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Impurest's Guide to Animals #94 - Bearded Ghoul

Well it’s November and the darkness of winter has descended on us, well apart from this week where the temperature has been positively balmy. Last week was Halloween, and we saw the diabolical antics of the Toadfly and the viral vector known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito. This week we have a ghoulish bottom dweller that is the desert for our creepy October Trio. Hope you guys enjoy. ___________________________________________________________________

Issue #94 – Bearded Ghoul


Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Actinopterygii

Order – Scorpaenformes

Family – Synanceiidae

Genus – Inimicus

Species –didactylus

Related Species – There are ten species within the genus Inimicus which are colloquially known as Stinger Fish (1)

Range – The Bearded Ghoul is found in costal water in the Eastern Indian and Western Pacific Oceans.

Deep Sea Devil

The Bearded Ghoul is a small bottom dwelling fish which grows to a length of 20cm, although larger specimens of 50cm have been occasionally recorded. The fish` has a series of glands that make it look warty, and has a ridge of fifteen scales along the lateral line, which are the only scales on the Ghoul’s body. The pectoral fins are enlarged with long finger protrusions which are used by the fish to scuttle around on the sea floor.


Bearded Ghouls are primarily nocturnal, spending the daylight hours buried in the sea floor with only their back and face exposed, relying on camouflage to evade predation. If this fails the Ghoul flares its fins to make itself look larger to its predators in an attempt to scare off attackers. In addition to this the fish has a potent venom that is released through the spines on its back, something that makes it potentially lethal to tourists and locals walking along the seabed (2). The Ghoul itself is an ambush predator, grabbing smaller fish as they swim past it.

The reproductive behaviour of the Bearded Ghoul is yet to be unobserved, but it is likely simular to the closely related Reef Stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa) which lays its eggs in a coral outcropping, with the male coming along later to fertilize them. Larval Bearded Ghouls have been recorded, and feed off their yolk sac until they are ready to feed on living prey (3). The pigment on the pectoral fins of juvenile Bearded Ghoulds doesn’t develop until they reach an approximate length of 9cm.

Five Fun Bearded Ghoul Facts

The word Inimicus comes from the latin words in (not) and amicus (friendly), a reference to the Bearded Ghoul’s grumpy looks (4)

Fish in the genus Inimicus have a range of unfortunate colloquial names incuding; Devil Stingers, Goblinfish, Devilfish, Indian Walkman’s and Sea Goblins.


A Bearded Ghoul is able to swallow fish half the size of its head in a single gulp

The toxin in a Bearded Ghoul’s stinger contain an entire cocktail of venoms including a hemotoxin, a neurotoxin and a cardiotoxin.

Despite their potential lethality, the Japanese Goblinfish (Inimicus japonicus) is mass cultivated for food in both Japan and China


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2 - Scott Michael (Winter 2001). "Speak of the devil: fish in the genus Inimicus" SeaScope 18.

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Picture References

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Well that’s the ghastly ghoul and its creepy crawly way of living. Next week we look at a unisexual creature prowling the woods of Canada and the US. But until then critic, comment and suggest future issues as well as making sure you check past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese