Lionfish have a distinctive reddish brown and white stripe/ band pattern covering their head and body with fanlike pectoral fins and fleshy tentacles above their eyes.
There are approximately eight different species of lionfish (also known as a tigerfish, turkeyfish, scorpionfish, dragonfish and butterfly cod) all of which possess highly venomous spines capable of being fatal to larger creatures.
Lionfish are found in rocky crevices and coral reefs where small prey is plentiful. This environment provides the perfect hiding place, enabling lionfish to feed on a variety of small fish and crustaceans, catching this prey by ambushing as it swims past.
During mating, the female lionfish will lay between 2,000 and 15,000 eggs into the water which are then externally fertilised by the male. The eggs float into the ocean, allowing them to develop as free-floating, planktoniclarvae. The eggs hatch in just two days and the tiny fry remain close to the water’s surface until they reach around 20mm when they swim down to the ocean bed and join the reef neighbourhood.
Red lionfish originated in the Indian Ocean, however it is believed that this species were first introduced into tropical Atlantic seas through release by private aquarium owners almost 30 years ago. Lionfish have an extremely high reproductive rate, with no natural enemies in these waters and a wide appetite, they have thrived with a devastating effect on the native reef species.
Red lionfish and Dwarf lionfish are displayed at the Oceanarium.