The lionfish or scientifically known as Pterois antennata is a fish of the family Scorpaenidae that inhabits the coastal waters of lagoons and reefs of the Indian and Pacific Ocean. It is a species of nocturnal habits, which during the day takes shelter in caves or small cracks, and during the night goes out to hunt their prey, mainly small crustaceans and even some small fish. The main characteristic of the lionfish, are its colorful rays that it presents in the pectoral fins, as well as its long white rays of the pectoral and dorsal fins. The rays of the dorsal fin lack tissue to connect one ray to the next, while the rays of the pectoral fins are partially connected by a membrane and have several dark spots that resemble eyes. A large number of their rays (dorsal fin rays, two ventral fin rays and two anal fin rays) are connected to glands that generate venom, which can cause painful injuries to divers and cause respiratory paralysis and circulatory failure. The color pattern of the body consists of vertical lines of alternating colors between red, white and brown. Another characteristic of most species in the family Scorpaenidae are the appendages next to the eyes, which in this species are of considerable length and adorned with dark bands.
Pterois antennata has been artificially introduced into the Western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, where it has become a serious threat to local species, due to the lack of predators to control their populations and their high rate of reproduction. It has been documented that at least 6 specimens of this species were released in Biscayne Bay (USA) as a result of the breakage of an aquarium that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Another of the routes of introduction of this species is believed to have consisted of specimens transported in the ballast of merchant ships from the Pacific.Photos: