The California scorpionﬁsh is an excellent food ﬁsh and the most venomous member of the scorpionﬁsh family. It has venom glands that are attached to the dorsal, the pelvic, and the anal ﬁn spines, and if these spines penetrate the skin, an intense and excruciating pain in the area of the wound occurs almost immediately.
If there are multiple punctures, the wound can induce shock, respiratory distress, or abnormal heart action and sometimes leads to hospitalization of the victim. The California scorpionﬁsh is often called a sculpin but is not a member of the sculpin family.
IdentificationThe California scorpionfish has a stocky and slightly compressed body, as well as a large head and mouth. Colored red to brown, with dark patches and spots on the body and the ﬁns, this ﬁsh is capable of dramatic color changes to blend with its background. It has large pectoral ﬁns, 12 poisonous dorsal spines, and poisonous anal and ventral ﬁn spines.
Size/AgeThe California scorpionfish can grow to 17 inches and can live 15 years.
Life history/BehaviorCalifornia scorpionfish start spawning at age 3 or 4. Spawning activity occurs from April through August, most likely at night. The eggs are implanted in a single layer on the gelatinous walls of hollow, pear-shaped “balloons” of 5 to 10 inches in length; these are released on the bottom and rise to the surface, and the eggs hatch within the next 5 days.
FoodThe California scorpionﬁsh feeds on crabs, squid, octopus, ﬁsh, and shrimp.
spotted scorpionﬁsh, scorpion, rattlesnake, bullhead, scorpene, sculpin; Spanish: rascacio californiano.