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FAQs about Lionfish Health/Disease: Traumas

Related Articles: Lionfish & Their RelativesKeeping Lionfishes and their Scorpaeniform Kin Part 1, Part 2, by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner, Dwarf Lionfishes,

Related FAQs: Lionfish Disease 2, Lion Disease 3, Lion Disease 4, Lion Disease 5, Lion Disease 6, Lion Disease 7, Lion Disease 8, Lion Disease 9, Lion Disease 10,
FAQs on: Lionfish Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Infectious, Parasitic, Social, Treatments,
& Lionfishes & their Relatives, Lions 2, Lions 3Lions 4Dwarf Lionfishes, Lionfish Behavior, Lionfish Selection, Lionfish Compatibility, Lionfish Feeding

Ramming themselves into something hard: decor, tank side, the top... chasing live foods, getting spooked, the lights coming on, going off too suddenly...

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Lionfish Upper Jaw Issue       6/12/19
Hi, really hoping you can give me a bit of advice here. I have a Pterois volitans lionfish that seems to have dislocated or injured his upper jaw. I have looked this up online and your website and most say to just wait and keep water quality up, but I haven't seen him eat in over two weeks now so I am concerned about the fish.
<These fish/es can go much longer sans feeding; at times months depending on the condition, size they started at, the system, tankmates...>
I have seen him fully open his mouth and do the yawning motion but when he goes after food its only once and he does a half strike and doesn't seem to take the silverside.
<I would NOT feed much in the way of silversides. See/read on WWM re Lionfish foods/feeding/nutrition>
Would live food be a recommendation at this point?
<Yes; definitely worth trying>
David Hart
Thank you again I look forward to hearing your response.
<I'd be (continuing) patience here. IF this fish is going to survive, it will resume feeding. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish with a dislocated jaw      7/15/18
I did a search of your site and I did find a couple instances of this, but I never saw a final outcome posted. I have a fuzzy dwarf lionfish, Dendrochirus brachypterus. He is about 6” so pretty much full grown, is a professional beggar, and eats like a pig out of the water column at community feedings. I feed Larry’s chunky food as this is a predator tank (puffer, eel, angler, etc).
About 2 weeks ago, I noticed that his upper lip appeared to be low and there was a gap over it. His breathing was a bit labored but nothing to be alarmed about. My research tells me that this may have been caused by trauma hitting a rock/glass going after food or possible hyper extension eating a large chunk of food.
<Yes; agreed>
I didn’t notice this happen, but clearly something did. He still eats every day and is the same beggar at the top of the tank at feeding time. I notice that he has a hard time with the larger pieces, but the small pieces are fine.
<I'd offer small/er>
Will this condition correct itself?
<Hopefully; yes>
The skin in the gap appears to be changing color to match his body. Is there something (vitamins? I already add vita-chem to all feedings) I can give him to help?
<Naught that I know of>
Like I said, he is eating so it is not an urgent issue.
<Jaw injuries can (self) heal, some folks try to help; force the jaw back. I would not do this. Too much chance of further injury, you getting jabbed. Bob Fenner>

Re: Lionfish with a dislocated jaw      7/15/18
Thank you for the quick reply.
I don't intend on trying to manipulate his jaw. I would likely do more harm than good and also risk a nasty sting in the process. I will report back if or when his jaw is healed.
<Ah, thank you>
Jason ​
<Cheers, BobF>

Re: Lionfish with a dislocated jaw      9/14/18
It has been 2 months since Mike hurt his jaw. I'm happy to report that he is doing well despite the fact that his jaw never really "healed." It seems like the gap turned into cartilage and kind of reattached itself.
<I see this in your excellent pic>
At first he had a hard time eating larger pieces of food, I think because his upper lip wasn't moving with his jaw. He could eat jumbo Mysis sized food or similar. Now, it doesn't seem to be a problem.
<Great news!>
I'm hopeful that I'm going to have him for a long time!!
Jason ​
<Thank you for the update Jas. BobF>

