False Stonefish, Scorpaenopsis diabolus Click to enlarge image
A False Stonefish at a depth of 10m, Admiralty Islands (10th of June Island), Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, 7 February 2011. Image: Christine Preston
© Christine Preston

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 30 cm in length.


As its standard name implies, the False Stonefish looks similar to the true stonefishes. It is common in shallow waters of the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific.


The False Stonefish is one of five humpbacked species of Scorpaenopsis. This species has a large head, pointed snout and short dorsal fin spines. The upper posttemporal spine is branched. This character is not found in any other species of Scorpaenopsis.

Coloration is variable from reddish to orange, blue, green or purple. The inner surface of the pectoral fin is yellowish with a large black spot. When threatened, the fish will flare its pectoral fins exposing the bright colours on the inner surface. This is believed to startle potential predators.

False Stonefish, Scorpaenopsis diabolus

A False Stonefish at a depth of 15m, Rupert's reef, Admiralty Islands, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, 15 February 2011.

Image: Christine Preston
© Christine Preston


It can be found at depths of 1 m to 70 m.


The False Stonefish is common in shallow waters of the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific. It is known from South Africa east to the Marquesas Islands, north to Japan and south to Australia.

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.
  2. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.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.
  5. Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific: New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. University of Hawai'i Press. Pp. 584.
  6. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.