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Red lionfish

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Red lionfish
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Pterois volitans

A drawing of a Red lionfish



The red lionfish genus species name is the Pterois volitans. It is also known as the red fire fish. is a very big threat in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The red lionfish is most famous its very invasive behavior.[2]




Body Design

Dorsal spines

The red lionfish has a beautiful body with white and brown stripes. The red lionfish has 13 poisonous dorsal spines and 14 pectoral rays.[2] It also has a bilateral symmetry meaning it can be divided into equal halves if it is divided from the top to the bottom and it divides it into a right and a left side.[5]The adult red lionfish can grow up to 18 inches long but when it is young it can be as little as 1 inch. It has clcloid scales which means that the anterior(toward the front) end is overlapped by the posterior(toward the rear) end giving the fish more flexibility. [6]

One of the most interesting parts of the red lionfish is its poisonous spines. The venom is not lethal for humans but a sting is extremely painful. The venom from the red lionfish is a neuromuscular toxin and a neurotransmitter.[7]The red lionfish uses its spines for hunting. They can trap their prey, paralyze it, and then they can eat it. They do not always have to do this however. The red lionfish also uses their spines for protection, and because of this the areas that they are invading have no natural predators.[8]

Life Cycle


The red lionfish (pterois volitans) learns quickly how to become a hunter at an early age. After they are born they begin to hunt small ciliates while only four days old. The larvae moves out of the water column after a period of approximately 25 to 40 days, at a size of 10-12 mm in length. [9] The Pterois volitans reproduction is sexual and utilizes external fertilization. [10]

The red lionfish are really quick to bulk up and develop large body sizes at an early age in their life. This makes the predators stay away from the red lionfish so as to preserve the animals life. Also when they bulk up and develop their large body size it makes them more successful in mating. [11]



The red lionfish originated from the Indo-pacific. Which start from southern Japan to Micronesia, Australia, and the Philippines. When they are young they usually stay in groups, but when adults their will they travel alone.[12] It is said that the red lionfish loves to stay around coral reefs, but it still can be found in coral patches, sandy bottoms,and canal habitats. The red lionfish occurs around temperatures of 71.6°F to 82.4°F. [13]

The red lionfish would usually eat any small fish, crabs, or shrimp. The red lionfish also have a unique way devouring their prey; they would devour them in one gulp by spreading their pectoral fins and surrounding their prey.[14]

Invasive Behavior


Pterois volitans are native to the Indo-Pacific region. This includes western Australia and Malaysia to the Marquesas Islands and Oeno; north to southern Japan and southern Korea; south to Lord Howe, Kermadec, and Austral Islands. The red lion fish is invasive to The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.[2]

The red lion fish, being very poisonous is on the top of the food chain in most ecosystems. They also reproduce and mass quantities. In ecosystems that they are invading, this is very bad. It's bad because there are a lot of lion fish but none of them are being eaten or removed naturally. Besides their poisonous spines, one of the biggest features of the red lionfish is that they can eat their prey whole, giving them no chance for survival. [2]

Control Efforts


One way the red lion fish is being controlled is by eating them.[15] (you can elaborate on this.)


Two videos about the red lion fish and how they are invasive.


  1. Pterois volitans Wikispecies. Web. last update on December 23 2013 at 10:53. Unknown author.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Wood, Mahya. Red firefish University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Web. Created in 2001.
  3. Authorlastname, Firstname. Page-Title Publishing-site-name. Web. Date-of-publication or last-update or access (specify which).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Authorlastname, Firstname. Article name Publishing-site-name. Web. Date-of-publication or last-update or access (specify which).
  5. Porch, and Batdorf. Biology with Laboratory Exercises. South Carolina: Bob Jones University Press, 2005. page-number. Print.
  6. Lionfish Biology Fact Sheet NOAA . Web. last-update May 31, 2011 Unknown Author .
  7. The Lionfish Invasion! NOAA . Web. last-update May 09, 2011 Unknown Author .
  8. Flatheads Gurnards Scorpionfishes and Relatives: Scorpaeniformes - Red Lionfish (pterois Volitans): Species Accounts jrank . Web. Accessed on October 19, 2014 Unknown Author .
  9. NA. Diving with Lionfish Dive the World'for mating '. Web. 8 October 2014. (Date-Accessed).
  10. J. Masteron. Red Lionfish Smithsonian Station at Fort Pierce. Web. December 1, 2007. (Date-Updated)
  11. NA. Diving with Lionfish Dive the World'for mating '. Web. 19 October 2014. (Date-Accessed).
  12. Schofield. PJ. Morris, JA. Langston, JN. Fuller, Pl. [1] Nonindigenous Aquatic Species. Web. Last modified September 18, 2012.
  13. [2] Global Invasive Species Database. Web. Last modified. August 10, 2010. Author Unknown
  14. [3] Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. Web. Last modified. December 1, 2007. Author Unknown
  15. lionfish hunting Lion fish Hunters. Web. Visited on October 14 2014. Unknown author.
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