Monday, February 7, 2011

Dendrochirus zebra

Image: © Rokus Groeneveld
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Scientific Name: Dendrochirus zebra
Species Authority: Cuvier, 1829
Family: Scorpaenidae
Common Name: Zebra Lionfish, Zebra Turkeyfish, Zebra Firefish, Dwarf Zebra Lionfish, Zebra Zwergfeuerfisch (DE)
Distribution: Indo-West Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to Samoa, north to southern Japan and the Ogasawara Islands, south to Australia and Lord Howe Island. Chagos, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Reunion, Rodriguez, Seychelles, South Africa (country). Common in the Philippines where it is exported for the aquarium trade; rare in Micronesia.
Environment: Reef-associated; marine; depth range 3 to 80 meters, usually 3 to 60 meters. Found on coral, rubble, or rock bottoms of reef flats; also in coastal to outer reef habitats in sheltered lagoons and in caves, sometimes in small aggregations. Pelagic stages travel great distances and expatriate to sub-tropical zones.
Reef Safe: With caution
Minimum Tank Size: 1000 liters, preferrably larger
Tank Set-up: Marine aquarium with plenty of live rocks / rocks, live sand, space and a very efficient filtration system (they can produce large amounts of waste). They have a habit of resting in places hidden from light such as under a rock or a piece of coral, so do provide sufficient cover, caves, overhangs for your dwarf lion/s to hang out (upside down or right-side up). This is what they do in the wild during the day.
Water Region: Bottom, Middle
Lighting: Low to Moderate - They are susceptible to a blinding syndrome as a consequence of being placed in too-bright settings, lacking caves, overhangs to get out of the bright light.

In the wild, lions often hunt in the dawn and dusk hours. They will often hide during the brightest part of an aquarist’s lighting cycle as well.
Water Flow: Moderately strong to strong. Their water needs to be maintained in a highly oxygenated state, with vigorous circulation. For girthy fish with sizable appetites they are rather sensitive to ammonia poisoning and low oxygen concentration.
Size: Up to 25 cm
Lifespan: Up to 10 years, possibly longer.
Diet: Carnivore. The Zebra Lionfish is a carnivore species that should be kept on a meaty diet in the aquarium. Their diet should consist of meaty foods such as live shrimp (including ornamental shrimp), live fish, and sometimes, crustacean flesh. Although it is very important to provide them with a varied diet, it is not recommended feeding them "freshwater feeders" such as comet goldfish, livebearers, Rosies, etc. They are poor nutrition, expensive, inconvenient... and the hands-down number one killer of these fish, from either fatty degeneration internally over time, or outright "gut blockage."

Avoid keeping them also with tankmates that they can swallow.

The Lionfish are voracious predators. When they are hunting, they corner prey using their large fins and then use their lightning quick reflexes to swallow the prey whole.
Temperament: Peaceful to Semi-aggressive. These fish are slow-moving and peaceful, but can be dangerous. There are two basic rules to matching livestock with dwarf lions - Nothing small enough to fit in their capacious mouths, and secondly, nothing that will harass them.

More than one specimen can be housed in a system provided there is enough room (not smaller than 1500 liters). They seem to get along with any tankmates that they can’t swallow. In fact, although they are often considered “aggressive”, they are often the victims of harassment from puffers, large angels, and triggers.

Zebra Lionfish are solitary fish that aren't afraid of anything, as they have no natural predators, but they also will sometimes form small aggregations in the wild.
Care Level: Difficult. Not recommended for beginners.
Resilience: Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years.
Reproduction: Egg Layer. Zebra Lionfish have spawned in captivity. They spawn in pairs. Courtship and spawning occur at night at the apex of a short and rapid paired ascent resulting in a gelatinous mass of 2,000 to 15,000 eggs. Hatching occurs 36 hours later and larvae settle out in a few weeks at a size of 10-12 mm.
Gender: Difficult to determine. Males tend to be aggressive, females are smaller and develop almost white face when in courtship.
Special Requirement/s:
Dendrochirus zebra is a ray-finned fish with venomous spines. They have thirteen venomous spines along their back, used to defend themselves. Like small rattlesnakes, small lionfish species are just as venomous as their larger brethren. If you get pricked it may be fairly painful, sometimes excruciating, and you should probably seek medical attention.

Be very careful when handling them (with a net) and while performing tank maintenance.

They are immune to each other's poison.
Red List Status: Not Evaluated
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Specific Gravity: 1.020 to 1.025
Temperature: 24°C to 27°C
pH: 8.1 to 8.4
SPECIES COMPATIBILITY CHART - Lionfish / Scorpionfish:
Angelfish (Dwarf) Groupers
Angelfish (Large) Grunts / Sweetlips
Anthias Jawfish
Basslet Hawkfish
Batfish Hogfish
Blenny Lionfish / Scorpionfish
Boxfish Parrotfish
Butterflies Pseudochromis
Cardinals Puffers / Porcupines
Chromis Seahorse / Pipefish
Clownfish Sharks / Rays
Damsels Squirrelfish
Dartfish Tangs / Surgeons
Dragonets Triggerfish
Eels Wrasse (Reef Safe)
Filefish Wrasse (FO/FOWLR)
Foxface / Rabbitfish Corals
Gobies Invertibrates
With Caution
Not Compatible
Diverosa -Rokus Groeneveld & Sanne Reijs (
Encyclopedia of Life ( (
Wet Web Media (
Pet Education (
Meerwasser-Lexikon ( (
Hubpages (
Microcosm Aquarium Explorer (
Oceans' Garden (
Wikipedia (
Baensch Marine Atlas
The New Marine Aquarium (Michael S. Paletta)
World Atlas of Marine Fishes (Helmut Debelius & Rudie H. Kuiter)

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