Weedy Scorpionfish

Rhinopias Aphanes
Weedy Scorpionfish - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Rhinopias Aphanes
Other names Lacy Scorpionfish, Merlet's Scorpionfish
Size Up to 25 cm (9.84 in)
Weight Up to 1 kg (2.2 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst coral reef slopes & soft bottom areas
Depth Range 5 - 50 m (164 ft)
Weedy Scorpionfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • Weedy Scorpionfish can be found along the north eastern coastline of Australia. They are known to occur in the Great Barrier Reef, Coral Sea, and various other reefs and rocky habitats in Queensland.
  • Weedy Scorpionfish have a unique and fascinating appearance. They have a stocky body with elaborate skin flaps and branches that resemble seaweed, hence their name. Their coloration can vary from red to orange, yellow, or brown, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings. These fish also possess venomous spines on their dorsal fins, which they use for protection.
  • They are carnivorous predators that primarily feed on small fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates found within their habitat. Their hunting strategy involves waiting patiently for prey to swim by, relying on their camouflage to remain undetected before swiftly striking at their unsuspecting victims.
  • Weedy Scorpionfish possess remarkable camouflage abilities that enable them to blend in perfectly with their surroundings. They can change their coloration and texture, matching the surrounding coral or rocky environment to remain hidden from both prey and potential predators. Additionally, their elaborate skin flaps and branches mimic the appearance of algae and seaweed, adding to their effective disguise.
  • Weedy Scorpionfish are oviparous, meaning they reproduce by laying eggs. The breeding season for this species typically occurs during the warmer months in Australia, from spring to early autumn. Male scorpionfish attract females by changing their coloration and displaying courtship behaviours.
  • After the female lays her eggs, the male fertilises them externally. The eggs are then left unguarded and float freely in the water column, where they undergo a pelagic larval phase. During this time, the larvae are vulnerable to predation and environmental conditions. Once they reach a certain stage of development, they settle on the substrate and undergo metamorphosis into juvenile scorpionfish.
  • Estimates of lifespan are between 10 – 15 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

Weedy Scorpionfish are not targeted for recreational fishing, but are sometimes caught as bycatch. Their venomous spines and protected status in some areas discourage anglers from actively seeking them. They are occasionally kept in aquariums by experienced fish keepers. Due to their unique appearance and feeding behaviour, they can be an attractive addition to an aquarium. They are a fascinating species to observe while snorkeling or diving, as their camouflage makes them blend seamlessly with the surrounding coral and rocky habitats. Their intricate skin flaps and branches make them look like living art installations on the reef.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Scorpaeniformes

Family: Scorpaenidae

Genus: Rhinopias

Species: Rhinopias Aphanes

Conservation Status

In Australia, the Weedy Scorpionfish is considered a species of “least concern”. It is not currently listed as threatened or endangered. However, specific regional populations may face localised threats due to habitat degradation, pollution, and destructive fishing practices.

How to catch
Weedy Scorpionfish

Catch Difficulty: Easy

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

Weedy Scorpionfish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate to difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Intermediate

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Lagoon

Danger: Venomous Spines

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