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Species: Scorpaena plumieri, Spotted Scorpionfish

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bone atop front mouth: 3-4 spines
deep pit behind eyes
inner face pectoral black + white spots
C pale + 3 dark bars
scales smooth

Scorpaena plumieri Bloch, 1789

Spotted Scorpionfish

A robust fish with strong spines on the head; head as deep as broad; a deep pit present behind eyes; a smaller pit below and in front of eyes; bone above front of mouth with 3-4 down-pointing spines; 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 rays III,5-6; pectoral 18-21, the lower rays unbranched and thickened; numerous skin flaps on head and body; scales relatively large, smooth; lateral line complete.

Color highly variable, usually a drab mottled mixture of grey, brown, red, green, and black; inside base of pectoral fin black, with large white spots or blotches, frequently in rows; tail whitish, with 3 dark bars; tail base abruptly pale; juvenile: body with pronounced dark bar at level of soft dorsal fin.

Size: to 45 cm.

Inhabits coral and rocky reefs, but also on open rubble areas.

Depth: 1-80 m.

New York to Brazil; Ascension in the central Atlantic.

Note: The sister species of Scorpaena mystes in the eastern Pacific. Nirchio et al. (2016) found genetic evidence that S plumieri comprises two species, one from South America, the other the northern part of its range.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Sea anemones
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Corals
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
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)
  • 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
  • 45
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 80