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Merlet's Scorpionfish (Rhinopias aphanes)

Merlet's Scorionfish (Rhinopias and Scorpionfish)


  • Common Names- Lacy Scorpionfish, Weedy Scorpianfish, Merlot Scorpionfish, Lacy Stingfish, Lacy Firefish, Lacy Goblinfish and Lacy Rockfish.
  • Scientific Name- Rhinopias aphanes


Species Description

  • This rare type of scorpionfish is "lacy", just like described in other common names for the species. The fish has upturned mouth tentacles, distinctive head shape and skin flaps everywhere. Merlet's Scorpionfish are masters of camouflage and stay relatively calm, without much movement, until they aggressively lunge for their prey. They are often found hiding under plate corals and ledges on coral reefs. Because they can disguise themselves so easily, they can wait for hours in the same place and wait for their prey to get extremely close. When the prey is near enough, they rapidly lunge forward and inhale the small fish into their large mouths. When they are disturbed, they raise the spines along their backs and then proceed to move out of harms way. However, if the scorpionfish is cornered, it is able to charge forward at a considerable speed. For adaptation, when the fish is disturbed, highly dangerous, poisonous and venomous spines along its back appear.
  • Grows up to 30cm in length
  • Browns and Blacks to Greens and Blues with Bright Yellows
  • Photographs-


  • Food web- 

  • Merlet's scorpionfish are mainly nocturnal and hunt for their prey at night. They feed mainly on ghost shrimp, mollies, guppies, small octopus, and other small reef animals. However, because of their large mouths, they can also consume relatively large prey.
    • This fish, is a heterotroph because it is an animal. It cannot produce its own food therefore, it must eat other organisms to live. Being a heterotroph, it requires organic substrates to get carbon for proper growth and development throughout its life.
    • The species consumes smaller reef animals and is consumed by much bigger, more capable predators than the scorpionfish. However, the fish is very dominant in its environment therefore, it has very few predators.
  • The Merlet's scorpionfish has a trophic level around 3 or 4. It is relatively high up on the aquatic food chain because it is highly dangerous and is one of the most venomous varieties of fish in the world.
  • Ecological pyramid/trophic pyramid-


  • This fish can be found in the waters of the Asian Pacific region, southern Japan to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and across to New Caledonia. One of the best locations to regularly see the fish is at Loloata Island in Papua New Guinea where several different color variations are known to exist. 
  • The entire family of Scorpion fishes is quite rare and as stated earlier, is only found in small and specific ares of the worlds many oceans. Today, there is a total of roughly 388 species in the Scorpaenidae family. 
  • The only known limiting factors for this species is the decline of reefs due to climate change, natural disasters and humans. There is a threat to the species from humans, because there is a large desire to have these fish as pets in tanks because they are so unique and beautiful creatures. The species main predators are large fish and sea lions.


  • The Merlet's Scorpionfish lives in salt water in several reefs throughout the world. Its optimum pH level is between 8.1 - 8.4.
  • The species lives in a temperature range ranging anywhere from 65-85 degrees fahrenheit. Through each season, the ocean habitat and temperatures do not change to hugely with precipitation and weather changes.
  • The species is primarily nocturnal. It hunts and does the majority of its movement at night.


  • Overtime, the Merlet's Scorpionfish has developed its distinctive, colorful skin flaps as an adaptation. The colorful flaps help the species to blend in perfectly and effortlessly into the just as colorful coral reefs it inhabits. Another adaptation is its ability to to open its mouth to a massive size and quickly inhale its food. Because the fish blends can camouflage so well, consume prey fast, and is one of the most venomous and deadly fish in the world so they can scare off unwanted predators, it is more likely to thrive in its environment, adapt to new environmental changes, and reproduce more of its own kind.
  • The Scorpionfish's lifespan lasts anywhere from about 10 to 15 years.

  • Phylogenetic Tree-

  • Ancestors-

  • The Merlet's Scorpionfish is not fished very commercially or recreationally so it is not in danger of being overfished. However, these unique animals trade at a very high price at aquariums.
  • Since the Merlet's Scorpionfish is a coral reef inhabitant, it is linked directly to the coral reef environment and may be slightly affected by the decline of reefs due to climate change, natural disasters or human activity. However, the fish's chances of interaction with humans is very low.

Works Cited

  • Common Names
  • Scientific Name
  • Scientific Classification

"Online Learning Center | Weedy Scorpionfish Full Description." Aquarium of the Pacific. Web. 23 May 2011. <>.
"Rhinopias Aphanes (Merlet's Scorpionfish)." Welcome to ZipcodeZoo. Web. 23 May 2011. <>.
"Scorpion Fish - Animals." A-Z Animals - Animal Facts, Information, Pictures, Videos, Resources and Links. Web. 23 May 2011. <>.
"September 2010." Sophie'sscience Blog. Web. 23 May 2011. <>.
"Wolfram|Alpha: Species Information: Merlet's Scorpionfish." Wolfram|Alpha: Computational Knowledge Engine. Web. 23 May 2011. <'s_scorpionfish/oh/70/ay/>.
"Scorpionfishes (Scorpaenidae): Lionfish, Stonefish, Rhinopias, Devilfish, Leaffish - Characteristics, Ecology and Range, Behavior." Starfish: Photos of Fishes, Invertebrates (molluscs, Crustaceans, Echinoderms, Worms, Corals, Sponges, Jellyfish and More), Reptiles, Rays and Sharks. Start Your Dive into the Coral Reef! Web. 23 May 2011. <>.