Lion fish not eating, and with a scab (?) cont.
Hello! I woke up this morning and this is a newer picture of his anal fins.
It looks like they are getting worse but I'm still very unsure of what this
could be. Thank you! Tiffany
<... looks like a continuing sore from a physical trauma. Just good water quality and nutrition suggested. See WWM re. BobF>

Lion fish not eating, and with a scab (?) or damage to his anal fin
<No need to send the same over-sized file pic twice>
First off I love your website, I have gone to it many times for help with
my lions and it has always been more than helpful! Unfortunately I need your advice on some problems with my newest lion. So, one of my lions I got about a week ago from my LFS. He is temporarily in a 72gal bow front with another small lion and a porcupine puffer.
<Large Puffers often prove incompatible w/ Scorpionfishes... the latter are too slow, often bitten by the former. Definitely can't compete for foods>
They all live very peacefully
and even share their food with each other. The new lion hasn't eaten since
we brought him home.
<Very unusual to not feed. See WWM re Pteroines>
The LFS told me he was eating frozen krill and live
rosy reds,
<These are very poor fare: See WWM re Thiaminase>

but every time we have fed he has shied away. I called my LFS
and they told me he was very shy and to use an airline tube with a paperclip on the end to feed him. Nothing has worked and I have tried about
every kind of frozen food and live fish. How can I get him to eat?

Not only
is he not eating but he has this weird area, I suppose, near his anal fins.
Do you have any idea what this is?
<As you state... an injury zone from...? A bite, sting, poke?>

He also has almost a mucous string
hanging from some of his spines and it was on the area yesterday that is in question. The nitrates are 0ppm,
<How is NO3 rendered thus?>

nitrite 0pmm, ammonia 0ppm, and ph 8.0,
water temp ranges from 74.8 F and 77.2 F. What can this be?
<As stated; and the reading... do you need help using the indices, search tool on WWM?>
Thank you so
much for your help! Tiffany
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Lion fish not eating, and with a scab (?) cont.

<Ms. T>
Thank you so much for your quick reply. Where can I find the WWM re? Thank
you again!
<... the search tool.....: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liondisfaqs.htm

and the linked files above. B>

Scorpionfish eyes   2/25/14
Hello there,
I recently purchased an orange Scorpionfish. Getting him to eat was a bit of an adventure but with some tips on this website and from the lfs I've managed to get him eating a diet of Selco and garlic extreme dosed krill.
<Do expand this diet...>

I noticed the other day that his eyes were a bit less reflective than usual and getting cloudy. I know that some of these fish shed their outer cuticle so Im not sure if I have a problem or not? His left eye is the more predominant one with the right showing some cloudiness. I kept snakes for years and it looks an awful lot like he's "Shedding" to me. On the right
eye I can visibly see a portion of the cloudiness moving from side to side.
The left has a full raised "donut" on it and I m not seeing movement but you can see that the cloudiness itself is raised off of the eye. He constantly looks like he is in a state of molt anyway (his camouflage) so its difficult for me to tell if that's what is going on. Any help would me much appreciated!
Thank you!
<See WWM re eye issues of marine fishes...
Scroll down.
 Likely this clouding here is related to being recently moved... perhaps a net scratching the eyes:
Bob Fenner>

Re: Scorpionfish eyes   2/25/14
Thank you for the fast response! I am quite relieved! Now that you mention it, I moved him out of the quarantine tank only three days ago so I suspect your right.
Do you have any tips on diet? I have tried krill, squid, clam, silversides, Mysis, live Chromis, live drip acclimated mollies, and live ghost shrimp with him and the only things he will eat are the ghost shrimp and krill, he won't touch anything else, well… other than my hermit crabs, he does seem enjoy those. Any other foods I should be looking into?
<...? Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/FishInd1.htm
scroll down...>
Here are a few pictures of him. My phone doesn't take the greatest pictures, I apologize. Is there any chance you could tell me the exact species?
<Not one I've seen>
My best guess is a Scorpaenopsis macrochir, or a Scorpaenodes brasiliensis. Typically his eyes are very reflective and for lack of a better word "blank;" there is no visible anything, they're almost like an insect's eyes.
<... badly clouded over... I do hope yours recovers. Bob Fenner>

