by J.-C. Hureau and N. I. Litvinenko
Moderately compressed to robust fishes, with large spiny heads. Mouth moderate to large, terminal, oblique, protractile; teeth usually villiform (small canine teeth present in some species) arranged in bands on upper jaw, lower jaw and vomer (sometimes on palatines); eyes moderate to large; a ridge of bone (sub-orbital stay) below eye; preopercular margin with 3-5 spines; opercle with 2 divergent spines or a single spine; other spines scattered on head. A single dorsal fin, usually notched at posterior end of spinous part, with 11-16 spines and 4-17 rays; anal fin with 3 spines and 5-14 rays; pectoral fin broad-based, large, fan-like; pelvic fins thoracic in position with 1 spine and 3-5 rays; caudal fin rounded or emarginate. Body covered with cycloid, ctenoid or rudimentary scales. Lateral line always present, sometimes incomplete or represented only as a scaleless groove. Fleshy skin flaps, cirri, tentacles, tabs present on head and body of many species. Gillrakers usually short, tubercular in form.
Scorpionfishes are small to moderate-sized marine bottom-living fishes. Adults range in size from 5 to 40 cm. They occur in tropical, temperate and cold waters of all seas. Most are found inshore, living around rocks, coral reefs and seaweeds. Others live on sandy or muddy bottoms. Some occur in deep waters to more than 2,000 m.
Genera more than 70; in Clofnam area 8.
Recent revisions: Bini (1969—Mediterranean only), Eschmeyer (1969— Atlantic only), Eschmeyer (1981).