Taking Over

At first, there were only a few lionfish. Soon, there were many more. In 2010, scientists named lionfish one of the top dangers to biodiversity. Why?

Lionfish are predators. One lionfish can eat 5,000 fish per year. Lionfish can wipe out small fish and shrimps in an area. Here, the lionfish have no predators. So, there’s nothing to stop them.

A lionfish swims near a mangrove forest.

New Rules

Lionfish don’t always “follow the rules.” For example, many young fish live in shallow saltwater. It is a safe place for them. There is food and shelter. Most predators stay away. Not lionfish! They hunt there with ease.

This young snapper is being cleaned by humpback cleaner shrimp.

Lionfish also hunt at “cleaning stations.” These are usually safe places. Larger fish line up to get cleaned by smaller fish. The small fish get a meal. The larger fish get clean. No fish gets eaten. Unless a lionfish swims by!

These lionfish crowd together around one coral reef.