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FAQs about Scorpionfishes: Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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, Behavior, Compatibility, Stocking/Selection, Systems, Disease, Reproduction

In the wild inhale mostly smaller fishes... can, will ingest crustaceans, and sometimes molluscs

Beware of Freshwater fish as feeders and gut blockage,  Thiaminase poisoning

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

Issue with Lion... Feeding et al...   4/26/08 Hello WWM Crew, Have an issue with a newly added a 6" Lion. I checked the site for more detail but looks like my issue is a bit more unique. I added a Lion that was quarantined for over 2 weeks from my LFS into my 125 FOWLR. At the store he was eating krill, no issues at all. <An incomplete diet> It's been 4 days since I've had him and no signs of an appetite. I have tried krill, krill soaked in Selcon, crab meat etc. <Not unusual for large lions to go on feeding strikes on being moved. Four days, a week is not a worry> Once I added him into my tank, he swam around for first day or so. Following day he showed signs of ich, so I gave him a freshwater bath. <Even more stressful> It worked great as the 'specs' are gone. <If in the system... will be back> He still does not care to eat, however. Now, I noticed him this morning, and while his coloration is fine - his back fin is beginning to show signs of rot. Can this be bacteria or fungus? <Stress> I'm tempted to dip him in a furan bath <Stop!> for a couple hours but wanted to get your perspective. Water quality checks out fine: Salinity 1.018 <Too low...> (for the ich breakout), <Won't work> Nitrite 0, Very low Ammonia, Nitrate 10, Temp 81 All my other fish, porc puffer, blue hippo, Humu trigger, green wolf eel, maroon clownfish have not missed a beat and eat like pigs. I'm confused at my current situation. It's been 4 days without any eating and zero signs of an appetite. Thanks for your time! Neil <Read (again): http://wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm  and the linked files above, and elsewhere on WWM re Cryptocaryon, Hyposalinity... You have self-induced troubles... Bob Fenner>
Re: Issue with Lion... Feeding et al... still not reading...    4/27/08
Thanks for your quick response. <Welcome> In terms of feeding, I'm going to begin feeding him live at first 'to get him in the mood' to eat. I will later move him towards krill. <... and wider than this> My issue is the other tankmates. I have a green wolf eel, porc puffer and Humu trigger that will grab any feeder I toss in. What's your advice to get the feeder to the lion? <... is posted... where you were referred to last time...> Should I pull him out into a bucket, let him relax then feed him on his own? Or should I toss in multiple feeders in hopes that one catches his fancy? Thanks for your help. <Read. B>

Volitans Lionfish in reef tank ... feeding   6/24/06 Hello Wet Web Crew, I just purchased a 4 inch Volitans lionfish for my reef tank. The only other fish in my 125 is a 5 inch Naso Tang, some shrimp (soon to be prey items for lionfish) <Maybe> and a 5" Protoreastor nodosus. I know I should watch him with my Xenia and Moon Polyps but it has been almost 2 years with no incidents, even my burgundy star is almost 2. I have kept Volitans in other tanks I have owned over the years, but never in a reef tank. I am finding it difficult to feed him the frozen prawn and silversides with all the liverock in the tank. I drop the food in front of the lion but the water flow from the powerheads forces the food to go in between the rockwork. <Make/use a "feeding stick"... attach the food to this and wiggle around in front of the Lion> I have to move rock around with my hands, retrieve to food then basically wave it around in front of him and make him follow my hand until he is up high enough in the tank to eat it. I can get away with doing this for a while, but as he grows I don't think it is a great idea when he grows to be a foot long. I am willing to gut load some damsels and introduce them live for a while. The Lionfish is in great shape, I fed 4 silversides the first night in my aquarium. Its been about a week and my 2 cleaner shrimp and coral banded shrimp are still around. Any thoughts on an easier way to feed this guy? thanks for all your advice. I enjoy reading through the articles on your site. See ya <Be chatting, reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Volitans Lionfish problem... not reading    5/24/06 Hello Crew, I have had a Volitans lion for sometime now and it has been eating frozen foods like a champ. Well last time I fed it was last week, Monday, and it has not been eating since that day. I feed my fish once a week. I feed the  lion mainly squid but sometimes I will throw in some gulf shrimp, krill,  and a silver side. The lion refuses to except frozen food from me now. How  long can it go without any foods? <Weeks> It has been 8 days now.  Is it best  to go back and try some ghost shrimp? What should I do, I hear people say just  starve it and soon it will eat but it's been more then a week! Please help I  trust you guys a lot. I appreciate your time. Thanks, Ben <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish killing  12/29/05 Dear Sir,   We started a saltwater aquarium about 3 weeks and have 2 clown fish, yellow tang, choc chip starfish, and a lionfish.  The lionfish is 3 and half inches long and we've had him for 3 days. He is losing color and hasn't eaten today (he ate 2 goldfish the first day and 1 yesterday). <No to goldfish>  We feed him goldfish he wont eat the Mysis shrimp. how do we get him off the goldfish an is there something wrong with him? <Rocky, please read here for starters.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lions&rels2.htm  James (Salty Dog)>

