Western Red Scorpionfish

Scorpaena Sumptuosa
Western Red Scorpionfish - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Scorpaena Sumptuosa
Other names Western Red Rockcod, Western Red Scorpion Cod, Western Scorpionfish
Size Up to 40 cm (15.74 in)
Weight Up to 1.25 kg (2.75 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst coral & rocky reef areas
Depth Range 2 - 40 m (130 ft)
Western Red Scorpionfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • Western Red Scorpionfish can be found in various locations along the western coast of Australia. Some notable areas where they occur include Ningaloo Reef, Coral Bay, Shark Bay, and the Abrolhos Islands. These regions provide the necessary rocky reef and coral habitats that support their populations.
  • They have a unique and striking coloration. They are predominantly a reddish-brown colour with intricate patterns of darker blotches and lighter speckles, providing effective camouflage among the reef structures.
  • Western Red Scorpionfish are a carnivorous fish, primarily feeding on small fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. They are ambush predators, lying in wait among the coral and rocky crevices, ready to pounce on passing prey. Their exceptional camouflage helps them blend in with the surroundings, enhancing their hunting success.
  • Unlike some other scorpionfish species, the Western Red Scorpionfish does not possess swim bladders, which are gas-filled organs that aid in buoyancy control. Instead, they rely on their pectoral fins and specialized body shape to manoeuvre and maintain position in the water column.
  • They play an important ecological role within its habitat. As an apex predator, it helps regulate the population sizes of its prey species, maintaining a healthy balance within the reef ecosystem.
  • Like other scorpionfish, it possesses venomous spines on its dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins.
  • Breeding habits of the Western Red Scorpionfish are influenced by seasonal variations. They usually spawn during the summer months, which in Australia occurs between December and February. During this time, the female releases her eggs into the water column, and the male fertilises them externally.
  • They have a relatively long lifespan, living up to 15 years.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

Western Red Scorpionfish are not typically targeted by recreational fishermen, they are often caught as bycatch when targeting other species. They can be kept in larger aquariums but due to their predatory nature, they are not popular for home aquariums. Snorkelers and divers have the opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat which can be exciting if you can find them. They posses incredible camouflage which takes a keen eye to spot.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Scorpaeniformes

Family: Scorpaenidae

Genus: Scorpaena

Species: Scorpaena Sumptuosa/span>

Conservation Status

The Western Red Scorpionfish is listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not currently considered to be at a high risk of extinction.

How to catch
Western 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

Western 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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