With venomous spines, lionfish have few natural predators in their native habitat, and no native predators in the Atlantic and Caribbean region. Chances are, you’ve seen them in one aquarium or another—their ornate fins and 18 spines set them apart from the other reef fish. Invasive Species of Florida’s Coastal Waters: The Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans) and Devil Firefish (P. miles) by Maia McGuire and Jeff Hill, UF/IFAS Extension/Florida Sea Grant Lionfish Quickfacts by Reef Environmental Education Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Geological Survey Non-native red lionfish (Pterois volitans) photographed over the Outer Shelf Reefs off Cape Fear, NC. The red lionfish is an invasive species that has spread so rapidly and so widely along the Atlantic coast and into the Caribbean that eradication seems virtually impossible. This means that female Lionfish are able to lay about 2 Million eggs annually! To get an accurate estimate of the density of a particular species, an ecologist might _____. The red lionfish (Pterois volitans) is a venomous coral reef fish in the family Scorpaenidae, order Scorpaeniformes.It is mainly native to the Indo-Pacific region, but has become an invasive species in the Caribbean Sea, as well as along the East Coast of the United States and East Mediterranean. ; Lionfish are also voracious hunters, known to consume more than 50 other species of fish in the region. However, while they are beautiful to look at, lionfish are an invasive species… To date, Pterois miles occurs as an invasive primarily on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Lionfish populations are established as far north as Cape Hatteras, and juvenile fish … Lionfish are an invasive species in the Western Atlantic and are likely to cause economic and environmental harm Lionfish originate from the Indo-Pacific Region It is believed that they were introduced into the Atlantic in the late 1980s by local aquariums or fish hobbyists in Florida History. Lionfish are an invasive species that have a potential negative impact on native species and habitat. The venom of the red lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins, is purely defensive. The red lionfish's sister species Pterois miles comprises about 7% of the invasive population. History : It is speculated that the Red Lionfish was introduced to United States waters sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Lionfish in the Atlantic are termed invasive species: a non-native organism that has intruded into an area and may have serious detrimental effects on native organisms, the local economy and human health. The red lionfish has been known to science since the time of Linnaeus, who described the species in 1758 based upon material collected by his friend and benefactor, the Dutch naturalist Johan Frederik Gronovius. Several characteristics of lionfish have allowed them to become invasive species: 1. This amazing fecundity, combined with their aggressiveness makes Red Lionfish a dangerous invasive species for indigenous coral reef ecosystems. Lionfish look like the red and white Las Vegas showgirls of the sea. One of the most infamous cases is in invasion of the Great Lakes in 1988 by non-native zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha). Yet, this invasive species has multiplied aggressively over the last two decades to become a serious threat to biodiversity in the marine setting. This amazing fecundity, combined with their aggressiveness makes Red Lionfish a dangerous invasive species for indigenous coral reef ecosystems. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages people to remove lionfish from Florida waters to help limit negative impacts to native marine life and ecosystems. Photo courtesy NOAA.