Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Pterois volitans, Turkeyfish, Red Lionfish, Red Firefish, Red Lionfish Scorpionfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

pale + many dark bars
D XII-XIII, v elongate spines, deep notches betwee
pectoral v long, 12-17 unbranched rays, deeply indented membranes



Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758)

Red Lionfish, Red Firefish, Red Lionfish Scorpionfish, Turkeyfish

Body moderately compressed; head large and spiny, forehead profile steep; a long tentacle over eye; branched barbells under lower jaw; dorsal fin with very elongate spines (longer than body depth, much longer in juvenile), membranes deeply indented between spines such that most of each spine is free, with a broad featherlike membrane behind it, fin deeply notched between spines and rays, XIII, 11; pectoral fin long, reaching well past anal fin base, 13-15 unbranched rays; deeply indented membranes between rays; anal fin III, 6; body scaled, scales smooth.

Body pale red to whitish, with ~8 broad brown to blackish bars, each one separated by several thin dark bars; head with similar bars, those on rear of head diagonal and extending onto chest; fins with whitish tips.

Reaches 49 cm; 1.4 Kg. In our area lives up to ~7 years

Lives on reefs, usually in sheltered habitats, often in harbours. Found in caves during daylight hours.

Depth range: 2-304 m.

Its native range is the E Indian Ocean to the W and Central Pacific; introduced to Florida in the 1980s, now from New York to Brazil.

Note: P. volitans was recently (2017) shown to be a hybrid of P. miles, from the Indian Ocean and P. russelii from the west Pacific, and hence is not a valid species. In addition to P. volitans a small percentage of the Greater Caribbean population consists of P. miles, which is rare among the fish captured in Florida, and currently is known only from the eastern US.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Mud
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Exotic (Introduced)
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Exotic (Introduced)
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 45
Depth Range Min
  • 2
Depth Range Max
  • 304