Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Taurulus bubalis

Long spined sea scorpion

Long spined sea scorpion, Taurulus bubalisLong spined sea scorpion, Taurulus bubalis
Photos by Andy Rapson


Taurulus: Greek, tauros = bull, diminutive

General Notes:

Although one of the most common fish species found in rock pools Taurulus bubalis is often over looked because it lies motionless among rocks and sea weed where its superb camouflage conceals it from all but the most careful of observers.

Taurulus bubalis is a sedentary species which conceals itself while waiting for a passing meal. It is an exceptionally good ambush predator with limited interest for most rock pool aquaria,

There is a very similar species Myoxocephalus scorpius, the short spined sea scorpion. The easiest way to tell the two apart is by the barbels at the corner of the mouth which are present on Taurulus bubalis but absent from Myoxocephalus scorpius.


This species can be regarded as the bad boy of the rock pool. It is a predator and won't hesitate to prey on its tank mates. I even had one freshly caught specimen which attacked and swallowed another recently caught fish which was in the same bucket on the beach, the stress of being captured had no effect what so ever. I have also witnessed a seemingly helpless prey species fight back successfully. A worm pipefish was attacked by a large Taurulus bubalis and much to my surprise the pipefish threw a coil around the Taurulus bubalis and neither fish could do anything until I parted them. Any fish sharing a tank with Taurulus bubalis must be too big to eat, shanny's, rock gobies or wrasse which are at least as big as Taurulus bubalis should be safe.

Food and feeding:

The wild diet of Taurulus bubalis  includes mysids, amphipods), decapods, polychaetes, molluscs and fishes. In the aquarium they will only take live food to begin with but most specimens soon learn to take dead prey 'on the drop' if it passes close enough to them. This is important because it is illegal in the UK to use live vertebrates (fish) as food. Frozen lance fish, white bait, krill, and other similar items will all be accepted. Taurulus bubalis will show no interest in dried food.


Difficult to reliably sex, males in breeding condition have more red on their belly.


Takes place from Feb through until May, the eggs are laid in clumps similar to frog spawn but obviously much smaller. Males guard the eggs until they hatch and then the fry disperse as plankton.

Wild status:

The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species haven't evaluated Taurulus bubalis. But the fish has a very big natural range and is abundant across the range. Taurulus bubalis isn't facing any immediate threats.

Further Information:

Taurulus bubalis has a preference for cooler conditions but if the oxygen level falls to much due to an increase in temperature Taurulus bubalis is able to breathe atmospheric oxygen. They can even leave the water altogether and move a short distance to a slightly better environment.

With a long term thermal tolerance of 19°C a cooler is recommended when keeping this species.

Information at a glance

pH: 8.2 - 8.4
dGH: 8 - 12
Salinity: 1.021 - 1.025
Temperature: 5 - 19°C (41 - 66°F)
Diet: Carnivore
Size: 12 - 17.5cm (5 - 7in)
Min tank size: 100 litres
Difficulty level: Difficult
Aquarium type: Species/Robust community
Swimming level: Bottom

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Long spined sea scorpion, Taurulus bubalis

Origin: Eastern Atlantic: Iceland, the Shetlands, from Murmansk southward to Portugal, also Baltic Sea northward to Gulf of Finland and northern Mediterranean coasts eastward to Gulf of Genoa.

Habitat: A resident intertidal species . Inhabits tide pools and inshore waters on rocky bottoms or among algae at 0-30 m


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Family: Cottidae
Genus: Taurulus
Species: T. bubalis, (Euphrasen, 1786)

Other common names:
Long spined bullhead

Cottus bubalis,
Acanthocottus bubalis,
Aspicottus bubalis,
Ceratocottus bubalis,
Enophrys bubalis,
Myoxocephalus bubalis,
Cottus maculatus