An adult blackbelly rosefish rests under a branch of coral. Blackbelly rosefish is a robust fish with a large head with the spination described for the genus and without tabs or tentacles.
The profile of the nape is relatively steeply inclined. It has villiform teeth on both jaws and its large mouth is dark colored inside. The dorsal fin has 11 to 13 spines (usually 12) and 10 to 14 rays (usually 11-13), the anal fin has 3 spines and 5 rays; and the pectoral fin has between 17 and 20 rays.
They have 55 to 80 vertical rows of ctenoid scales and their lateral line has tubular scales; The chest, cheek and maxilla are usually scaled but the snout and ventral part of the head are naked.
They usually have 25 vertebrae. Gill rakers are well developed: 7 to 9 on the upper arch, 16 to 21 on the lower arch. Their color is variable, back and sides are red and the belly is pink, with 5 to 6 dark bands below anterior, middle and posterior dorsal spines: below the soft dorsal rays and at the base of the caudal fin; Y-shaped dark bar between soft dorsal and anal fin; usually a dark blotch on the posterior part of the spinous dorsal fin