Know your fishes – The Rhinopias

by Lauren Siba, September 14, 2014

Rhinopias belong to the scorpionfish family and are one of the most sought-after fish for underwater photographers due to their scarcity, unusual shape, and beautiful range of colours. Lembeh is one of the places where, with a bit of luck, you may see one! Like all scorpionfish, they have venomous spines and prefer to rest on the bottom, occasionally walking or ‘hopping’ by pushing off with their pelvic and pectoral fins rather than swimming. There are several species of Rhinopias, two of which are found in Indonesia:

Paddle Flap Scorpionfish / Rhinopias eschmeyeri

The body is usually only one uniform colour with very few or no markings. There are hardly any filaments on the skin and dorsal fins. It comes in red, pink and purple and has a wide geographic range over the tropical Indo West Pacific. It prefers ‘muck’ dive sites with black sand and algae beds.

Paddle Flap Scorpionfish / Rhinopias eschmeyeri



Weedy Scorpionfish / Rhinopias frondosa

Sometimes misidentified as the Lacy Scorpionfish, which is however, not found in Indonesia. The Weedy Scorpionfish shares the same habitat as the Paddle Flap and the two can sometimes be found together. This species can be white, yellow, purple, red and other colours. It has a pattern of circles covering the body. It is also found throughout the Indo West Pacific.


Weedy Scorpionfish / Rhinopias frondosa



  • The word ‘rhinopias’ comes from the Greek word for nose (rhino) and ‘ops’, meaning a word you say when you drop something. Just kidding! ‘Ops’ means ‘appearance’.
  • Rhinopias have been reported at depths from 10 to 300 feet / 3 to 100 meters.
  • Rhinopias shed their outer skin layer to get rid of algae and parasites. Some do this as often as every 12 days.
  • Rhinopias will eat almost any fish which will fit in its mouth!
  • Juveniles are usually translucent and then start to get more colour as they get bigger.


Juvenile Paddle Flap backlit – you can see through the juvenile, in this image you can even see the stomach.


Juvenile Paddle Flap Rhinopias

Juvenile Paddle Flap Scorpionfish


  • Adults can change colour completely, and range from yellow to pink and purple
  • Life Span: Maximum up to 5 years in aquariums
  • In the wild they may live longer as other scorpion fishes live 10-15 years or more.


Orange Paddle Flap Scorpionfish


Weedy Scorpionfish with nudibranch egg-spiral on the cheek


Update May 2017, here’s a short video of a Rhinopias eschmeyeri feeding on a little fish


This article was researched at Lembeh Resort, all photos where taken while diving with Critters@Lembeh.



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