Friday, January 22, 2010


Lionfish’. ‘Scorpion Volitans’. ‘Firefish', its name reveals the fiery character of the Indo-Pacific red lionfish, scientifically know as Pterois volitans/miles. With bold maroon and white zebra stripes, and a plume of feathery spines, the lionfish is a stunning specimen. Elegant. Graceful. Deadly to its prey. The red lionfish’s profuse dorsal, anal and pelvic spines deliver a venomous sting that is fatal to potential predators; painful and dangerous to humans. Native to the tropical Indo-Pacific region, red lionfish have been introduced to the Atlantic Ocean within the past several years, and gained a foothold in the coral and rocky reefs along the Gulf Stream.

Lionfish are quite eye catching with their long showy fins and intricate red and white stripe patterns. But as beautiful and delicate as those fins may appear, be warned that they are covered with venomous spines that can deliver a painful sting!
Although usually not deadly some people have had quite an adverse reaction to their poison and require emergency medical attention. However, don’t let this scare you off – Lionfish make excellent subjects for the marine aquarium. These predatory fish come from reef areas in warmer waters throughout the world. With their large mouths they quickly swallow up other fish and small crustaceans.
The smaller species of Lionfish reach a length of 6 inches while the largest can grow to 18 inches.
Lionfish are hardy adaptable creatures that get along well with each other and with other fishes, as long as they are too big to swallow. They need a large tank that is decorated with lots of rockwork with caves for shelter.
Lionfish aquariums also require an efficient filtration system along with frequent water changes to deal with the large amounts of food consumed and waste produced. Although many people love to feed them live feeder goldfish for “entertainment”, this is really not very nutritional. Lionfish should be fed a variety of fresh and prepared meaty foods including marine fish, shrimp, krill, clams, etc. Remember to be careful whenever doing any work in your tank – you don’t want to get an accidental “poke” from your pet.
It is difficult to differentiate between male and female Lionfish and efforts to breed them in captivity have been unsuccessful.