Similan Islands Red Lionfish

Red Lionfish

Red Lionfish

The Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans) is one of the most beautiful fishes you’re likely to meet when scuba diving in Thailand. Though the Lionfish is beautiful, it is also one of the most dangerous fish species on earth. You will find this beautiful yet venomous fish in quiet locations in a wreck or reef.

Red Lionfish

Distinguishing features

The lionfish has a very distinctive striped body with long separated spines and fins (eleven dorsal fin spines, seven anal fin spines) that open up in a magnificent display of flamboyance. The red lionfish is primarily reddish-brown in colour, but can also be black or yellow. A fully matured lionfish can be as long as 38 cm and 1.2 kilograms in weight, with the adult fish having white spots along the lateral line. Pterois volitans have fleshy filaments below the mouth as well as above the eye.


The Lionfish can be found in most marine types of habitat found in warm waters of the tropics. Deep sea divers have found lionfish as deep as 100 metres.

Feeding habits

Lionfish is a top predator that primarily hunt for food during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk. They have also been described as active hunters during periods of dim ambient light such as on overcast or cloudy days.

A lionfish stomach has been found to open up to 30 times its normal volume. As long as they can get their mouth around their prey, lionfish can consume a prey that is over half of its body size, and they are known to eat just any marine creature that comes within their reach.


Lionfish reproduction starts with the female releasing eggs for the male sperm to fertilize. The larva moves in the water for about 30 to 40 days after which time they can swim. The mother does not take care of her young one, when the larva can swim, they swim out of the water current and find their own territory. This is why lionfish migration is quite easy.

Life Cycle

Lionfish live for 5-10 years. They reach sexual maturity within their first two years of existence.

Red lionfish factoids

  • Pterois volitans translates as volatile and poisonous.

This post is also available in: Thai

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