Lionfish Fun Facts and Information

Adult Lionfish in WaterLionfish, the common name of the genus Pterois, are venomous fish native to the Indo-Pacific, although some species are currently invasive species in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Caribbean. There aren’t exact numbers for the population of lionfish in the wild, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that there may be as many as 1,000 lionfish per square acre of ocean. There are 12 species of lionfish overall, but this number is up for debate. Some recent evidence has suggested that some separate species of lionfish are actually the same.

The habitat of lionfish is tropical and warm marine waters in shallow depths. They can be found around reefs, shipwrecks, seagrass, and hard sea floors. It is probable that lionfish were introduced into their non-native habitats from people releasing them from home aquariums. Despite lionfish being difficult to handle and venomous, they are common in tropical aquariums.


Lionfish in Blue WaterLionfish are well-known for their colorful and spiky fins, which are actually spines (they have 18 spines in all). Their genus name means “fins” in French. They were named this in 1816 by Georges Cuvier. Their frilly fins and bold stripes advertise to potential predators that they are venomous and not be to eaten. There are few known predators of lionfish, with the few being eels, groupers, perhaps sharks, and cornetfish. Humans also hunt them.

The prey of lionfish is usually smaller fish, mollusks, and other invertebrates. They generally are able to eat most other kinds of fish in their habitat. They can consume another animal up to half the lionfish’s own size, so long as they can get their mouth around it. The stomach of a lionfish can expand up to 30 times its original size! They typically hunt around dawn and dusk but on cloudy days, they are active during all hours. Lionfish don’t need to eat often, however. They have been shown to be able to go for three months without eating without significant consequences.

Young Lionfish Against Blue


In addition to being a danger to other fish, lionfish are also dangerous to humans. When a human comes in contact with a lionfish, they may experience a long list of symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea, numbness, skin irritation, and, in extreme circumstances, heart failure and death.



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