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Species: Scorpaena calcarata, Smoothhead Scorpionfish

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no pit behind eyes
no mushroom flaps atop eye
ridge under eye: 3 spines
length before D 34-40% SL
pectoral 18-21
scales smooth

Scorpaena calcarata Goode & Bean, 1882

Smoothhead Scorpionfish

Head very bony, with numerous spines; adults without a pit on top of head behind eyes; eye moderate; 1st (top most) preopercular spine the largest, no small accessory spine at its base; a small cirrus over eye but no mushroom-shaped skin flaps on top of eyeball; bone over front of mouth with 2 spines pointing down and forwards; ridge under eye with 3 spines; roof of mouth with teeth on sides but not at front; no slit behind last gill arch; dorsal fin XII, 9.5; anal III,5; pectoral 18-21, with some upper rays branched in adult; scales relatively large, smooth; lateral line complete.

Reddish to dark red above, cream to yellow below; upper eye without mushroom shaped flaps; body and fins without distinctive marks except for light color on upper pectoral fin; inner base of pectoral pale; pelvics dark.

Reaches 16 cm.

Found on muddy bottoms.

Depth range: 1-216 m.

N Carolina to Brazil.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Mud
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Continental primarily
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 16
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 216