More Lionfish Questions Thanks for the help mike <You're very welcome. It's me, MikeD again> .. he ate today two whitebait and a piece of prawn ( I had some friends over later in the day so fed him a bit of it whilst preparing the "shrimp for the Barbie". <It's really hard not getting them to "show off a bit" for company, eh? Most lionfish owners understand this very well!!**grin**> I do want to replicate as much as I can their natural diet but these were king prawns ( big ones) so cut some flesh and dangled it in the flow of a powerhead.. it took approx 15 min and 3 pieces before he took it. <It gets easier as they become accustomed to you being the food source, and eventually it will snap up whatever you offer it> Are they more likely to take much smaller intact prawns ("shrimp") <Yes. Any size will do, with wild prawns being a natural part of their diet> or should I just buy frozen Mysis and give that a go .....<I'd suggest away from the Mysis as your lion will grow quickly and they'll simply be too small, with most going un-noticed and just fouling the tank. If your area uses bait prawns, that's often an excellent, inexpensive source of food> A great fish btw .. I m sure that he has me hooked already<I kind of thought that would happen. I've got one of your local mob up here in one of my tanks with a lionfish, a Stonefish...now THAT thing is huge and downright ugly!> Grant

The Cowardly Lion? Hello, <Hi there- Scott F. with you today> I have a 90 gal tank for about a year with a 6 inch Volitans lion, a yellow tang, and some damsels. I had some Ich problems for awhile and I believe I have made adjustments to alleviate that problem. I added a Passer angel about 4 months ago, and he seemed to get along ok, except he would nip at the Volitans tail periodically, but it didn't seem to be a major problem. Then I added a Cuban hog, and he is, as you know, a very aggressive eater. <Yep...By the way- you may be pushing your tank's capacity here...The Passer alone will get quite large (like 10" plus), and the behaviors of all of the fishes may become very aggressive as they get larger in the relative confines of the tank> About 6 weeks ago the Volitans got very sick, maybe bacterial, the webbing on his side fins deteriorated, and he developed a patch on his body that turned white, and lost its color. I put him in a 10 gal hospital tank, and treated with Paragon II and Quick Cure as per my LFS. After the recommended dose I did a water change and his scales and fins have healed nicely, but he won't eat. I have tried his usual diet of frozen silversides and krill, and even added live guppies, but he wont touch any of it. He hasn't eaten in almost 5 weeks. <Not good> Q1: What can I do to get him to eat? <I'd start by executing almost daily water changes (like 5% of tank capacity) to help improve water quality in the hospital tank, and to utilize activated carbon and Poly Filter to help dilute any remaining medication. I'd also try administering some vitamins, such as Vita Chem, directly to the water, in the hope that he will drink and/or absorb some through his skin, and initiate the feeding process. Don't give up on him...> Q2: Could the passer angel and/or Cuban hog have intimidated him and stressed him into this, as my water quality is good? Gregory DePetro <I'd say that this is certainly an excellent possibility. This kind of problem often has its roots in a stress situation...I'd consider a larger tank (like 150 gallons plus) or trading some of these fishes with a friend who has larger quarters...You may notice substantial improvement in all of you fishes...Worth considering, IMO...Good luck Regards, Scott F>

