Viewed from the right angle, the ornate fins of the lionfish resemble turkey plumage. That’s why ‘turkeyfish’ is one of the many imaginative names people use when referring to the lionfish. Depending on where you live, you may also hear the lionfish called a devil fish, red lionfish, scorpion-cod, zebrafish, ornate butterfly-cod, featherfins, butterfly cod, Indian turkeyfish, soldier lionfish, or poisson scorpion!
Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific, but are now established along the southeast coast of the U.S., the Caribbean, and in parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
Since lionfish are not native to Atlantic waters, they have very few predators. They are carnivores that feed on small crustaceans and fish, including the young of important commercial fish species such as snapper and grouper.
How lionfish will affect native fish populations and commercial fishing industries has yet to be determined. What is known is that non-native species can dramatically affect native ecosystems and local fishing economies. Experts are carefully studying these invaders to better understand their role in, and threat to, Atlantic Ocean ecosystems.