Injured Lionfish... env., feeders... - 7-14-10
Hey Crew!
I have a Red Sea Max 250
<Mmm, 250 liters is too small to house a full-size Pterois species long or well>
that has been successfully running a reef for about a year. Over the last few weeks I've noticed something on my lionfish and it hasn't cured itself, changed, or gone away.
<Yes... a bacterial involvement... due to environment and likely a lack of nutrition>
Actually it may have gotten a bit bigger. No fish have ever bothered the lion, the other friends
include a blue tang and yellow eye tang. I have a few corals like a leather, flowerpot, and some mushrooms. Its a calm tank. Oh and some snails and a shrimp.
Here are a couple pictures. Let me know what you think it might be?!?!
How can I help him?!?!
<A bigger world...>
Also since I have your attention... :) how do I get him to eat frozen food! The lion will only eat live feeders.
<... trouble>
I've tried going a week, even 2 without feeding. Mysis shrimp. Frozen feeders on a feeding stick. Shrimp. Squid. Ugh. Help.
<Your answers are archived on WWM. Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner

Re: Injured Lionfish -- 7/14/10
I have a 250 gallon at my office that I plan on moving him to when he gets bigger. But he's a baby now. Shouldn't he be fine in 66 gallons?
<Not really... evidently>
The plan was to move him when he out grew his space. He's quite small.
<And diseased. B>

Lion Disease Help   7/29/06 Hello <Hi there> Just curious if you have any idea what this spot is on my Volitans Lion.  He's had it for 4 months now.  No other symptoms to report.  He's eating well, not breathing heavily and being his usual self.  the spot seems to be getting a little more red than I remember. <Appears to be an emarginated (microbially involved) "sore" from a physical trauma (common with these fishes)... Should heal on its own. Bob Fenner>

Injured Lionfish + 1 month without eating. Need advice please.   5/24/07 Hi! <Hello there> First off, great site - full of helpful information, but I can't seem to find anything that quite matches my case, so I'm dropping you a line.  4 weeks ago my lionfish acquired a sizable gash across the top of the head in the soft tissue between the "head plate" and the first dorsal spine.  The deep gash went from one gill covering to the other and he was bleeding freely in the tank. <Yikes! Very bad situation... Fishes have very high "Packed Cell Volumes"... and a world of not much dissolved oxygen (often about 7 ppm... vs. ours of about 210,000... Need their blood, rest of their integument/slime systems to be intact to stay alive> I wish I could figure out how to attach the pictures I have, but it basically looks like someone took a steak knife and split the back of the head open. <Mmm, have seen similar injuries... Lions can really move at times... run into objects, jump out of the water, striking gear...> I later found a 2-inch peacock mantis in my live rock (which I immediately removed), but I am still unsure what caused this injury.  The bleeding eventually stopped and under the advice of my local fish store, I treated the tank with MelaFix for 2 weeks. <Am not a fan>   The Lionfish ate sparingly after this injury (he was a terrific eater of fresh frozen and freeze dried shrimp prior to this event), but ate his final piece of food 24 days ago.  His wound is healing nicely (no discoloration or puss from the wound). I tried ghost shrimp and guppies - nothing is taking his interest. In fact, when I try to "pole feed" dehydrated shrimp, the live ghost shrimp will crawl up onto the face of my Lionfish to get the food!!!  Water levels are fine, I check the ammonia, etc., every other day and change a portion of the water weekly.  Anyway, his dorsal spines are depressed, laying along his back and he's noticeably losing weight (although I haven't massed him). I've contacted a few local aquaria regarding force feeding, and had I.V. feeding proposed as a suggestion. <Mmm... would not do this> Unfortunately, the aquarium that suggested this is too far away for me to bring in the fish (overseas).  I was wondering if you had any suggestions for force or IV feeding? <Well... could/can be done... with extreme care with Pteroines obviously... but I would keep trying the foods you have been, with some changes... I would re-arrange the decor in this system, soak all foods in a vitamin and HUFA supplement (for attraction as well as nutrition), and make/use a "feeding stick" for the non-live items...> I've managed to shove food in his mouth via the "pole feeding" method, <Oh! Good> but at this point he's spitting everything back out - so I think we've gone a bit beyond the standard "hunger strike". If I must handle him to force or IV feed, what type of gloves would suffice to prevent being injured by his spines? <Mmm, actually... better to use well-soaked (to discount residual cleaner) white (versus colored) older cloth towels... to "hold back the dorsal and pectoral fins while manipulating such animals> I have dive gloves, but the joints are fairly thin. <These can be easily punctured... and the handling will further damage the fish with these> Any advice would be very helpful - my lionfish is such a terrific little guy, with an awesome personality (up until this event... his behaviour has radically changed to depressed and non-interactive over the past month).  I don't want to lose him! Thanks, Kim <The food bolus must be pressed, inserted further back than the buccal cavity... past the obvious closure in the back throat... there are some backward pointing structures there that disallow live food organisms from escape... A plastic catheter, other tools... Bob Fenner>

