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FAQs about Scorpionfishes 2

Related Articles: Lionfish & Their RelativesKeeping 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 3, Scorpaeniform Fishes 4,
FAQs on Scorpionfishes by Category: Behavior, Compatibility, Stocking/Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction
Pterois radiata, going blind from too bright lighting

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

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Lionfish and Melafix
My Lionfish went a little nutty today. He is a juvenile, about 4" long. I've had him about a month and a half. He lives in a lovely tank with perfect ammonia,
pH, salinity, temperature, lighting, etc.
For some reason he got scared when my husband walked near his tank and started swimming around frantically.
I came to look at him about 5 minutes later and he had wedged himself between the glass and some live rock.
It was a very small space and he couldn't get free. So I moved things about and he swam out but was obviously in shock.
He is very skittish now, so I turned off lights and he is sitting on his favorite rock but facing downward.
<The sitting upside down is typical behavior for this fish.>
My concern is that while he was squeezing into that small space he acquired some scratches on his side.
I put some stress coat in the tank and now I'm trying to decide if he needs something more. Is Melafix okay to use?
<I would not use anything at this point.>
The tank contains live rock, anemones, crabs, and snails. The scratches are very minor, no blood or deep gouges, merely flesh wounds.
However this fish is my baby and I want to ensure that he is okay.
<Merely maintain excellent water quality and a good diet and your fish should heal up on his own.>
Thank you for your time and help.
<You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Gone Lion Mad :-) Hi Steven, As I am mailing you RE: glass weights etc, and tank construction, I may as well explain to you my plans and proposals, and get your opinion on them too, if that is ok. <Sure> Along with my new Maculosus angel, I also got a Volitans lion, which is currently housed in my 84"x18"x20" FO system. He is only a couple of inches long, but already has noticeably grown. What a great fish..... over night I have been transformed to a lion lover. Inspired by a video titled the "video Fishtank", which details a lion setup, housing 4 large volitans, a fuzzy dwarf, and what looks like a Russell's lion, I have decided that I want to go that way..... i.e. make my tank predominantly a lion display. <Ok> I am hoping to house a group of 3 or 4 volitans, and a fuzzy dwarf, along with my maculosus angel, and maybe a couple of yellow tangs or the like, for activity etc. <Ok> What size tank would you recommend? <Pretty big, nothing in a standard size would work, definite custom job.> I was thinking along the lines of 6'x2'x30"(front to back).....this is about 230 US gallons...... that is allocating 50 gallons to the angel, about 30-40 gals per volitans, 20 gals for the fuzzy dwarf, and the remainder for a couple of tangs. <Seems just a bit small for all these large fish.> Do you feel that is a reasonable proposal? <It could be done with two large skimmers, big sump, and algae nutrient export, but bigger is better.> As far as feeding, I presume the angel and tangs will seriously out-compete the lions at feeding time, <Not necessarily. I have a large lionfish in one of my customer's tanks and it eats first over a large Domino Damsel, Sailfin Tang, and pair of Tomato Clownfish.> so I would feed daily with small sized frozen foods and of course the lions would take no interest in Nori etc. fed daily, and then twice a week a lion specific, more substantial meal... chunks of fish or shrimp or whatever....which I am sure the angel will pick at too :-). <Agreed> Decor.... probably a few large rocks in the center piled up, cave in the middle of the cluster..... plenty of swimming space for the lions. Lighting just a few fluorescents..... nothing too intense, probably peaking in the blue spectrum, to simulate the slightly deeper water lighting....2 or 3 actinics, and 1 or 2 white. <I would suggest several caves for these ambush predators.> RE: filtration....... I would plan this once a tank has been decided on..... but it will obviously involve a huge skimmer........ might plant out the whole tank with Caulerpa too, <It will be hard to maintain the Caulerpa with the Tangs.> and get it well established on every available surface before the tangs and angel go in...... and probably a fluidized sand bed filter to cope with the waste...... <I am not a fan of the fluidized bed filter for hobbyists. The technology has its place for stores and wholesale facilities, but I would not use it for homes.> but this would be part 2 of the planning phase..... first decide on what I'm keeping, then decide on how big a tank is required, then decide how to filter it. Want to try and stick to the 6' tank size category though. <The 6' long x 2' deep x 2 1/2' wide tank seems ok. I would use two skimmers and a Caulerpa sump for additional nutrient export. I think you would be able to do this without non-natural biological filtration (W/D's or fluidized beds).> Your views on my plans would be greatly appreciated, as would suggestions.... Thanks for reading. Regards, Matt <Good luck. -Steven Pro>

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!!!!

