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FAQs about Dwarf Lionfish Behavior

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

Related FAQs: Dwarf Lionfishes, Dwarf Lions 2, & by Species: Fu Man Chu Lions (D. biocellatus), Fuzzy Lions (D. brachypterus), Green Lions (D. barberi), Hawaiian Lions (Pterois sphex), Zebra Lions (D. zebra), & Dwarf Lion Identification, Dwarf Lion Compatibility, Dwarf Lion Selection, Dwarf Lion Systems, Dwarf Lion Feeding, Dwarf Lion Disease, Dwarf Lion Reproduction, Lions 1, Lions 2, Lions 3Lions 4Lionfish Selection, Lionfish Compatibility, Lionfish Behavior, Lionfish Feeding, Lionfish Disease,

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

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Dwarf zebra lionfish; beh., fdg.        8/18/15
Hello, your site has been great for a lot of information on dwarf lionfish.
I just recently got a dwarf zebra (4 days ago) and he is a small guy (about 1.5-2inches) eating ghost shrimp no problem.
<Mmm; careful not to overfeed... one every 2-3 days max.>

One odd thing about him is he doesn't hide whatsoever, he is constantly at the top of the tank swimming against the flow. From what I read this is the total opposite from a lionfish. He isn't gasping for air, he may be breathing a tad fast, but I assume it's most likely because he's new and swimming against the current. This goes one lights on and lights off. I
have seen him hiding the first day and that's it. The rest of the time he is in the same spot of the tank up front on the top. Peaceful tankmates no of them have come close to harassing him. 55 gallon corner tank with a blue spot puffer, Midas Benny, and six spot goby. Is this anything to be concerned about?
<Mmm; no... this fish may well have lost some respiratory capacity (hemolysis from the trials of shipping), or just enjoy the current>
He is gorgeous and definitely don't want to lose him. Thank you.
Tank parameters:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5-10
Ph: 8
<I'd just be patient. Bob Fenner>

Fuzzy dwarf lion gradual colour change      11/17/14
Hi there! I've been reading your site for many months but this is the first time for contacting you. I don't have so much an issue as a curiosity.
<A (good) quality of life... being adventitious>
I purchased my fuzzy dwarf lionfish approximately 10 months ago. He was about 2" long. When I bought him he was the typical brown, as seen in this (crummy) photo.
<Mmm; yes; quite common. Scorpaeniform fishes period do change color... sometimes "for camouflage"; others in the face of too bright light, substrate, and lack of being able to hide out in shadows, nutritional, stress... "reasons">
You can see he does have a tad bit of reddish colouration on his "lips" and a little on his pectorals. Now I understand lions and many other fish change their colour with their mood. At this time he could change from dark
brown as pictured here, to a very pale tan colour when he was trying to camouflage.
<Ah yes>
Over the next month the reddish orange colouration spread across his whole body, until he eventually looked like this. He is now about 3 inches. This photo is recent but he has looked like this for almost 9 months now.
Since then he has never gone back to brown, and changes from a pale peachy orange, to bright orange like in the photo, and occasionally a deeper more red colour. My mother in law actually asked if I had gotten a new fish lol.
<Observant... also a good (survival value) trait>
From week one he has accepted frozen foods, (never once had to offer him live food, despite the fact he arrived at the lfs the night before i bought him) I started with frozen brine shrimp but once he accepted that it was no
problem getting him to take chunks of cocktail shrimp, squid, and silversides, and he still gets some brine shrimp. And the other day he actually took his first pellet. Honestly his diet consists of mainly shrimp, would that be the explanation for the orange colouration?
<To some extent; yes>
Or do you have another thought? Have you ever seen this before?
<Oh yes and yes>
PS I have not changed my lighting either, and the lion seems extremely healthy and active, and gets along well with his tank mates. He is by far my favourite fish I have ever owned :)
<Again; or in summation: Such color changing does occur; for direct and not influences... perhaps a masters or doctoral thesis, or at least a topic of a petfish article here for you. Bob Fenner>

Adding A Lionfish To My Existing Tank, now w/ clowns  5/30/2010
I am so wanting a Lionfish but am confusing myself everyday. I wanted a Volitans but think he will out grow the tank quick
I have 2 Ocellaris Clowns (male about 2cm),
<And eat these>
Scopes Tang ,Bursa Trigger ,Fox Face ,Purple Spotted Puffer
<? What is this?>
and a Huma Trigger.
I'm concerned that the Lionfish will attack the male clown or am I worrying about nothing ?
<You're not worrying about nothing>
I've looked at the Dwarf Zebra Lionfish but every time I've seen them in the LFS they are sitting on the bottom of the tank doing nothing while all the Volitans are swimming around gracefully or is this common with the Dwarf Lionfish
<... very common... Most small Pteroines are lethargic... larger ones a good deal of the time>
I'm worried about the Clownfish and Lionfish if did they get on ?
<The Lion/s will inhale the Amphiprionines>
Also can you see any other problems with this combination of these fish ?
I know the Trigger might have a go at the Lionfish but he is only 4cm in size and has never harassed any other fish.
My tank is a 85 Gallon
<A poor combo. Bob Fenner>

