Species Information

Lionfish (Pterois volitans) Lionfish (Pterois volitans)
Jens Petersen
Lionfish (Pterois volitans)
Jens Petersen
Pterois volitans

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• Body is white or cream colored with red to reddish-brown vertical stripes; stripes can be wide or thin 
• Numerous long, venomous spines (dorsal and anal)
• Adults can grow to 15 in (38cm) and weigh 2.6 lb (1.2 kg)


• Along U.S. east coast, waters of 13.8–24.4°C
• Depth range of 33-575 ft (10-175 m)
• Hides in unexposed places at daytime, often with head down and nearly immobile

Known Distribution in the Northeast

• Adults: North Carolina to Florida; established and reproducing along the southeast United States coast
• Juveniles: New York, North Carolina, and Bermuda
• Native to coral reefs of Indian and western Pacific Oceans


• Feeds on a wide variety of smaller fish, shrimp, and crabs
• Venomous spines can injure people

Lionfish (Pterois volitans)
J. Morris, NOAA NOS

Protecting the marine and freshwater resources of the Northeast from invasive aquatic nuisance species