Basic Lionfish Husbandry I just acquired a small Volitans Lionfish. The body is approximately 1.5-2<A tiny one. They are most delicate at this stage> inches long. The LFS I bought him from told me they had been feeding him brine shrimp and Krill<They probably meant LIVE brine shrimp, which he would eat if starving just because it's moving>. I was happy to hear that he was already eating frozen prepared foods. Once I got him home and put him in my tank, he swam up near the lights and I realized the LFS lied! clearly visible in his stomach was a small rosy red feeder!<This may not have been a lie or a feeder. It's always possible they were feeding it exactly what they said they were, and what you saw was another fish placed in the same tank for sale who BECAME a feeder unintentionally!> My question now is on how to transition him over, and to what? I tried Mysis and Krill, neither of which he showed much interest in other than to swim up and strike the Krill.<By striking it, he IS showing interest in dead foods, a good sigh in itself!> He seems to be snacking on my live rock as well?<Yep, anything alive, such as amphipods, Mysis, etc. will be taken> I am just wondering what size food is appropriate for this size specimen?<Many shops sell live ghost shrimp as feeders, so about that size is good initially (about 1/2")> the Krill looked too large for him to eat, but I guess he got the small feeder down ok?<Many lionfish deaths are caused from them eating  overly large prey items, as these little guys have eyes and mouths both larger than their stomachs!> How long can a small specimen be deprived of live food in an attempt to transition to frozen?<That's dependent on the individual fish and body fat ratio, so there is no absolute. You MIGHT want to try some frozen silversides cut into the proper sized pieces, particularly the head, with eyes, and the tail, with fins>> He is currently housed in a 90 gallon, and I realize he will need a bigger tank within a year I am hoping to pick up another small Volitans this week and house them together.<If planning on having two, the 90 will need to be upgraded sooner than with just one> I am in the process of setting up a 180 gallon to house the pair and no other fish in it. What would you recommend for filtration on a 180 gallon FOWLR housing 2 Volitans?<There are any number of different filter systems available. Wet/dry or trickle systems are most commonly used although I've got one 125 gal. tank set up with a "Tide pool" system by Penguin that seems adequate as well.  As always, a skimmer is highly suggested with fish that tax bioloads through larger food intake/excreta>

Black Volitans? <Hi, MikeD here> Do Black Volitans develop the black/dark fins as they mature or do some have them and some don't?<The latter...there's considerable variation from individual to individual> Are they compatible with fully grown Maroon Clowns?<The generally accepted answer is "no", but I've done it successfully by altering my feeding pattern.  Rather than feed every 2-3 days, I feed daily with smaller feedings of non-oily marine feeders no silversides, anchovies ,mullet, herring, etc.) Likewise, my personal feeling is that all juveniles should be fed daily, preferably 2-3 times daily, as far too many deaths are brought about by well meaning people feeding them as they would an adult.  Considerably more energy is required in a growing young animal than in a lethargic older one. Here's a case where the final choice has to be yours, weighing all the options> Thanks!!!!<You're welcome>

