Zebra Lionfish

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Dendrochirus zebra - (Cuvier, 1829)
Zebra Lionfish

A very handsome smaller member of the lionfish clan. Scott W. Michael


A showy member of the scorpionfish family, this species remains relatively small and is easier to house than its relatives. Note that its spines can deliver a dose of venom, so it must be treated with caution and respect. Wounds are painful, sometimes excruciating, to humans, but no fatalities have been reported.

Family: Scorpaenidae

Other common name(s):

  • Dwarf Lionfish
  • Zebra Turkeyfish

Native range:

Habitat: Reef, with stony corals or among coral rubble. Provide a sheltering cave or crevice in the aquarium.

Maximum length: 18 cm (7 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 114 L (30 gal)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)


Carnivore. Feed with meaty seafoods, such as shrimp or squid. Attempt to feed fresh seafood from the end of a feeding stick. To get a new specimen eating, live gut-packed ghost shrimp or feeder fish may be needed. Feed to satiation several times a week.

Aquarium Compatibility

Larger individuals may fight with their own kind and related lionfish. Combat often includes jabbing its opponent with its dorsal spines (this is not typically lethal to the recipient of the sting). It will eat smaller fishes and crustaceans.

Special Care

Aquarists must handle this species with great care and block children’s access to the tank.


Demersal (on or near the bottom) spawners, lay eggs in a gelatinous mass. After hatching, the larvae float with the plankton.


During the day, this lionfish is fairly inactive, usually tucking into coral crevices. It may hide until light levels are lowered or when live food is added to the tank. When it stalks a ghost shrimp or feeder fish, it will use its large pectoral fins to block the escape route of its quarry.

Reference: 101 Best Saltwater Fishes
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM