Binomial name: Scorpaenopsis diabolus, Georges-Frédéric Cuvier, 1829
The false stonefish or the devil scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis diabolus) is a carnivorous ray-finned fish in the order Scorpaeniformes, the scorpionfishes and flatheads. It has venomous spines and lives in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is a bottom-dwelling predator that relies on its camouflage to catch passing prey.
The false stonefish has a broad head with a wide mouth, a humped back, and a tapering body, and can reach 30 cm in length. Its dorsal fin has 12 venomous spines and eight to 10 soft rays. The anal fin has three spines and five to six soft rays. The skin is rough with low conical projections, spines, and tassels. The colouring is a combination of mottled grey and white with reddish-brown blotches and the fish is well-camouflaged among stones and corals. The inner sides of the broad pectoral fins have orange, black, and white blotches and the fins can be "flashed" as a warning. This fish closely resembles the reef stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa).
Distribution and habitat
The false stonefish is found at depths to about 70 m in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Its range extends from South and East Africa and the Red Sea to Japan, Hawaii, French Polynesia, Australia, and New Caledonia. It is found on the seabed among rubble, seaweed-covered rocks or on rocks encrusted with coralline algae on reef flats, lagoons, and the seaward side of reefs.
The false stonefish is a bottom-dwelling fish and is sometimes partially covered with sediment. It is an ambush predator and feeds on passing prey such as invertebrates and small fish. It flares its pectoral fins as a warning if disturbed by a potential predator. Its venomous dorsal spines can inflict a painful wound.
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- Scorpaenopsis diabolus