Shortfin Lionfish

Dwarf Lionfish

Family: Scorpaenidae Picture of a Shortfin Lionfish or Dwarf LionfishDendrochirus brachypterus
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Do they eat clownfish and damsels if not I'm getting one. ... (more)  coree

   The Shortfin Lionfish or Dwarf Lionfish is one of the most personable marine fish! They get along well and are passive with other lions and other fish!

   The Shortfin Lionfish or Dwarf Lionfish rarely get over 6" and make a spectacular marine aquarium addition. They do have venomous spines, our motto is "Don't pet the fish"!

For more Information on keeping marine fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Dendrochirus brachypterus
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Scorpaeniformes
  • Family: Scorpaenidae
  • Genus: Dendrochirus
  • Species: brachypterus
Shortfin Lionfish, Dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish dendrochirus brachypterus
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Video of a juvenile Shortfin Lionfish

This is a great example of the relatively passive nature of the Shortfin or Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish. Although they will not bother fish their size or larger, that damsel may be in for a rude awakening one day when this little guy is almost 7" long! This is a very well put together tank with lots of room for the larger tanks and the little blue eyed lionfish!

Lionfishing - The Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish (Dendrochirus brachypterus)
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An aquarist feeding a Shortfin or Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish

A great video of a Shortfin/Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish who has been successfully trained to eat prepared foods! The video shows they are true to their nature, and do not like very large pieces of food since the large piece of silverside was not eaten and had to be removed. Do not feed freeze dried krill, however frozen thawed is acceptable and even mysis and small pieces of crab flesh are welcome and suggested to keep their diet varied. Proper tank size for one of these fish is 55 gallons due to their large input and output when it comes to feeding! Larger tanks will keep the water cleaner, which they need to stay healthy.

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Maintenance difficulty:

   The Shortfin Lionfish or Dwarf Lionfish is easy to keep. Lionfish are among the hardiest of all marine fish. In the beginning though, make sure you have a reliable supplier of feeder fish.


   Feed live fish in the beginning, gradually enticing them to eat frozen of fresh foods such as silversides and lancefish. Other crustaceans and seafoods can also be tried.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:

   Shortfin Lionfish or Dwarf Lionfish are found in the Indo-West Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to Samoa and Tonga, north to southern Japan, south to Lord Howe Island; Mariana Islands in Micronesia; the Arafura Sea and Australia. Common in reef flats and shallow lagoons, in areas with weed-covered rocks on sandy substrates. Adults often found on sponges and juveniles are sometimes found in small aggregations on remote bommies with 10 or so individuals. Nocturnal. Feeds on small crustaceans.


   All kinds of small crustaceans comprise their diet in the wild. In the aquarium they can usually be enticed to eat small fish. It is not a good idea to feed them freshwater fish exclusively.

Social Behaviors:

   Sociable and peaceful, can be considered a community fish as long as the tankmates are not small enough to eat!

Sex: Sexual differences:



   See general breeding techniques in the Breeding Marine Fish page.

Light: Recommended light levels:

   No special requirements.


   No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 74 and 79 degrees fahrenheit.

Length/Diameter of fish:

   Shortfin Lionfish or Dwarf Lionfish adults can grow to 17.0 cm (6.7 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:

   A minimum 30 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong

   No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom

   Will swim anywhere their prey takes them.


   This fish is generally readily available.

Author: David Brough. CFS.
Lastest Animal Stories on Shortfin Lionfish

coree - 2011-11-09
Do they eat clownfish and damsels if not I'm getting one.

  • Jasmine Brough Hinesley - 2011-11-09
    It really depends on the size of both the clownfish/damsels and the lionfish you get. If they are small enough to fit in the lionfish's mouth, there is a definite possibility of them being eaten!
  • Anonymous - 2012-03-13
    OK I wiil give you them for free.
  • alana - 2020-02-14
    if the lions are still looking for home please let me know... and any info you have regarding them
Realistic reef keeper - 2009-11-21
"I just got a dwarf lionfish and I'm already in love with him. He's in a 30 gallon tank with a yellow tang, a picasso triggerfish, a clown triggerfish and a panther grouper. I love the way he watches and then boom! And the fish is gone. I would recommend this to anybody with a semi aggressive saltwater aquarium.
some fish lover!"

Your tank is way to over stocked for the fish you have. You need to do more research before just filling your tank up with whatever you please. They are living creatures try using better judgment with them. You should have at least a 75 gallon tank for those fish. They will most likely die soon if they are not dead already.

  • Richard - 2010-04-10
    If you are going to keep the lionfish you need to get rid of the triggerfish and grouper too big for a 30 gal. aquarium, not fair to the fish to over stock the aquarium.
  • Steve - 2010-04-14
    I agree with that, as I am about to pick up a fuzzy dwarf lionfish and introduce him to a yellow tang, blonde naso, coral beauty, blue tang and gold stripe maroon clownfish. No fish is over 6" and they are in a six foot long 150 gallon tank established mini reef. Those fish like mine will exceed that tank and probably mine, in a short span of time. Please research what you are doing before you do it. The nitrates alone will make the fish less tolerable to the water changes you will have to do keeping all those med to large fish and a lionfish. I change 40 to 50 gallons every 2-3 weeks and that keeps my Nitrates at .08 ppm to .10 ppm.
  • aelun - 2011-06-11
    Listen you have actually got 2 rather agressive fish and as they grow they will most likely kill your other fish especially considering your tank size. If you want your your fish to survive then you'll need a much bigger tank probably 110 gallons and if you want anenomes say goodbye to your clown trigger fish.
  • Anonymous - 2012-02-01
    4 words, GET A BIGGER TANK!
  • Bill Vasalofsky - 2014-05-29
    A Panther Grouper can get up to 2 feet long and you are reccomending a 75 Gallon tank for that and two triggers, and a lion fish?  I saw a cool video of a Grouper eating a Volitan Lionfish on YouTube.  Those Clown Triggers aren't the nicest fish either.  You're really not supposed to put Trigger Fish in the same tank either.  Just some thoughts.  You probably won't have to worry about the 2 foot Grouper because they'll probably all die before it gets that big.
Anonymous - 2012-02-01
Hi, I found one of these at for $29.99 and thought it looked cool but I have never had a saltwater aquarium. I was thinking about trying to breed them by buying 3(it would also get me free shiping) and maybe turn the water brakish or something to incourage breeding. How big of a tank would I need to do this and would it also be a good idea to change the decor in the tank as the water becomes less salty?

  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-10-24
    Are you looking at Freshwater Lionfish or the shortfin lionfish selected?  These are not the best fish to start with when doing a saltwater tank.  They can deliver an inexperienced fishkeeper a nasty sting.  To do what you are talking about you would need atleast a 100 gallon tank and I am not understanding why you would reduce the salinity.  But I may be confused on which lionfish you are talking about.
allan - 2007-07-25
wow, i just bought one of these and i love to see him eat. how he stocks his prey and then bam! it's gone. definitely one of the best fishes i've ever had

  • aelun - 2011-06-11
    If you keep that lionfish you wont be able to get any more fish remember these are sentinent beings so treat them with respect and care and do some more research before getting anything else