The Great Barrier Reef Library

A comprehensive guide to The Great Barrier Reef

Scorpaeniformes – Scorpionfish and Lionfish


By on January 21, 2018


Scorpaeniformes are also known as The Mail-Cheeked fish, due to the bony ridge across their cheek. This ridge connects the bones beneath the eye with the gill cover. They range in size from as little as 2-3cm, up to 90cm. The Mail-Cheeked Fish are so diverse that they have been able to inhabit oceans around the world from The Arctic, to Antarctica. You can be find them at most depths too, from 4,000m deep, to warm, shallow tropical seas.  Scorpaeniformes have even been known to inhabit some freshwater habitats. Since they are ambush predators, many have developed excellent camouflage to blend in to their surroundings. Many also have venom glands and spines along their head and back – these have caused a number of fatalities.1,2

Below, you can find a list of all of the different groups of Scorpaeniformes found on The Great Barrier Reef.

Family – A lower level on taxonomic classification, grouping together species that show many similarities

  • Apistidae – Wasp Fish

  • Caracanthidae – Orbicular Velvetfish

  • Dactylopteridae – Flying Gurnards

  • Neosebastidae – Gurnards

  • Platycephalidae – Flatheads

  • Plectrogenium – Stinger Flatheads

  • Scorpaenidae – Scorpionfish

  • Sebastidae – Rockfishes

  • Synanceiidae – Stonefish

  • Tetrarogidae – Waspfishes

  • Triglidae – Searobins3