Getting Good Info From Your LFS (1/13/04) Hello everyone, I just wanted to say, great info at this link:>> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lions&rels.htm I bought a dwarf Lion Fish last week and this link gave me much more then the LFS did. <That's why this site is so great. I have learned lots here too. Steve Allen answering tonight.> One very important tidbit was that they are live feeders. <Yes, initially, but you do need to wean to dead food. Search WWM FAQs for how to do this.> The LFS did not tell me this. <oops> In fact, she told me to make sure I acclimated him very slowly and then feed plenty of frozen brine shrimp. <You can eat potato chips while you watch. Just as nutritious for you as the brine shrimp is for him.> Hmmmm, where do these people get their info? <Good question. There are plenty of people in the business who either don't know what they're doing or are too interested in making money to give good info. It is very helpful to seek out and stick with a reliable LFS. I am fortunate to have a couple around here, although individual employees vary in quality.> Not from WETWEB, that's for sure! Thank you again for all the work you people do, for us people, out here! <A pleasure.> Pam

Volitans Lion I know I'm going to get cyber smacked for this and well deserved I know. My husband thinking he was being a good man brought me home a lionfish the other day.  Yes he had been at the LFS for 3 weeks and I've seen him eat several times and is eating here. I was not intending on getting one until I had a qt tank and had no time to get one when there he stands happy as a lark with a "gift" for me. Well ok guy is in tank and doing well 3 days later. <Good... generally tough... often disease free> I have 2 questions do they eat the critters of the night? <As a matter of fact, yes. A spectacular sight if one dives during crepuscular times (twixt light and dark) is seeing an individual, or better, a group of many of the Lionfishes (Pteroinae) "in formation", coming out (generally hide in cracks during the day) to comb reef bottoms...> seems like after lights out he is hunting around the base of the rock. and number 2 are they just a clingy creature everywhere he goes he is clinging to the rock or in the instance I just caught him my powerhead. Can you say unplug that thing quick? <Not ten times in a short span of time> Should I worry about him going around the powerhead?  <Mmm, yes... put something over the intake (a sponge or Bioball) or move some landscape such that the Lion can't get to the intake> Obviously he can't get sucked up but is he powerful enough to get away should the suction grab hold?  <Could give him an enormous hematoma or worse...> Ok more than 2 questions. It's like a potato chip can't stop with just one. <Now you've got me fantasizing about Frito-Lay products... yummy> Thanks, You all are great. Colleen Pittsburgh, PA <Don't know about that. Bob Fenner>

Taenianotus triacanthus (Leaf Scorpionfish) - 12/22/03 Hi, <Hi Randy> I have been doing some research on this species (Taenianotus triacanthus) and if you can help me fill in some of the blanks that would be great. The one I have is 3". I have read that this fish eats small crustaceans and fish and rarely accepts anything but live food in captivity. <I don't have first hand experience with this fish, but my resources confirm this (perhaps you are also using "Reef Fishes v1"?> Live food is where I am getting stumped. Feeder goldfish are out of the question given the thiamin issue. <Freshwater feeder fish are poor choices for marine fish in general.  I am in total agreement that goldfish in particular are to be avoided.> I feed my frog fish damsels after being quarantined, but the leaf fish has a mouth that is too small for these little guys. I have been feeding the leaf fish feeder shrimp but I don't think this would provide enough nutrition for him. <Yowza!!  Now that's dedication!, and probably the most expensive feeding regime I could conceive of!.  The feeder shrimp you are getting are probably freshwater.  They could be enriched by putting Selco and the shrimp in a small volume of water or actually injecting the shrimp with Selcon.  In the long term, a marine alternative is probably best.> What other natural prey options would be appropriate for him and in what quantity? "They" say to feed him to satiation, but with this fish is there such a point? <You might consider seeking a source for live marine shrimp (not necessarily ornamental...  scientific or food suppliers maybe?)  Also, do try the many strategies for getting this fish to accept non-living foods:  Dangling the prey on a string, trying any food you can think of, and short term starvation.  I have also found that frozen Piscine Energetics brand Mysis are irresistible to all but the very most finicky feeders. Most predators will eat far more than they need at one time.  One good meal twice a week is plenty.> Also, I saw a small juvenile but would this one would need food more often - how much more and how often than the adult. <I would say that one small meal every other day would probably be fine.  Finding a small enough food that is acceptable (Mysis may work) would probably be the biggest challenge.> I hope this all made sense. Any help with giving this little guy the best environment possible would be great. <Kudos for going the extra mile and being committed to providing for this fish's needs.  I hope this advice is helpful, but it will come down to a lot of experimentation on your part to find a food and feeding technique that works.> Thanks for your help,  Randy <best of luck!  Adam>

