Lionfish is a type of scorpionfish
Scorpionfish are found in the family Scorpaenidae in the order Scorpaeniformes. This is a very large family that has undergone a lot of changes lately and different authorities hold different opinions. “Fishes of the World”, a standard reference for fish systematics, currently recognizes almost 400 species and 10 subfamilies, while Fishbase only lists 172 species divided into 3 subfamilies: Scorpaeninae, Sebastolobinae, and Pteroinae.
If you fail to locate a certain species in Fishbase, try looking for it in the family Sebastidae of the order Scorpaeniformes instead, because a lot of former members of Scorpaenidae have been moved to that family.
The members of the genera Brachypterois, Dendrochirus, Ebosia, Parapterois and Pterois are commonly referred to as Lionfish. The names Turkey fish or Dragon fish are also used. All these fishes are venomous.
Scorpionfish in the aquarium
A lot of scorpionfishes are brightly coloured with intricate patterns and an intriguing body shape and it comes as no surprise that they are valued aquarium specimens. You should however keep in mind that the family Scorpaenidae contains some of the world's most venomous fishes. The sting of certain species can be lethal to humans and aquarists must handle such fishes with extreme care.
Quite a few of the commonly kept species need live food in the aquarium.
Geographical range, habitat and habits
Scorpionfish occur in all tropical and temperate seas, but the greatest profusion is found in the Indo-Pacific. They inhabit marine, brackish and freshwater environments, but they are rare in freshwater.
The body of a scorpionfish is typically compressed with a head covered in ridges and spines. There is one or two spines on the operaculum, three to five spines on the preopercle, and 11-17 spines on the dorsal fin. The spines are often very long and well separated from each other.
The dorsal fin is often notched. Dorsal, anal and pelvic spines can all be equipped with venom glands at the base. Some species have no swim bladder.
Most species of scorpionfish catch crustaceans and fishes near the bottom. Some species use their venomous spines to paralyse prey before devouring them. Lionfish will typically stalk its prey and the Stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa) is known to wait in disguise.
Most species carry out internal fertilization, i.e. the eggs are fertilized while they are still inside the female. Some species place their eggs in a gelatinous balloon. Scorpionfish larvae will intermingle with the plankton of the ocean and be swept away by current.
Leaf Scorpionfish – How to keep the leaf scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus) in aquariums
Lionfish articles:Lionfish - An introduction to lionfish.
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Dwarf Lionfish – Learn to care for Dendrochirus brachypterus
Zebra Lionfish – A guide to keeping Dendrochirus zebra
Antennata Lionfish – Keeping Pterois antennata
Radiata Lionfish – Learn to care for Pterois radiata
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Volatins Lionfish – How to keep, care for and breed Pterois volitans