The fish Pterois radiata is known under a long row of different names in English, such as Radiata Lionfish, Radial Firefish, Scorpion radiata, Clearfin Lionfish, Clearfin Turkeyfish, Tailbar Lionfish, White-lined Lionfish, Whitefin Lionfish, and Dragonfish.
Pterois radiata has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Geographical distribution, habitat and habits
Radiata Lionfish is found in the Indo-Pacific. Their range stretches from the Red Sea down to Sodwana Bay in South Africa, and eastwards to the Society Islands in French Polynesia. The northernmost specimens live around the Japanese Ryukyu Islands while the southernmost specimens are found in the waters of New Caledonia.
Radiata Lionfish inhabits lagoon and seaward reefs. They have also been encountered in the surge zone and along rock walls. They are especially fond of rocky reefs and seem to dislike stony corals. They like to hide under ledges and in narrow caves and crevices during the day and have been found down to a depth of 30 meters / 100 feet. The Radiata Lionfish spends the days resting in a hiding spot and the nights hunting for prey.
Size and appearance
The largest scientifically measured Radiata Lionfish was 24 cm / 9.4 in.
The Radiata Lionfish has long and flowing feather-like dorsal and pectoral fins and in some specimens the fins are webbed at the based. The body is reddish to brownish and decorated with 5-6 thick dark bars separated by pale lines.
The Radiata Lionfish distinguishes itself from all the other lionfishes by having blank spines. It is also the only member of the genus Pterois without any markings between the vertical fin rays and can be recognized by the pair of horizontal white stripes that decorates the tail. It is sometimes confused with the Antennata Lionfish (Pterois antennata), but the Antennata Lionfish has no horizontal lines on its caudal peduncle.
Radiata Lionfish care
The Radiata Lionfish is not considered reef safe since it is fond of eating shrimps and crabs, but it will usually leave sessile invertebrates alone (e.g. corals). The Radiata Lionfish is a fairly bold fish and can be housed with fish of the same size or larger, as long as you avoid fin-nipping fish that may harm the delicate flowing fins of the lionfish. Small fish should be avoided since they can end up as food.
It is not advisable to keep Radiata Lionfish in an aquarium smaller than 55 gallons / 208 litres and an even larger aquarium is recommended. You can house several Radiata Lionfish together, e.g. a compatible pair, but this will require an even bigger aquarium. Don’t forget that each fish will produce a lot of waste – keep an eye on the water quality.
The aquarium should mimic the natural environment of the Radiata Lionfish and include plenty of hiding spots, e.g. in the form of ledges, crevices and caves. You can expect your lionfish to hide a lot when it is new in the aquarium. If you provide it with plenty of suitable hiding spots it will soon feel more secure and spend more time out in the open.
Keep the water quality really high and well oxygenated. The water should be fairly warm; 75° - 82° F / 25 - 28° C is ideal. The pH-value should be 8.1 - 8.4 and the specific gravity 1.020 - 1.025.
Be very careful when you carry out aquarium maintenance, because the Radiata Lionfish is equipped with spines that can deliver a venomous sting. Getting stung feels like being stung by a really powerful wasp. If you are allergic to the venom, you can develop a serious reaction. Prompt medical attention should therefore always be sought if you get stung by a Radiata Lionfish. Keep the affected area in hot water; as hot as you can stand without being burned.
Feeding Radiata Lionfish
In the wild, the Radiata Lionfish feeds chiefly on shrimps and small crabs. This diet should be mimicked in the aquarium and giving your fish various types of shrimps and crabs is ideal. Small fish will also be highly appreciated. You should be prepared to feed your Radiata Lionfish live food, but if you are patient you can train most specimens to accept fresh or frozen dead food, e.g. crab pieces. Some specimens will even go for flake food.
Breeding Radiata Lionfish
The Radiata Lionfish has been successfully bred in public aquariums, but I do not know of any instances where it has been successfully bred in home aquariums.
Lionfish articles:Lionfish - An introduction to lionfish.
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