Red lionfish

Pterois volitans

Family Scorpaenidae - lionfishes

Body elongate; color of body and fins red (or brown or maroon) and white stripes, alternating from wide to narrow; long, separated dorsal spines; pectoral fins long and fanlike, rays flat and separated on distal end; fleshy tabs above eyes and on mouths; 2nd dorsal, anal and tail fins with reddish spots on the rays; membranes on all fins usually spotted; head with many spines.
Similar Species
There are 2 species of lionfishes in the Atlantic, the red lionfish, which is the most abundant, and the devil lionfish, P. miles. They are difficult to tell apart with out close examination. The dorsal and anal fin ray counts can usually distinguish them (although the counts sometimes overlap). The devil lionfish usually has 10 dorsal fin rays and 6 anal fin rays, whereas the red lionfish usually has 11 dorsal fin rays and 7 anal fin rays. The devil lionfish have smaller fin spots and shorter pectoral fins than the red lionfish.
Gulf and bay, reefs and other hard structures, lagoons and turbid inshore areas
Maximum Size
45 cm (18 in)
Fin Element Counts
D. XIII,10-11 (usually 11); A. III,6-7 (usually 7) (explain)
Other Common Names
zebrafish, turkeyfish, firefish
Previous Scientific Names
The red lionfishes are an invasive species from the western Pacific Ocean. Most likely method of introduction is from the aquarium trade. They are voracious eaters, reproduce rapidly and lack predators in their invasive environment. Because of these characteristics, they can rapidly populate areas and compete with and wipe out native species. If one is caught, you should not throw it back. Be careful when handling the fish, though. Their dorsal, anal and pectoral spines are venomous. For more information, see TPWD's FAQs on lionfish or the Invasive Lionfish Web Portal.
State size/bag limits