Lionfish (Pterois)


Lionfish is a species of venomous marine fish found mostly in the Indo-Pacific.   They can be found around the seaward edge of reefs and coral, in lagoons, and on rocky surfaces down to 50 meters. They show a preference for turbid inshore areas and in harbors.

The Lionfish range in size from 6.2 to 42.4 cm, with typical adults measuring 38 cm and weighing an average of 480 grams. They are well known for their ornate beauty, venomous spines and unique tentacles.   These fish are characterized by red, white, creamy, or black bands, showy pectoral fins and venomous spiky fin rays.

The venom in their spines can cause systemic effects such as extreme pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, breathing difficulties, convulsions, dizziness, redness on the affected area, headache, numbness, paresthesia (pins and needles) and sweating in humans. Fatalities are common in very young children, the elderly, those with a weak immune system or those who are allergic to their venom. Their venom is rarely fatal to healthy humans, but some species have enough venom to produce extreme discomfort for over a period of several days.

Generally, lionfish have a hostile attitude and are territorial towards other reef fish.They prey mostly on small fish, invertebrates and mollusks in large amounts. Lionfish are skilled hunters, using specialized bilateral swim bladder muscles to provide exquisite control of location in the water column, allowing the fish to alter its center of gravity to better attack prey. They can also blow jets of water while approaching prey, apparently to try and disorient the prey.   The lionfish then spreads its large pectoral fins and swallows its prey in a single motion.


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