- Scientific name: Pterois volitans
- Common name: Scorpion fish, Red lionfish
- Aquarium size: 400 to 600 liters
- Temperament: Calm, although it is a predator
- Temperature: Between 23ºC and 27ºC
- pH: 8.1 to 8.4
- Diet: Carnivore
- Length: 35 centimeters
The Scorpion Fish or Pterois volitans. It is a very original and showy species of the Scorpion family , but equally dangerous if not treated correctly.
Within the name Scorpion fish, we can find several other fish of the Scorpion family, which can also receive that nickname: Pterois radiata, Pterois sphex, Pterois antennata … Many of them also have the nickname of the Lionfish , as occurs with the Pterois volitans, which in some places can be found under the name of Red lionfish.
As it is difficult to know which is the true Scorpion Fish, I have decided on the most common option, to give the name of Scorpion Fish to a single specimen, the Pterois volitans.
In the aquarium they can reach a size of 35 centimeters, unlike other varieties that are somewhat smaller.
Pterois volitans is endowed with a large head, with a huge protractile mouth, capable of devouring large prey, including live fish. From the head I would highlight some fleshy tentacles that protrude above the eyes and under the mouth.
They have a laterally compressed body, from which the dorsal spines stand out as a crest, although they do not appear directly on the head, but from the head.
Its fins are highly developed and provided with excessive radii , which give it an intimidating appearance. When deployed they look like fans.
At the base of each spiny fin ray, they have a very powerful venomous gland. A scorpion fish sting is felt with a very intense pain that can last between 15 and 20 minutes, which progressively increases for another 30 minutes. The affected part becomes inflamed and continues to hurt for about 24 hours.
This is a warning of the care that we must take when handling these specimens in the aquarium, since at the slightest sign of danger they deploy their dangerous radios.
Their coloration is designed to go unnoticed on the seabed, where they tend to remain immobile hunting for their prey.
The body of the Scorpionfish is lined with white, brown, purple and reddish-brown stripes, some lighter and others darker. Their eyes seem to blend in with the colors of the rest of the body.
Distribution and habitat
These fish are native to the Indian and Pacific oceans, as well as in the Red Sea, where they live on coral reefs at depths between 10 and 170 meters.
Currently the area of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, suffer an invasion of the scorpion fish, which originates from an aquarium in Florida, near the beach, which was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
These fish that adapt easily in the aquarium, and that have a very fast growth, were perfectly found in the climatic conditions of those waters, and now they can be found in freedom all over the east coast of the United States, from Florida to New York.
They are fish that can adapt to living in a small aquarium, but since they grow quickly, an aquarium that ranges from 400 to 600 liters is best.
The salinity of the aquarium should range from 1.022 to 1.025, with a pH between 8.1 and 8.4 with a water temperature between 23ºC and 27ºC.
Aquarium decoration for scorpion fish
If you are thinking of reproducing a coral biotope, the Scorpionfish is a great candidate.
The substrate of the aquarium should be composed of fine sand, to which pieces of rocks can be added, to simulate the seabed where the scorpion fish usually lives.
You can also add corals or anemones, they are not very interested and will not do any damage to them.
Aquarians who own scorpion fish recommend adding a powerful filter to keep the aquarium water in good condition, since scorpion fish generate a lot of waste.
Ideally the aquarium lighting should be dim. They are nocturnal predatory fish, but they adapt well to more intense lighting, as long as they have a place to hide, if they need more privacy.
If they share an aquarium, the lighting must be in accordance with the community aquarium, but always understanding that they need periods of lower light intensity.
Their diet can include live or dead fish , but it is not convenient to add red meat.
It is also not advisable to use freshwater fish for their diet, because they do not contain the fatty acids necessary to maintain the health of Pterois volitans.
Many scorpion fish breeders use live fish such as guppies , mollies or platies , which previously acclimatize them to living in salt water, to release them into the scorpion fish aquarium and have them devoured peacefully.
Other suitable fish would be damsels , which can be purchased live and placed in the aquarium.
A delicacy for them are sardines or anchovies, which you can buy dead and provide them as an alternative food to live fish.
From the fish market we can feed them with fresh seafood that is of good quality , and reliable, since some seafood is treated with chemical products so that they last longer for sale.
They will also admit small pieces of salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp or squid.
They are fish that adapt quickly to all types of prey.
How often do you have to feed the scorpion fish?
Contrary to what happens with many aquarium fish, the scorpion fish should not eat every day.
They have to be fed two or three times a week, as they tend to stay at the bottom of the aquarium and move very little.
In their natural habitat, they are used to spending periods inactive, waiting to hunt a prey.
How much food to provide? Well enough to observe that her belly bulges. From that amount of food, the fish is overfed and can be detrimental to their long-term health.
It may happen that they are sensitive to environmental contamination, if we see that they lose their appetite, a partial change of the water in the aquarium usually comes in handy.
Behavior and compatibility
Scorpion fish are sociable with each other, and can share an aquarium with other large fish, but it is not recommended with others smaller than them or of the same size, because they can end up being their prey.
Its reproduction in captivity is very difficult.
They reach sexual maturity at an early age. Its reproduction is by external fertilization.
During the spawning season, the pair perform a very elaborate courtship, after which the female expels mucous bags, which contain between 2,000 and 15,000 eggs, which are immediately fertilized by the male.
These bags float until they break, and the eggs are released and carried away by the ocean currents.
In the aquarium, the scorpion fish must be handled with great care , to prevent injuries with its painful spines.
Not only are they painful, they also cause inflation, vomiting, pain, fever, even in severe cases respiratory failure can occur.
What to do when faced with a scorpion fish sting?
The first thing is to try not to get bitten, but if we have received a scorpion fish bite, we must follow these three recommended steps from health care settings :
- Apply ammonia to the area, to neutralize part of the effect of the sting.
- The toxin in scorpionfish venom is heat labile and is inactivated by heat. A very useful measure is to immerse the affected area in very hot water for at least an hour.
- After a sting, we must go to a health center, so that a specialist can evaluate the situation and determine if it is a good idea to proceed with some type of medication.
Scorpion Fish Photos