Cheekspot Scorpionfish Click to enlarge image
A Cheekspot Scorpionfish at a depth of 15 m, North West Solitary Island, New South Wales, July 2006. Image: Ian Shaw
© Ian Shaw

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 10 cm in length.


The Cheekspot Scorpionfish has variable colouration, ranging from brown to pink or red. In many publications, the Cheekspot Scorpionfish has been listed as the Pygmy Scorpionfish.


The Cheekspot Scorpionfish can be distinguished from other Australian east coast scorpionfishes by the dark blotch on the operculum and the red-spotted fins. It has small ctenoid scales and thirteen venomous dorsal fin spines. There are small leaf-like appendages on the head and mouth. Its colouration is variable from brown to pink or red.

Not all ichthyologists agree on the taxonomy of the Cheekspot Scorpionfish. The name Scorpaenodes scaber is sometimes used for this fish. In many publications, the Cheekspot Scorpionfish is listed as the Pygmy Scorpionfish, Scorpaenodes scaber.

According to Motomura et. al. (see References, below), the two species look very similar, but the Pygmy Scorpionfish lacks a dark spot on the operculum. It is only known from the two type specimens in the Australian Museum Ichthyology Collection that were collected collected in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour), New South Wales in 1885.

The species has also been called Scorpaenodes littoralis in many publications. The 2010 publication of Motomura et al showed that S. littoralis is a junior synonym of S. evides.


The Cheekspot Scorpionfish is a benthic species that occurs primarily in shallow tropical marine waters. It is commonly observed upside down on the roofs of caves.


The species occurs in the Indo-West and Central Pacific. In Australia it is known from the central coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country and south to the southern coast of New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.


  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292. (as S. scaber)
  2. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180. (as S. scaber)
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437. (as S. scaber)
  4. Motomura, H., Arbsuwan, S. & P. Musikasinthorn. 2010. Thysanichthys evides, a Senior Synonym of Sebastella littoralis, and a Valid Species of Scorpaenodes. (Actinopterygii: Scorpaenidae). Species Diversity, 2010, 15, 71–81.
  5. Poss, S.G. Scorpaenidae in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem. 1999. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 4. Bony fishes part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). FAO. Rome Pp. iii-v, 2069-2790.