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Keeping a Lionfish...good or bad idea?

Discussion in 'Not So Spineless Wonders' started by Diamonds, Aug 2, 2009.

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    I was just visiting some pet stores and I was amazed that one of them sells adult Lionfish, the venomous saltwater kind, for $100 and babies for $50. I've always been fascinated by Lionfish; however I always thought of them as more or less Zoo animals, not pets. I wasn't aware that you could buy them.

    Now I keep primarily centipedes, scorpions, whip scorpions, tarantulas, widows, and birds. Never had a pet fish before, especially a saltwater kind.

    I'm debating whether or not to get one. I don't know how to maintain saltwater tanks and I may not have the room for a good tank size.

    Does anyone here keep these fish and could give me a run down (ex. maintaining saltwater, feeding, etc.)?
  2. Warren Bautista

    Warren Bautista Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Not good for beginners, And they need a lot of space.
    They are also very aggresive, and can only be kept with other aggresive fish.
    I had a lionfish, triggerfish, pufferfish, and grouper in a 300 gallon tank and I think I was pushing it a little bit.
    That price is also a BIG ripoff. I got my big one at a store before for $35.
  3. Jmugleston

    Jmugleston Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I have stopped keeping fish as my interests are now only arachnids and reptiles, but I have a bit of input on these.
    They are not too difficult to keep provided you set your tank up correctly. Marine tanks can be costly to start initially, but the more money you spend in the beginning, the more you'll save in the future with tank maintenance, deaths, etc. The larger the tank, the better for these. The tank size really depends on the species you want to keep (there are few species that appear in the pet trade) and how many fish you want in the tank. They can be kept with other fish provided nobody is bite-sized.
    They are venomous, but I wouldn't be too concerned if you have scorpions, centipedes, and widows, you have other things that are more likely to get you. (Though I did once have a lion fish jump from the tank while I was cleaning it. Getting it back in was fun.)
  4. Jmugleston

    Jmugleston Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Wow. I skipped over the price when I first read it. That does seem a bit high.
  5. I'm in Canada. Everything is more expensive here and harder to get
  6. Memento

    Memento Arachnosquire

    I'm in Canada too, and I'd also say that those prices are rather high. One of the local shops here sells adults of a common species for about $40-50 CAD max.

    Some lionfish species have become established as invasive pests in the wild, so they're not that uncommon or difficult to obtain, even in Canada (my ex used to work for an aquarium wholesaler, and lionfish were very common on the price lists). The only time I could see the validity of the prices you quoted would be for uncommon species.

    As for the pet aspect, I've never kept them myself, but friends have and they've all said that lionfish aren't all that demanding and are suitable for "advanced beginners" (due to the venom) - they just need a lot of space. Lionfish have been a staple in the saltwater hobby for decades, so there's a lot of good info around on how to care for them.

    Here's a care sheet that includes several species: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-11/fm/feature/index.php
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009
  7. bigdog999

    bigdog999 Arachnoknight Old Timer

    I had one during my salt water era. Not that bad to care, just be cautious when cleaning the tank
  8. Ewok

    Ewok Arachnoangel

    There are different types of Lionfish that you can keep in tanks as small as 30 gal. The Fu Man Chu is one type of dwarf Lion. In my area they were like $29. I used to have one, I fed it mysis shrimp and krill. I think the dwarf species make better pets, unless you have a large tank for the common Lionfish. If you buy one, make sure you don't feed it any type of feederfish, as those are not nutritious enough for the lion.
  9. Lionfish are quite easy to care for. They eat well and are adaptable. Stay clear of their dorsal fin spines, as these are where the venom resides, and there are some nasty long-term effects (up to one year) from getting hit.

    What'll be the greatest consideration is getting fully educated on the requirements, biological as well as chemical, for keeping a marine aquarium running. Be prepared for the expense and limits on how many animals you can keep depending on the size tank. Otherwise, it's a fantastic hobby.
  10. Galapoheros

    Galapoheros ArachnoGod Old Timer

    This thread lead me to reading about these, I've always thought they were interesting. They are all up and down the east coast of the US, from Florida to Rhode Island, not native so people are killing them left and right there, good eating. But, obviously they are there for good now. Some people act like they can eradicate them from the ocean there. I saw some nasty stings using google. Seems fine in a tank to me though. I didn't know there were so many species of Lionfish.

  11. My family had lionfish on a few occassions when we did salt water aquariums. We haven't had a salt water aquarium for at least 8 years. Got to be careful what you put in with it since they are carnivores. They will swallow little fish.

    Yes they are poisonous, but unlikely to kill you. My brother attempted to pet the lionfish when he was about 12 and got his finger pricked on a top fin. His hand swelled up pretty bad and we put ice on it but nothing real serious other then that.
  12. Beardo

    Beardo Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Some main issues with lionfish (not the dwarf variety, they are a whole nother story) is maintaining proper water levels (being carnivores they can be a little messy w/food and water levels can deteriorate if not monitored closely) and keeping them away from fin-nipping tankmates such as Tiggers.

    They are hardy if the specimen is feeding well and is established. Stay away from freshly imported or caught specimens....one that has been in a store for a little while and is acclimated to a certain feed type is your best bet.

    They are best kept in a fish-only tank (no corals or inverts) so as far as fine details go, they are not hard as far as marine fish are concerned.