Red lionfish

“Get along, little fishies”

Lionfish are mighty hunters and sometimes use their gorgeous, long pectoral fins to herd and corner prey. Once dinner is within gulping distance, other strong fins help them to make lightning-fast strikes.

Red lionfish
Big appetites (and stomachs to match)
Lionfish eat just about anything that fits in their mouths and can eat prey just over half their own body size. For a big meal, their stomachs can expand up to 30 times normal size!
The better to beguile you with, my dear
Young lionfish grow fleshy nobs—"wigglers"—over their eyes and under their mouths and use them to lure small prey fish close enough to catch. As the fish grow older, they become more skilled at hunting and don't need the lures anymore.
Everything about me says "don't touch!"
Lionfish are members of the scorpionfish family and have 18 poisonous spines. When under threat, the fish often faces the attacker head down, exposing the spines. The venom is for self-defense only; lionfish don't use it to hunt. And while the poison isn't fatal for humans, it can be very painful.
A fish on the move
Red lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific region and the Red Sea. But over the past 30 years, new populations of fish have been found in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Lionfish don't have natural enemies in their new homes and rapidly become top reef predators. They are considered an invasive species and researchers have reported an 80 percent decline in some native reef dwellers after lionfish move in.
Hardworking moms
Each lionfish group usually consists of a male and a few females that he mates with. Female lionfish can release as many as 30,000 eggs every four days, year-round. That is one of the reasons they are so successful taking over new territories.

Map


Red lionfish range

Quick Facts

Diet: Carnivore
Size: Up to 16"