Pterois volitans   (Linnaeus,  1758) (Fish)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Actinopterygii

Image copyrights: Wadi Lahami

Size: Max length 37-38 cm.

Color: Reddish with numerous dark brown cross bars and narrower pale interspaces. Dorsal, anal and caudal with black spots. Pectoral brownish with a few blackish spots. Ventral dark brown with small pearly spots and blackish markings.

Head 2.6-2.8 in standard length, 3.5-3.9 in total length. Depth of body 2.7-3.0 in standard length, 3.7-4.1 in total length. Eye diameter 4.0-4.8 in head, 1.5-1.8 in snout and equal to or slightly more than highly concave interorbital space. Maxillary reaching to nearly below anterior third of eye. Villiform teeth in jaws and on vomer. Interorbital space and nape without scales. Spination on head highly variable; generally consisting of one spine near anterior nostril, supraorbital ridge with 2 spines, superior postorbital ridge with 2 or occasionally 3 spines, 3 or 4 spines on inferior postorbital ridge, suborbital with several irregular small spines, 3 blunt spines on preopercle edge and a flat opercular spine. Filaments on front of snout, on preorbital, on snout and preopercle margin and a long supraorbital tentacle. Length of pectoral fin varying with age and reaching to caudal base or beyond. All rays of pectoral simple. Ventral fin longer than head.
Number of spines and rays in the dorsal fin: XIII, 10-11; number of spines and rays in the anal fin: III, 6-7; number of rays in the pectoral fin: 14; number of spines and rays in the ventral fin: I, 5; number of scale rows along the midside of body from the upper corner of operculum to the midbase of caudal fin in the absence of lateral line: 85-102; number of horizontal scale rows usually counted from origin of the dorsal fin to the lateral line and from anal origin to the lateral line: 10-13+1+21-24.

Dioecious, external fertilization, nonguarders, open water/substratum egg scatterers.

Hides in unexposed places at daytime often with head down and practically immobile. Hunts for food at night, using its widespread pectorals trapping prey into a corner, stunning it and then swallowing it in one sweep.

Max. reported age: 10 years.

Remarks: Values in above description denote proportions.

Synonym (s)
Gasterosteus volitans Linnaeus, 1758
(Senior Synonym)
Pterois lunulata (non Temminck & Schlegel, 1843)
(Misapplied Name)
Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758)
(Senior synonym)
Pterois miles Day, 1878
Pterois volitans Day, 1878
Scorpaena volitans Bloch, 1787
Scorpaena miles Bennett, 1928
Pterois volitans Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1829
Pterois volitans Bleeker, 1849
Pterois volitans Gunther, 1860
Pterois volitans Klunzinger, 1870
Pterois volitans Gunther, 1875
Pterois miles Day, 1875
Pseudomonopterus (Pterois) volitans Bleeker, 1879
Pterois volitans Macleay, 1881
Pterois volitans Klunzinger, 1884
Pterois muricata Sauvage, 1891
Pterois volitans Jordan and Starks, 1903
Pterois volitans Popta, 1903
Pterois volitans Jordan and Seale, 1906
Pterois volitans Franz, 1910
Pterois volitans McCulloch, 1922
Pterois volitans Barnard, 1927
Pterois volitans Fowler, 1928
Pterois miles Fowler, 1934
Pterois volitans Matsubara, 1943
Pterois miles Blegvad, 1944
Pterois volitans J. L. B. Smith, 1950
Pterois volitans Herre, 1952
Pterois volitans Munro, 1955

Common Name (s)
• Phanhu-Kuthi (Malayalam)
• Chavarali (Malayalam)
• Fang Hamas (Mahl)
• Lionfish (English)
• Red Lionfish (English)
• Turkeyfish (English)
• Winged Fire Fish (English)
• Gofanio
• Winged Firefish
• Lion Fish
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial, Dangers
(Fisheries, gamefish, aquarium, Ornamental fish
Venomous; dorsal spines are venomous, the sting can be treated by heating the afflicted part and application of corticoids.)

