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The Lionfish is a beautiful and interesting looking fish with long spines, flashy fins, and bright stripes. However, in nature sometimes bright and beautiful means "dangerous" and that is the case with the lionfish. Its bright colors advertise its venomous spines. The scientific name for the lionfish is Pterois. There are fifteen different species in the Pterois Genus of fish.
Where does the lionfish live?
Lionfish are found in the South Pacific Ocean. They like to live in coral reefs, rocky areas, and lagoons.
Lionfish were also accidentally introduced off the East Coast of the United States and in the Caribbean Sea. This may have been from an aquarium breaking during a hurricane in Florida. Now the Lionfish has established itself and is causing problems to the local marine life.
What does it eat?
Lionfish are good hunters. They don't actually use their venomous spines to hunt. Once they are close to their prey they use their large pectoral fins to lunge at their prey and swallow it in a single bite. Some of their favorite food includes mollusks, smaller fishes, and invertebrates.
How venomous is it?
The spines of the lionfish have stingers that are used for defense against predators. The sting is quite powerful and can be dangerous to humans. A lionfish sting is very painful and can cause a person to get very sick including fever and having trouble breathing. Most of the time people don't die from a lionfish sting, however.
How big does a lionfish get?
Lionfish grow to around 12 to 15 inches long and weigh around 2 1/2 pounds. They can live 10 to 15 years in the wild. One of the most known species of lionfish is the red lionfish. It's known for its distinctive red, white, and dark maroon vertical stripes. These fish can have a number of spines and fins protruding, including 13 or more dorsal spines and dermal tassels above their eyes and below their mouths.
Fun Facts about the Lionfish
- Lionfish have been known to be aggressive toward humans.
- Some nicknames for lionfish include scorpion fish, turkey fish, and dragon fish.
- Because they are so beautiful and cool looking they are very popular aquarium fish.
- Nicknames for some other species of lionfish include the feathery, the fu-manchu, the dwarf, and the radial.
- In some countries people eat lionfish and they are considered a delicacy.
- It is a relatively solitary animal only meeting up with other lionfish to mate.
- Females lay several thousand eggs. The eggs hatch in a few days and the babies, called fry, live near the surface until they are big enough to swim down to the reef area.
For more about fish:
Great White Shark
Ocean Sunfish Mola
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