Volitan Lionfish

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Species group:

Other common names: Black Lionfish; Common Lionfish; Red Firefish; Turkeyfish; Butterfly Cod; Red Volitan Lionfish; Red Stripped Lionfish

Scientific name: Pterois volitans

The basics:
The Volitan Lionfish is the largest Lionfish. They are easy to maintain and among the hardiest of all marine fish. The Volitan Lionfish rests during the brightest hours of the day with its head down and is practically immobile. Many people mistake it to be dead in this pose. It hides in unexposed places during the daytime. Lionfish can shed their skin and they do this with a lot of coughing and shaking in order to remove irritants like parasites. There is a possibility that the Lionfish may sting its tankmates with their long spines in the crowded confines of an aquarium. Owners too must never take their eyes off these fishes when performing routine maintenance like scraping algae. These fish can sneak up on what they perceive as a threat and inflict a painful wound in seconds.

The Volitan Lionfish is a species of Scorpionfish that has a bold color pattern of red to burgundy, white, and black stripes on its body. It also has large, fan-like elongated pectoral fins and tall, banded spines on the dorsal fin. It has numerous spines and fleshy flaps of skin that grow on its head. The skin flaps help in camouflaging the fish by disrupting the expected outline of the fish's head. A tentacle is usually present above both eyes. This tentacle varies in size and shape and is usually long in juveniles and leaf-like in adults. They have cycloid scales. The spines on the 13 dorsal fins, single pelvic fin, and three anal fins are venomous. The pectoral and caudal fins are not toxic because they lack spines. The fins of the Volitan Lionfish are more pointed and covered with variable spots and bands. The Volitan Lionfish has several small teeth in clusters on the upper and lower jaws as well as on a small patch at the anterior section of the roof of the fish's mouth.

13-15 inches

This fish is more active at night, especially in its natural environment where it hunts small fishes, shrimps, and crabs, using its widespread pectorals to trap prey into a corner, stun it, and then swallow it in one sweep. It may eat smaller fish, shrimp, and other crustaceans in the tank. Volitans are sociable and peaceful and can live in a community which includes other fish, provided its neighbors are not small enough to eat. They are best kept with other large aggressive fish. The Volitan Lionfish are not generally territorial and peacefully co-exist with their own kind and other Lionfish species. Triggers, Puffers and large Angels are a threat to the Lionfish because they tend to nip the Lionfish. Damsels, Cardinals, Clownfish, shrimps, and other non-attached inverts, however, may be eaten by Lionfish.

The Volitan Lionfish should be housed in at least a 75-gallon aquarium with numerous hiding places. They grow to more than 12 inches and even though they are not very active, they need space to move, places to hide and feel protected, and large volumes of water to provide adequate oxygen and dilution of waste. Water quality and filtration are extremely important when housing the Volitan Lionfish. Large filter systems, protein skimmers, and large water changes help to keep ammonia and nitrites low. The water quality of the tank quickly degrades for Lionfish with overcrowding and inadequate filtration. Plenty of live rock and caves should also be present to give the Lionfish a place to hide and feel secure. Low lighting must be provided and can be attained by low output fluorescent tubes. If metal halides are used, provision must be made for dark corners. Glaring lights may cause Lionfish ‘blindness’.

74.00-79.00 °F


55.000-120.000 mg/L




stunning fins, easiest lionfish, expert


precise habitat requirements, big tanks, little personality, predator fish, venomous dorsal fin


active fish, large caves

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