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Monday, November 21, 2016

Species Fact Profile: Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans)

Red Lionfish
Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758)

Range: Indo-Pacific Oceans
Habitat: Coral Reefs
Diet: Crustaceans, Small Fish
Social Grouping: Solitary
Reproduction: Female releases up to 15,000 eggs for the male to fertilize.  Eggs hatch 36 hours after fertilization, are mobile within four days.
Lifespan:  10 Years
Conservation Status: Not Listed

  • Body length 30-45 centimeters, weigh up to 1.2 kilograms
  • Yellow background color with red or golden-brown bands, dark rows of spots on clear dorsal and anal fins.  During breeding, males turn darker, females paler
  • Several poisonous spines protruding from body - 13 on back, 14 on front fins, 3 on anal fins - serve as the main defense.  Envenomation in humans results in severe pain, possibly including vomiting and difficulties breathing.
  • Primarily nocturnal, use soft rays on dorsal and anal fins to feel in darkness.  Retreated intro crevices during the day
  • Violently territorial, especially during courtship.  Males will bite and try to stab on another with their spines
  • Very popular in the aquarium trade.  Introduced to Florida following aquarium escapes during Hurricane Andrew (1992), introduced population supplemented with intentional releases of unwanted pets, as well as ballast transfers.  Species is now found as far north as New York.  The environmental impact of this introduction is as of yet unknown, though some native predators have been reported to consume lionfish.

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