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More FAQs about Lionfish Reproduction

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

Related FAQs: Lionfishes & their Relatives, Lions 2, Lions 3Lions 4Dwarf Lionfishes, Lionfish Identification, Lionfish Selection, Lionfish Compatibility, Lionfish Systems, Lionfish Behavior, Lionfish Feeding, Lionfish DiseaseFreshwater "Lionfishes"

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

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Lionfish seem to dance ! 5/16/12
Hi Bob,
<Hi Andy, Jordan with you today>
   It's been awhile since I have asked you and your  crew a question about my lionfish. I am here again to ask you about their  behavior. Their names are Ben and Jerry, Ben is about 8" in length and Jerry are  6" in length.
Measured from tip of nose to end of tail. My tank is 110 gal.  filtered by a wet dry and a Coralife 125 protein skimmer. My water  parameters are 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrites, 30 ppm nitrates, ph is at 8.2  measured by a pinpoint monitor, and salinity<Specific gravity> is 1.023 measured by a Sybon  refractometer. Their diets consist of live ghost shrimps which are fed a  Spirulina flake enhanced food, and Hikari silversides, which they stopped eating  about a week ago, hence the live ghost shrimp. They seem to do a dance together.  They twirl and, for lack of a better term snuggle each other. They stay at the  top of the tank then split off their dance and Ben, floats in front of the  power head while Jerry remains at the top of the tank.
<I believe one of your lions is in need of a name change as it sounds as if they are attempting to mate. When mating the male will darken greatly in color and the female (multiple females in the wild) turns a much paler hue.
Mating ritual: The male will skirt alongside the female on the sandbed, looking upward while propped up on its ventral fins. The male will eventually swim to the surface, followed by the female and they will come together at the surface. This process is repeated numerous times. I believe a much much larger tank is required for them to be successful which is why I stated "attempting to mate". Interesting nonetheless.>
Ben still has a injured  jaw and has trouble opening and then swallowing the food at times.
<?!?!This is an issue of concern.>
I don't understand their behavior so I am asking a more knowledgeable person than  myself. Did you ever see something like this?
<Never in a home aquarium.>
 There is a Koran sub-adult, a  med. Blue Tang, a Sailfin Tang and a Coral Beauty Angel in residence with  them.
<Koran and both Tangs both require a larger tank and the Dwarf Angel may be dinner depending on your species of Lionfish.>
Thank you for your time and knowledge.
<Quite welcome, Jordan>
Andy G
Re: Lionfish seem to dance! 5/16/12

Thank you Jordan for your reply. This is interesting and I'm trying to get  a 500 gal. tank into my house but, I have a problem, my wife ! I have to find a  place to put her first !
<A common problem which I don't think there is a solution. Best of luck.
Thanks again .
Andy G

Fu Manchu Lionfish gender 03/14/2008 I've really tried my best to look all over for this bit of info. The internet's vast wisdom has failed me. Perhaps you guys could be of help. How can you tell female vs. male Fu Manchus? I have one at hold at the LFS and would like to get a 2nd if it's possible to tell gender apart. <<I have seen people try to introduce another FMC into a 170ish gallon tank, and the new arrival still got harassed by the other to the point of one needing to be returned. This is not something i would suggest. If so.. Would 2 be fine in a 50g cube? <<One on its own i am afraid>> And would I just introduce the later one during night/day/after or before feeding/full moon/etc? <<See above>> Thanks for your help <<I am unaware of any external sexual differences in these. ****** Maybe if RMF knows, he will chime in here***>><I too, am aware of none. B> <<Hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Lionfish ? I didn't see listed The Most Well-fed Lionfish in the World! 10/15/05 I have a lion fish wider than long. I wanted to know if a lion fish could get pregnant in captivity or come from the fish store that way. I know it's a silly question but I figured I would ask because I would like to know thanks for all the help.  <You are probably looking at a well fed lionfish, as chances of reproduction in captive systems such as ours would be slim at best. James (Salty Dog)>

Lionfish pair Mac: Brett again.... <Hi Brett, I'm so sorry for the delay, I have been dealing with migraines and haven't been on top of my game. Please forgive.> So I think you were right and I have a male and female lion.  <Anything is possible Brett.>  They literally "cuddle" together 75% of the time. It's pretty neat to watch, actually. The little one folds all of "her" ??? fins down and snuggles under Big Daddy's large fins. Is there any way to sex them, or will it always be a mystery to me?  <Surgically for sure but I don't believe there is any other way to sex them at this time. But even if you don't have a male and female its lovely that you have a compatible pair.> Also, at my LFS, they said I might try soaking the ghost shrimp in a garlic stuff for more nutrients.  <I like using garlic with my frozen foods although it can be a tad smelly. I also use vitamins in the frozen foods.>  I did this, but they also recommended either adding it directly to the tank or soaking my other foods in this.  <I am always cautious about adding things straight to the tank. At least when it's in the food you know a lot of it is getting inside them.>  What are your thoughts on garlic additives? Do I run the risk of fouling the water?  <I would think only if you way over dose the garlic. I do know of some skimmers that stink like garlic pheweee.>  I run an EcoSystem system with a refugium underneath the tank and do a 10% change every week or 8-9 days.  <I would continue with the garlic in the food method.> Also, the smaller lion has now recognized me as a food source and is taking frozen foods.  <Wonderful!!!.>  He/she loves Mysis now, but I have not gotten them to try Krill yet, so that is why I am still doing some ghost shrimp.  <Keeping some ghost shrimp in the diet is fine but you want a way to give them a big variety of meaty foods. Squid, silversides etc in frozen form. A large variety of foods will keep them very healthy.> Hopefully soon I can be on a complete frozen and meaty diet for them.  <So very thrilled for you. Congrats and keep me updated, MacL> Talk to you soon! Brett

