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Volitans Lionfish

Pterois volitans

How to Care for Volitans Lionfish

written by Dave Burr

Behavior: The Volitans Lionfish is a popular choice for predatory aquariums and adapts well to aquarium life. As with groupers, lionfish will eat almost anything that can fit into their mouth. They will not attack fish that they cannot swallow whole, and do not nip at fish like triggers do.

Provide the lionfish with plenty of open swimming room and with several caves to hide in. The lionfish has enormous pectoral fins, which it uses as a sort of fence to help trap potential prey. It will not bother coral or clams but may eat shrimp.

CAUTION! All lionfish are venomous--do not touch this fish. Always use a net or scoop to handle it. Be aware of where the lionfish is whenever you have your hands in the aquarium. They will not attack you, but some hobbyists have been stung while cleaning their aquarium because they poked themselves on its spines as it was trying to hide from them in the corner of the aquarium. It is best to let the lionfish see your hand in the aquarium, watch where it hides, and then keep away from it.

Feeding: Remember any fish that the Volitans Lionfish can swallow whole is fair prey. If you ever have trouble feeding the Volitans Lionfish, try putting several Green Chromis or Damsels in the tank to act as feeder fish--they are reef safe and will add a splash of color to your reef until eaten. After your Lionfish is well acclimated to your tank, try offering it pieces of defrosted silverside on the end of a feeder stick. Just wiggle the silverside in front of its mouth until it eats it. The first time is usually the hardest. Once the Lionfish tries a piece of silverside, it seems to begin to associate the feeder stick with a good meal.

You should feed the Volitans Lionfish about twice per week. It will eat more often if given the opportunity but will grow much faster. The larger it gets, the more of a threat it is to other fish in the aquarium. We have kept Lionfish for many years offering food only twice per week. Just keep their belly full and they will do well.

Maximum Length: 15"
Care Level: Easy
Family: Scorpaenidae
Reef Compatibility: Add with caution
Minimum Aquarium Size: 100 gal.
Range: Fiji, Indo Pacific, Australia
Diet: Carnivore
Water Conditions: 75-80° F; sg 1.024-1.026 (1.025 is ideal); pH 8.1-8.4 Ca 420-440 ppm, Alk 8-9.5 dKH, Mg 1260-1350, Nitrates <10ppm, Phosphates, < .10ppm

Water Chemistry: Maintaining Ammonia at 0 ppm, Nitrites at 0 ppm, and Nitrates below 10ppm will help to keep your Volitans Lionfsih happy and healthy. We recommend doing a water change soon after Nitrates rise above 10 ppm. Maintaining proper calcium (420-440 ppm), alkalinity (8-9.5 dkh - run it 7-8 if you are carbon dosing), and magnesium levels (1260-1350 ppm) will help to keep pH stable in the 8.1-8.4 range. We recommend a specific gravity of 1.024-1.026 with 1.025 being ideal for fish. Temperature should remain stable as well and should stay within a 2 degree range.