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Choosing a Scorpionfish

The scorpionfish family, Scorpaenidae, includes lionfish, dragonfish, and stonefish. They are among the hardiest of marine fish and once acclimated to your tank are quite easy to care for and generally long-lived. They are not, however, for the beginner hobbyist. Stonefish are the most venomous fish known and can cause nasty lesions and severe infection.



The lionfish commonly found in an aquarium are of mainly two genera among the 70 or so in this family. The full-sized lionfish typically belong to the Pterois genra and the dwarf lionfish to the Dendrochirus genera. All lionfish require a meat diet, mainly of live brine shrimp, chopped beef heart, clams or fish or other meaty foods. They prefer live foods but if you acquire one as a juvenile, it can be easily trained to eat frozen fish. Their diet in nature consists mainly of small fish and crustaceans. In general, lionfish have no special water quality requirements outside of the norm for a reef tank. Most are well behaved and compatible with other fish as long as their tank mates aren’t small enough to be considered dinner. They need lots of elbow room.

Varieties of Lionfish

Smaller Types of Lionfish

Note: Should you get stung by a lionfish, run hot water – as hot as you can take it – over the sting and seriously consider seeking medical attention, especially if you have allergies or if you’ve never been stung before. You cannot be sure how your body may react to such a venom and it wouldn’t hurt to be close to immediate medical help should you be unpleasantly surprised at your body’s reaction to the toxin.