Ever heard of a Sting Fish before? To be honest before I found this one, I’d only really ever heard the name mentioned once or twice in my travels and they don’t appear in most of your fish ID books either, trust me I looked :)
So what the hell makes a Sting Fish interesting enough to be shown here, let me show you. First off when I found this demon looking fish, I thought it was just an average run of the mill scorpion fish it has a resemblance to Bearded Scorpions, but I was drawn to the way it had folded its dorsal spines over the body like a bad comb over to hide male pattern baldness. Normal scorpion fish can’t do that, their spines fold back into a concertina like pattern pointing toward their tail.
So that was the first hint that this was not a normal scorpion fish. The second thing that gave it away was the odd shape of it’s snout, most scorpion fish have an inverted concave or flat shape to their snout, this ones is obviously very convex, meaning it curves out away from the eyes and down toward the mouth, making the snout rather short.
Next thing that gave this little guy away was the pectoral fins, have a look on the bottom left of the image and you will see finger like appendages which are special adaptions that only a few scorpion fish have developed for movement. The ones I’d previously known to have finger like pectoral fins are the Indian Ocean Walkman & Demon Stingers. There could be more with that adaption I’m forgetting, but here is a photo of a Demon Stinger so you can see the stark differences.
The last thing that gave this fish away as something utterly new for me, was the protrusions from the top of the eyelids and also the 4 appendages falling away from the bottom lip. Again most scorpion fish have very defined tassels in that they may change colour but usually not the shape, bearded scorpions have tassels that look like frilly doilies like your grandma had on her coffee table. The Sting Fish’s protrusions are more shapely and defined which likely means that the species can be quickly identified by them when diving.
Anyway after noticing these things I took a photo of it just in case it wasn’t your everyday run of the mill Scorpion and upon researching it further it turns out that it is either an Orange Banded Stingfish or maybe a Painted Stingfish, it’s hard to tell because I did not take a photo of the tail which has a clearly defined band of one colour or the other.
But what we do know about the Sting Fish is, they are ugly as sin, they are very rare (this makes 1 for me) and they easy to ignore because their immediate profile makes you think they are just a normal Scorpion fish, I actually did a double take on it when I first saw it and as detailed above only a few small details made me return to photograph it.
Stay frosty people!