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Lionfish (Pterois volitans)Lionfish (Pterois volitans)Lionfish (Pterois volitans)Lionfish (Pterois volitans)Lionfish (Pterois volitans)
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Lionfish Facts

Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
A group of animals within a family
Common Name:
Most widely used name for this species
Scientific Name:
The name of the animal in science
Pterois volitans
The area where the animal first came from
Pacific Ocean
What kind of foods the animal eats
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
30cm - 35cm (12in - 14in)
Water Type:
Either freshwater, brakish or salt
Optimum pH Level:
The perfect acidity conditions for the animal
8.1 - 8.4
How long the animal lives for
10 - 18 years
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Least Concern
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Red, White, Black, Brown, Orange
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Favourite Food:
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
Tropical reefs and rocky crevices
Average Clutch Size:
The average number of eggs laid at once
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from
Fish, Shrimp, Crabs
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Eels, Frogfish, Scorpion Fish
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Striped body markings with long spines

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Lionfish Location

Map of Lionfish Locations


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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First Published: 15th November 2008, Last Updated: 8th November 2019

1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 15 Nov 2008]
2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 15 Nov 2008]
4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2009]
5. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 15 Nov 2008]