November 2, 2020
AZ Animals Staff
Distinctive Feature: Striped body markings with long spines
Water Type: Salt
Optimum pH Level: 8.1 - 8.4
Habitat: Tropical reefs and rocky crevices
Predators: Eels, Frogfish, Scorpion Fish
Favorite Food: Fish
Common Name: Lionfish
Average Clutch Size: 8000
Slogan: Females can release up to 15,000 eggs at a time!
Lionfish Physical Characteristics:Colour: Brown, Red, Black, White, Orange
Skin Type: Scales
Lifespan: 10 - 18 years
Length: 30cm - 35cm (12in - 14in)
The lionfish (also known as the turkeyfish, tigerfish, dragonfish, scorpionfish, and butterfly cod) is a poisonous spiky fish found in the warmer waters of the western and central Pacific Ocean. The lionfish is a predatory fish hunting small fish, but it’s venom is capable of being fatal to larger creatures.
The lionfish is a popular aquarium fish around the world, although the lionfish is better kept in tanks with lots of space and few other fish. The lionfish can live to around 16 years in the wild and lionfish often live longer if looked after well in captivity.
There are around 8 different recognised species of lionfish that are found in the Pacific Ocean. The lionfish is natively found in coastal waters around rocky crevices and coral reefs where there are lots of smaller fish for the lionfish to eat and also places for the lionfish to hide.
The lionfish catches its prey by hiding in a crevice in the rock or coral and then ambushing it as it swims past. The lionfish then corners its prey with its large fins before swallowing it whole.
Lionfish prey on a wide variety of small fish and crustaceans that inhabit the tropical reefs. The lionfish is prey to few predators due to the large size of the lionfish and the fact that the appearance of the lionfish is intimating to other animals. The spikes that protrude from the body of the lionfish contain venom that lionfish uses to defend itself if it is being pursued. The main predators of the lionfish are large fish, eels and humans that catch the lionfish to put into a tank.
Although the lionfish is a solitary animal and they only really come together to mate, a few lionfish inhabit a certain area of the reef. The lionfish group usually contains one male lionfish and a few female lionfish that he mates with. The male lionfish is highly territorial and protects the area in which by himself and his females live.
The female lionfish releases between 2,000 and 15,000 eggs into the water which are fertilised by the male lionfish. The lionfish pair then quickly hide so that their eggs can float into the ocean before being spotted by predators that eat the eggs. The lionfish eggs hatch in just 2 days and the tiny lionfish fry remain near the surface of the water until they are bigger. When the lionfish fry reach nearly an inch in length, they swim down into the ocean to join the reef community.
The Lionfish is also an invasive species, originally from the Indian and Western Pacific oceans. It was brought into Florida as an aquarium fish, and after a hurricane broke some of the aquariums containing the fish, they started to appear around the lower coast of Florida. They have now spread all the way up to Long Island, New York.
When scientists do dives to study the lionfish, sometimes they kill one, and trace it’s DNA. The odd thing lately, is that all the fish trace back to an original six or seven Lionfish from the ocean in which they came.View all 19 animals that start with L
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- Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
- David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
- Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species
- David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
- Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals