Are Lionfish Reef Safe? – What You Need To Know About Them

Are Lionfish Reef Safe?

are lionfish reef safe

The Lionfish is one of the most intriguing fish you can have in a saltwater tank. Although they are not the best choice for everyone and certainly not for beginners. They have amazing colors and markings and even though they may look aggressive, typically they are quite peaceful with proper tank mates.

A common question that people have with respect to keeping a lionfish is are they reef safe?

The answer is yes lionfish are considered reef safe and you can keep them together with corals. The issue many people have with them is they are a predator fish and they can attack and eat invertebrates like shrimp and crabs.

About the Lionfish

Close Up Photo of Lionfish

The Lionfish is considered a predator fish and should only be kept in a suitable tank for predators. There are a few varieties of Lionfish which include Antennata, Fu Manchu, Radiata and Russell’s. There are 2 primary types: common and dwarf.

The common Lionfish can grow to about 10-12″ and the dwarf can grow to about 6″. The most important thing to know about these fish is that they are venomous and have a nasty sting.

It can be extremely painful to be stung by a Lionfish and you should get medical attention right away.

You need to be very careful when handling a Lionfish or having your hand in the tank. They won’t naturally attack you or intentionally sting unless they feel threatened. Lionfish are not overly aggressive and don’t seek to harm other tankmates that are the same size or larger than them.

Smaller fish and invertebrates will most likely be eaten. If it can fit in their mouth, most times it ends up there.

Dwarf Lionfish need a tank size of at least 30–40 gallons and common Lionfish should be kept in a 125 gallon or more.

They will also produce a lot of waste, so make sure to not overfeed them as this will directly result in poor water quality.

Can I put a Lionfish in a reef tank?

Close-Up Shot of a Lionfish in an Aquarium

Yes, you can keep a Lionfish in a reef tank. But there are a few things to take into consideration. As mentioned above, they are high waste producers so if you have corals that require pristine water conditions, you might not be able to keep a Lionfish in the same tank.

Also, the Lionfish is known to eat clean-up crew like snails and crabs, so if you have those in your reef tank, a Lionfish is not a good choice.

Overall, the Lionfish is not known to eat or pick at corals themselves. I have seen many Lionfish in different reef tanks without issue. The common and dwarf Lionfish are reef safe.

What can live with a lionfish? – Tankmates

Close-up Photography of Brown and Beige Lion Fish

Many people believe that Lionfish need to live alone in the tank without tankmates. That’s not really accurate. They can actually live in predatory tanks with fish that are similar in size and personality. If you keep them in a semi-aggressive tank, you should have no issues.

The only times when tankmates are a concern is when the other fish are small and can fit into their mouth. They will take out small fish and invertebrates. Also, if the Lionfish is being threatened, they will take action to protect themselves. Lionfish are considered to be a non-aggressive fish and generally won’t bother other tankmates.

What do I feed a Lionfish?

Lionfish are a carnivore and will mostly eat live and frozen meaty foods. They will eat shrimp, chunks of crab meat, white fish flesh, silversides, squid, mysis, krill are all foods to feed Lionfish.

So to answer the question, are Lionfish reef safe?  Yes, they are.