Common Lionfish
(Devil Firefish)
(Pterois miles)

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Invasive Status
Highly Invasive Population increasing
Natural Range
  • Coasts of the Indian Ocean
Introduced Range
  • Tropical west Atlantic
  • Bermuda
  • Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Private ornamental collections

Lessapsian migration


Predation of native species

Outcompeting natives for food

Overgrowth of reefs

Removal Methods

Active culling by overfishing

The common lionfish (Pterois miles), known also as the devil firefish, is one of the most invasive and costly marine species on Earth along with it's close relative the Red Lionfish. They are voracious predators and, due to the spines which make the species appear larger to potential predators and are also poisonous, they have no predators in their introduced range other than man.


Natural RangeEdit

The common lionfish's natural range lies on the coasts of the Indian ocean. It is present along the east coast of Africa as far south as South Africa, as well as the west coast of Madagascar and the Farquhar group of archipelagos. It is also native along the south-east Arabian Peninsula (though they aren't commonly present in the Red Sea or Arabian Gulf). Their range continues along the west coast of India and a southern third of the west coast, as well as Sri Lanka's perimeter. They are also present in the Maldives and British Indian Ocean Territory. Finally, they are found in the Nicobar Islands and the west coasts of Sumatra and the Isthmus of Kra. [1]

Introduced RangeEdit

The common lionfish has been introduced to the east coast of Central America. They are now present from the Floridian tip at Miami north to North Carolina. Whilst they sometimes wander north of North Carolina, they are not able to survive the cold winter temperatures. They are also present in the north Gulf of Mexico, especially around artificial reefs such as oil rigs. Their range continues southward, along Mexico's east coast and along the Middle American and South American east coast as far as Venezuela. Finally, they have established populations throughout the Greater and Lesser Antilles. [2]

The common lionfish is also present thorughout Bermuda's coastline. [2]

The common lionfish is a Lessepsian migrant, having travelled through the Suez canal into the eastern corner of the Mediterranean as far as Cyprus. [2]

Pathways and IntroductionEdit

The common lionfish had probably arrived in the west Atlantic is va the aquarium pet trade. It is present in the Mediterranean as it was able to migrate from the Red Sea through the Suez canal (a process called Lessepsian migration). [2]


In the Atlantic, the common lionfish drastically reduces native fish populations through predation. The effected species are mostly herbivorous fish, although there is some evidence to suggest that juvenile spiny lobsters are also eaten. The herbivorous fishes wich are eaten are important in limiting macroalgae and seaweed populations, thereby protecting reefs from overgrowth. The lionfish also competes with the coney grouper. [2]

Control and Removal MethodsEdit

In August 2010, the International Coral Reef Initiative set up a commitee to develop a strategy for the control and management of lionfish in the Carribean area. [2] Additionally, locals in areas affected by lionfish (especially Bermuda) are being encouraged to hunt and eat lionfish, as, despite their poisonous spines, they are edible. [3]



2 NAS - Nonindigenous Aquatic Species

3 The Royal Gazette - "Experts seek hundreds of volunteers - even diving novices - in Pacific lionfish fight"</p>