Spotted Stingerfish, Inimicus sinensis (Valenciennes 1833)

Other Names: Bearded Ghoul, Spotted Ghoul, Spotted Stinger, Spotted Stonefish

A Spotted Stingerfish, Inimicus sinensis, in the Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Source: Roger Steene / FishBase. License: All rights reserved


A mottled grey, brown, red and black stingerfish with a dark brown to blackish inner surface of the pectoral fin and many large yellowish spots.

This nocturnal predator usually lies motionless on the seafloor, often partly buried. Rather than swim, they 'crawl' over the seafloor using their detached pectoral-fin rays.  

Stingerfish have highly venomous spines, that may cause very painful deep wounds.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Inimicus sinensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Spotted Stingerfish, Inimicus sinensis (Valenciennes 1833)

More Info


Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia, to the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland. Elsewhere, the species occurs in the Indo-west Pacific - Gulf of Mannar and the east coasts of India eastwards to the Philippines and Western Australia.

Inhabits sandy, muddy and rubble areas near reefs in depths to 105 m.


Dorsal fin XVII-XVIII, 7-9; Anal fin II, 11-13; Pectoral fin 12 (lower two rays entirely free); Gill rakers (first arch) 7-10.


Although of no interest to fisheries, the Spotted Stinger is taken as by-catch in commercial prawn and fish trawls.


The dorsal-fin spines are highly venomous and may cause a very painful wound.
When threatened and during courtship, species of Inimicus spread their pectoral and caudal fins, flashing the bright colours.

Similar Species

The Spotted Stonefish differs from the other two species found in Australia in having a  a dark inner surface with white to bright yellow spots and blotches, vs a dark base and a dark margin on the inner surface of the pectoral fin in the Longsnout Stingerfish, Inimicus didactylus, and two dark bands and a pale margin on the inner surface in the Longsnout Stinger, I. caledonicus.

Species Citation

Pelor sinense Valenciennes, 1833, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 9: 468. Type locality: Canton, China.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Spotted Stingerfish, Inimicus sinensis (Valenciennes 1833)


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.

Blaber, S.J.M., Brewer, D.T. & Harris, A.N. 1994. Distribution, biomass and community structure of demersal fishes of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 45(3): 375-396.

Eschmeyer, W.N., Rama-Rao, K.V. & Hallacher, L.E. 1979. Fishes of the scorpionfish subfamily Choridactylinae from the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 41(21): 475-500 figs 1-10

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp.

Inaba, T. & Motomura, H. 2018. Review of the Indo-West Pacific genus Inimicus (Synanceiidae: Choridactylinae). Zootaxa 4482(1): 52-90.

McKay, R.J. 1964. Description of a new stonefish of the family Synanceidae from Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 47(1): 8-12 fig. 1 (as Inimicus cirrhosus)

Motomura, H., Matsuura, K. & Khan, M. 2018. Inimicus sinensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T114179505A116265823. Downloaded on 03 May 2019.

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 2069-2790pp.

Ramm, D.C., Pender, P.J., Willing, R.S. & Buckworth, R.C. 1990. Large-scale spatial patterns of abundance within the assemblage of fish caught by prawn trawlers in Northern Australian waters. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 41(1): 79-95.

Russell, B.C. & Houston, W. 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 6(1): 69-84

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.

Smith, W.L. & Wheeler, W.C. 2006. Venom evolution widespread in fishes: a phylogenetic rode map for the bioprospecting of piscine venoms. Journal of Heredity 97(3): 206-217

Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1833. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 9 512 pp. pls 246-279.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287020

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:5-105 m

Habitat:Reef associated, soft bottom

Max Size:26 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map