Eastern Red Scorpionfish

Scorpaena Cardinalis
Eastern Red Scorpionfish - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Scorpaena Cardinalis
Other names Cardinal Scorpionfish, Coral Cod, Coral Perch, Eastern Red Scorpion Cod, Fire Cod, Northern Scorpionfish, Ocean Perch, Prickly Heat, Red Rockcod, Red Scorpion Cod
Size Up to 40 cm (15.74 in)
Weight Up to 2 kg (4.40 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst rocky areas & reefs
Depth Range 1 - 40 m (130 ft)
Eastern Red Scorpionfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Eastern Red Scorpionfish is found along the eastern coast of Australia, from southern Queensland to lower parts of New South Wales. It is particularly common in the waters of New South Wales, where suitable rocky reef habitats are abundant.
  • They are a beautifully coloured fish with a distinctive appearance. It has a stocky body covered in rough, bumpy skin and is predominantly red or reddish-brown in colour. It often has intricate patterns and markings, including darker spots and stripes, which help it blend in with its surroundings.
  • The Eastern Red Scorpionfish has evolved remarkable camouflage to blend in with its surroundings. Its bumpy skin texture and coloration, often resembling the surrounding rocks and corals, help it remain undetected by both predators and prey. This species also possesses a behaviour known as aggressive mimicry, in which it imitates the appearance and movements of prey to lure them closer before striking.
  • They are opportunistic predators, primarily feed on small fish, including juvenile reef species, as well as crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. They have a voracious appetite and the ability to consume prey almost as large as themselves.
  • Like other scorpionfish, they possess venomous spines on their dorsal fin, which are primarily a defence mechanism. These spines contain a toxin that can cause intense pain and swelling if a person is accidentally stung.
  • They are broadcast spawners, which means they release their eggs and sperm into the water where fertilisation takes place externally. Breeding usually occurs during the warmer months of spring and summer, from September to February in Australia, when water temperatures are more conducive to successful reproduction.
  • Estimates of lifespan are between 10 – 15 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

The Eastern Red Scorpionfish is not a typically targeted for recreational fishing. While it may be caught incidentally by anglers targeting other species, it is not as sought after. They can be visually stunning in aquariums, but they are not generally recommended for home aquariums due to its predatory nature and potentially difficult care requirements. For snorkelers and divers, the they can be fascinating to observe but requires caution due to its venomous spines. Seeing them blended into their natural environment can be striking.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Scorpaeniformes

Family: Scorpaenidae

Genus: Scorpaena

Species: Scorpaena Cardinalis

Conservation Status

In Australia, the Eastern Red Scorpionfish is not currently listed as a threatened species. However, it is important to note that accurate and up-to-date information on conservation status can vary, so it is recommended to refer to local authorities or conservation organisations for current assessments.

How to catch
Eastern Red Scorpionfish

Catch Difficulty: Intermediate

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig

Bait: Crab, Fresh cut flesh baits, Pilchards, Prawns, Squid, Worms

Technique: Keep bait close to the reef/structure

Popularity: Not targeted - Bycatch

Eastern Red Scorpionfish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Difficult

Temperament: Aggressive

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Difficult

Temperament: Aggressive

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Lagoon

Danger: Venomous Spines

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