Whether you call it a lionfish, turkeyfish, or firefish, this aquatic creature is quite a curious specimen. Far from an innocent species, they’ve managed to infiltrate tropical waters and impact some of the ecosystems and the other fish populations who live there. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you should know about these animals, though.
Their spines are venomous
Lionfish are notable for the spines that adorn their bodies. As it turns out, these spines contain venom, which you understandably don’t want to come into contact with. Thankfully, there are no recorded instances of lionfish venom being fatal. It can cause pain, breathing issues, and potentially even paralysis, though, so you should still be careful around these fish. If one of the spines pierces your skin, it’s essential that you remove the offending object and treat the wound with hot water up to 114 degrees Fahrenheit.
They ambush their prey
While lionfish are capable of injecting you with their venom, there’s no chance of these creatures eating you. Thankfully, they’re far too small for that. Instead, they primarily prey on smaller fish and invertebrates, which they typically catch via ambush. They tend to slowly sneak up on their target and then swallow them whole. Sometimes, they will try to make this easier for themselves by ‘blowing’ water at their prey or herding them with their pectoral fins. These aren’t always a necessity, though.
They can be kept as pets
If you find lionfish visually appealing, you might be pleased to know that you can actually keep one as a pet. It’s legal in the United States to take ownership of these animals, with species like the dwarf fuzzy lionfish and volitan lionfish quite popular. Due to their predatory nature, it’s generally wise not to put them in a tank with any creatures smaller than them. What’s more, you should avoid releasing them into the wild at all costs. While pet ownership might be legal, doing this definitely isn’t. This is generally how it is with any animal because releasing them into the wild can harm both them and the ecosystem that they disturb.
They can spawn thousands of eggs
If you thought it was hard raising one or two kids, imagine what it’s like for lionfish. A female can apparently produce as many as tens of thousands of eggs during a single spawn, with the creatures capable of spawning throughout the year once mature. The lionfish mating process involves a male creating a visual display that both deters rivals and attracts potential partners. If successful, the two fish circle each other while rising to the surface of the water, where the female releases her eggs. The male then fertilizes them.
The lionfish isn’t an animal that you should let your guard down around, especially if you encounter them in the wild. However, while they can pose a danger, they’re generally not that interested in causing you harm. If they were a significant threat, it might not be legal to keep them as a pet.