Reef Ocean Perch, Helicolenus percoides (Richardson 1842)

Other Names: Coral Cod, Coral Perch, Jock Stewart, Kuriarki, Ocean Perch, Red Gurnard Perch, Red Gurnard Scorpionfish, Red Ocean Perch, Red Perch, Red Rock Perch, Scarpee, Sea Perch

Reef Ocean Perch, Helicolenus percoides. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

A pinkish-orange to whitish scorpionfish with three broad orange to dark brown bands on the side continuing onto the dorsal and anal fins, the first two bands usually divided on the upper side, and often a single broad band on the caudal and pectoral fins. Individuals in shallow waters are usually darker and often densely speckled with dark spots on the upper part of the head and sides.

Video of  a Reef Ocean Perch in the Bathurst Channel, remote southwestern Tasmania.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Helicolenus percoides in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

Reef Ocean Perch, Helicolenus percoides (Richardson 1842)

More Info


Southern Australia from Evans Head, New South Wales, to Fremantle, Western Australia, including Tasmania. The species also occurs in New Zealand. 
Inhabits coastal rocky reefs to open sandy areas usually in deeper waters.


Dorsal fin XII, 11-13; Anal fin III, 5; Caudal fin 13; Pectoral fin 18-20; Pelvic fin I, 5; lateral line scales 27-29; Gill rakers 4-7 + 14-18.  
Head moderately large (35-41% SL); eyes moderately large (27-33% HL), not protruding above dorsal profile; head relatively smooth, five prominent spines on posterior edge of each preopercle, dorsal-most rather small, at end of low, spineless, horizontal ridge below eye; fleshy flaps absent.  
Scales moderately small, ctenoid, covering body and most of head; lateral line nearly straight, 46-53 scale rows above lateral line; interorbital scaleless. 
Pelvic fins reaching beyond anus.  


Feeds on squid, shrimps and fishes. 


The sexes are separate, fertilisation is internal and females produce live young. Individuals may live to 42 years of age.


Commonly trawled, and commercially important in southern Australia.

Similar Species

Differs from the Bigeye Ocean Perch, Helicolenus barathri, in having the eye diameter 34-41% of head length, and usually 13-14 soft dorsal-fin rays, vs eye diameter 27-33% of head length, and usually 11-12 soft dorsal fin rays in H. percoides.

Species Citation

Sebastes percoides Richardson 1842, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 9: 384. Type locality: off Cape Kidnapper and Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Reef Ocean Perch, Helicolenus percoides (Richardson 1842)


Blaber, S.J.M. & Bulman, C.M. 1987. Diets of fishes of the upper continental slope of eastern Tasmania: content, calorific values, dietary overlap and trophic relationships. Marine Biology 95: 345-356.

Castelnau, F.L. de 1873. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 3. Supplement to the fishes of Victoria. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 2: 37-58 (as Sebastes alporti)

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp. (as Helicolenus papillosus

Furlani, D.M. 1997. Development and ecology of ocean perch larvae, Helicolenus percoides (Richardson, 1842) (Pisces: Scorpaenidae), from southern Australian waters, with notes on the larvae of other sympatric scorpaenid genera. Marine and Freshwater Research 48: 311-320.

Grammer, G.L., Morrongiello, J.R., Izzo, C., Hawthorne, P.J., Middleton, J.F. & Gillanders, B.M.  2017. Coupling biogeochemical tracers with fish growth reveals physiological and environmental controls on otolith chemistry. Ecological Monographs DOI: 10.1002/ecm.1264 Abstract

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. & Motomura, H. 2008. Family Sebastidae. pp. 496-498 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian fisheries resources. Bureau of Resource Sciences, Canberra, Australia. 422 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. (p. 120, as H. percoides, and p. 121 as H. alporti)  

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. (as Helicolenus alporti

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp. 

Neira, F.J., Miskiewicz, A.G. & Trnski, T. 1998. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. University of Western Australia Press. 474 pp.

Park, T. 1994. Ocean perch, Helicolenus sp. pp. 237-246. in: Tilzey, R.D.J. (ed.) The South East Fishery: a scientific review with particular reference to quota management. Bureau of Resource Sciences, Australian Government Print Service, Canberra. 360 pp.

Paul, L.J. & Horn, P.L. 2009. Age and growth of sea perch (Helicolenus percoides) from two adjacent areas off the east coast of South Island, New Zealand. Fisheries Research 95: 169–180. 

Paulin, C.D. 1989. Redescription of Helicolenus percoides (Richardson) and H. barathri (Hector) from New Zealand (Pisces, Scorpaenidae). Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 19(3): 319-325.

Poss, S.G. 1994. Family Scorpaenidae. pp. 477-494 figs 428-441 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. 

Richardson, J. 1842. Contributions to the ichthyology of Australia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History ns 9(59): 384-393.

Smith, P.J., Struthers, C.D., Paulin, C.D., McVeagh, S.M. & Daley, R.K. 2009. Shallow genetic and morphological divergence among seaperches in the South Pacific (family Scorpaenidae; genus Helicolenus). Journal of Fish Biology 74: 1104–1128.

Struthers, C.D. & Motomura, H. 2015. 153 Family Sebastidae, pp. 1078-1082, in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds) The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 3 pp. 577-1152.

Williams, A. 1990. Deepwater fish guide: commercial trawl fish from the Western and North West Slope Deepwater Trawl Fisheries. CSIRO Division of Fisheries. Hobart, 46 pp.

Withell, A.F. & Wankowski, J.W. 1988. Estimates of age and growth of ocean perch, Helicolenus percoides Richardson, in south-eastern Australian waters. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 39(4): 441-457.

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook, an identification guide to domestic species. CSIRO Marine Research, 461 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287001


Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:10–425 m

Habitat:Reef associated/sandy areas

Max Size:47 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map