Pterois volatins

Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: 15" (38cm)
Tank: 48 inches
Position in tank: All
PH: 8.2 to 8.5
Specific Gravity : 1.020-1.025
Temperature: 22-26°C


Common Name:

Volitans Lionfish



The Volitans Lionfish makes a great display fish for most predator aquariums.



The Volitans Lionfish is found in the Pacific Ocean and in the eastern parts of the Indian Ocean. Its geographical range stretches from Western Australia and the Australian Cocos (Keeling) Islands to the Marquesas and Oeno Islands (Pitcairn group). The northernmost specimens inhabit the waters south of Japan and Korea, while the southernmost specimens are found around Lord Howe Island (Australia), off northern New Zealand, and near the Austral Islands of French Polynesia.



The body is covered in cycloid scales and decorated with reddish, golden brown or black bands over a pale yellow or creamy white base colour. The dorsal and anal fins sport dark rows of spots. In adult fish, you can usually see white spots along the lateral line. The exact colours of the Volitans Lionfish will chiefly depend on the surrounding environment. Coastal dwellers tend to be darker and specimens found in estuaries can be almost black. 



For many aquarists, Volitans Lionfish is the lionfish. You should however keep in mind that this fish can become 38 cm / 15 in and require a really big aquarium. Despite this, Volitans Lionfish is still the most commonly displayed and sold member of the family Scorpaenidae. In the wild, adult Volitans Lionfish congregate only to breed so it is not a good idea to house them together.

Be very careful when you carry out maintenance work in the aquarium because the Volitans Lionfish can deliver a venomous sting. All 13 dorsal fin spines, the pelvic fin spine, and the three anal fin spines are venomous. Pectoral and caudal fins are not venomous because they are without spines. If you are stung by a Volitans Lionfish, the pain can go on for days. You may also suffer from sweating and serious cases can lead to respiratory depression. Prompt medical attention is therefore recommended as soon as someone has been stung by a Volitans Lionfish. Keep the afflicted area in really hot water; as hot as you can stand without getting burned. It might be possible to use stonefish antivenom against Volitans Lionfish venom, but more research is necessary.



Volitans Lionfish hunts during the night and feeds primarily on small fishes, shrimps and crabs. It is also fond of amphipods, isopods and similar crustaceans. It is cannibalistic and will happily gulp down smaller members of its own species.

By slowly undulating the soft rays of its dorsal and anal fins this fish will move around in search of a suitable prey. It can vibrate its fin-rays to shake out animals that try to hide in the sand or among rocks. Once an animal has been located, the lionfish will use its pectoral fins to force it into a corner before stunning it and swallowing it whole.

When the Volitans Lionfish hunts out in the open water where there aren’t many suitable corners to trap prey in, it will use another technique. It waits 20-30 cm / 8-12 in below the surface until it can see a school of fish being chased by another predator. The chased fishes will most likely leap out of the water to get away from the predator, and when they land they lionfish will swallow them. 

The Volitans Lionfish will typically be finished hunting after a few hours, but it stays out in the open until morning comes.  

In the aquarium, you should try to mimic the natural diet of the Volitans Lionfish by giving it small fishes and various crustaceans. It is important to keep the diet varied and avoid over-feeding. In the wild, Volitans Lionfish can eat vast amounts of food when available and then refrain from hunting for a while, and this behavior makes over-feeding in the aquarium easy. Young specimens will grow very fast in the aquarium if you give them a lot of food, because in the wild Volitans Lionfish always tries to get as large as possible as fast as possible to avoid predation and increase its chances of producing offspring. If you want to make your Volitans Lionfish grow fast by feeding it a lot, keep an eye on the water quality.


As mentioned above, Volitans Lionfish will form small groups when breeding. A group will consist of one male and 2-7 females. During the courting period, the male fish will be even more aggressive than normally and it is not uncommon for males to kill each other.

As the fishes get ready to spawn, the male will turn darker and become more uniformly colored while the female turns paler. Her belly, throat and mouth will change into a silvery white shade which makes her easy to distinguish in the dark.

The male fish will locate a ripe female and place himself next to her on the substrate. He will prop himself up suing his ventral fins and look up towards the surface. After a while, he will start circling around her. Eventually, he will swim up to the surface and the female will follow while shaking her pectoral fins. Sometimes the pair will swim back down again and then up several times before any eggs are released. When it is time to release the eggs, the pair will swim right under the surface and the female will let go of two buoyant hollow mucus tubes. The tubes contain 2,000-15,000 eggs and will stay afloat right below the surface. After roughly 15 minutes the tubes will become filled with seawater and turn into oval balls. The sperms released by the male fish are capable of penetrating the mucus and fertilize the eggs inside. The larvae will hatch after roughly 36 hours. After another 2 ½ day or so, you can expect the larvae to start feeding on small ciliates in the water.