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Monday, February 4, 2008

Scorpion Fish

(This shot was taken in the aquarium in GoMBR (Gulf of Mannar), while in study tour)

The Lionfish(Scorpion Fish, Pterois volitans) belongs to the Scorpion fish family.A lionfish is any of several species of venomous marine fish in the genera Pterois, Parapterois, Brachypterois, Ebosia or Dendrochirus, of the family Scorpaenidae.The lionfish are voracious predators. When they are hunting, they corner prey using their large fins and then use their lightning quick reflexes to swallow the prey whole. They are notable for their extremely long and separated spines, and have a generally striped appearance, red, brown, orange, yellow, black, maroon, or white.The lionfish has elaborate array of fins and spines that stick out like the feathers of a peacock. Though it appears as a beautiful and seemingly harmless fish, all lion-fish have venomous fin spines that can produce painful puncture wounds.

It usually swims alone and is not easily frightened. It uses its feather-like fins to slowly herd and corner its prey. This brightly coloured fish is usually found in coral reefs, especially in shallow waters hovering in caves or near crevices. The Lionfish are a nocturnal family of fish that lives in holes and caves in the reef only coming out at night to hunt.

There are about 350 different species in 70 genera.The group of fish has been classified as a subfamily (Pteroinae) under the Scorpionfish Scorpaenidae). Although they are found in all temperate and tropical seas, most are found in the Indo-Pacific and Australia.

When disturbed by a diver, the Common Lionfish often makes little effort to swim away. Instead it points its dorsal fin spines towards the intruder.

The predominate effects of the lionfish venom are severe pain and swelling in the area around the wound. Other systematic responses such as nausea, dizziness, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, hypotension, and headache have been recorded either from the venom or as a reaction to level of pain.

Heat denatures proteins of the lionfish venom. A wound caused by a lionfish should be immersed in water of 43 to 45 degrees Celsius for 30 to 40 minutes or until pain diminishes.Lionfish have venomous spines that are deadly to their prey, but not to humans. If a spine punctures you, you will experience severe pain and possible headaches and vomiting. The best treatment is soaking the afflicted area in hot water, as very few hospitals carry any sort of specific treatment.

While the hardiness and disease resistance of the lionfish make their care relatively simple, the venom of the spines is extremely painful, and lionfish are recommended for only the careful aquarist. Successful breeding of the lionfish in captivity has not been reported.


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