False Scorpionfish, Centrogenys vaigiensis (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

Other Names: False Scorpion-fish, Pretty-fins

A False Scorpionfish, Centrogenys vaigiensis, at North Stradbroke Island, Moreton Bay, Queensland. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

A mottled pale grey, pale brownish or yellowish scorpionfish look-a-like, with darker blotches including five along the back, and a large fringed flaps on the anterior nostrils. Although this well-camouflaged sedentary fish mimics scorpionfishes in shape, coloration and behaviour, it lacks venomous spines.
Video of a False Scorpionfish on a submerged reef located off Pulau Semakau, Singapore.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Centrogenys vaigiensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 Sep 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4526

False Scorpionfish, Centrogenys vaigiensis (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

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Recorded in Australia from the Shark Bay region, Western Australia, to south of Moreton Bay, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, east-Indo-west Pacific. 
This sedentary species inhabits inshore rubble and silty areas in lagoons, brackish estuaries and coastal reefs.


Dorsal fin XIII-XIV, 9-11; Anal fin III, 5; Pectoral fin 12-14; Pelvic fin  I, 5; Lateral line 36-44 tubed scales (+ 4-6 on caudal fin); Gill rakers 3-6 + 12-14; Vertebrae 11-14.
Body moderately deep (greatest body depth 34-39% SL). Head large, 42-44% SL. Posterior rim of anterior nostril with large fringed flap. Opercle with 2 spines, the lower spine strong and conspicuous, the upper spine (near dorsal edge of operculum) weak and concealed by skin and scales; preopercle finely serrate posteriorly, with 3 or 4 large, antrorse (forward pointing) spines on ventral margin. Mouth moderately large and protrusible, reaching to anterior half of eye; supramaxilla present. A band of villiform teeth in each jaw; a chevron-shaped band of villiform teeth on vomer; an elongate patch of villiform teeth on each palatine; no teeth on tongue. Seven branchiostegal rays; branchiostegal membranes not united. Gill rakers short or rudimentary, the first gill arch with 15 to 19 gill rakers. 
Dorsal-fin origin situated over middle of head above posterior edge of preopercle; dorsal-fin membranes project slightly beyond spine tips. Anal fin short based, second anal-fin spine strong and very long (28-32% SL), reaching to or beyond posterior margin of anal fin when depressed. Caudal fin rounded to truncate, with 6 (rarely 5) and 6 branched rays in upper and lower part, respectively, and 4 to 6 unbranched rays in upper and lower part. Pelvic fins positioned behind pectoral fins, the inner ray broadly bound to body by membrane. Pectoral fin with only the upper ray unbranched. 
Scales on body ctenoid, extending onto snout; lateral line relatively low on body, extending from gill opening to caudal-fin base (Gill 1999).


An ambush predator that feeds on small fishes, shrimps, and crabs.


Of minor commercial importance in some parts of its range, and occasionally traded in the aquarium industry.

Species Citation

Scorpaena vaigiensis Quoy & Gaimard, 1824, Voyage autour du Monde 1: 324, pl. 58(1). Type locality: Waigeo, Indonesia.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

False Scorpionfish, Centrogenys vaigiensis (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)


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. & Valenciennes, A. 1829. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 3 500 pp. pls 41-71. (as Centropristes scorpenoides)

Gill, A.C. 1999. Family Centrogeniidae. pp. 2549-2550 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 2069-2790 pp. See ref online

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.

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

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)

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.

Leis, J.M. & Trnski, T. 1999. Larval development of the Indo-Pacific perciform fish, Centrogenys vaigiensis (Pisces: Centrogeniidae). Ichthyological Research 46(4): 413-422. Open access PDF

Quoy, J.R.C. & Gaimard, J.P. 1824. Chapter 8. Poissons. 183-328 pls 43-65 in Freycinet, L.C.D. de (ed.). Voyage autour du Monde, entrepris par ordre du Roi, exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820. Paris : Pillet Aîné Vol. 1 712 pp. 96 pls.

Randall, J.E. 2005. A review of mimicry in marine fishes. Zoological Studies 44 (3): 302–304.

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.

Travers, M.J. & Potter, I.C. 2002. Factors influencing the characteristics of fish assemblages in a large subtropical marine embayment. Journal of Fish Biology 61(3): 764-784.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311030

Behaviour:Scorpionfish mimic

Depth:2-10 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:25 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map