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Scorpionfish

Scorpionfish

Overview
Scorpaenidae, the scorpionfish, are a family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 of mostly marine
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

 fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 that includes many of the world's most venomous species. As the name suggests, scorpionfish have a type of "sting" in the form of sharp spines coated with venomous mucus
Mucus
In vertebrates, mucus is a slippery secretion produced by, and covering, mucous membranes. Mucous fluid is typically produced from mucous cells found in mucous glands. Mucous cells secrete products that are rich in glycoproteins and water. Mucous fluid may also originate from mixed glands, which...

. The family is a large one, with hundreds of members. They are widespread in tropical and temperate seas, but mostly found in the Indo-Pacific
Indo-Pacific
The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region of the Earth's seas, comprising the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and the seas connecting the two in the general area of Indonesia...

. They should not be confused with the cabezone
Cabezone
The Cabezon or also commonly referred to as the mother-in-law fish to Floridians, Scorpaenichthys marmoratus, is a sculpin native to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America...

s, of the genus Scorpaenichthys, which belong to a separate, though related family, Cottidae
Cottidae
The Cottidae is a family of demersal fish in the order Scorpaeniformes, suborder Cottoidei . There are about 300 species in 70 genera of Cottidae that are mostly marine and found in shallow coastal waters in the northern and arctic regions...

.


Some types, such as the lionfish
Lionfish
Lionfish may refer to:* genus Pterois, collectively known as the lionfish* Red Lionfish , a significant invasive species off the East Coast of North America and in the Caribbean-Fish:...

, are attractive as well as dangerous, and highly desired for aquaria
Aquarium
An aquarium is a vivarium consisting of at least one transparent side in which water-dwelling plants or animals are kept. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, marine mammals, turtles, and aquatic plants...

.
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Encyclopedia
Scorpaenidae, the scorpionfish, are a family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 of mostly marine
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

 fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 that includes many of the world's most venomous species. As the name suggests, scorpionfish have a type of "sting" in the form of sharp spines coated with venomous mucus
Mucus
In vertebrates, mucus is a slippery secretion produced by, and covering, mucous membranes. Mucous fluid is typically produced from mucous cells found in mucous glands. Mucous cells secrete products that are rich in glycoproteins and water. Mucous fluid may also originate from mixed glands, which...

. The family is a large one, with hundreds of members. They are widespread in tropical and temperate seas, but mostly found in the Indo-Pacific
Indo-Pacific
The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region of the Earth's seas, comprising the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and the seas connecting the two in the general area of Indonesia...

. They should not be confused with the cabezone
Cabezone
The Cabezon or also commonly referred to as the mother-in-law fish to Floridians, Scorpaenichthys marmoratus, is a sculpin native to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America...

s, of the genus Scorpaenichthys, which belong to a separate, though related family, Cottidae
Cottidae
The Cottidae is a family of demersal fish in the order Scorpaeniformes, suborder Cottoidei . There are about 300 species in 70 genera of Cottidae that are mostly marine and found in shallow coastal waters in the northern and arctic regions...

.

Varieties



Some types, such as the lionfish
Lionfish
Lionfish may refer to:* genus Pterois, collectively known as the lionfish* Red Lionfish , a significant invasive species off the East Coast of North America and in the Caribbean-Fish:...

, are attractive as well as dangerous, and highly desired for aquaria
Aquarium
An aquarium is a vivarium consisting of at least one transparent side in which water-dwelling plants or animals are kept. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, marine mammals, turtles, and aquatic plants...

. In addition to the name scorpionfish, informal names for family members include "firefish", "turkeyfish", "dragonfish", and "stingfish", usually with adjectives added.

General characteristics of family members include a compressed body, ridges and/or spines on the head, one or two spines on the operculum
Operculum (fish)
The operculum of a bony fish is the hard bony flap covering and protecting the gills. In most fish, the rear edge of the operculum roughly marks the division between the head and the body....

, and three to five spines on the preopercle. The dorsal fin
Dorsal fin
A dorsal fin is a fin located on the backs of various unrelated marine and freshwater vertebrates, including most fishes, marine mammals , and the ichthyosaurs...

 will have 11 to 17 spines, often long and separated from each other, and the pectoral fins will be well-developed, with 11 to 25 rays. The spines of the dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins all have venom glands at their bases.


Most species are bottom-dwellers that feed on crustacean
Crustacean
Crustaceans form a very large group of arthropods, usually treated as a subphylum, which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles. The 50,000 described species range in size from Stygotantulus stocki at , to the Japanese spider crab with a leg span...

s and smaller fish. Many inhabit shallow waters, but a few live as deep as 2200 metres (7,217.8 ft). Most Scorpionfish, such as the stonefish
Stonefish
Synanceia verrucosa is a fish species, sometimes lethal to humans, which is known as the reef stonefish or simply stonefish. They are carnivorous ray-finned fish with venomous spines that lives on reef bottoms, camouflaged as a rock...

, wait in disguise for prey to pass them by before swallowing, while lionfish
Lionfish
Lionfish may refer to:* genus Pterois, collectively known as the lionfish* Red Lionfish , a significant invasive species off the East Coast of North America and in the Caribbean-Fish:...

 often ambush their prey. When not ambushing, lionfish may herd the fish, shrimp, or crab in to a corner before swallowing. Scorpionfish feed by opening their mouth, then their gills a fraction of a second apart, creating suction. Stripers, grouper, bass, snook, frogfish, toadfish, sculpin, etc., also feed this way, but the scorpionfish, toadfish and sculpins are the only members of this group that have jaw teeth.

Scorpaenid systematics are complicated and unsettled. Fishes of the World
Fishes of the World
Fishes of the World by Joseph S. Nelson is a standard reference for fish systematics. Now in its fourth edition, the work is a comprehensive overview of the 25,000-plus species known to science....

recognizes 10 subfamilies with a total of 388 species, while FishBase
FishBase
FishBase is a comprehensive database of information about fish species . It is the largest and most extensively accessed online database on adult finfish on the web...

 follows Eschmeyer and has 3 subfamilies, 25 genera, and 200 species, some of the species being removed to family Sebastidae
Sebastidae
Sebastidae is a family of marine fish in the order Scorpaeniformes. Their common names include rockfishes, thornyheads and rockcods. Despite the latter name, they are not closely related to the cods in the genus Gadus, nor the rock cod, Lotella rhacina.Not all authorities recognise this family as...

which other authorities do not follow.

External links