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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Fin-tastic Facts About The Lionfish For Kids

Amaze yourself with these interesting lionfish facts.

It's the porcupine of the seas, isn’t it? The Pterois is a poisonous fish, popularly known as the lionfish, firefish, butterfly-cod, tastyfish, turkeyfish, and even zebrafish. So many names for one little marine animal!

This beautiful fish has 12 species under it, the red lionfish being the most popular one of them. The dwarf lionfish shares the same family. A vibrancy of colors is what you see once you spot this beautiful fish. Usually, these fishes are in shades of white, black, red, and cream.

Unfortunately, these fish are now being termed as an ‘invasive species’. These fish are so invasive, that there are campaigns to hunt them down and feed on the lionfish!

These fish have 18 venomous spines, which helps them attack their predators as well as help lure their food towards them. The lionfishes usually survive in shallow water bodies, inhabiting between 100-500 m depth in the waters.

Looking at these fish, you must have realized that not all lions actually roar!

Loving this article on the lionfish? You will definitely have an amazing time reading our pages on the wolffish and the walleye fish!

Lionfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Lionfish?

The lionfish is a type of marine fish.

What class of animal do a Lionfish belong to?

The lionfish comes under the class Actinopterygii. There are 12 different species of lionfish.

How many Lionfish are there in the world?

Though there is no exact number recorded for the lionfish population, the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has estimated about 1,000 fishes of this species living per acre underwater!

Where does a Lionfish live?

They are found in oceans, seas, rivers - almost all salty water bodies. The lionfish habitats usually have pH levels ranging between 8.1 - 8.4.

What is a Lionfish's habitat?

This venomous species is found mainly in the Indo-Pacific waters.

They can be spotted in shallow reefs, lagoons, rocky substrates, inshore areas, harbors, and many more places! They are flexible to the temperature of the water, its depths, and even its salinity.

Tropical coastal waters stretching between China and Australia have proven to be a rich habitat for these fishes. Indo-Pacific waters are where you will find the maximum density, stretching all the way from the sushi land, Japan, to Madagascar.

Who do Lionfish live with?

The invasive lionfish actually prefer a solitary lifestyle and come together with the other fish only during the breeding season.

How long does a Lionfish live?

This reef species can live up to 15 years.

How do they reproduce?

Usually, these fish follow polygyny when it comes to breeding. One adult male often breeds with multiple female fishes. The female fish releases two large masses of eggs. These masses are fertilized by the male fish before it floats up to the surface. Within these sacks, the little embryos secrete a sticky mucus that helps them attach to corals or rocks and stay in one place until they hatch. A female fish can lay about 30,000 eggs in each breeding season!

These hatched eggs become mature in just a few months after their birth. These fish reproduce many times throughout a year, thus making them one of the invasive species.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the invasive lionfish is of Least Concern.

Lionfish Fun Facts

What do Lionfish look like?

The red lionfish is a popular species of lionfish.

Lionfish are a good example of why everything colorful is not actually good!

Upon seeing a lionfish for the first time, you can see its radiant body with multiple colors flashing out. The red lionfish has mainly white stripes on their bodies with brown, maroon, or red stripes alternating between them. This striped pattern has given them the name of ‘zebrafish’. Each species sports a varied pattern for the bold stripes they own proudly.

A proud member of the Scorpaenidae family, these venomous fishes have large spines popping out from their bodies, resembling a lion's mane, thus giving this species the name ‘lionfish’. These spines pop out from the top, rear as well sides of their bodies. They are noted for their long dorsal fin and enlarged pectoral fins, pretty much giving it a spiky appearance like a porcupine!

These 18 spines are infused with venom, becoming an excellent protection mechanism for this species. The juveniles have a long tentacle near their eyes. This long antenna then develops into feathery, flexible pectoral fins popping out from their foreheads to lure little fish and their prey closer. This attractive body makes them a popular choice for aquariums.

The larvae of lionfish have large heads, big triangular snouts, long spines on the head, a big pelvic spine, and online mild colors on their pelvic fins.

How cute are they?

With a vibrant spiky body, this species is an absolute stunner, though we are not sure we would describe it as cute.

How do they communicate?

