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LionfishThese dramatic looking fish are striped in varying shades of red, black, brown, orange, and white. They boast long elegant pectoral fins that are fan-like and extend well beyond the tail, as well as a spiky first dorsal fin. These fins give the fish the appearance of a lion's mane, which makes "lionfish" their common name. Their dorsal spines are long and individual. These fish reach lengths of 30 - 40 cm and can weigh up to 2.5 kg. Their eyes are hidden by colour patterns beneath a bony ridge across their face.
Conservation Status: IUCN
Distribution:Originating in the Indo-Pacific, these fish are now an invasive species in warm oceans worldwide.
Habitat:Lionfish inhabit tropical reefs, rocky cliffs and crevices in marine environments.
Diet:Lionfish are carnivores, eating a variety of fish, shrimp, and crabs - just about anything they can fit into their mouths. They sometimes cannibalize members of their own species when food is scarce.
Reproduction:Generally, they are solitary creatures, but they will come together to breed. Usually there will be one male lionfish with a few females. They are very territorial, and will actively defend their territory against other lionfish. Males are very aggressive and will display to other males by spreading their fins and swimming with their venomous spines directed toward the intruder. If necessary, there will be a fight with biting and stinging, until one of the males swims away.
The female releases her eggs into the water - an average clutch might be about 8000 eggs, with numbers varying from 2,000 to 15,000. The male fertilizes them before they float off into the ocean. In two days the eggs that have not succumbed to predation will hatch. The fry will stay close to the surface until they reach a couple of centimetres in length. Juveniles tend to stay in groups, and descend to the reef as they get bigger. It takes about 18 months for lionfish to reach maturity. They can live 5 to 15 years.