FU MAN CHU Hey boys, Been a few weeks, but I can't stay away for too long. Quick question: Would a Fu Man Chu lion eat my cleaner and coral banded shrimp?  <Yes... as fast as an Enron/Anderson employee can shred documents> I'm thinking of almost emptying my tank except for my Emperor (75gall). He's getting quite rowdy.  <they are funny that way <smile>> I figured a Fu Man Chu would be a nice small, hardy, tankmate that he would probably leave alone.  <actually... there is a problem here Houston. Big rowdy angels are notorious for picking sores on stingrays, lionfish and other benthic dwellers in close confines. I wouldn't bet on this match up. Might work... might not. Even if it does... there may be some difficulty with the lionfish not being fast enough to compete with the angel for food> However I don't want to lose the cleaning benefit of the shrimp.  <leave the shrimp...send the lion packing> It's so fun to see that angel lying on it's side in ecstasy as he's being cleaned.  <like the 'ole Q-tip in the ear...hehe, Ahhhhhh> The cleaner actually goes inside the gills. Thoughts? <yes... the Pittsburgh Steelers will still be serious contenders for the Super bowl this year despite off season losses of key personnel> Thanks guys. Rick <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

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 -- >>

Volitans lionfish part 2 Hi Bob, I am sending you another email concerning my volitans lionfish. The lionfish died as I was writing the email below. In your response to this previous email you suggested that I get a book on fish disease. Unfortunately, I deleted your response because the fish had died and I did not think it mattered at that point. <All matters. Sorry to read of your loss> I accepted that I was just going to keep the two damsels since they have not been affected. The problem is that I would like to get another lionfish. Assuming that the previous fish died of either a bacterial or protozoan parasite, would you advise getting another lionfish, waiting a certain period of time? <The latter. Do wait a good few weeks.> I apologize for deleting your response, it was unfortunate that I did not email you until it was too late. Should I treat my tank? <No to treatment. Vacuum your gravel, clean your filter, pumps, wait> I have included my first email describing the initial problem. Lastly, pH is 8.3, Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are all 0 using Red Sea test kit. Thanks, Glenn <Generally very tough fishes. Please read through http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lions&rels.htm and the many FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner>

Scientists Warn of Poisonous Lionfish Off Florida St. Petersburg, Fla. (Reuters) - After the "summer of the shark," a new danger is lurking in Florida waters -- the exotic yet venomous lionfish. Scientists at the Florida Marine Research Institute of St. Petersburg confirmed the presence of the spiny fish, which ranges from 6 to 12 inches, off the Florida coast. Several specimens of the fish were found off the eastern Florida coast, they said in a statement on Saturday. The lionfish's needlelike spines pack a painful -- sometimes deadly -- punch for those who get too close. Rumors of Florida sightings of the lionfish, a native of the south Pacific that resides from the coast of Australia to Malaysia, have circulated for years. Scientists now believe lionfish live in a stretch of coast from southern Florida to the Carolinas. "Dorsal, anal and pelvic spines of this fish are venomous and may cause severe local pain, numbness, paralysis, respiratory illness and, in rare cases, death," the research institute said. Lionfish, which are popular with exotic fish collectors because of their red and purple colors, aren't aggressive. Their spines are used for self-defense. Several shark attacks in Florida waters last year, including one instance of a young boy whose ripped-off arm was reattached by surgeons, sparked a media frenzy over frequent brush-ins with sharks off the Florida coast. James W. Fatherree, M.S. <Unbelievable... where is the integrity in the sciences? What/which species is/are these? Who would let go exotics off of Florida? Bob F>

Lionfish Off Of Florida Hello Bob (& Anthony, Steven), I was reading through the daily Q&A today and noticed an email titled "Scientists Warn Of Poisonous Lionfish Off Of Florida" St Petersburg, Fla. (Reuters). I have been doing research on Pterois volitans recently. Specifically I was looking up their native range through a search on Google, when I came across an interesting note documenting nonindigenous occurrences; "Approximately six individuals escaped a marine aquarium located near a sea wall overlooking Biscayne Bay, Florida, during Hurricane Andrew in August 1992. They were seen nearby, alive, several days later (Courtenay 1995). The impact of introduction is unknown." <Well, I'll be danged!> This document states the means of introduction to Florida is due to aquarium release. Unfortunately the small excerpt above is the only part of the document that I found of interest and saved. I thought you might find this interesting in light of the previous email you received. Miki <Amazing. Thanks Mikster. Bob F>  