Lion with mouth problem   1/27/06 Dear Mr. Fenner and Wet Web Media staff, I have this Volitans lionfish that developed a small mouth problem about a week ago. It seems that his upper lip has disconnected itself from his mouth. I have included pictures of him for you. I have had the lionfish for about 8 months and never had a problem with him. He has ate well since being added to the tank, and I feed him a mix of grass shrimp, krill, and silversides, all dosed with vitamins (Zoe, Selcon, VitaChem). He still eats pretty well, but you can see his mouth bothers him a little bit. Regardless, he is still eating as he would normally, it is just a little slower and less aggressive. He is in a 210 gallon tank with all other peaceful fish. There are no triggers in the aquarium, and nothing else that would bother him. The only fish bigger than him is my Orbic batfish, but he is care free. All of the water parameters are correct. pH - 8.4 kH - 9.5 ammonia and nitrite - 0 nitrate - 20ppm specific gravity -1.025 I use Salifert test kits, and a refractometer to test my SG. I was reading in your book where you said, "You will experience a shedding of skin with lionfish. This is thought to get rid of parasites and unwanted algae". I was wondering if this is what is happening to the lionfish. Any help you can offer would be great! Thank you very much for your time. Sincerely, Ryan Smith <Looks like a part of the upper jaw ligament has torn loose. Likely from either a bump into something or an over-extension during feeding. With time, hopefully this will self-heal. Not likely harmful. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish mouth problem  8/30/05 I hope someone can help me! I have a nice size lionfish (probably 8-9" long) in a 55 gallon. <Too small...> He has been in the tank for 2 years. I feed him frozen and dried krill, and feeder guppies occasionally. Yesterday I feed him some feeders and he did his usual routine of stalking his prey and thrusting his jaws open swallowing. But this time something happened that I have never seen before. It appears that his upper jaw is partially stuck out. <Happens> He went up to other feeders in the tank and attempted to swallow, but it was like he could not open his jaw. I will describe what it looks like the best I can. there is about 1/4" inch of  white tissue on his upper lip that looks like it belongs inside his mouth. ( I am sure is does, I have seen his mouth and jaws expand out and forward then back to there normal position). He is now sitting on the bottom of the tank and unable to eat his prey. Any ideas on the problem or a solution? thanks for your time Eric <Time going by might heal this joint... otherwise (caution here) there may come a time when you want to catch and VERY CAREFULLY hold (in wet towels) this fish and massage, manipulate the jaw/joint back into place... fold the fish's dorsal and pectoral fins, pinning them backward, along the body... If it were me, mine, I would wait a week or two (the fish will not starve in the mean time, but will shrink a little and this may "do it")... I would look into larger quarters (by at least double) and eschew live foods. Bob Fenner>

