The Scorpaenidae family are also known as Scorpionfish. This family of mostly soil-dwelling species consists of 26 genera and about 223 species. The best-known species of this genus, however, is not a bottom dweller, Pterois volitans or the Red Lionfish floats through the water.

Pterois volitans - Red Lionfish
Pterois volitans – Red Lionfish


Members of the Scorpaenidae family are common in the tropical and subtropical regions. However, most species and numbers are found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the seas in between.

They often live in shallow parts between rocks and corals, but there are also known species that occur at depths of 2200 meters.


Scorpaenidae are all carnivores. They feed on invertebrates and small fish. They lie on the bottom waiting for prey or drive them into a corner. The bulging of the large beak and by expanding the abdomen they create a suction effect and the prey is thus sucked in and swallowed.


Some species are very well camouflaged and almost impossible to find as long as they do not move. Others are brightly colored to indicate that a predator should not eat them.

The dorsal fin has 11 to 17 fin rays. These are often long, hard and are clearly visible set apart. The pectoral fins are well developed and clearly visible and contain 11 to 25 fin rays.


Scorpaenidae are among the most poisonous fish on the planet. The anterior fin rays of the dorsal, abdominal and anal fins have a venom gland. This is located at the base of the fin ray. This fin ray is hollow and hard. The tip of the fin ray is sharp and acts as a type of injection needle. If you step on a fish of this family or if it is eaten, the skin around the fin ray is compressed. This presses the skin on the venom gland that injects the venom through the fin ray.

Treatment of the Scorpaenidae sting

The venom of Scorpaenidae is usually not fatal to humans, but it is very painful. Treating immediately works better than seeing a doctor first. Of course we advise you to immediately call for help.

Symptoms of a sting:

  • severe pain (direct)
  • nausea
  • vomitting
  • swelling
  • shock

Doctors treat the stitch in this way: Place the stung spot in hot water at a temperature of 43 to 45 degrees Celsius as soon as possible. If it is too cold, the poison does not break down, too hot and you burn so pay close attention to the temperature! Continue this for 30 to 90 minutes until the pain is gone. If the pain returns, repeat immediately.

After the pain is gone, the wound should be cleaned thoroughly. Remove any residue from the spine and disinfect the wound to avoid infection. Keep a close eye on the wound, if it turns red after a few days or you get a fever and a throbbing feeling, the wound is inflamed. Go back to the doctor for further treatment with antibiotics!

!!! Important, always seek medical attention and make sure you were stung by a member of the Scorpaenidae family and not a member of the Synanceiidae family or a stonefish. That sting can be deadly.

Pterois volitans - Red Lionfish