Flatheads Gurnards Scorpionfishes and Relatives: Scorpaeniformes
Red Lionfish (pterois Volitans): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: Red lionfish have dark red bands on the head and body and have pectoral fins that look like long feathers. The dorsal and anal fins are covered with dark rows of spots on a clear to yellowish background. The anal (AY-nuhl) fin is the fin along the midline of the belly. The fin spines are venomous. Red lionfish reach a length of about 14 inches (35 centimeters).
Geographic range: Red lionfish are native to the Indian and Pacific oceans. A small number live in the Atlantic Ocean along the coast of the United States.
Habitat: Red lionfish live on reefs, usually in shallow water.
Diet: Red lionfish are fierce predators (PREH-duh-ters). They hunt other animals for food and feed primarily on small fishes, shrimps, and crabs.
Behavior and reproduction: Red lionfish feed at night and hide among rocks or in caves during the day. They use their fanned-out pectoral fins to trap prey in a corner then suck in the animal whole. Lionfish use their venomous spines for protection. They charge attackers and pierce them with the dorsal spines. After the puncture, glands at the base of the spines shoot venom along the spines and into the attacker. The bright color of the lionfish is a warning for predators to stay away.
Red lionfish usually live alone, but a single male forms groups with females for mating. Females produce two tubes made of mucus and eggs. Soon after release, the egg tubes swell with seawater and are penetrated by the male's sperm. Larvae hatch after thirty-six to forty-eight hours.
Red lionfish and people: Red lionfish are collected for the aquarium business. Even though they are venomous, red lionfish also are caught for food.
Conservation status: Red lionfish are not threatened or endangered. ∎
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Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesFlatheads Gurnards Scorpionfishes and Relatives: Scorpaeniformes - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Oriental Helmet Gurnard (dactyloptena Orientalis): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, FLATHEADS G