Broken Lionfish Fin 12-01-05 Crew- <Hello> I might be a little over concerned about my issue, but I have never dealt with it before. I received a beautiful black volitans a week ago, but he was a little roughed up during shipment and as a result one of his pectoral rays is broken. <Very common.> Will this repair itself? <Yes> Will it look/function "normally?" <In most cases.> Do I need to remove the broken part? <No sir. Leave it be.> I have attached a picture and circled the location of the broken fin. Sorry if I am over concerned, better too much than too little I think! <I agree and wish everyone cared as much for their pets.> Thanks as always, <Glad to help.> Craig <Travis> <<Travis, thank you for remembering where to put the message w/photo!  Marina>>

Lionfish Choking Problem <Hi, MikeD here> Hey Guys, I've spent a long time on this site reviewing the FAQ's and the articles and I understand that I can't have anything that's smaller than my lionfish's mouth.  He is a Volitans Lion and is currently an infant at only about 2" in length.  Problem is that he just ate, or rather, was trying to eat a damsel that was in the tank.  I've had him for about 3 weeks and have not been able to get him to feed on anything frozen.<Which is why he's eating damsels. Very young lions frequently have eyes bigger than mouths or stomachs.  As a general rule, with new juvenile lionfish I try to make sure all other fish in the tank are almost twice as large, three times in the case of long narrow fish, such as wrasses.>>   This is the second damsel that he as attempted to eat, the first was successful, as it was a much smaller fish.  Problem is, he has half the fish sticking out of his mouth.<ouch>  Will he be able to consume the whole thing? I have heard that lionfish cannot regurgitate and that a large chunk of food will choke them to death.<Actually, they can sometimes spit prey back out, but the problem here is the damsel automatically locks its spiny fins erect in self defense>  If I need to take action, what do I need to do?<By now it's probably a moot point, but I've had fish choking on oversized food items to the point they are belly up spasming on the bottom. I keep a pair of long-nosed tweezers by the tanks to pull obstacles back out. The last one was a 5" Sgt. Major Damsel that had even quit spasming, so after I pulled out the food item (a piece of shrimp meant for a lionfish), and once the passageway was cleared I "walked" it back and forth in the tank for almost 5 minutes to keep water flowing over the gills. I've since re-named him Lazarus. With any of the scorpaenids, hold the fish carefully belly up with the spines facing down to avoid impaling yourself if this becomes absolutely necessary> By the way, all the tank parameters ( its a fish only)  are fine. <That's good at least> Thanks,<You're welcome.>

Red ulcer on lionfish hey guys, <Neel> I'm new to the hobby and I have a bit of a dilemma. I've had a recent outbreak of Ich in my 155 gal main tank and had to quarantine my fish in a 40 gal copper tank. Here's my issue, today I noticed that my lionfish has developed a reddish ulcer on the lower "lip" of his mouth. He hasn't eaten in a few days...any thoughts on what it is? <Likely the expression of a physical trauma (a bump in the night) and the stress and strain of being moved, coppered...> Should I place him back in my main tank to allow the ulcer to heal? He would be the only one in the tank. Neel <I would put the Lion in the main tank IF the quarantine/fallow period is done for the Ich remedy... NOT if not. Bob Fenner>
Re: red ulcer on lionfish Thanks for your help.. much appreciated. It seems like it's already healing. <Ah, good news. Lionfishes are remarkably tough and restorative. Bob Fenner>

Lion In Trouble? Hey guys, I'll try to make this quick because I'm sure you've got about a thousand emails waiting for you. <That's what we're here for! Scott F. on call today!> I have had about a 3" Dendrochirus Zebra for about 2 months now, and he arrived to me with part of his "gill cover" missing so that some of his red, fleshy gill are is exposed. I thought this was just because of transportation, but now another problem has raised on that same gill on the same side. It seems that a small, very thin, transparent "skin sheet" has found itself underneath the gill area. It looks like it should be inside his mouth or by his gills, except somehow it got stuck outside. It almost looks like part of an onion peel. He is still eating and swimming happily and healthy. The other side of him looks fine. What could it be? I would have sent a pic but my camera broke last week.  Thanks a bunch again, it's much appreciated! Francisco <Well, Francisco, hard to say what this tissue(?) is without actually seeing it. However, if the animals is otherwise healthy and happy- and eating, it may be that you simply need to maintain excellent water conditions, keep him fed, and be prepared to act should the animal appear to be in distress...Keep a close eye on him, and be prepared to act if the need arises. Otherwise, just give him a little TLC, and he should pull through just fine! Regards, Scott F.>

