Keeping Lionfish in a Tropical Aquarium

Keeping Lionfish in a Tropical Aquarium

There are many beautiful and exotic looking marine fish in the world but the most striking has to be the Lionfish with its elaborate fins and vivid stripes, even though their venomous spines are a little off putting. However, for the person who likes to keep extraordinary fish in their aquarium, the Lionfish is a superb choice. They are hardy, disease resistant and as a bonus, they are easier than most tropical fish when it comes to feeding. Below are a few things you may like to consider if you are thinking about adding a Lionfish to your tank.

Size Could be an Issue – Some Lionfish Grow Quite Large

You would need to have a pretty large aquarium in which to keep Lionfish because some of them can get quite large and would pretty quickly outgrow a tank if it's too small. If you decide to keep more than one of them, you would need to make sure each fish has it's own space and territory within the tank. This is important because they will defend their space and if too small, the fish will end up fighting. You can also keep Lionfish with other species as long as you make sure all the fish are of a similar size.

Lionfish Are Known to be Lazy By Nature

These exotic looking fish are notoriously lazy, only moving when they need to feed. They usually just laze around at the bottom of an aquarium most of the day so it's important to use a softish substrate to avoid them injuring their rather delicate skin. Lionfish will lay in wait for their prey, preferring to sit perfectly still until smaller fish come within reach before they lunge out and grab at them.

Although Lionfish like eating fresh live fish, they need to be fed a balanced diet that consists of other things, namely beef heart, fish fillets, prawns and some worms. A varied diet keeps them happy and in great condition. If ever they seem reluctant to eat anything, the best thing to do is wait until night when the lights are off and then offer them some food because in their natural environment they hunt at dawn and then at dusk rather than during the day.

The Many Different Types of Lionfish

There are several different types of Lionfish – some larger than others and some harder to keep than others, but one thing they all have in common is they are very beautiful and can add loads of colour to a tropical tank. Below is a list of the various Lionfish that can be kept in aquariums:

Volitanslionfish (Pterois volitans)

Volitans Lionfish are the biggest and some of the most popular around, they are also known as theCommon Lionfish. However, they grow pretty quickly and end up being around 15 inches long. They are one of the hardiest which is why they are a favourite for aquariums. The other great thing about these fish is they are extremely active. The downside is you need to invest in a large aquarium right from the word go.

Antennata Lionfish (Pterois antennata)

Antennata Lionfish are a great addition to a tropical aquarium that boasts other exotic fish as well. They are fiery red in colour which adds another dimension to a tank. The one thing to bear in mind is that all the fish in the community have to be of a similar size to avoid any of them eating each other. By nature, Antennata Lionfish are shy creatures and they do well on a shrimp rich diet so can be a little expensive to keep.

Russell's Lionfish (Pterois russelli)

Russell's Lionfish are elegant creatures, they are pale and extremely busy fish, always on the look out for some tasty morsel to eat. The one thing you need to be careful of is they are prone to get too fat!

Devil Lionfish (Pterois Miles)

Devil Lionfish are one of the hardest of all the fish to keep. They are delicate creatures that need a lot of care with aquarium water needing to be of the highest quality at all times. However, they are magnificent looking fish with their bright red colouring and add a whole new dimension to any aquarium. They do very well when fed on a crustacean rich diet.

Dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish (Dendrochirus brachypterus)

Dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish, also known as Shortfin Lionfish,are great for aquariums, they rarely grow any larger than around 6 inches long and are extremely friendly marine creatures that like to stay out of confrontations. There are 3 different colour varieties around and all of them are just as exotic looking as their larger counterparts. They are also among the easiest of all Lionfish to keep in aquariums.

Dwarf Zebra Lionfish (Dendrochirus zebra)

Dwarf Zebra Lionfish are simply stunning marine creatures to have in an aquarium and as an added bonus, they are extremely easy to keep as long as you provide lots of hiding places for them to use in their environments.

What About The Venom?

Although Lionfish need careful handling, they are not as poisonous as their relatives, Scorpion fish. However, if a person fails to treat a wound received from a Lionfish properly, they run the risk of dying from a secondary infection which can stem from a tiny little wound received from their fish. The good news is that Lionfish generally only attack when they feel threatened but accidents do happen, so you need to be aware of the dangers. If ever you do get stung, you would need to get to the doctor as soon as you can, no matter how minor the injury might appear to be.


Lionfish are relatively easy to care for but you do need to be patient with them as well as extremely careful around them. They make an exotic tropical addition to any aquarium with their brilliant colours and markings. As a bonus they are friendly and pretty intelligent fish that live long lives. This means they get to bond with people over time, which is another reason they make such popular tropical fish to keep.

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