Lionfish is its common name, the most widely used common name. Other common names that people use for the lionfish around the world are:
- Red lionfish
- Butterfly cod
- Ornate butterfly-cod
- Peacock lionfish
- Red firefish
- Scorpion volitans
- Devil firefish
The scientific classification is as follows:
- Kingdom – Animalia
- Phylum – Chordata
- Class – Actinopterygii
- Order – Scorpaeniformes
- Family – Scorpaenidae
- Subfamily – Pteroinae
- Genus – Pterois
The dictionary definition of the genus word Pterois, pronounced tare-oh-eese is simply lionfish. However, the word Pterois comes from the Greek word Pteroeis meaning feathered or winged, which makes a lot of sense when you look at a lionfish.
There are currently 12 recognized species in this genus, and I would like to concentrate on just two of those species, the Pterois volitans and the Pterois miles, which are the two species that have invaded the Western Atlantic ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
The Pterois volitans, which is commonly called the red lionfish, makes up approximately 93% of the invasive lionfish population. The species name volitans, pronounced vole-ee-tahnz is Latin for flying or hovering.
The Pterois miles, which is commonly called the common lionfish or is otherwise called the devil firefish, makes up approximately 7% of the invasive lionfish population. The species name miles, pronounced mee-layz is Latin for soldiering.
So the lionfish Latin names for those two species refer to flying, hovering and soldiering. But where does the lionfish name come from? It appears that no one really knows. However, when you look at a lionfish face on, with its pectoral fins splayed out, with a bit of imagination, it does look somewhat like the mane of a magnificent lion.
For their size I think these guys really are the kings of the underwater jungle!