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FAQs about Scorpionfishes: Behavior 

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

FAQs on Scorpionfishes: Scorpaeniform Fishes 1, Scorpaeniform Fishes 2, Scorpaeniform Fishes 3, Scorpaeniform Fishes 4,
FAQs on Scorpionfishes by Category: Identification, Compatibility, Stocking/Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction


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

Erratic Fish behavior, Scorpaeniform cascade event, losses   3/15/11
Hi there,
I'm relatively new to using WetWebMedia, so forgive me if I do not follow all of your guidelines. Anyways, here's my question--
I have a used 100 gallon tank, with a 180 gallon on the way. My current inhabitants include a dogface puffer(5-6 inches), niger trigger(5-6inches), Vlamingii tang(5inches)(I know it gets huge, it's still pretty small.), and 2 chromis. My tank was overstocked when this happened, and I have lost many fish because of my ignorance to the most important rule of having a SW tank. My former sea goblin was the first one to exhibit these problems. The sea goblin suddenly swam very erratically, and since it was venomous, I was concerned for both my fish and myself. When it died, the symptoms moved to my prized Rhinopias. He died as well.
<Aye yi yi>
I might want to mention that my nitrates were super high 80ppm+, so I think that this caused the first die offs. The fish that start to act weird also stop eating. Then, it moved to my Mombasa lionfish, again, another venomous fish.
He was the only survivor, and is now @ my LFS. When the fish swim erratically, they bash into the glass, rocks, etc. After the lion, my blue throat started doing it, and he knocked himself out from bashing himself against the glass. We removed him, but he did not survive. The tank's nitrates became very good once most of the fish were gone 20ppm.
After a week or so, my fish began showing the same symptoms again. This time it was my niger, doing the same bashing, and stuff. Today, he jumped into my overflow and knocked down one of my heaviest rocks. This has me concerned, as this only happens to one fish at a time. I'm worrying that it'll move onto my puffer and tang, who are like my children (I'm only 14).
I was wondering if it had anything to do with a stray current, but I feel nothing when I stick my hand into the tank.
<Easy to test/measure w/ a simple multi-tester...>
Here are my parameters--
Ammonia- 0ppm
Nitrite- 0ppm
Nitrate- 20-40 ppm (fluctuating, I don't know why-- I think it's my test bottles)
Phosphate- 10ppm
<Yikes! Really? This is way too high>
Ph- 8.0
The dimensions of the tank are 45 x 25 x 20
<And this volume way too small for what you had>
So, can you tell me what's wrong or at least give me an idea? I'm ready to get out of the hobby-- there's a lot of money involved in this, and it's driving me and my folks crazy. Please help!
-Nick, Utica, NY.
<I suspect what you hint at... that metabolite accumulation (as indicated by high NO3) brought about a poisoning by one or more of your fishes... taking the rest w/ them. Less fish life, more room, increased filtration are what you need/ed. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish update! Hey Mac: <Hey Brett, Happy Holidays to you.>Happy Holidays! I just got some holiday cheer in the form of a new lionfish. :) <YEEHAA! lol I do so love Lionfish.>  Considerably larger than the previous, yet still a juvenile. I have included several pictures for you to see.... Some of Big Daddy showing off by turning REALLY red, as well as Big Daddy hunting, where his mouth starts to turn green... <Great pictures!> Then some shots of the new lion, added today. You will also notice that I paid particular attention to request a "fat-ass" lionfish that readily eats. You can see that my Santa heeded my request! :) Nice... <Santa was very kind to you.> Anyway, you don't really see it in these photos because of the flash, but this new lion has beautiful purple markings! All along his fins it is maroon and then a neon purple color, just like the anemone that is in one of the photos. If you look hard enough, you can see it in the photos. I will try and get some better ones later, because it is beautiful. Do you think this color will remain as he grows older? <Yes yes yes if you can give him a mixed variety of foods and be sure and give him vitamins. That will keep him nice and healthy!.> (Please....just say yes.) Anyway, have a great holiday, and look forward to hearing from you soon! <Thanks so much for the update!!!!> Brett Chisholm

Lionfish Won't Stop Swimming >Well, I don't really know what to say, >>Just spit it out then, and start at the beginning, that's always best. >We just bought a Volitans lionfish and we put him in a 125 gallon tank. We put him in the tank at 6 pm and he has been swimming until 11 pm non-stop. >>He must really be enjoying himself. >I have heard the lionfish is relatively lazy for a salt water fish and they spend most of their time laying on rocks, is he going to exhaust him self? >>This is actually not always true.  I worked at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, and our Lionfishes in the species tank were CONSTANTLY on the move.  The dwarf lions held much truer to the reputation.  And no, he will not exhaust himself. >He is swimming an awful lot against a hard current in the water and we are worried that he will wear out!! >>Are there areas of the tank where the current isn't so strong?  If so, don't worry, but if you've created what I fondly call "The Toilet Bowl Effect", you need to diffuse the flow in some areas. >He is the only inhabitant that is currently in the tank, could you please tell us why he keeps swimming? Is he stressing too much or do they always do that? >>Doubtful, refer to above.   >Another question we had was is turbo start a good alternative because we used turbo start after 3 weeks of cycling because it was taking forever. Thanks for your help - David >>Well, David, I have never used any of these cycling boosters, and three weeks of cycling is just barely getting into it.  I believe you jumped the gun, but it's a done deal now, just keep testing and when you get a significant nitrate reading you'll know that you're on your way to culturing the necessary nitrifying bacterial colonies.  Add fish S L O W L Y, as there are only enough bacteria to process available wastes!  Marina