Not Lyin' About Lions Hey all <Hoooooowdy>,   If some of you remember I bought a lion fish about 2 months ago for my 75 gal tank. I also have 1 percula clown and 1 yellow tail blue damsel.  All is going great I have to say as MR. Lion has grown to about double in size. He was about 4in from tip to tip side fin and about 1 1/2 in head to tail when I bought him. Now his body is around 4in I would say and wow what  a spread... My questions are before I got him I had done some searching and was reassured that a 75 would be ok for him.  I'm hoping to get a 150 or bigger in the next 2 years but will he outgrow this 75 before then?   <At this rate of growth? Definitely. I don't know specifically what kind of lion you have but even the dwarfs aren't so little after 1-2 years. At some point in the very near future, he WILL eat every fish that will fit in his mouth...the damsels, percula, and anything else that you may add to this tank. I had a Pterois in a 100 gallon for less than a year. The last fish he ate was a 6 inch wrasse! It was an expensive, painful lesson to learn...I carried him back to the LFS and received store credit.> If he keeps doubling in size I'm in trouble. <That's for sure. You can slow the growth by feeding less food less often. But...that tactic may just make him hungrier than usual. His tank mates will look even more appetizing!> Anyone have experience with slowing their growth?   <You can slow the growth a little (see above) but not stop it. Just like every other living creature, he will either grow or die.> He is always a joy and if he wasn't a venomous fish I know he would eat out of my hands as he is always trying now. <Do be careful. He's cute and dangerous.>   I did cut back on his feeding as I was feeding him AM and PM 1 cube of frozen food. I cut that back to 1 cube every other day. He likes the bigger pieces that break off and leaves the little ones for his tank mates or hidden creatures. <Soon you will notice the lion begin to watch those little fish when they come out to feed. That is the beginning of the end. Just like magic, those little fish will suddenly disappear! A sad fact but it is inevitable. Lions are gluttonous and always hungry. They will eat as often as you feed them. > I was thinking of getting some shrimp from the deli but not sure how to go about it. Is there somewhere on the site that explains this? <Just take the whole raw shrimp and put it on a feeding stick and dangle in front of the lions face or drop the shrimp in the water near his face. I assure you, if he sees the food, he will know what to do. When he's done with that he'll eat old shoes, the couch, the television, the cat, the dog...just kidding! You can feed him just about any seafood item from the deli as long as it's not in a shell.> Ok done babbling as always. You all are great and thanks for your time. C <It's my pleasure to help you C. Lions are good tanks mates with fish their own size. Good luck! David D.>

4th grade lionfish project Dear Bob, <Gage here, at your service> My son chose the lionfish for a science project he must do. He has to build a model and give an oral report about the lionfish.<How Fun!> We have been able to find all of the information he needs---habitat, what they eat, how they move, etc.. We haven't been able to determine if the lionfish has any "enemies". Does anything prey on the lionfish? Any info you have would be great. Thanks, Donna Muth <From what I understand large Angelfish like the Emperor and the Queen Angel, as well as large triggerfish and puffers have the potential to systematically pick the Lions apart. It sounds like you have all the info you need, but just as another reference you could check out http://fishbase.org they have some pretty good info. Good luck, let us know how the project turns out. -Gage>

Lionfish Breeding I have been reading what little there is about lionfish gender and breeding, let me emphasize the word little lol. At this time I have a young red Volitans, approximately 6" of body with 8" fin spread, lovely guy. Well the more I read about captive breeding being rare the more I want to do it. Are there any known methods for encouraging a lion to be a particular gender? <As far as I know Lions and their relatives (Scorpaeniformes) are determinate in their sex... not changeable> What is known about their preferences for breeding? Can you suggest any books on the subject?  <I have seen some foreign accounts of spawning (Germany I think) years back... As far as I'm aware young have not been reared in captivity. You might want to do a computer search bibliography on their reproduction biology at a college library: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm> At this time I'm hoping my lion is a male. He has been on a good big diet, is the only lion in the tank, and is dominant totally to all the other fish. I'm not sure if any of this means I've got a male, but its worth hoping. Thank you for your help in my quest to someday breed these lovely fish. <Keep studying... this may become a thesis project, perhaps an aquaculture one... Bob Fenner>

