Lionfish are quite eye catching with their long showy fins and intricate red and white stripe patterns. But as beautiful and delicate as those fins may appear, be warned that they are covered with venomous spines that can deliver a painful sting!
Although usually not deadly some people have had quite an adverse reaction to their poison and require emergency medical attention.
However, don’t let this scare you off – Lionfish make excellent subjects for the marine aquarium. These predatory fish come from reef areas in warmer waters throughout the world. With their large mouths they quickly swallow up other fish and small crustaceans.
The smaller species of Lionfish reach a length of 6 inches while the largest can grow to 18 inches.
Lionfish are hardy adaptable creatures that get along well with each other and with other fishes, as long as they are too big to swallow. They need a large tank that is decorated with lots of rockwork with caves for shelter.
Lionfish aquariums also require an efficient filtration system along with frequent water changes to deal with the large amounts of food consumed and waste produced.
Although many people love to feed them live feeder goldfish for “entertainment”, this is really not very nutritional. Lionfish should be fed a variety of fresh and prepared meaty foods including marine fish, shrimp, krill, clams, etc. Remember to be careful whenever doing any work in your tank – you don’t want to get an accidental “poke” from your pet.
It is difficult to differentiate between male and female Lionfish and efforts to breed them in captivity have been unsuccessful.
Lionfish are striking fish. With a spiny look and brilliant red colors one gets the message quickly: Don’t mess with me!
These fish are aggressive and do not tolerate their own fellows. Placing two of them in the same tank will have deadly results. So keeping one will be enough to impress your friends.
They are not as hard to keep as beginners usually think as long as you take well care of their diet: live food and a 40 gallon tank with plenty of hiding spaces will do the work. Feeding them can be tricky specially the first time while the fish is still trying to acclimate to its new environment. They usually will retreat and hide for days. Offer them a good amount of ghost shrimp and live fish during these initial tough days (a good snack always helps to combat depression).
They are smart fish and soon will learn to recognize their owners, however do not let your room mates caress him (unless you have a good reason!) the dorsal spines and anal fins are venomous their sting is stronger than the bees. To treat the sting, soak the affected area in hot water (100-110º F) and if you or your friend don’t stop crying call your mom or consult with a doctor!
Tank Conditions: 72-78°F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4; dKH 8-12
Compatibility: Seahorse, pipefish, live coral, live rock, sand.
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