Lionfish Myths Debunked

Discussion in 'Lionfish Lair' started by Greg@LionfishLair, Jul 10, 2012.

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  1. Greg@LionfishLair

    Greg@LionfishLair 3reef Sponsor

    Oct 17, 2011
    Coastal So. CA
    Myth #1: Lionfish are aggressive

    Generally speaking, lionfish (and other Scorpaeniformes) are quite passive, mild-mannered fish that unfortunately, have become labeled as “aggressive” fish, generally because they’re venomous, and/or because they eat critters small enough to be eaten.

    These fish are venomous because they don’t really have any other means of defense, other than camouflage, and their spines are used strictly for defensive purposes. Granted, they will indeed face a perceived threat, assuming a head-down stance, which brings their spear-like dorsal spines to bear on their attacker, but I doubt that most people would consider the lionfish looking out for themselves an “aggressive” act.

    As for swallowing any smaller prey, most other fish are guilty of the same trait…it’s called “the food chain”. Larger things eat smaller things, or the things with teeth eat other things. Although lionfish do have teeth, they cannot use them for biting, chewing, or browsing. They can, however, create a powerful vacuum with their mouths when they strike, which sucks their hapless victims into their mouth and down their throat.

    Myth #2: You can’t keep a CUC with lionfish

    A standard CUC of assorted snails and small hermit crabs, as well as echinoderms can be kept with lionfish with no problems. Ornamental shrimp and non-hermit crabs will eventually be eaten.

    Myth #3: Lionfish aren’t reef safe

    Lionfish are completely reef safe in that they really pay no attention to corals in most cases. That being said, every so often, an individual will decide that it “likes” a certain coral, and may perch on it repeatedly, which can sometimes stress out the coral in question.

    Myth #4: Lionfish don’t swim very much

    Most lionfish can, and do swim very well, and should be given ample room in their aquarium to do so. In our experiences with many lion species, when given ample swimming room, they perch less, and generally spend much more time out in the open than those specimens kept in cramped quarters. In fact, lionfish tanks should be covered, as they can, and will jump out of the aquarium (this is especially true of the dwarf species).

    Myth #5: Lionfish can be fed live FW feeders

    Live FW feeder fish, particularly members of the carp family, not only contain the wrong fatty acids for SW predators, but also contains high concentrations of the enzyme Thiaminase, which inhibits the fish’s ability to metabolize Thiamine. A Thiamine deficient diet results in central nervous system (CNS) disorders, presenting as cessation of feeding (anorexia), clamped fins, convulsions, and an early demise. Live ghost shrimp or guppies are much better choices for new specimens, or stubborn fish that take awhile to convert.

    With a little patience, the proper equipment, and the right technique, most lionfish can be weaned onto non-living foods fairly easily. Once weaned, there are many excellent foods available to keep your lionfish purring.

    Myth #6: Lionfish venom is deadly

    Sorry to burst everyone's dark bubbles, but lionfish venom is NOT deadly to humans. There have been no recorded deaths as a result of lionfish envenomation. It reportedly hurts a fair amount, and one needs to guard against secondary infection at the wound site, but that's about it. However, Lionfish do possess long dorsal spines, and one needs to be sure that there are no broken pieces of spine in the wound.

    Some folks may be allergic to lionfish venom, but being allergic to other substances, such as bee venom doesn't necessarily make you allergic to lionfish venom.

    The best first aid for a sting is the application of rapid heat to the affected area (no more than +114*F) until the pain subsides.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2012
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  3. cosmo

    cosmo Giant Squid

    Nov 17, 2011
    southeast ohio O-H....
    Whoa, lionfish purr??? ;)

    Good write up. I'd love to get one, but I have WAY TOO much money invested in my mandarin;(