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Firefish - Pterois volitans.

Firefish - Pterois volitans.

Photo © Rachel Seedhouse / Shutterstock.

The firefish (Pterois volitans), also known as the lionfish, was first described in 1758 by Dutch naturalist Johan Frederick Gronovius. The firefish is a species of scorpionfish that has exquisite reddish brown, gold and cream yellow bands of markings on its body. It is one of eight species of the genus Pterois.

Firefishes are predatory fish with distinct, elongaged fins and a bold color pattern and numerous spines and fleshy flaps of skin that grow on its head. The skin flaps are thought to act as camouflage by distruption of the expected outline of the fish's head. Firefishes grow to a maximum size of 11in-15in.

Firefishes have numerous small teeth that occur in clusters on the upper and lower jaws as well as on a small patch at the anterior section of the roof of the fish's mouth. Firefishes posses venomous glands at the base of some fin spines that is in injected into prey. The painful, venomous sting of a firefish can result in severe reactions in humans.


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Scorpaeniformes
  • Suborder: Scorpaenoidei
  • Family: Scorpaenidae
  • Genus: Pterois
  • Species: Pterois volitans

Where to See:

Firefish can be found in the Indo-Pacific (native). Key Biscayne, Florida (non-native, introduced in 1992). They inhabit tropical marine reefs where they hide in rocks and crevaces during the day and are active at night.


  • Burnie D, Wilson DE. 2001. Animal. London: Dorling Kindersley. 624 p.
  • Wood M. 2001. Pterois volitans, Animal Diversity Web. February 20, 2006.
  • Robins R. Red Lionfish, Florida Museum of Natural History. February 20, 2006.


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