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Species: Scorpaena isthmensis, Smoothcheek Scorpionfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

ridge under eye no spines
deep pit behind eyes
D large dark blotch between spines III-VII
bone over front mouth: 2 spines point down
pectoral 18-19
A 3rd spine > 2nd
scales smooth

Scorpaena isthmensis Meek & Hildebrand, 1928

Smoothcheek Scorpionfish

Head very bony, with numerous spines; adults with a well developed pit on top of head behind eyes; eye moderate, with a large branched cirrus above it at the rear; 1st (top most) preopercular spine the largest, short, with a small accessory spine; bone over front of mouth with 2 spines pointing down; bone ridge under eye prominent, without 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, 3rd spine longer than 2nd; pectoral 18-19, with some upper rays branched in adult; scales relatively large, smooth; lateral line complete.

Red to brown to tan with greenish mottling; head brown, often dark markings at edge of operculum; iris yellow; a prominent dark green blotch on the fin membranes between dorsal fin spines III-VII; outer ½ of pelvic dusky, inner half pink; tail fin with 3 dusky bars – base (poorly defined), center and before the end.

Reaches 26 cm.

Mud bottoms and rocky bottoms with sand and rubble.

Depth range: 8-110 m.

N Carolina to Brazil.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Corals
  • Mud
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
  • 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)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 26
Depth Range Min
  • 8
Depth Range Max
  • 110