Lionfish - Indiscriminate Predators

are native to the warm tropical waters of the Indian and South Pacific Oceans. In recent years they have spread into both the Atlantic and Caribbean.

Feathery pectoral fins are used to attract smaller prey. The same features also keep predators at a safe distance due to the venomous spines.

Lionfish have between thirteen and 18 venomous spines on the back side of the body although venom is only used for self-defence. They do not hunt using these spines.

Invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles)
Invasive lionfish ( and P. miles)

Up Close and Personal

Today, in many parts of the Caribbean, you can see them up close and personal, whilst snorkelling yards from the shoreline. At first glance, you are mesmerised by the elegance and beauty of this truly stunning fish.

Behind this beauty lies a predator at the top of it’s game. It’s charisma and charm also fool other reef inhabitants. Thus, the story is the same wherever the lionfish is to be found.

Lionfish -“If it fits – it’s food.”

Lionfish (Pterois volitans or P. miles) are indiscriminate predators, feeding on over 70 species of fish, invertebrates, and mollusks.

For example, a single fish can eat 30 times its stomach volume in one meal.

Lionfish can cause damage, direct or indirect, to coral reefs, sea grasses and mangroves. Due to their high rate of reproduction, growth, voracious feeding capacity and lack of predators.

Females can produce more than two million eggs each year and have an average lifespan of 15-16-years.

With few natural predators and the ability to adapt to changes in water temperature. It is upsetting the ecological balance of coral reef ecosystems, the rapid growth in the populations of these fish poses a grave threat to the region’s coral reefs.

Some reefs have been devastated by the lionfish invasion. In contrast, will a natural balance be found given it’s voracious appetite and reproductive rate.

Only time will tell.

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