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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes > Family Scorpaenidae
Longspined waspfish
Paracentropogon longispinis
Family Tetrarogidae
updated Oct 2020
if you learn only 3 things about it ...
It is small and well camouflaged. Look carefully to find one.
It has venomous spines. Don't handle it!
Its venom is only used for protection from predators and not to catch prey.

Where seen? This little waspfish is commonly seen on many of our shores, among coral rubble or seagrasses. But it is small and well camouflaged and thus often overlooked. Now in Family Tetrarogidae (waspfishes), it used to be placed in Family Scorpaenidae (scorpionfishes).

Features: 5-7cm long. The dorsal fin begins almost between its eyes and the dorsal fin membranes are deeply incised between the spines. It has a pair of large backward pointing spines above its mouth, which may not be obvious when the spines are folded away. The lateral line has prominent tube-like scales. Some may have a white band across the face, and indeed, they are called Whiteface waspfish in some places. In captivity, they have been observed to change from light to dark colours.

Sometimes mistaken for a stonefish (Family Synanceiidae) or the False scorpionfish (Centrogenys vaigiensis), a grouper, which looks very similar. Here's more on how to tell apart fishes that look like stones.

Chek Jawa, Jun 05

Prominent tube-like scales along the lateral line.
Deeply incised membranes between dorsal fin spines
Pulau Sekudu, Apr 06

Backward facing spines next to the mouth,
First dorsal fin almost between the eyes.

Sentosa, Nov 10

Painful sting! According to an account of being stung on a finger: "There was a sharp initial pain, developing into a throbbing pain felt to the bone, soon spreading to the rest of the finger. The intense pain remained for about an hour, the whole arm felt rather weak. The throbbing pain gradually subsided to a dull ache, which continued to persist for about two weeks."

How to stay safe: Don't grope around with bare hands.

Human uses: These fishes are sometimes taken for the aquarium trade..

Longspined waspfishes on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Berlayar Creek, Oct 15
Photo shared by Jonathan Tan on facebook.

Seringat-Kias, Nov 14
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Pulau Tekukor, May 10
Photo shared by James Koh on flickr.

Sisters Island, Aug 09
Photo shared by Liana Tang on her blog.

Terumbu Hantu, Jul 18
Photo shared by Jianlin Liau on facebook.

Terumbu Raya, Jun 18
Photo shared by Dayna Cheah on facebook.

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, Sep 14
Photo shared by Jianlin Liau on facebook.

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

  • Tan Heok Hui. 29 July 2016. Stung by a longspine waspfish. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2016: 98-99
  • Lim, S., P. Ng, L. Tan, & W. Y. Chin, 1994. Rhythm of the Sea: The Life and Times of Labrador Beach. Division of Biology, School of Science, Nanyang Technological University & Department of Zoology, the National University of Singapore. 160 pp.
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