Lion tamers wanted, must like to fish

Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 11:42 AM.

In her overview of lionfish biology, Faletti described the fish as a tropical predator, although it has now been spotted as far north as Rhode Island. Lionfish mature at one year of age but live for up to 15 years. Females can lay 15,000 to 30,000 eggs every four days. Larvae, which hatch 36 hours after fertilization, are strong swimmers and begin feeding four days after conception.

Saltwater dwellers in their native habitat, lionfish can adapt to a variety of habitats and have been found in water with as little as five parts per million of salt. They have been found in the Loxahatchee River in South Florida, and can be found at depths of up to 1000-feet, and as little at 5 feet of water in the Florida Keys.

Lionfish are reef dwellers and in their native range are found around coral reefs. In Florida waters, they have taken up residence in the 2,700 artificial reefs deployed to encourage grouper, snapper and other commercially valuable fish. They have also been found in mangroves, seagrass beds and estuaries.


They eat anything that fits in their mouth


Lionfish are generalist carnivores, that eat anything that will fit in their mouth. They will consume prey that is half their length, and their stomach can triple in size to accommodate large meals. Larvae eat microorganisms. Adult fish feed on any fish or shrimp and spiny lobsters. Parrotfish are important to the coral reef ecosystem because they remove algae; lionfish have reduced the number of parrotfish in Florida waters.

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