The red lionfish is a predatory scorpionfish that lives on coral reefs. But, did you know this fish is venomous? However, like many scorpionfishes, this specie also has venom-filled spines in several of its fins. Why the lionfish? Well, the long, colorful rays resemble a lot the lion’s mane. But, let’s learn some more about this interesting animal, shall we?
Where can we find the red lionfish?
Our odd friend is native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean, including the western and central Pacific. Yet, it can go all to the coast of Western Australia. However, this specie was also been introduced into the Western Atlantic, although accidentally. But today, it can also be seen in many home aquariums, since this fish became a very popular pet!
How does the red lionfish look?
When it comes to appearance, this fish is really unusual. Like it’s not from our planet, don’t you agree? Covered in white stripes, it is alternated with red, maroon, and brown stripes. Certainly not small, an adult can grow up to 18,5 inches in length, which makes it one of the largest species of lionfishes in the ocean! And, of course, the well-known venomous spines peeking from the body, similar to a mane, which makes this fish unique.
Diet and hunting.
Due to the odd appearance, the lionfish also has an interesting way of hunting. Being an ambush predator, our friend will often move very slowly and wait perfectly still. When the victim approaches too close, the lionfish strikes fearlessly! At the same time, it extends its jaws forward, creating a large amount of suction, and easily swallowing the prey whole. When it comes to the type of food, this predator will eat anything it catches. The only limit is the size of the prey, whether the fish can swallow it or not.
Red lionfishes are solitary animals that will meet only for breeding. After a successful match, the reproduction starts with a behavior called broadcast spawning. In this method, both male and female release the eggs and sperm in the water column, above the reef, at the same time. Two great things come out of this method: increased chance of fertilized eggs, and protection from eating by egg predators.
Did you know females can lay up to 30,000 eggs during one mating session?
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