Rhinopias aphanes Eschmeyer, 1973, New Caledonia.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Weedy scorpionfish.
Grows to 10.2 in (26 cm) maximum length. A compressed, large-headed scorpaenid, with an upturned mouth. Typically yellow and black, forming a paisley or “mazelike” appearance. Predominately brown, green, and black specimens also have been recorded. The body and head of this species are covered with cirri and other fleshy appendages.
Has been collected in northeastern Australia, New Caledonia, New Guinea, and southern Japan but probably is more widespread in the western Pacific.
Little is known about this cryptic species, but it often is found sitting on corals and appears to be most common on coral slopes.
Like many other scorpaenoid fishes, this cryptic fish appears to shed its skin periodically to prevent the buildup of too much epibiotic growth. The presence or absence of venom in this species has not been reported.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
The diet is unknown, but most other species of Rhinopias feed primarily on crustaceans and small fishes.
Nothing is known.
Not listed by the IUCN.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Not commercially fished, but numerous other Rhinopias species are prized aquarium specimens. It is likely that Merlet’s scorpionfish may already be imported for the aquarium trade.
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