What are Lionfish? Why should I care about them?

What are Lionfish

What are those pesty Lionfish?


Lionfish (Pterois volitans) are an invasive species that have a potential negative impact on native species and habitats. 

They prey on anything that will fit into their mouth.  More specifically, reef fish.  They can deplete most fish off a reef in a short period of time.  Lionfish are slow-moving fish that rely on stalking prey, usually at night. 


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages people to remove lionfish from Florida waters to help limit negative impacts to native marine life and ecosystems.  


Source: FWC

Interesting facts:

    • The Lionfish spines can deliver a venomous sting.
    •  Use their fan-like pectoral fins to “corner” their prey.
    • Females can lay approximately 2 million eggs per year.
    • Are nocturnal.
    • They can survive for up to 15 years.
    •  Lionfish can survive in waters 50 degrees, however, strive in warm waters like the Atlantic and Caribbean.
    •  Have been found in depths from 1 to 300 feet on a hard sandy bottom, mangroves, coral, and artificial reefs like wrecks.
    • Can eat 80% of the young reef fish on coral reefs within just five weeks.
    • It can grow to adult size in about two years.
    • Swim slowly, using their dorsal and anal fins to move them forward.
    • Lionfish are generally nocturnal, meaning they prefer to hunt at night.
    • An adults can grow as large as 18 inches and sometimes more.
    • Consume over 50 species, including some economically and ecologically important species. 
    • Are often seen moving about during the day, alone and in small groups.
    • Lionfish derbies and culling by divers are effective means of controlling lionfish populations.

There are no known natural predators in the areas where lionfish are invasive.  These include the Caribbean, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and the Mediterranean. Divers are encouraged to spear as many as possible. What are you questions?

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