Dwarf Lion Beh. -- 11/23/2009
Hello wet web media. Yesterday I purchased a fuzzy dwarf lionfish. After hours of searching this sight and the whole internet I still have a few concerns about my new fishes behaviour. He has been "perching" upside down in the corner by the aquarium heater. He did eat this morning, but I have only seen him swim once. Is this common?
<Hello! Yes, this is absolutely normal -- lionfish tend to be somewhat sedentary in behavior. It's not uncommon to find them hanging upside down under the same ledge in your rockwork for quite some time.. I wouldn't worry unless he starts refusing food. Enjoy! -JustinN>

Poor Rufus, I'm so Distraught.
Lionfish jumping, Lionfish Beh. 4/30/2009

I have had a fuzzy dwarf lion named Rufus for about six months now, my sister had him for a year prior to that. I do weekly water changes along with testing.
<Very good>
Everything has been going VERY well. Normally as soon as the door opens he's at the glass looking at me like a puppy, literally.
<Not at all uncommon with Lionfish, particularly Fuzzy Dwarfs.>
Tuesday when I came home from work I couldn't find Rufus in any of his normal hiding spots. After looking for about 15 min. I started to worry. I finally found him dead on the floor under the stand.
<Sorry for your loss.>
The tank is covered except for a gap about 2.5" x 2.5" near the filter. I know this is where he left the tank, but what I don't understand is why. He was the only fish in it and I've never heard of them jumping.
<Any fish can jump.>
After the clean up I tested everything from salinity to nitrates, and everything in between even the water temp. and everything is good going by what I've read from multiple, multiple sources.
<Actual readings would be better, but this will suffice.>
Judging by the fact that he just barely fit through the gap, it almost seems like he planned it.
<No, it wasn't planned.>
Any ideas what drove my poor Rufus to suicide?
<Fish do NOT commit suicide. Fish lack the mental capacity to make that type of decision. It is more likely that your fish saw something by the filter opening that it interpreted as potential prey and rushed it, propelling itself out of the water.>

Lionfish mucus   11/25/06 Hello: <Hi there> I just got a fuzzy dwarf lion a week ago.  As I acclimate him to frozen krill and silverfish, his eating is improving. <Good>   Today, I notice a white mucus coming from him.  What is it? <Mmm, a natural body exudation. Pteroines/Lionfishes produce, release a good deal of body slime/mucus in good health>   Do I need to treat the water with something. <Nope> My LFS said E.M. tablets.  The tank parameters are good.  Thanks for the help. Howard <No worries all the way around. Bob Fenner>

When a Lionfish Does What a Lionfish Does.. >Hello all. >>Hello one. >I've Googled, and found no answer. >>At least you made the effort. >Yesterday I brought home a beautiful little fuzzy dwarf lion, who is the first occupant of my 75 gallon tank [along with 40 pounds of very crusty live rock].  >>Of all the things that should or should not be crusty, rock that is live, and bread. >After recovering from the stress of the trip, he adjusted well, and even took a ghost shrimp for an evening snack. After lights out, he cruised the tank for several hours, getting to know the neighborhood. >>Alright. >Since this morning, though, he has spent the entire day perched on one of my heaters. I have not been able to find any information relating stress or transition to a need for additional warmth. I checked the temperature of the tank, and it's 76.8 F in the center of the tank, as well as at the front wall [measured 6" under the surface]. I have read that lions tolerate temperatures between 72 and 78 well, so I think I'm in the ballpark. Should I just chalk this up to WTTFJD [weird things that fish just do]? >>Oh, no, not at all. This isn't weird in the least, either. This *is* what Lionfishes, especially dwarf lions, do. Simple as that. Marina

When a Lionfish Does What a Lionfish Does - II >Marina, >>Hello Rick. >Thanks for your reassurance. I have learned some hard lessons with smaller tanks [harder for the fish than for me, I suppose]. I want so much for this tank to succeed that I might be overly fretful, and apt to turn molehills into mountains. After some further introspection, I suppose I was the same way with the first of my children. >>Better to be safe, yeah? >I came home tonight from a concert to find said little fuzzy guy cruising energetically, displaying for his reflection. I enjoyed having a nightcap and watching him being so active out in the open, illuminated by the moonlight LED's with the room otherwise dark. I'm thinking that such moments are the real reason we go to such effort to do this. >>For those who get into the hobby in the first place, absolutely. For those who are "bitten", it can go far beyond that. >Thanks again, Rick Walters >>You're most welcome, and I'm glad you can now enjoy your new fish. Marina 

