Southern Red Scorpionfish

Scorpaena Papillosa
Southern Red Scorpionfish - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Scorpaena Papillosa
Other names Chained Scorpionfish, Common Red Gurnard, Common Red Rockcod, Red Rockcod, Southern Red Scorpioncod, Southern Rockcod
Size Up to 30 cm (11.8 in)
Weight Up to 2.5 kg (5.5 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst estuaries, muddy areas to deeper rocky areas & reef
Depth Range 10 - 150 m (492 ft)
Southern Red Scorpionfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • Southern Red Scorpionfish are found along the southern and eastern coasts of Australia. They are commonly encountered in rocky environments off the coasts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania.
  • Southern Red Scorpionfish are known for their camouflage appearance. They have a robust, elongated body covered in bumpy scales, which provides a excellent disguise among rocky and coral reef habitats. Their coloration ranges from reddish-brown, brown to bright orange, often with darker mottling or blotches, helping them blend into their surroundings.
  • They are carnivorous predators, feeding primarily on smaller fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods. They lie in wait, camouflaged among the rocks, and ambush their prey with a quick strike. Their large mouths and expandable stomachs allow them to swallow prey whole, aiding in their efficient feeding strategy.
  • Venomous spines and camouflage are its defence mechanisms against predators, keeping them sage amongst the reef.
  • These scorpionfish are commonly found in rocky reef habitats, where they can seek shelter and ambush prey. They prefer areas with ample hiding spots, such as caves, crevices, and ledges, where they can blend in and remain concealed from both predators and prey.
  • They are broadcast spawners, releasing their eggs into the water column, where they are fertilised externally. Breeding typically occurs during the summer months, from December to February, in response to warmer water temperatures.
  • They have a relatively long lifespan, living up to 20 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

Southern Red Scorpionfish are occasionally targeted by recreational anglers due to their aesthetic appeal and challenging nature. However, they are considered a catch and release fish and more often bycatch when targeting other species. They can be kept in large aquariums but are not popular 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 Papillosa

Conservation Status

In Australia, the Southern Red Scorpionfish is classified as a species of least concern. However, it’s important to note that the conservation status can vary among different regions and local populations, so monitoring and management efforts are crucial to ensure their continued survival.

How to catch
Southern 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

Southern Red Scorpionfish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate to 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, Caves, Lagoon

Danger: Venomous Spines

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