- Lionfish Information - Hi, I'm just doing an assessment on lionfish and I have to find out How they grow and How fast? <Lionfish grow just like you and me - production and division of new cells based on available food/fuel. Which leads into the next answer - lionfish will grow almost as fast as you can feed them - they have a tremendous appetite so in captivity they will eat as much as you can afford to feed them, growing to full adult size in just a couple of years. In the wild it's a slightly different story as food is not quite as easy to come by as it is in someone's living room - so lionfish in the wild don't grow nearly as quickly.> Also how do they sense things coming? <Mostly by eye sight - these fish have pretty keen vision, although they get other non-visual cues from their lateral line system which is a row of specialized cells (some mechanoreceptive patches, others neuromasts) that allow the fish to pick up changes in pressure an other events going on in the water.> Could you help me? it would be much appreciated.

Re: lionfish growth, sudden-light reaction Hello, I was wondering how fast a volitans Lionfish would grow?  <Under "good" circumstances, quite quickly... have seen let's say a two ounce one double its weight in several weeks...> Also do you know why my adult Naso and Sailfin tang flip out when the light is turned on? <Many fishes and non-fish animals really don't like to immediately go from dark to light or vice versa... it's a very good idea to have an "intermediary" light source near the tank (like a room light on a dimmer let's say) to more gradually have the day begin/end, then be too abrupt. Bob Fenner> Thank you!!!!

Volitans Posturing <<JasonC here, Bob is away diving.>> Hi Mr. Fenner, I got a new Volitans lionfish and within 24 hours of being in my tank, now just hangs in the same spot and constantly swims in a vertical (head down) position. Is this normal?   <<it is for a fish who's trying to send a message - kind of like a dog baring its teeth. Just needs some time to adjust, probably trying to show neighbors and you what its deal is - "Hey! I got big spikes.">>  He eats any Rosies that I get to swim near him, but never leaves that same spot (by a piece of coral going up the corner of the tank).  <<you are going to try and move off feeders, yes?>>  I'm getting worried something is wrong and I'm not sure what to do at this point.  <<patience, I think you will be fine, these are very tough fish.>>  Your expert thoughts would REALLY be helpful. Thanks, Tom <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Lionfish color change, worry Thank you for getting back to me. I thought we were going to lose him that night because he was sitting on the bottom with his spines down after I e-mailed you. He however prevailed and was eating and swimming the next day. <Ah, good to hear. Typical> However I did notice that the little antennas that are by their eyes are missing on the both of them and he seemed to have a wound on his side. Do you think they got in a fight with each other? <Hmm, interesting. Have seen these "chewed" off... as well as missing from chemical/physical anomalies... Will you please check the water pH?> I can't imagine one of my other fish being brave enough to attack them. Your knowledge is greatly appreciated. Thank you Jennifer <Chat with you soon. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish I bought a volitans lion yesterday and I was wondering if it is normal for it to kind of hang around really low to the bottom? Is he just stressed or sick ...or what? Thanks - Adam  <<No worries. To be expected. Bob Fenner>>

Dwarf lionfish hello I have a new dwarf lion fish (zebra) that I just got Friday the 2nd of march. I am anxious for his survival because he is not acting normally, since I put him in the tank he was breathing hard and swimming weird. He can swim fine most of the time but sometimes he positions himself vertical and swims horizontal. is this him just trying to get a good perch on the wall or something? am I over reacting? well , please respond soon thanks Chris <Hmm, well... Lionfishes, including Dendrochirus/Dwarf species do "hang out" at all angles... so, this is "normal"... and the "hard breathing" is likely due to "being new" (leaking osmotically from netting, skin, mucus loss... Impairment of blood cell counts...) Would however increase aeration/circulation, hold off on feeding this specimen till it stabilizes/stops breathing hard... a few days to a week. Bob Fenner>

Lion shedding? Hey there Bob, I've got what appear to be two happy healthy lionfish, one about 4 inches head to tail and the other about 3. The larger one is growing rapidly on a diet of krill/prawns/silver sides, and occasionally seems to jet forward leaving behind what appears to be skin. Much like in a cartoon, where a character shape of dust is left behind after a hasty exit. Is this just normal growth, or some villainous water quality issue/nasty flesh eating parasite? I've not read of any explanation on the WWM pages, but as the fish seem healthy I'm not overly worried. Thanks for your continued help. David <Thanks for this question... Lions are easy "shedders" as your sharp eyes have observed... this is natural in fast growing, healthy individuals. No worries in your assumed well-filtered, adequately circulated system. Bob Fenner>

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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