselt 1829)


Allen, G.R. 1993. Fishes of Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 44: 67-91. (possibly not P. picta)

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

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. 

Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1829. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 4 518 pp. pls 72-99. 

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

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. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762 

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. (as Scorpaena picta)

Macleay, W.J. 1878. The fishes of Port Darwin. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 2(4): 344-367 pls 7-10 (as Sebastapistes picta)

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. 

Motomura, H. & Matsuura, K. 2016. Parascorpaena picta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T69798438A69800977. Downloaded on 19 November 2016.

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. 

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287071

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-14 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:12 cm SL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map