Lionfish take pride of place

A pride of venomous lionfish has gone on display at Bristol Aquarium.

Six of the brown and white striped fish have taken up residence in the Harbourside wildlife attraction’s new predators’ display which is also home to pufferfish, boxfish and longhorn cowfish.

Normally found living among the coral reefs of Pacific Ocean, the fish are renowned as highly efficient predators.

“They are only youngsters and currently measure about 15 centimetres in length, but they will eventually grow to three times that size,” said Bristol Aquarium’s Liv Orchart.

“As they are venomous we had to take extra care when introducing them to their new home and used extra thick gloves to protect against their sharp spines.

“In the wild they are known as ambush hunters – a lot like their land-based namesakes and, just like lions, they’re also fearsome predators.

“Lionfish will hang virtually motionless on the edges of coral reefs and other rocky outcrops waiting for unsuspecting victims to swim into range.

“They then use their large fins to corner their prey before suddenly extending their bellow like jaws to gulp their hapless victims down.

“They have a fearsome reputation so have to be housed with other fish of a similar size and lifestyle,” she added.

The lionfish is covered with venom-tipped fins which it uses to protect itself from would-be attackers.

When disturbed, the fish spread and display their fins, and, if further pressed, will attack with the dorsal spines inflicting painful, though rarely fatal, puncture wounds.

Issued by the Bristol Aquarium. For more information please contact Sarah Moore or Liv Orchart on 0117 929 8929.