Lionfish facts

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Have you ever wondered about all the interesting lionfish facts, but didn’t want to spend hours and hours hunting through google. Well here’s my list of what I think are the most interesting lionfish facts:-

  1. Lionfish have 18 needle sharp spines that contain venom which includes a protein, a neuromuscular toxin and a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, all used for protection against predators.  Read here about the lionfish spines and check out my macro photos.
  2. Lionfish eat pretty much anything they can get in their mouth, up to 70 different fish, invertebrates and mollusks.  Check out my earlier article on What Do Lionfish Eat?
  3. Native marine creatures do not recognize lionfish as predators and are therefore easy prey.
  4. Lionfish eat the cleaner fish and shrimp that keep the other reef fish clean and healthy.
  5. Lionfish eat the algae eaters (eg. parrotfish) that keep the reef free of algae. Remember if the algae builds up and up the corals will die due to a lack of oxygen and sunlight.
  6. Lionfish stomachs can expand up to 30 times their normal size.
  7. Some lionfish have been found with as many as 40-60 prey in their expanded stomachs.
  8. A single lionfish can hoover up about 80% of the marine creatures in its area in just 5 short weeks.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  9. A lionfish can go up to 3 months or longer without eating and will only lose 10% of its body weight.
  10. In the Caribbean in particular lionfish breed all year around.
  11. Lionfish are sexually mature after just one year.  I’ve got a great article on Lionfish Reproduction you should read for more details.
  12. The females are able to produce 2 egg sacks every 4 days and these egg sacks can contain 15,000 (Fifteen THOUSAND) eggs in each egg sack. The result can be 2,000,000 (2 MILLION) eggs per female per year.
  13. The egg sacks contain a noxious chemical, which means that many more of the eggs actually hatch compared to other fish because eggs that are surrounded by a noxious chemical are much less likely to be eaten, than some other fish eggs which are just released directly into the water.
  14. They are extremely adaptable living at depths all the way down to 1000 feet. They can also live in mangroves as well as brackish water.
  15. Lionfish can tolerate water temperatures all the way down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) and all the way up to 35 degrees Fahrenheit (95 degrees Celsius) .
  16. Lionfish are susceptible to very few parasites compared to other fish, which allows them to spend maximum time hunting and eating.
  17. Lionfish are super delicious to eat, their white flaky meat is mild, delicate, tender and buttery.  Want to know more?  Read up on Are Lionfish Safe to Eat?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  18. Lionfish is also a healthy choice of fish as they are shown to have a higher concentration of heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, they have lower levels of saturated fats and lower levels of heavy metals such as mercury.
  19. The world record for a lionfish is over 47 centimeters or 19 inches.
  20. Lionfish feed mainly during dusk and dawn.
  21. Some lionfish in captivity have lived for over 15 years.
  22. No human has died from a lionfish sting.
  23. And finally don’t forget Lionfish are a beautiful fish and it wasn’t their fault they took over the Caribbean and beyond.

That’s my list. Have I missed anything you think is an important or interesting fact?

About Nigel Coles

Hi my name is Nigel Coles. I used to live in Bristol, England but after a change in direction we moved overseas to work in the scuba diving industry. After a time in Thailand, for the last 8 years I have been living with my wife Deby, in the East End of Grand Cayman, The Cayman Islands. I’m a dive instructor, working for Tortuga Divers, part of the Red Sail group. I spend my day on dive boats, training students and taking our guests on dive trips. It’s a hard life but someone has to do it
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