Common Lionfish, Pterois miles

The common lionfish (Pterois miles) or devil firefish is a species of fish native to the western Indo-Pacific region and a close relative to red lionfish (Pterois volitans), which it is often confused with. Its distribution includes the Indian Ocean from the Red Sea to South Africa and to Indonesia and recently, in the South Eastern Mediterranean Sea near Cyprus. Off the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean Sea, the common lionfish is considered an invasive species.

Its habitat includes the outer slopes of coral reefs and lagoons with areas containing crevices to hide in. Being nocturnal, the fish hides during the day. Because of the poisonous spines it has very few predators which include groupers and bluespotted cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii). However, larger lionfish will prey on smaller lionfish. The venom from the spines are very poisonous and have caused death to humans.

The common lionfish can grow to 14 inches long and can be a variety of color. Shades of reddish brown, tan or gray are the most common with numerous dark vertical lines on its head and body. The dorsal (top fin) appears to be feathery and has 13 long spines and 9 to 11 soft rays. The anal (bottom fin near the rear) has three long spines and 6 to 7 soft rays. The pectoral (pair of fins by gills) are wing-like with smooth rays.

Image Caption: Common lionfish (Pterois miles). Credit: Alexander Vasenin/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)