- Dwarf Lion Growth Rate - Hi, Great site. A question that's I have searched, your archives, and all information I can find.  The question is, how long at the best guess, will it take a dwarf zebra lionfish, to grow from 1.75 inches to 4 inches.  <A couple of years.>  He is kept in a 40 gallon with 40 lbs live rock, a few mushrooms and a flower anemone. He is fed Mysis shrimp once daily now as he is still small. As he grows I'll feed silversides, krill, and chopped market shrimp about once daily or as needed. He eats very well, and I don't plan on feeding to much. The water is ph.8.3 , s.g 1.023, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5, calcium 400, dKH 12, temp 78. Thank you for your reply in advance, and yes I know he can/will get 7 inches or more when full grown, just concerned how long until he's 4 inches.  <More than a year, but probably not less than two. Cheers, J -- > 

Fu Man Chu Lion Questions Hello Crew! <Hello back. MikeD here> Thanks so much for all you do and for the amazing amount of information you provide.  I have searched the site and need more information on the Fu Man Chu Lionfish.  Do they stay that small (one at LFS is 2 1/2 in.)?<While the books generally indicate a maximum size of roughly 4 inches, I've seen some five inchers over the years, quite likely very old fish that were caught late in life.>  Can I feed them frozen food or do I have to invest in Mysis or something of the like?<As a rule, the Fu Man Chus are among the hardest to train over to non-living foods, although it can be done with some concerted effort.> We have a very healthy 'pod population, keeps our Mandarin happy.  I have a gold striped maroon clown hosting a bubble tip anemone, a mated pair of CBS, and a Mandarin Dragonet, a green star polyp colony, 3 1/2 in DSB, and LOTS of live rock, part made into a shelf which the CBS have taken over the underside as their lair. Will these tankmates be ok?<No. The coral Banded shrimp will become food immediately, if not sooner. While the Fu Man Chus are not above eating a small fish, particularly if hungry, by nature they specialize in shrimp and small crabs.>  The Fu Man Chu seems too small to eat any of them, but will that change?<Again, yes.  Don't be surprised to see a Fu grab a shrimp fully as large as itself and swim around for the better part of the day gradually swallowing until the whole animal disappears.  In extreme cases, they've been known to choke to death attempting to eat shrimp and fish larger than themselves.>  I'm sure he'll love the CBS's young, (every 3-4 weeks they have more babies).  I'm sure it is not really possible to keep this fish in my set up, but I was hoping it would be, my husband has been drooling over lions for the past year!<Fully understandable.....I now have a 125 gal. tank and a 300 devoted primarily to larger lionfish and their kin, so be warned, once you make the plunge, they can be extremely habit forming.>  Our tank is almost 4 years old and seems to be doing well.  I guess we are greedy, and need to get a bigger tank, ours is only 20 gal.  We also have a Refugium 13.25" X 4.5" X 12" and a good amount of constant flow Penguin Sponge 170, Rio 600, and Rio 200 on the Fuge.  My husband's birthday is coming up and I wanted to surprise him, but if this would be death to the lion or my current fish, I'll leave him in the store.<Alas, at the moment this sounds like the wiser strategy.>  Alternatively, when we do get a bigger tank could we use this 20 gal for a smaller lion by itself if our current set up won't house him?<That is a definite yes.  In fact, a 20 gal. tank could actually house a pair of Dwarf Fuzzy Lions AND a Fu Man Chu all together if you so desire, which I suspect, you'd love.  I had a pair of Dwarf Fuzzy Lions that laid eggs 62 times over the course of 9 months...unfortunately, due to the extremely small size of the very numerous fry, and the fact that they need live plankton I was never able to successfully rear any, an ongoing hope (so far, to the best of my knowledge, they've never been reared in captivity). The Fu Man Chus will get along with Dwarf Fuzzies, but it's suggested that you keep only one per tank as they will fight to the death with their own kind in captivity, actually seeking each other out in tanks as large as 125 gallons !(yep, I tried that too! **grin**)  Thanks so much!  You guys are always a great help!<Thanks for the encouragement...we try.> Allison Dailey Stevenson Ranch, CA

Dwarf lion, zebra I think  Hi, I just bought a dwarf lion. He is about 2 to 3 in. I have a 55 gal tank with a lot of hiding places, MAYBE THAT'S WHY I CAN'T FIND HIM ANYWHERE! I checked on him all afternoon and he was hiding behind a rock but now I don't see him. I should tell you that I also have a Niger trigger that is about 4 in long and a percula clown (Nemo fish) 2 in. I was told there shouldn't be a problem in my size tank?
<no there should not be any problems>
 Well what do you think? Also won't the lion poison the other fish if he bits them?
<The lions bite is not venomous...it is his dorsal spines which are venomous>
 He is sooo cute I hope he is alright and is just hiding.
<he's probably hiding>
 Could you tell me if dwarf lions are active or our they hiders?
<mainly hiders>
 Well I guess that's all the questions I have for now. I hope you can help. :-) Sincerely, Jill. P.S. I also have a lawn mower blenny and a med size hermit crab that is growing by leaps and bounds!!!!!!!
<Good luck, IanB>

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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