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Cocotropus roseus
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Suborder: Scorpaenoidei
Family: Aploactinidae
Jordan & Starks, 1904[1]

see text

Little velvetfishes or simply velvetfishes are a family, the Aploactinidae, of marine ray-finned fishes classified within the order Scorpaeniformes. They are small fish that have skin with a velvet texture. They live on the sea bottom close to the shore, at depths of up to 100 metres (330 ft).[2] They are found in the Indo-Pacific region.


Aploactinidae was first formally recognised as a family by the American ichthyologists David Starr Jordan and Edwin Chapin Starks in 1904.[1]The 5th edition of Fishes of the World classifies the family within the suborder Scorpaenoidei which in turn is classified within the order Scorpaeniformes.[3] Other authorities place the Scorpaenoidei within the Perciformes.[4] The results of some studies suggest that the velvetfishes into an expanded stonefish clade, the family Synanceiidae because all of these fish have a curved sabre-like lacrimal spine that can project, using a switch-blade-like mechanism, out from underneath their eye.[5][6] The name of the family is taken from that of the type genus, Aploactis. which is a compound of "haplo" meaning "single" or "simple", and actis, meaning "ray", presumed to refer to the simple, unbranched soft rays of the fins.[7]


The following genera are classified within the family Aploactinidae:[8][9]


Velvetfishes get their name from the modified, prickly scales which cover the body and give the fish a velvety appearance, although there are some species which do not have these modified scales and have smooth skin, They typically have knobby lumps on the head, although sometimes there may be sharp spines. All of the fin rays are unbranched and the spines in the anal fin are normally weakly developed and blunt. The dorsal fin has its origin over or nearly above the eye. The first 3 to 5 dorsal fin spines may be separate, from the rest of the dorsal fin and can be raised or have almost no membrane between them. These separate spines form a separate fin in 4 species. The pelvic fin has a single spine and 2 or 3 soft rays,[3] the pectoral fins are very large.[10] In most species there is a fleshy extension on the anterior isthmus. There are no teeth on the palatines and no gill slit to the rear of last gill arch. One species, Prosoproctus pataecus, from the South China Sea, uniquely among scorpaenoids has its anus very far forward, just to the rear of the base of the pelvic fins.[3] These are small fishes with the largest species being the roughskin scorpionfish (Cocotropus monacanthus) which has a maximum published total length of 13.1 cm (5.2 in).[9]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Velvetfishes are found mainly in the eastern Indian and western Pacific Oceans,[3] but some species are found in the eastern Indian Ocean.[9] The adults are found among vegetation or over rocky, shelly, coral rubble or coralline algae substrates.[10]


Velvetfishes are uncommon and little-known.[10] These fishes are very well camouflaged ambush predators hiding amongst algae or rubble on or in the vicinity of rocky and coral reefs. The spines in the fin are venom bearing.[11] Little is known about their spawning behaviour but they do have pelagic larvae, the large pectoral fins develop early as an adaptation to their pelagic mode of life.[10]


  1. ^ a b Richard van der Laan; William N. Eschmeyer & Ronald Fricke (2014). "Family-group names of Recent fishes". Zootaxa. 3882 (2): 001–230. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3882.1.1. PMID 25543675.
  2. ^ Eschmeyer, William N. (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 176. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  3. ^ a b c d J. S. Nelson; T. C. Grande; M. V. H. Wilson (2016). Fishes of the World (5th ed.). Wiley. pp. 467–495. ISBN 978-1-118-34233-6.
  4. ^ Ricardo Betancur-R; Edward O. Wiley; Gloria Arratia; et al. (2017). "Phylogenetic classification of bony fishes". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 17 (162): 162. doi:10.1186/s12862-017-0958-3. PMC 5501477. PMID 28683774.
  5. ^ Smith, W. Leo; Smith, Elizabeth; Richardson, Clara (February 2018). "Phylogeny and Taxonomy of Flatheads, Scorpionfishes, Sea Robins, and Stonefishes (Percomorpha: Scorpaeniformes) and the Evolution of the Lachrymal Saber". Copeia. 106 (1): 94–119. doi:10.1643/CG-17-669. S2CID 91157582.
  6. ^ Willingham, AJ (13 April 2018). "Stonefish are already scary, and now scientists have found they have switchblades in their heads". CNN.
  7. ^ Christopher Scharpf & Kenneth J. Lazara, eds. (10 March 2022). "Order Perciformes (Part 10): Suborder Scorpaenoidei: Families Apistidae, Tetrarogidae, Synanceiidae, Aploacrinidae, Perryenidae, Eschmeyeridae, Pataecidae, Gnathanacanthidae, Congiopodidae and Zanclorhynchidae". The ETYFish Project Fish Name Etymology Database. Christopher Scharpf and Kenneth J. Lazara. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  8. ^ Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Genera in the family Aploactininae". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  9. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2022). "Aploactinidae" in FishBase. February 2022 version.
  10. ^ a b c d "Aploactinidae: Velvetfishes". Australian Museum. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  11. ^ Bray, D.J. (2017). "Velvetfishes, APLOACTINIDAE". Fishes of Australia. Museums Victoria. Retrieved 21 April 2022.

Data related to Aploactinidae at Wikispecies