Description & Behavior

Bearded scorpionfishes, Scorpaenopsis barbata (Rüppell, 1838), reach 22 cm in length and they have 12 dorsal spines, 9 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines, 5 anal soft rays, and 24 vertebrae. The bearded scorpionfish’s body is heavily pigmented dark brown or reddish brown, mottled with whitish and blackish blotches; often with a dark brown bar extending ventrally from posterior half of eye and broadening onto lower cheek. Dorsal, anal, and pelvic spines can bear venom gland.

Family Scorpaenidae – Scorpionfishes
This family contains the world’s most venomous fishes, many of them brightly colored or heavily camouflaged. Most species live on or near the bottom and feed on crustaceans and smaller fishes.

World Range & Habitat


Bearded scorpionfishes are found in the western Indian Ocean from the Red Sea to the coasts of Madagascar and South Africa. They are reef-associated and benthic (bottom-dwelling) to depths of at least 30 m.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

Bearded scorpionfishes, Scorpaenopsis barbata, are ambush hunters feeding mainly on crustaceans and other fishes.

Life History

Family Scorpaenidae members fertilization is mostly internal. Eggs are laid in a gelatinous balloon in some species; larvae are planktonic. Very little specific data is available for this species.

Conservation Status & Comments

Scorpionfishes get their name as many have venomous spines which can inflict very painful wounds.

Resilience to fishing pressure: Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 – 14 years
Extinction vulnerability to fishing: Moderate to high vulnerability (48 of 100)

References & Further Research

Research Scorpaenopsis barbata @
Barcode of Life ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species Database ~ WoRMS

Search for Bearded Scorpionfishes @
Flickr ~ Google ~ Picsearch ~ Wikipedia ~ YouTube