The Holy Grail of Aquarists
The Weedy Scorpionfish Rhinopias frondosa has been frequently described as the 'Holy Grail', Not just of aquarists, but of underwater photographers.
As with so many animals it has a variety of English names. These include the Goose Scorpionfish, the Rhino Scorpionfish and the Popeyed Scorpionfish. The Weedy Scorpionfish is the most common of the Rhinopias species in view of the fact that it has the widest range which stretches from East Africa as far as Japan. It is found in a variety of different colours and some specimens are truly beautiful. It has started to appear more often within the marine aquarium trade but is still quite rare and so commands quite large prices.
The Rhinopias frondosa is a very slow moving fish, in fact it doesn't move at all if it doesn't have to. Being well camouflaged as well it is quite difficult to spot in the wild.
It has been suggested by some that this should be one of the species fish which should not be kept in captivity. The reasons cited were its specialised diet and due to the fact that it is venomous.
It is however not a difficult species to keep and where it is kept, whether by hobbysist or specialised marine aquaria all efforts should be on research and learning to propgate and so reduce catching from the wild.
As far as I am aware the only aquarium to have any sort of success in breeding the species is the Steinhart Aquarium in the Californian Academy of Sciences who in 2010 had both fertile and infertile eggs. Some of these developed into larval fish but did not fully develop.
As to the venom of the spines. I personally know two people who were poisoned by the larger cousin of this species, the Lionfish, and both suffered intense pain. One of these I ran to hospital in my jeep some twenty minutes after just three dorsal barbs pierced the bottom of his hand. His hand was swollen to three times its normal size and was extremely discoloured. He was off work for some three weeks and took longer still to fully recover.
Weedy Scorpionfish amongst other sea creatures
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