Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

False stonefish

Scorpaenopsis diabolus, Georges-Frédéric Cuvier, 1829

Scorpaenopsis diabolus, the false stonefish or the devil scorpionfish, 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).

S. diabolus exhibits biofluorescence, that is, when illuminated by blue or ultraviolet light, it re-emits it as red, and appears differently than under white light illumination. Biofluorescence may assist in intraspecific communication and camouflage.

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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Scientific classification

Scorpaenopsis diabolus


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Scorpaenopsis diabolus
False stonefish
False stonefish
False stonefish
False stonefish

Range Map

Distribution map of False stonefish, Scorpaenopsis diabolus in Thailand
  • Tarutao National Marine Park
Range map of Scorpaenopsis diabolus in Thailand