A Dwarf Lion And A Full Plate G'morning, <Good morning, MikeD here> I had a pair (supposedly matched m/f) of Dendrochirus zebra in a 125g, and they got along wonderfully for over a year<OK>, but 3 weeks ago, the one I presumed to be the male just up and died. He was @4" long, well rounded, no scars or marks (no one bothered him!), and I can find no particular cause of death.<Many possibilities here, including old age as all Lionfish are wild caught> Everyone else in the tank (1 pr mand. gobies [reg.  breeders]; 1 pr cardinals [constant breeders]; 3 giant long tent anemones [semi-annual breeders]; 1 each yellow goby, sailfin blenny, maroon clown [5"!], 4 seahorses [all females], plus an even half-dozen polyps & Goniopora, and untold numbers of starfishes and crabs) are all doing swimmingly fine! No fatalities for almost two years, until this lionfish incident.<That sounds like a full load, but if they are doing well, don't fix it> This particular tank is just over 6 years old, with a 2-3" live sand bottom, bioball filtration and UV sterilizer. Stopped using the red sea protein skimmer @4 years ago and my life--and that of the tank residents--has been much happier: the water chemistry is much more stable without it.<This sometimes happens if the skimmer wasn't properly maintained/adjusted and the keeper keeps up water changes> Everyone eats live brine shrimp and live FW guppies<Here's problem #1 as freshwater guppies are NOT suitable long term food for lionfish and will result in vitamin deficiencies and fatty build ups> 5 days out of 7. When I have babies in nursery (almost constantly, one variety or another), they get frozen baby brine shrimp plus live tiny brine shrimp)<OK. Are you using Selcon or some other vitamin additive? Brine shrimp alone are famous for being nutritionally poor in food value>. The nursery is merely a Plexiglas sheet with holes drilled in it for water flow, stuck in kitty-corner, with a small sub-pump moving water from the general area into the sectioned off area, so that their food also ends up in the general population, as well.<OK> Regular chemical supplements are limited to Nature brand Reef Former (1/2 oz daily), plus 1 oz per week of Mg and Sea Alk (also Nature), with the rare gallon of Kalkwasser maybe once a month or two. I do 20% changes @every 3-4 weeks with RO water, although I have gone as long as two months between. I keep the salinity at about .022 +/- .001. There is a great deal of live rock, stacked so that there are many, many passageways and hiding places; I'd guess there's maybe 100 lbs of rock. It supports a pretty broad variety of Caulerpa and corals and other growing things, including spiky looking yellow sponges and flatter orange and red spongiforms. I have more than my fair share of hair algae, but there are only about 50 hermits in there, and the job is just too much for them...<Not surprising. The Caulerpa is probably helping keep nitrates down, but without a skimmer the task is just to big, thus the hair algae is being fertilized> Ok, finally we're at the question part: How do I distinguish between male and female dwarf lions?< Although harder than the Dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish, the males here too have larger heads and slightly larger pectoral fins. The two species can tell the sexes of the OTHER  species apart and will react to a male the same as they would to their own kind> Do you think there's enough room for another lion?<The room probably isn't a problem, but I'd improve the diet> A friend has a small one, @1-1/2" long, but I'm hesitating about bringing it home. Will it be a problem if I end up with 2 females?<Two females usually get along without problem> 2 males?<While not as definite about it as their close relatives, you MAY end up with a dispute between two males, depending on the individual fish involved> One large and one small?<Usually this won't create a problem with the size differences you've given, although to be safe I'd feed the larger one before introducing the new one. Again, you NEED to improve their diet though.> Thanks for your advice,<You're welcome> Donna Valdosta, GA

Just a few questions (re Lionfish repro.) Good afternoon, First, I would just like to say that your site is extremely informative, and greatly appreciated. <You're welcome my friend. I hope/trust our intent is obvious> I noticed that some of my questions were posted, however, I was hoping for specifics towards my personal query. I have at present a 20g tank, which at the moment due to my academic status will be the largest tank I'll have for a while, <Like the way you put this> and would like to either keep dwarf lions or valentini puffers. I would be interested in their breeding capabilities. <Hmm, you might be able to house two smallish Dendrochirus Lions... but not really the Sharpnose puffers... too nippy when crowded... and reproduction with either in such a setting is very unlikely.> I have a decent amount of experience in the hobby, and would like to try something new. I will continue to research, but due to your experience I was hoping for some guidance. thank you for any help you can give. <Hmm, as you'll find, Lionfishes (those that any such information is known about) get together to swim up and over backwards to shed their gametes in the upper water column (has been observed in captivity for Pterois...). The specimens were very large, old... the tanks very large (hundred to thousands of gallons). Canthigaster puffers shed their gametes, often associate in pairs... long planktonic periods for larval development... Maybe some Clownfishes, Blennies, Gobies in your twenty? Bob Fenner>

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.

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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