Dwarf Lionfish, Dendrochirus brachypterus (Cuvier 1829)

Other Names: Shortfin Turkeyfish, Short-spined Butterfly-cod, Short-spined Scorpionfish

A Dwarf Lionfish, Dendrochirus brachypterus, in Port Stephens, New South Wales, July 2012. Source: Ian Shaw / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A dusky mottled brown to reddish-brown with darker bars on the body, distinct bands on the pectoral fins, a short tentacle above the eye and variably-developed leafy appendages on the head and along the lateral line. The pectoral-fin rays lack filaments.

The Dwarf Lionfish has 13 venomous dorsal-fin spines along the back that may cause a very painful wound.
Video of a yellow form of the Dwarf Lionfish in Lembeh Straits, Indonesia.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Dendrochirus brachypterus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Apr 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3209

Dwarf Lionfish, Dendrochirus brachypterus (Cuvier 1829)

More Info


Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia, to Sydney, New South Wales; also Lord Howe Island, Tasman Sea.
Shelters in caves, crevices, under ledges or amongst sponges during the day. 


Nocturnal predator - feeds mostly on small crabs and other crustaceans.

Species Citation

Pterois brachyptera Cuvier, 1829, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 4: 368. Type locality unknown.


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

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

Fishelson, L. 1997. Experiments and observations on food consumption, growth and starvation in Dendrochirus brachypterus and Pterois volitans (Pteroinae, Scorpaenidae). Environ. Biol. Fish. 50(4): 391-403..

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

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Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kochzius, M., R. Söller, M.A. Khalaf & D. Blohm, 2003. Molecular phylogeny of the lionfish genera Dendrochirus and Pterois (Scorpaenidae, Pteroinae) based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 28(2003): 396-403.

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.

Matsunuma, M., Motomura, H. & Bogorodsky, S.V. 2017. Review of Indo-Pacific dwarf lionfishes (Scorpaenidae: Pteroinae) in the Dendrochirus brachypterus complex, with description of a new species from the western Indian Ocean. Ichthyological Research  DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s10228-017-0583-6

Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian reef fishes: a comprehensive guide to the coral reef fishes of Micronesia. 3rd ed. Coral Graphics, Barrigada, Guam. 330 pp.

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. 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

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287010

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:2-80 m

Habitat:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:15 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map