Lionfish with broken venomous spines  Hi!!!  <Hello there>  Just a quick question - I searched your site and could not find the answer for this one... I have my eye on a black Volitans lionfish at a LFS but one of his venomous spines (the top one) is broken and is about a half inch shorter than the rest. My question is will it grow back?  Thanks a bunch....Lana.  <Sometimes these spines do grow back... and sometimes they don't... In either case it doesn't seem to mal-affect the Lionfish. Bob Fenner>

Injured Lionfish <Hi Brett, MacL here trying to help.> I have an adult elegant Volitans lionfish in my 75 gallon reef tank. He is about 7 inches long. Up until this point, I have been feeding him krill, frozen. Last time when I ran out, the store only had Freeze dried. He was eating these just fine, but one day I witnessed him hit his nose on the glass panel above the tank when he was jumping to get a floating krill. His nose turned a little red under the skin and he stopped eating. Then, he extended his mouth and it appeared that his upper jaw had dislocated. Just the lip portion, It appeared to have separated so you can see the bone. Since the incident, I have not noticed him eating ANYTHING. He tries, desperately, but He will not open his mouth wide enough. He used to eat off of the ground occasionally, but I have not witnessed this, either. He seems to be afraid of the krill now. ( I have not tried to feed him Freeze dried that float on the top since the incident.)<Sounds like he has dislocated or broken his jaw. Only time will heal that.>   After all of the background to my situation, my question is this... HOW CAN I HELP HIM TO EAT? I noticed a similar question on the forum, with much less background, so I am hoping you can give me a definitive answer. <You might try something much smaller like Mysis or brine that he doesn't' have to open his jaw very wide to eat.> I had not noticed any major signs of starvation yet, so I had been waiting it out to see if he could heal on his own, like most people have said to do. However, it has been 3 weeks, and I feel like today he might look like he is getting a little skinny. <Try live brine while I'm thinking of this. Might stimulate him to go after it.>   One shop recommended that I try and feed him live food to get him into eating again, so I did. I tried Rosies, but he couldn't get to them. he would slightly try to bite at them, but the his jaw will get distended and he stops. It takes about 10 minutes go back to normal, yet when I tried again to feed him today, it seems like it goes normal after a few seconds. He seems to be improving, but I don't know how he can get really better without food. Should I try some small shrimp or fish that can survive in the saltwater? Does anyone have any suggestions?? I am desperate here, I don't know how much longer he can go without eating. If pictures are needed, I can take them and e-mail them immediately. <I wish I had better news for you.  I've been trying to research this but honesty there's not much you can do to help him heal. Some people recommend vitamin C. Personally I wouldn't give up hope. Lions are marvelous creatures. Try the smaller foods and hopefully he will be able to eat at least a little bit of it.>   Thank you. Brett Chisholm <Good luck Brett.>

Fish eye injury I have a lion fish that has stopped eating and looks like it has a scrape off scale mark on one side if its body and one gray smoky eye that is extremely enlarged. What is wrong and what can I do about it? <exophthalmia... (Popeye) likely caused by being spooked/frightened into the rock or glass. May require antibiotics, do use some Epsom Salt (from the pharmacy is fine) at 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons one time. Prepare to medicate in a QT tank if swelling doesn't subside within three days. Review medication procedures for exophthalmia in the disease section here on WWM. Don't worry about the lack of feeding...they can go for weeks without food. Best regards, Anthony> Thank You, R. Doughten

Injured Lionfish Dear Crew,      My lionfish looks like he may have injured his jaw.  He is unable to retract the upper lip.  It almost looks swollen.  He still eats, but not nearly as much.  I can tell that he is uncomfortable, and that he is having difficulty swallowing his food.  Any suggestions?<Just give him time and try to keep him eating.  He may have dislocated his jaw and all you can do is give it time.  Cody> Thanks, Adam

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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