The tub gurnard is the largest of the European gurnards reaching a maximum length of 75cm, although most individuals are between 50-60cm. Like all gurnards it has a large head covered by protective bony plates, and the lower three rays of the pectoral fin are separate and fleshy. The colour can vary from bright red with pinkish mottling to yellowish-brown with darker brown or green mottling. The pectoral fins have brilliant peacock blue spots and outer rim. Unlike the red gurnard it does not have enlarged lateral line scales. The tub gurnard may be confused with the red gurnard (Aspitrigla cuculus
) and the grey gurnard (Eutrigla gurnardus
) however the brilliant blue markings on the pectoral fins are characteristic of the tub gurnard.