Animal Species:False Stonefish, Scorpaenopsis diabolus (Cuvier, 1829)

As its standard name implies, the False Stonefish looks similar to the true stonefishes.  It is common in shallow waters of the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific.

Standard Common Name

False Stonefish

Alternative Name/s

Devil Scorpionfish


The False Stonefish is one of five humpbacked species of Scorpaenopsis. This species has a large head, pointed snout and short dorsal fin spines. The upper posttemporal spine is branched. This character is not found in any other species of Scorpaenopsis.

Coloration is variable from reddish to orange, blue, green or purple. The inner surface of the pectoral fin is yellowish with a large black spot. When threatened, the fish will flare its pectoral fins exposing the bright colours on the inner surface. This is believed to startle potential predators.

Size range

The species grows to 30 cm in length.


The False Stonefish is common in shallow waters of the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific. It is known from South Africa east to the Marquesas Islands, north to Japan and south to Australia.

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

Scorpaenopsis diabolus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of False Stonefish specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


It can be found at depths of 1 m to 70 m.



What does this mean?


  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.Poss. S.G. Scorpaenidae. in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem. 1999. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 4. Bony fishes part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). FAO. Rome Pp. iii-v, 2069-2790.
  5. Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific: New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. University of Hawai'i Press. Pp. 584.
  6. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, ichthyology, False Stonefish, Scorpaenopsis diabolus, Scorpaenidae, Devil Scorpionfish, shallow water, tropical water, subtropical water, humpbacked, large head, pointed snout, red, orange, blue, green, purple, dots/spots, 10 cm - 30 cm, marine,


alisha44 - 4.12 PM, 06 December 2010
Australian Museums are wonderful to visit with the family, friends and the others. False Stonefish is also called the False scorpionfish, Poisson pierre faux and Poisson-scorpion diable. The distribution areas are Red Sea and South Africa east to the Marquesas Islands and French Polynesia, north to southern Japan, south to the Great Barrier Reef and New Caledonia.

Report misuse