The lionfish, otherwise known as the Petrios, is one of nature’s most dangerously beautiful creatures.
With proper maintenance and care, it can last for about 10 to 15 years in tank life. So, how does one properly care for a lionfish, and how much does one cost? Let’s find out, shall we?
What Exactly Do You Need to Spend On?
The price of lionfish will usually depend on the size and length of the fish. Most common Lionfish species can grow to a length of 12 to 14 inches, while dwarfs can grow up to an average of 3 to 4 inches.
It is usually found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and there are nine different species of it. As an exotic fish, the cost of each lionfish species can vary. There are two ways that you can purchase a Lionfish; one is through pet stores, and the other is from independent breeders.
- Volitan Lionfish/Red Lionfish – Being one of the larger-bodied Lionfish, it will surely become a centerpiece of your aquarium. At SaltWaterFish.com, the starting rate of Volitan Lionfish’s African variant with an approximate size of 2.25 inches is $55. Size has a significant impact on its pricing; a coloured volitan lionfish in the 9–11 size range can cost up to $560 at SaltWaterFish.
- Antennata Lionfish – Known for its venomous spine and predating skill. The starting price range is between $40–$70, and the price skyrockets to $200 and more for a bigger one like 4 inches or more.
- Mombasa Lionfish – Mombasa lionfish, which are large-bodied, are frequently mistaken for Antennata lionfish. However, it is distinguishable because to its big eyes and shorter pectoral fin filaments. It will cost $55 to $80 to own a Mombasa Lionfish.
- Fu Manchu Lionfish – According to SaltWaterFish, Fu Manchu Lionfish, also known as two-spot turkey fish, range in price from $150 to $225 depending on size.
- Dwarf Zebra Lionfish – They are splendid in color and venomous at the same time. The price of this variant can be from $95 (2 inches) to $149 (4-5 inches). They are best kept with medium or large fish and away from any small-size fish or shrimp since they are spectacular hunters.
- Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish – A tiny Fuzzy dwarf Lionfish costs just about $50 and a large one with a size of 3-4 inches costs $225, as listed by SaltWaterFish.
- Radiata Lionfish – According to SaltWaterFish, the lowest price for a tiny Lionfish (South Asian origin, 2.25 inches or less) is $63 while the highest price stated is for an African/Red sea Lionfish variety (size of 4.25 – 6.25 inches), which is at $237″
- Miles Lionfish – Also known as Devil Fish or Devil Firefish, its prices start from $60 onwards. As the fish get mature, its color turns into a burgundy red.
- Andover Lionfish
Lion Fish and Additional Costs
There may also be a need to include shipping fees in your budget, as most websites include a shipping fee in your purchase depending on your location.
Here’s a list of the basic things you would need when caring for a lionfish:
- Tank Costs
Lionfish are not that hard to take care of, provided that you give them the right environment to swim in. Lionfish require a lot of swimming space, and their tanks must be larger than a 55-gallon tank. A fully set-up 55-gallon tank will cost $500–$600, and a tank with a capacity of 125 gallons can cost $2000 or more.
Aside from the swimming space that they will need, you also need to take into consideration their living environment, which includes the decorations, water testing kits, hiding spaces, and other particulars that are separately purchased.
Per lionfish, it would be safe to allot a budget of at least $30–$45.
- Shipping Fees
There may also be a need to include shipping fees in your budget, as most websites include a shipping fee in your purchase, depending on your location. However, the shipping charge can be waived if you purchase more than a specific amount.
There are many kinds of decorations to choose from ranging from corals, nano corals, rocks, sea anemones, mushroom corals, etc.
- At PetCo, corals are available from $8 onwards and the price range of nano coral starts from $35. Rocks can be purchased for a price of $170 for 20 lb.
- Algae attack packages, different types of hermits, snails, shrimp, crabs, are available from $60 onward. The controlled growth of algae aids in maintaining the aquarium’s natural appearance. If you’re a beginner, it’s wise to budget between $150 and $500 for a whole set. Some pet stores sell starter coral packs, but if you only want to purchase these things on their own, they range in price from $35 to as much as $100 per.
Your lionfish will need a hiding place inside the tank, so get as little decoration as possible to allow it to swim freely.
- Tank supplies
Tank supplies could mean anything, but to be more specific these could include the water testing kits, filters, feeders, water maintenance liquids, and etc. Salt water and fresh water testing kit are available from $12 onwards. A large-size water filter for a 40-gallon tank costs $32.
Depending on your preference and your fish’s needs, most items that can be found online or in a pet store could cost anywhere between $5 and $60. So, to be safe, you can set aside a budget amounting to $100 to $300 for all tank supplies, as most of them might need to be purchased separately or in a bundle.
