Animal Species:Southern Red Scorpionfish, Scorpaena papillosa (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)

The Southern Red Scorpionfish has a relatively stout body with mottled colouration. It is a species commonly observed by scuba divers.

Southern Red Scorpionfish, Scorpaena papillosa

Sascha Schulz © Sascha Schulz

Standard Common Name

Southern Red Scorpionfish

Alternative Name/s

Chained Scorpionfish, Common Red Gurnard, Common Red Rock Cod, Red Rock Cod, Southern Red Scorpioncod, Southern Rockcod

Identification

The Southern Red Scorpionfish has a relatively stout body with mottled colouration. It is the only species in the genus Scorpaena that has a pair of coronal spines on the interorbital space. Scorpaena papillosa is a common species that is often observed by scuba divers.

Two species of Scorpaena occur in New South Wales waters, the Southern Red Scorpionfish and the Eastern Red Scorpionfish (S. jacksoniensis). They can be separated by colouration and size. The Eastern Red Scorpionfish is usually bright red. Although its body coloration is quite variable, the Southern Red Scorpionfish is never bright red. It is usually darker, often brown or black, sometimes reddish-brown. The Eastern Red Scorpionfish is a large fish that grows to over 40 cm in standard length, whereas the Southern Red Scorpionfish grows to around 20 cm.  Each body scale of S. papillosa usually (nearly always) has dark margin posteriorly but the scales of S. jacksoniensis are not as distinct (H. Motomura, pers. comm.)

Size range

The species grows to about 20 cm SL.

Similar Species

The species ‘Scorpaena papillosa’ as it is currently used, contains at least four species – one from New Zealand, one from New South Wales and Tasmania (usually in depths greater than 10 m), one from New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria (in depths less than 10 m) and one from Western Australia (a small fish, less than half the adult size of the New Zealand species).

Distribution

The species can be found in areas of New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and New Zealand.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Scorpaena papillosa

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Southern Red Scorpionfish specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

The species is usually found at depths from just below the surface to 130 m.

Classification

Species:
papillosa
Genus:
Scorpaena
Family:
Scorpaenidae
Order:
Scorpaeniformes
Class:
Actinopterygii
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  2. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Southern Red Scorpionfish, Scorpaena papillosa, Scorpaenidae, Chained Scorpionfish, Common Red Gurnard, Common Red Rock Cod, Red Rock Cod, Southern Red Scorpioncod, Southern Rockcod, stout body, blotches/mottled, brown, black, reddish-brown, 10 cm - 30 cm, marine,