Species Details

Details of Lionfish will be displayed below


Common Name: Butterfly cod, Common lionfish, Fire fish, Ornate butterfly-cod, Red fire fish, Red lionfish, Scorpion-cod, Turkeyfish.
Scientific Name: Pterois volitans
Local Name: Fanhaamas
Dhivehi Name: ފަންހާމަސް
Animalia  (Kingdom)
Chordata  (Plylum)
Scorpaenidae  (Family)
Pterois   (Genus)

Lionfish's description

The red lionfish (Pterois volitans) is a venomous coral reef fish in the family Scorpaenidae, order Scorpaeniformes. P. volitans is natively found in the Indo-Pacific region, but has become an invasive problem in the Caribbean Sea.Red lionfish are clad in white stripes alternated with red/maroon/brown stripes. Adults in this species can grow as large as 47 cm (18.5 in) in length, making it one of the largest species of lionfish in the ocean, while juveniles are typically shorter than 1 inch (2.5 cm). The average red lionfish lives around 10 years. As with many species within the family Scopaenidae, it has large, venomous spines that protrude from the body, similar to a mane, giving it the name lionfish. The venomous spines make the fish inedible or deter most potential predators. Lionfish reproduce monthly and are able to quickly disperse during their larval stage for expansion of their invasive region. No definitive predators of the lionfish are known, and many organizations are promoting the harvest and consumption of lionfish in efforts to prevent further increases in the already high population densities.

Lionfish's facts

  • It is a popular aquarium species all over the world and it has spread to new marine environments through the aquarium trade.
  • The red lionfish is a distinctive member of the scorpiofish family known for their camouflage. However lionfish do not share this characteristic; on the contrary, it has an attractive coloration which warns predators of its venom.
  • They have red and white vertical stripes that give it the name of zebrafish. The vertical stripes alternate from wide to thin.
  • Their fan-like pectoral fins give it the name turkeyfish.
  • Lionfish have 13 elongated dorsal fin spines, 10 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 6 to 7 anal soft rays. The membranes of the dorsal, caudal and anal fins are spotted.
  • Venom is delivered by the spines and it is produced by glands at the base of its spines.
  • Its venom can cause cardiovascular and neuromuscular effects ranging from swelling to paralysis.

Lionfish's Behavior & Ecology

The red lionfish is an inhabitant of near and offshore coral and rocky reefs to depths of 50 meters. The species shows a clear preference for sheltering under ledges or in caves or crevices by day. In these refugia the species exhibits a nearly motionless posture, the head tilted slightly downward. Some sources also record red lionfish as occurring in bays, estuaries, and even harbors.


Lionfish's Feeding

The red lionfish is a solitary predator of small fishes, shrimps and crabs. Prey are stalked and cornered or made to feel so by the outstretched and expanded pectoral fins of the red lionfish in full ambush mode. Prey are ultimately obtained with a lightning-quick snap of the jaws and swallowed whole. Cannibalism has been observed for this species in the wild as well as for the closely related Pterois miles in captivity. Given the tendency of the red lionfish to retreat to areas of hiding by day, this species is thought to be mostly nocturnal. However, red lionfish have been observed to feed during the day and studies of captive specimens imply that Pteroisthat have taken up refugia may simply be those individuals that have recently fed and are sated.

Lionfish's Reproduction

They are mainly a solitary species and courting is the only time they aggregate, generally one male with several females.Both P. volitans and P. miles are gonochoristic, only showing sexual dimorphism during reproduction. Similar courtship behaviors are observed in all Pterois species, including circling, sidewinding, following, and leading. The lionfish are mostly nocturnal, leading to the behaviors typically around nightfall and continuing through the night. After courtship, the female releases two egg masses, fertilized by the male before floating to the surface. The embryos secrete an adhesive mucous allowing them to attach to nearby intertidal rocks and corals before hatching. During one mating session, females can lay up to 30,000 eggs. However, it has been observed that females will lay more eggs in the warmer months.

Lionfish's Relationship with Humans

It is an aquarium fish which is also used as a food by the humans.

Lionfish habitat

Little information on the habitats and ecology of P. volitans is available from its native range, or prior to the successful invasion of the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The Red Lionfish is typically reef-associated, with regional differences in habitat plasticity in its native range (Cure et al. 2014). It has also been found in mangroves in the Bahamas (Barbour et al. 2010) and in estuarine environments in Florida (Jud et al. 2011).

The pelagic larval duration was estimated to be 20 to 35 days in the Bahamas, which is moderate to low compared to other shallow marine fishes (Ahrenholz and Morris 2010). Juveniles and adults appear to be generalists in both habitat and diet (e.g., Côté et al. 2013, Elise et al. 2015). This species is a broadcast spawner; although data are not available from its native range, it is capable of reproducing year-round in the western Atlantic (Morris et al. 2008). Size at maturity was estimated at approximately 190 mm total length, and fecundity increased rapidly with size (Gardner et al. 2015). It can reach a maximum length of about 38 cm.

Lionfish threats

There are no known major threats to this species.

Lionfish's status