As a first-time buyer, the pet store will include some items for you to get started. These items include:
- Starting fish food
- Temporary tank
- Safety and care guide
Of course, all of this will depend on the pet store or breeder you choose. Some pet stores do not include these for free and usually ask the owner to purchase everything separately, which requires an extra budget.
For breeders, it is protocol to include these items as they are independent sellers. They will usually tell you where to buy these things or give them to you when you buy something else.
It is better to prepare a little extra cash in advance in case you have to make some additional purchases.
Maintenance Costs of Owning a Lionfish
- Food Expenses
Lionfish are very aggressive animals and can eat almost anything in their way. They are carnivores and for these animals to be kept well-maintained in the tank life, you must know what to feed them.
They eat frozen krill, shrimp, small fish, silversides, and squid, although they prefer eating these live rather than frozen as they are aggressive hunters. The cost of live food begins at $18. And if you prefer to feed them frozen food, the price starts at $8 for 3.5 oz. Brining shrimp eggs can be purchased at the market for $6 per 10 g. You can easily hatch them at home and feed them live fish, which brings out their natural instinct to hunt.
If you are not buying these animals from a pet store, it’s recommended that you try to entice them with live fish or crustaceans to get them used to living inside the tank.
They need to be fed twice a day, so it would be advisable to set aside at least $50 to $60 for their food budget per month.
- Medical Expenses
Aside from feeding your fish properly, keep in touch with your local fish veterinarian.
Lionfish are very solitary animals, and they are not very aggressive swimmers. They like quiet environments and calm waters. When caring for a lionfish, here are some signs to take note of to know that you have a healthy fish:
- Vibrant colors
- Swims calmly
- No clouding of the eyes
- Eats properly
These animals are also susceptible to other conditions, like fin rot. This type of illness can be found directly beneath their fin. If you see a frayed-looking fin with little to severe redness at the base, make sure to seek medical attention right away.
Sometimes, these conditions could be easily addressed by changing the water. This is why it is important to always maintain the temperature and change the water in the tank regularly to ensure that your fish stay healthy.
Factors Affecting the Lionfish Cost
Unlike other animals, there are many factors that can affect lionfish prices, whether they are bought from a pet store or from an official breeder.
As mentioned, there are many different species of lionfish, and the price of the animal can depend on its quality, age, size, variety, and breeder. Since this fish is also very hazardous to humans and is extremely poisonous, the price can also be affected because of the precautions.
Breeders may charge more depending on the species that you are looking for, as they are known to have better pet care and handling compared to pet stores.
Location can also affect the cost of any lionfish for sale. Depending on the breeder’s location, they may also charge a higher price because they export the fish from different locations. Not to mention, the cost of living and the cost of doing business can affect the pricing of any pet, regardless of the type of store and manner of selling.
As mentioned, Lionfish are very poisonous animals. Make sure that you steer clear of their spines. When a person is stung, though it is not deadly, it can still cause excruciating pain.
The person affected can experience pain that lasts for days. The lionfish has a total of 13 venomous dorsal spines and 12 short venomous pelvic spines. It also has three anal spines that are also very poisonous.
If you fall victim to a lionfish sting, don’t panic. Here are some tips that you can follow to fix or alleviate the intensity of the situation:
- Step 1: – After getting stung, make sure to wash the wound with clean water first.
- Step 2: Immerse the wound in hot water; around 110 to 113F/ 43 to 45C for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Make sure that it isn’t boiling. The hot water will get rid of the swelling and lessen the pain.
- Step 3: Elevate and add pressure.
- Step 4: While waiting for the pain to subside a little, it should be enough to get you the medical attention you need to treat the wound.
Additional Fun Facts
Did you know that lionfish pose a significant threat to marine life in the Western Atlantic and Bermuda Marine Ecosystems? These animals are so hostile that they are able to wipe out an entire economic and environmental system.
They pose that much of a threat, which is why sometimes they have to be captured. They can consume almost 70% of the underwater population; even shrimp and crabs are not spared. They can also hold more than 30 different fish species in their stomach.
Local fish enthusiasts in Florida introduced this fish into the market during the late 1980s.
These animals have also spread across South American, Caribbean, and Mexican waters. Their species can grow exponentially. Given that they are natural predators, not everything is a disadvantage.
In fact, Lionfish can also get rid of almost 90% of juvenile fish on a reef in less than 5 weeks. Plus, they make a good delicacy. These animals’ meat is so succulent and juicy that it makes a great meal.
There are many online stores like Petco, thatfishplace, or live aquaria that sell different species of lionfish. You can choose from either one of these places and get your money’s worth.
If you want more exotic lionfish species, however, or you are going to use these fish for breeding, etc., it’s better to purchase from breeders, as they can give you better prices.
Finally, it is wise to postpone any plans that you may have if you are unsure of your budget and unsure of where you will be housing your pet. Remember, these pets are a little high-maintenance and require a lot of attention. Make sure that you are ready to make any drastic changes and preparations before caring for one.