Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

California Scorpionfish

Scorpaena guttata


Fun Facts

    The California scorpionfish has venom in its spines.

    The effects of the sting are said to feel similar to a rattlesnake bite.




The California scorpionfish is a type of marine bony fish that lives on the ocean floor along rocky bottoms, in bays or underwater caves. It can be found at depths up to 183 meters (600 feet), but it usually lives in shallower waters, to about 30 meters (88 feet). California scorpionfish occur from Santa Cruz, California, to Baja California and out to Guadalupe Island. The body is reddish brown with many brown and black spots, especially on the fins. The head is large and spiny. This species lacks a swim bladder.

California scorpionfish feed on squid, other fish, such as northern anchovy and spotted cusk-eel, and crustaceans, such as yellow rock crab and ridgeback prawn. This fish reproduces by spawning, the release of eggs and sperm into the water column. It is thought that they return to the same spawning grounds each breeding season. They live up to 21 years.

Another common name for the California scorpionfish is “sculpin.” However, the scorpionfish is not a true sculpin and is actually more closely related to rockfish.

California scorpionfish are usually found at the Aquarium in tank number 21, 33 and in the Tidepool Touch Tank.