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Bjorn Vang Jensen wrote:
>Joe, the lionfish (aka the dragon fish, the fire fish and others)
>are members of the Scorpionidae family, something which is easy
>to see when looking closely at the head and especially the mouth.

As Scorpionfishes (Family Scorpaenidae) are widely distributed throughout
all tropical & temperate seas, even a few species found in arctic waters, I
love hearing what others around the world call them ... like the aka ones
Bjorn names above. And the local names certainly fit their description when
you see some of these species swiming around slowly & spreading out their
fanlike pectorals and lacy dorsal fins like a turkey displaying its plumes :-)

If you are a real stickler for detail there is a difference between each
depending on how many dorsal, anal & pelvic spines there are, and the size
of its venom glands but thats another story. Most folk this neck of the
woods will call these critters either lionfish or scorpionfish. For those
who may want to know venomous scorpionfishes have been divided into 3 main
groups on the basis of the structure of their venom organs.

1. Zebrafish type (Pterois) eg Zebrafish, Lionfish or Turkeyfish.
Their spines are for the most part long, straight, slender & camouflaged in
delicate, lacy-appearing fins.
They are the most beautiful species IMHO :-)  Usually found in shallower
water, hovering about in a crevice or swimming around. Frequently found in
pairs.

Ive heard of a Japanese diver here on the Great Barrier Reef who took his
glove off to pat a lionfish. A painful experience he will never repeat Im sure.

2. Scorpionfish type (Scorpaena) eg Bullrout/Sulky, Waspfish/Fortescue,
Scorpionfish, Rascasse, Sea Pig, Rockfish, Lupo, California Scorpionfish.
The spines of this type are shorter & heavier than those found in Pterois.
For the most part shallow water, bottom-dwellers, found in bays, along sandy
beachs, rocky coastlines or coral reefs. Is adept at camouflage & may be
difficult to detect if lying still.

Ive been busy photographing something small & looked for a dead bit of coral
to steady myself on with one hand only to see part of that rock move out of
the corner of my eye! Didnt even see the scorpionfish because of his
colouring. Other times Ive been in a cave & looked up to find a scorpionfish
on the rooftop just above my head .. quietly pretending it wasnt there. Many
folk mistake the Devil Scorpionfish for a stonefish. I know I have many a
time till I have developed the slides & then checked out closely how many
spines it has.

3. Stonefish type (Synanceja) eg Stonefish, Hime-Okoze, Deadly Stonefish.
The spines of this type are very short & stout. Being the most ugliest
looking creature they look like a fossilized rock. Very hard to spot because
of their close resemblance to the coral habitat in which they conceal
themselves. Ive never seen one move yet!! Normally they are lying motionless
in coral crevices, under rocks, in holes or semi-buried under sand & mud.
Most of the ones I have seen have been half covered  with silt in wrecks or
half covered with sand under a jetty in the debris.

Weve not had a stonefish death for yonks .. the last one I heard of was a
guy walking along the beach way up north after the tide had gone down. He
was near a river mouth ... just the conditions a stonefish likes of course
.. all yucky & mud galore. He was wearing army boots but the stonefish
spines went right through the side of the boot. He was chucked in a very hot
bath till the flying doctor could whisk him off to hospital but
unfortunately didnt pull through :-(

    Viv &     Only when the last tree has died     o  ___
    Fluffy    and the last river been poisoned     o /@  \/
   (=*_*=)     and the last fish been caught        >  )::
             will we realise we cannot eat money.    \___/\
Chief Seattle, Chief of the Swamish Native Americans