Question about Lionfish I've had my dwarf lionfish for about a month and a half now. He's eating silversides, and guppies. Good appetite, and seems healthy. However, for the past two weeks, he's been acting odd. Every now and then, he goes to the bottom of the tank, where the crushed coral is, and turns himself on his left side, and drags himself in short jerks across the coral. Then, he does a quick burst, and returns to swimming around the tank. Now, I noticed two days ago, his left eye is hazed slightly.. it seems cloudy. Well, I put the two together, his left eye is cloudy, and he's dragging himself across the coral on his left side.. as if trying to "scratch" the eye or something. (I've checked Nitrites, Ammonia, PH) and everything is normal.. So my question basically, is, what's wrong with his eye? Is this a fungus? A sickness? A parasite? I'm confused, I've never seen this before.. Please help me Bob. Thanks <Hmm, don't know exactly where the "cause" and "effect" come in here... Do agree with you that the scratching caused the cloudy eye... but why is this fish sitting about? Do you have adequate aeration? Does the fish's breathing seemed labored? It may have swallowed something it shouldn't have... and hopefully this too will pass... but otherwise, I wouldn't do much than wait and see at this point...Bob Fenner>
Re: Question about Lionfish
Nope, he's not labored breathing whatsoever, and he's quite active. Swims around up and down, all around the tank. Doesn't appear to be stressed at all. Every now and then, he sits on either the coral in the tank, or the bottom. However I thought all lionfish do that occasionally? <You are correct... in the wild or captivity... perhaps nothing to worry about all the way around... maybe this fish just "went bump in the night"... Lionfishes and their relatives are very good at self-healing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question about Lionfish
Unfortunately, my dwarf lionfish was found dead today when I arrived home. Could his cloudy eye been signal for something worse? Last Friday, was the last time he ate, it was a silverside head. Then I added an angel fish into the tank on Saturday. And he seemed normal until about 2 days ago, when he stopped swimming around, and either sat at the bottom, or floated at the top. This morning he was alive, but didn't do much, he was on the bottom of the tank. When I found him dead today his mouth was completely open, like as wide as it could possibly go. Well, what do you think could of killed this animal? <Do you still have this specimen? I would "necropsy" it (cut it open, carefully... they are still venomous when dead... I suspect "gut blockage"... from? Silversides? A rock? Even a Hermit Crab?...> I was told the cloudy eye was "Popeye" but, couldn't kill him, and I also remember giving him a silverside head on Friday, could he perhaps of "choked"  <I think so too> on it all week until it ended his life? Perhaps you can help me Bob. Since I'm all out of ideas. <Sorry to hear of your loss my friend. My thoughts are with you. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish; color chg. Hi there, I just stumbled onto your FAQ's and I still need your expert advice. I have 2 devil lionfish and yesterday in the afternoon one of them grew very dark red in color and he is the same way today. I have only seen him do it once and that was short-lived. His breathing and movement are fine and he's still eating, prawn and krill, but his color is beautiful but at the same time alarming because this has never happened in the 6 months that I've had him. Please help. Even the pet store couldn't come up with anything other than maybe he was accidentally stung and his skin is inflamed. Thank you, Jennifer <Could be a few things here that either "made this fish happy", "or depressed/stressed"... But likely nothing to worry about. These color changes do "just happen" for whatever "good" and "bad" reasons. Not much to do re, and not to worry. 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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