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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes
False scorpionfish
Centrogenys vaigiensis

Family Centrogenyidae
updated Sep 2020

if you learn only 3 things about it ...
It is small and well camouflaged. Look carefully to find one.
This harmless fish is easily mistaken for a scorpionfish.
It hides among seaweeds and under stones. Watch your step!

Where seen? This small scorpionfish wannabe is commonly encountered on many of our shores in the North and South, among coral rubble and seagrass areas. Masters of disguise, some can also be very small. Most stay motionless and thus do not betray their presence through movement. Patience and a keen eye is required to spot one. Elsewhere, it is found in brackish estuaries and silty coastal reefs.

What are false scorpionfishes? This species was previously placed in Family Serranidae (groupers) and now is the only member of the Family Centrogenyidae (false scorpionfishes). True scorpionfishes belong to the Family Scorpaenidae.

Those seen usually about 4-10cm, grows to about 15cm. A large head with large eyes. In various camouflaging colours and patterns. Like true scorpionfishes, the false scorpionfish has sharp dorsal spines that can poke inquisitive fingers. The false scorpionfish lacks true venom glands, though the spines can still cause wounds.

Sometimes mistaken for stonefishes and scorpionfishes. To distinguish it from true scorpionfishes, the false scorpionfish does not have spines around its mouth, the nostrils have large fringed flaps, and the dorsal fin starts well behind the eyes. Here's more on how to tell apart fishes that look like stones.

Sentosa, Oct 03

Chek Jawa, Jun 03

Sisters Island, Sep 10

It has nose flaps! No spines on the head
Dorsal fins start well behind the eyes.

Changi, Jun 06
What does it eat? It eats small fishes, shrimps and crabs, hunting during the day.

Human uses: Sometimes harvested for the aquarium trade.

False scorpionfishes on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Punggol, Sep 18
Photo shared by Dayna Cheah on facebook.

Kusu Island, Jun 15
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Pulau Jong, May 10
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog.

Small Sisters Island, Aug 20
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Big Sisters Island, Jun 17
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Terumbu Pempang Laut, Apr 11
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Terumbu Pempang Kecil, Jan 15
Photo shared by Juria Toramae on facebook.

Pulau Salu, Apr 21
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Terumbu Bemban, Apr 11

false scorpion fish @tBembanBesar 22Apr2011 from SgBeachBum on Vimeo.



  • Allen, Gerry, 2000. Marine Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
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