Habitat:  Reef Associated
Trophic Level:  Tertiary Consumer
Prey:  Small fishes, shrimps, and crabs


• Tamil Nadu, Chennai Coast INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Agatti INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Amini INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Chettalatt INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Kavaratti INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Kilttan INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Minicoy INDIA
• Lakshadweep INDIA
• Red Sea
• Persian Gulf
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andaman Islands INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Great Nicobar Island INDIA (Record: 08/2000-07/2003)
• Kerala INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Kavaratti Island (Lat: 10.56) (Long: 72.95) INDIA (Record: 03/1954)
• Palk Bay INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Kadamatt INDIA (Record: 05/01/1987-06/02/1987)
• Lakshadweep, Amini INDIA (Record: 05/01/1987-06/02/1987)
• Lakshadweep, Bitra INDIA (Record: 09/02/1987-25/02/1987)
• Lakshadweep, Bangaram INDIA (Record: 09/02/1987-25/02/1987)
• Karnataka, Netrani Island INDIA
• Lakshadweep Islands INDIA (Record: 11/1993-01/1997)
• Tamil Nadu, Palk Bay, Theedai INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Cuddalore (Lat: 11.7) (Long: 79.76) INDIA (Record: 01/2004-12/2004)
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at -
  • Available at -
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  • Jones, S and Kumaran, M (1980) Fishes of the Laccadive Archipelago The Nature Conservation and Aquatic Sciences Service, Trivandrum, Kerala 760 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Beaufort, LF and Briggs, JC (1962) The fishes of the Indo-Australian Archipelago Pataudi House, Daryaganj, New Delhi 11 481 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Rajaram, R; Srinivasan, M; Khan, SA and Kannan, L (2004) Ichthyofaunal diversity of great Nicobar Island, Bay of Bengal Journal of Indian fisheries association 31 13-26 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Rajaram, R and Nedumaran, T (2009) Ichthyofaunal diversity in great Nicobar biosphere reserve, Bay of Bengal Journal of Threatened Taxa Wildlife Information Liaison Development Society 1(3) 166-169 Available at -
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  • Balan, V (1958) Notes on a visit to certain islands of the Laccadive Archipelago, with special reference to fisheries Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society Bombay Natural History Society 55 (2) 297-306 Available at -
  • Murty, VS (1996) Marine ornamental fishes of India Proceedings of the Seminar on Fisheries - A Multibillion Dollar Industry, Madras CMFRI 23-34 Available at -
  • Kumaran, M; Murty, VS and Lalmohan, RS (1989) Resources of ornamental fishes Marine living resources of the union territory of Lakshadweep: An indicative survey with suggestions for development Bulletin of Central Marine Research Institute CMFRI 43 46-64 Available at -
  • Thomas, S; Sreeram, MP; Kakati, VS; Manisseri, MK and George, RM (2011) Coral fish diversity in Netrani waters off Murudeshwar Karnataka, south India Indian journal of fisheries CMFRI 58(1) 45-51 Available at -
  • Murty, VS (2002) Marine ornamental fish resources of Lakshadweep CMFRI Special Publication CMFRI 72 1-134 Available at -
  • Murty, VS (1969) Catalogue of fishes (excluding from the Laccadives) in the reference collections of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute Bulletin of Central Marine Research Institute CMFRI, Cochin 10 1-38 Available at -
  • Khan, SA; Ramesh, S and Lyla, PS (2008) Diversity of coral reef fishes in cuddalore waters, south-east coast of India Indian Journal of Fisheries Indian Council of Agricultural Research 55(3) 221-226 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Talwar, PK (1990) Fishes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A synoptic survey Journal of the Andaman Science Association Andaman Science Association, Port Blair 6(2) 71-102 Available at - NIO,Goa
  • Dholakia, AD (2004) Marine resources Fisheries and aquatic resources of India Daya publishing house 271-303 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at -
  • Biswas, KP (2009) Fishes around Indian Ocean Reef Fishes Daya publishing house Available at - NIO,Goa

Page last updated on:2011-12-09

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