Lion Question. Hello, I'm rather new to the hobby, about two months now. I have a 50 gallon tank with a 10 gallon sump, about a 2 gallon bio tower and I'm putting the finishing touches on my skimmer (I've built most of my stuff from DIY sites and everything seems to be working good). My tank finished cycling about two weeks ago, and the fish I have in it are happy. I have a 5 inch Yellow Tang (he had fin damage when I bought him but he's liking his home so much all of his fins are perfect now), his pet Neon Cleaner Goby (much thanks for steering me away from a Wrasse), a Common Clown and I still have the Yellow Tailed Damsel I started the tank with. I recently became rather enamored with the Dwarf Lions. Fortunately, I managed to resist the evil urge if you know what I mean. I just read through all the Lion FAQ's you have posted. Very helpful and informative. Now for the rather odd question. I want to get a lion, but I am planning on keeping my tank peaceful so what I would like to do is add a secondary tank off my main one for the lion to live in. What I was thinking was putting a powerhead in the main tank to run water into the second tank, and then overflow either back into the main tank, or back to the bio tower. What would be your suggestion if this is an ok idea? <I would pump from the sump to each tank separately.> The site states that a dwarf could live in half of 30-40 gallons. So, 15 to 20 gal. <A bit small for my tastes. I would much prefer 30 gallons for this fish.> I know that such small tanks would have problems with keeping levels stable and that's why I want to connect it to my main tank. <Good idea> One thing is, my 50 gallon is somewhat strange in that it is a 55 gallon without the extra height, so its 4 feet long. <A standard 55 is 48" x 12" x 21" ballpark.> If I add a 20 gallon, that would add two and a half more feet onto my total tank size which is a little long for how things are arranged right now. So, I would probably want to try to use a 15 for now. From what I understand, a 15 is just a 10 that is taller? <There are 15 gallon tanks with the same base dimensions as a standard 10 and also some that are a short 20 high.> Would the lion appreciate the extra height, or would a 10 be acceptable if I was hanging it off the 50 in this fashion. <A 10 or a 15 gallon tank seems cramped to me.> From what I have gathered from the site, lions are rather dirty, so I probably would put in an under gravel and maybe a box filter on the second tank to augment things. Is this a good idea? <I would rely on your DIY W/D vs. the UG, too messy.> Also, I have one other question that wasn't addressed in the FAQs. I've read that there was a tank that had two lions in it, and someone cleaned the tank, got stung, and the venom ended up killing the whole tank. <Absurd> While I don't plan on getting stung, (Does anyone?) How big a risk is this? <No risk at all.> If the lion gets startled or tries too aggressively to attack a fish could it release venom and possibly hurt my other fish? <Nope> I respect your advice and if you think its totally a bad idea, the fish will remain in the store where it can be bought by someone who will better care for its needs. I really appreciate all the hard work you have put into your site. It has probably helped save countless fishy lives and is a great resource. Thanks for your patience in reading my rather long mail. Bob  <Good luck to you. -Steven Pro>

Lionfish Hi, I appreciate all the help I have gotten from you guys << Our pleasure >> and I was hoping you could offer an answer to a somewhat silly question. << Sometimes those are the hardest! >>  Do Lionfishes sting other fishes, <<Perhaps accidentally, but -extremely- unlikely in most aquaria. >> <RMF Disagrees... actually quite common>  and can they sting corals such as colt or bubble corals, or any corals for that matter?  << Also could puncture corals, but it'd be a bizarre accident, and is basically unheard of >> Thank You In Advance, Kristie =) << Cheers, Zo >>

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>
Re: Volitans Lion
Do you men not sleep?  <All that I know of> LOL thanks for the quick response as always you are wonderful. I spend every minute possible combing your website enjoying every bit of information I can. He is really cool to watch I didn't realize there were so many critters in my tank but he has found them.  <Are you talking about Anthony or your Lionfish?> I'm going tomorrow to find something to put over the intakes... should I put like prefilters on them?  <Yes, the best use> they are AquaClear 802s.  <Very good products> Please let me know as I lost a few snails in my last tank and don't want to lose this cool guy to some totally stupid mistake although I know putting him in with out qt was not a good thing. Thanks Mr. Fenner for being so helpful and willing to use all your years of learning to help more of us enjoy these wonderful things. Colleen <A pleasure and honor my friend. 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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