DFW Invasive Species


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Coral patches, sandy bottoms, mangroves, seagrass, and canal habitats
Scientific name
  • Pterois miles
  • Pterois volitans
    The invasive Lionfish is native to the Indo-Pacific ocean.
    Lionfish are found throughout USVI waters. They concentrate near reef environments and rocky outcrops but have been spotted over coral patches, sandy bottoms, and in mangroves, seagrass, and even canal habitats where they hunt.
    Lionfish are tropical marine fish with vibrant coloration. Their bodies are mostly white to cream color marked with contrasting red, orange, and/or brown vertical stripes. Sometimes the stripes merge to form a “V”. Lionfish have 18 total venomous spines; 13 dorsal spines, 3 anal spines, and 1 on each pelvic fin. Adult Lionfish have a maximum length of 15 inches and can weigh around 2.5 pounds. Although, there have been reports of larger individuals at 17 inches long within the introduced range. Lionfish are most active at night when they are hunting and hide in unexposed places during the day. Lionfish were introduced to the Atlantic by human release most likely enabled through the aquarium trade. Lionfish are a popular species among tropical fish pet owners and enthusiasts. The first observations were recorded off the North Carolina coast in 1985, then in Bermuda in 2001, the Bahamas in 2004 and now they are prolific throughout the Caribbean.

    Lionfish reach sexual maturity at around 1 year of age and will reproduce year-round. Female lionfish can release 2 fertilized egg sacks every 4 days, with each sack containing up to 15,000 eggs. That is potentially 30,000 eggs released per spawning event!

    Ecological Impact
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