There are an abundance of interesting and unique fish that you can keep in your home aquarium, from large bottom feeders, to beautiful betta fish with their bright colors and flowing tails. One type of fish that can often have a bad rap is the scorpionfish.
This is typically due to how they look, and what they eat. Many people assume that they are aggressive fish but this is not always necessarily true. They are not an overly aggressive fish to keep, unlike some fish of a similar size, like the six line wrasse or even clown tangs.
In this article, we will be taking you through the basics you need to know about this misunderstood fish.
What Do Scorpionfish Look like?
There are many types of scorpionfish, as a result they all vary slightly with how they look. Typically, they have large mouths, and heads. There is a bonyridge that runs from their cheek to the eye, which is also called the suborbital stay.
They have stiff fin spines which contain venom. While some scorpionfish are very venomous, others are not, it all depends on the breed purchased. It is worth noting that the very venomous scorpionfish are not typically sold for aquariums.
A lot of scorpionfish are capable of shedding their cuticles a few times a month. While this can look slightly off putting, it is actually great for these species as it makes them less prone to diseases.
There are many types of scorpionfish that can be purchased. The most common are Reef, cheekspot, Red Barbfish, and Barchin. The different types of scorpionfish will have slightly different requirements.
What habitat do scorpionfish need?
The type of habitat needed will vary slightly, depending on the type of scorpionfish purchased. Typically, they will need either a hard or soft substrate.
They enjoy burrowing into this substrate, so there needs to be a good amount present in the aquarium. Due to their color and how they catch their food, they are great at hiding in their surrounding environment.
What do scorpionfish eat?
The diet of a scorpionfish is what puts off a lot of people from purchasing this breed, which, considering they are a predatory species, is understandable.
While they do eat flesh, they can be fed pellets or powder too. But, given their diet, this is why they are typically labelled as a dangerous fish.
As we have already discussed, scorpionfish are a predatory fish. As a result, in the wild, they would have eaten live fish, such as other types of marine fish.
Even so, feeding them live food is not something we would recommend feeding solely, and you would need to purchase fish specifically bred for this purpose. The most common types of live food that scorpionfish eat include shrimp - specifically grass, and ghost shrimp.
However, you can choose to feed other small fish such as platy and mollies too. Anchovies and minnows are also great options. In some instances, live feeding cannot be avoided. In these cases, these options that we have listed above.
One of the better alternatives when keeping these fish. This is because it is easier to source in general, it also does not involve live feeding, which many people may prefer.
The frozen food for scorpionfish can be purchased online or in pet stores, however, they can also eat frozen fish from the grocery store too. This is useful as you can pick up their food, while also picking up your own.
Feeding scorpionfish frozen “human” food tends to be the cheaper option too. Some great choices are clams, squid, scallops, tuna, and salmon. However, we would recommend trying a wide variety, as it is likely your scorpionfish will have a preference of fish and seafood they prefer.
If you prefer to purchase food specifically for scorpionfish, silversides are a great option. This is because you can purchase powders and pellets to place inside them. These additions help to provide your scorpionfish with all the nutrients they need.
When it comes to feeding scorpionfish, you may be surprised to learn that they do not need to be fed often. Around three times a week is sufficient. This is because they are quite a sedentary fish, and do not need the nutrients daily.
Their metabolism is slow, which causes them to digest food at a slower than average rate. When feeding scorpionfish, a bulge will appear on their stomach when they have eaten the correct amount. In terms of a schedule, you will want to split up the feeds throughout the week.
As it is possible to overfeed scorpionfish, you will need to take extra care to ensure that you are feeding them the correct amount. Overfeeding can lead to health and digestive issues over time.
How are scorpionfish housed?
When owning a scorpionfish, it is important to ensure that you are housing them correctly, and that the tank is not too small. The size of the tank will be based on how many scorpionfish are being housed, and how big the scorpionfish are.
While these fish can be kept in a tank from 10 gallons in size initially, this is the bare minimum. We would always recommend a substantial sized tank given their size. This is especially important if you are planning to keep multiple scorpionfish.
Scorpionfish need long tanks, rather than high tanks, and a tank that is around 30 gallons to 50 gallons is a reasonable size. However, each scorpionfish should have around 22 gallons each, which is worth keeping in mind.
The tank needs a good sand substrate to allow the fish to bury themselves, and plenty of rock caves, and overhangs. You will also need a good filtration system, macroalgae, and standard tank lighting.
While you will need to take care when owning a Scorpionfish due to their sting, they are a great fish to keep. They are hardy, and fairly easy to look after on the whole. They are also interesting, and a fascinating fish to own.