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Cabezon Scorpaenichthys marmoratus


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credit: Steve Lonhart

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Alternate name: Cabezon Sculpin

Family: Cottidae, Sculpins view all from this family

Description The Cabezon or also commonly referred to as the mother-in-law fish to Floridians, Scorpaenichthys marmoratus, is a sculpin native to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America. Although the genus name translates literally as "scorpion fish," true scorpionfish, i.e., the lionfish and stonefish, belong to the related family Scorpaenidae.

The cabezon is a scaleless fish with a broad bony support extending from the eye across the cheek just under the skin. Normally it has 11 spines on the dorsal fin. The cabezon also has a stout spine before the eye, an anal fin of soft rays, and a fleshy flap on the middle of the snout. A pair of longer flaps are just behind the eyes. The mouth is broad with many small teeth. The coloring varies, but is generally mottled with browns, greens and reds. >90% of red fish are males, whereas >90% of green fish are females. It reaches a weight of up to 25 pounds. As the Spanish-origin name implies, the fish has a very large head relative to its body.

Dimensions Up to 3'3" (99 cm).

Warning The eggs of this fish are poisonous if eaten.

Habitat Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Ocean or bay shallows, Tidepools.

Range California, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska.