False Scorpionfish

Centrogenys Vaigiensis
False Scorpionfish - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Centrogenys Vaigiensis
Other names Pretty Fins, Scorpion Cod, Reef Scorpionfish
Size Up to 25 cm (9.8 in)
Weight Under .50 kg (1.10 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters, brackish waters, estuaries, areas of soft sediment & rubble, lagoons & coastal reefs
Depth Range 2 - 50 m (164 ft)
False Scorpionfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • False Scorpionfish can be found along the northern coasts of western and eastern Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding coral reefs. They are also known to occur in the waters around Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.
  • False Scorpionfish are known for their remarkable camouflage abilities. They have a stocky body with a broad head and numerous spines on their dorsal fin. Their overall coloration varies, but they often have mottled patterns that resemble the surrounding coral or rocky substrate.
  • False Scorpionfish are ambush predators that rely on their camouflage to capture prey. They primarily feed on small fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. By remaining motionless and blending in with their surroundings, they patiently wait for unsuspecting prey to venture close, then strike with a quick, powerful motion.
  • False Scorpionfish possess a unique adaptation called “cryptic behaviour.” They employ a combination of camouflage, sedentary behaviour, and body posture adjustments to remain inconspicuous. This allows them to avoid detection by both predators and prey, increasing their chances of survival.
  • Like other scorpionfish they possess venomous spines on their dorsal fin and gill covers.
  • False Scorpionfish reproduce through external fertilisation. During the breeding season, which typically occurs between late spring and early summer, males and females engage in courtship behaviours. The female releases her eggs into the water, and the male fertilises them externally. The fertilised eggs then float in the water column until they hatch into larvae.
  • They have an estimated average lifespan between 5 – 7 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

False Scorpionfish are not typically a targeted species for recreational fishing due to their relatively small size and lack of commercial value. However, incidental catches may occur while targeting other species. They are occasionally kept in home aquariums, but they require specialised care due to their venomous spines and specific habitat requirements. Snorkelers and divers can observe them in their natural habitat, particularly around coral reefs and rocky areas. However, due to their excellent camouflage and sedentary behaviour, they can be challenging to spot.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Scorpaeniformes

Family: Scorpaenidae

Genus: Centrogenys

Species: Centrogenys Vaigiensis

Conservation Status

In Australia, the False Scorpionfish is not assessed separately for conservation purposes, at this time they are not a species of concern.

How to catch
False 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

False Scorpionfish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate to difficult

Temperament: Aggressive

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 60 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Difficult

Temperament: Aggressive

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Lagoon

Danger: Venomous Spines

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