The Lionfish (Species Profile, Characteristics, and Care Guide)


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Lionfish Species Profile!

Lionfish are a unique and dominant addition to all saltwater aquariums. They are known for their long, ornate, and poisonous backs that can seriously injure an unconscious owner.

As the main predator, lionfish (also known as zebrafish, turkey fish, cod, or devil maple fish) have become an invasive species in some seas. Although lionfish are slow-swimming fish, any small fish or invertebrate that gets too close can turn into lunch.

Species Summary

Common Name: lionfish, zebrafish, lionfish, turkey fish, golden lionfish, peacock lionfish, volitans scorpion, devil lionfish
Scientific Name: Pterois volitans and Pterois miles (other species of the genus Pterois), dwarf species Dendrochirus spp.
Adult size: 12 to 15 inches
Life Expectation: 10 to 15 years


  • Family: Scorpaenidae
  • Origin: Caribbean, Indonesia, Africa
  • Social: semi-aggressive
  • Tank level: high, medium resident
  • Minimum tank size: 120 liters
  • Diet: carnivorous
  • Reproduction: egg layer
  • Maintenance: easy to moderate
  • pH: 8.1 to 8.4
  • Hardness: 8 to 12 dgH
  • Temperature: 22 to 27 ° C

Origin and Distribution

There are different types of lionfish that are native to different parts of the world. Pterois volitans, commonly known as lionfish volitans, is native to Indonesia, but now also lives in the Caribbean because it is accidentally released into the warm waters of Florida. The other most common species of lionfish, the lionfish thousands (Pterois miles), is native to the oceans of Africa.

These hardy species of fish have become invasive in many parts of the world. They are a major problem for Florida's reef systems, which is why competitions are held every year to catch these invasive pests. Many of these invasive introductions began as pets that were released into the sea by their owners.

Never leave your animal in the wild and always plan ahead so your aquarium can accommodate adult adults (up to 15 inches!).

Colors and Markings

Lionfish are known for their bright red and white colors with fine elongated stripes. You have to pay attention! These long-finned rays contain a powerful poison that protects fish but can harm unconscious owners.

If you are lucky enough to be inadvertently stung by your lionfish, immediately submerge the wound in the hottest water you can handle. The heat will break down the proteins in the poison. It is recommended that this treatment be used on the way to a doctor or hospital for more advanced medical care.

Lionfish colors can range from a light, vibrant red to a darker burgundy or brown. The spineless venomous fins are usually almost transparent with dark brown, almost black spots.


Lionfish are generally loose tankmates for large fish, but their toxic release can be a problem for more aggressive tankmates who may attempt to annoy the lionfish.

Multiple lionfish can be stored in an aquarium, and one or two are a safe addition to a community reef or coral tank, as long as the other fish is large enough not to be eaten. Lionfish must be close to corals and do not need a cave to hide.

Smaller dwarf species of lionfish may prefer a cave or crevice of their own. These fish like a slightly cooler saltwater habitat. So keep that in mind when choosing suitable tankmates.

Lionfish Habitat and Care

The most important aspect of the lionfish habitat is a large amount of space to bathe. Their venomous backs take up a lot of space, and your fish won't do well if they're still stuck at the bottom. Keep your decorations to a minimum or leave plenty of room for the bathroom.

Lionfish are relatively easy to care for, but good water chemistry is important. Follow a regular maintenance routine and check the water chemistry regularly.

Diet and Feeding of Lionfish

Lionfish are the main predators and require a carnivorous diet. Most pellet diets in the saltwater community should be supplemented with frozen shrimp, fish, or squid.

It can be tempting to feed your lionfish live like goldfish or shellfish. However, keep in mind that this is a common method by which disease can enter your aquarium.

You must quarantine all active supplements to ensure the safety and integrity of your system.

Gender Differences

There are no external differences between female and female lionfish. They are the same size and appearance regardless of gender.

You will probably be able to tell the males from the females when your lionfish reach reproductive maturity and have behavioral cues. You can watch your fish mate and take control of a small area, or a male chases other males to establish his breeding harem.

Breeding lionfish

The lionfish is an invasive species in many parts of the world due to its reproductive strategy. They reach reproductive maturity in less than a year and are productive breeders. In the wild, some lionfish have been observed to lay more than two million eggs a year.

Lionfish can breed in captivity, and some species breed in pairs or groups called harems. As with most captive fish, give your lionfish plenty of extra space, preferably in a separate breeding pond.

Females lay a sticky egg mass, and the male follows closely to fertilize them. Some species have certain polite behaviors that you may need to be aware of in order to successfully breed your fish.

Before raising lionfish, make sure you have a plan for handling the produced babies.

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The Lionfish Species Profile Characteristics and Care Guide

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