Unfortunately, there is no available information on their means of communication. However, if these fish sense the slightest threat, they spread open their fins as a warning. If they still feel the fear lurking from any possible predators, they do not think twice and attack directly with the venomous dorsal spines.

How big is a Lionfish?

The adult red lionfish is about 18.5 in (47 cm) long, whereas the younger ones of this species are smaller than 1 in (2.5 cm)!

This fish is as big as a baby rabbit.

How fast can a Lionfish swim?

Unfortunately, we do not know about the Lionfish's speed, but these fishes do not swim quite fast.

How much does a Lionfish weigh?

The lionfish weighs only about 1-2 lb (0.45-0.9 kg)!

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for the female and male lionfish.

What would you call a baby Lionfish?

The lionfish babies are called 'frys'.

What do they eat?

These invasive species prey on almost all types of marine animals. The lionfish diet mainly consists of mollusks, small fish, and even invertebrates. They love taking down their prey with an ambush. However, if food is scarce, they would not think twice about eating their own kind as well.

Are they dangerous?

Yes, these fish are actually dangerous as the lionfish sting is extremely venomous. Swimming in deep waters where there is a possibility of the presence of this fish is strictly not recommended.

Effects from this venom may vary between humans, some having normal pain at the point of sting, dizziness, heartburn, while others may have digestive issues and respiratory problems. This venom has caused lethal reactions in children who have come in contact with it. Even people with allergies have had a lot of trouble after coming in contact with this venom.

Would they make a good pet?

Handling these spiky fishes is a lot of trouble, as they have venomous spines. Thus, we would not really recommend these fish as good pets! Nonetheless, these fish are found in many home aquariums.

Did you know...

Lionfish are active mainly during the daytime.

These fish are not really friendly towards humans.

Consuming their venom can cause serious health-related issues,

The scientific name of lionfish, Pterois, comes from the Greek term ‘pteron’, which translates to ‘wings’ or ‘feathers’. This might be in reference to the appearance of the fish, with its spines and fins resembling feathers.

Some lionfish species have the ability to propel the currents of the water towards their possible prey, which would confuse the fishes and prevent any adjustments to their swim routes to escape.

Some females of this species are capable of laying more than 2 million eggs in just one year!

Do people eat Lionfish?

This may surprise you, but eating this invasive lionfish is actually encouraged throughout America, as a measure of controlling its population. The NOAA has even launched a campaign which goes by the name 'Lionfish as Food', that encourages humans to hunt this fish. A little extra care needs to be taken by the fishermen while dealing with their stingy spines, as they are venomous. However, this venom has absolutely no impact on the deliciousness or the safety of the fish meat, provided it has been prepared properly. The meat of this fish is actually really tasty, with its flavor being mild and buttery with a tender, moist texture. The fish has been declared suitable for normal eating. The taste of lionfish is said to be similar to that of shrimps and lobsters. The main pointers to be kept in mind while preparing and eating the fish is to pluck out the spines carefully, as well as heating the meat and cooking it well so as to nullify any toxic and venomous effects of the fish. Popular ways to cook this fish include sashimi, deep-frying, grilling as well as jerky.

Why are Lionfish called an 'invasive species?'

These fish have been termed ‘invasive’ for a few years. They pose a great threat throughout the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Though their main breeding waters are around the Indo-Pacific region, there have been reports from ecologists and divers who spotted these colorful fish off the United States’ coastline back in the 1990s.

There have been claims that these fish, who were brought as aquarium fancies to the United States, were purposely kept behind in the waters of South Florida, leading to its invasion in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The Miles’ firefish, another species of the lionfish, was earlier concentrated only in the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean as well as the Red Sea. However, in the year 2016, this fish was spotted in the waters of Southern Cyprus. It is thought that these venomous fish swam through the Suez Canal.

Considering the large number of eggs laid at a time, the rapid breeding rates as well as their strong defense, their population has massively increased. Though this increase in numbers does not pose any threat to their species as a whole, the presence of this fish in large numbers has been leading to a decline of other marine life, causing many fish to become endangered near the Atlantic Ocean. It has been invading foreign waters causing ecological disturbances.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including the loach and the Atlantic cod.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our lionfish coloring pages.

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