Wetland and Aquatic Research Center


Lionfish have invaded US Atlantic coastal waters, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico with unprecedented, alarming speed. Though reports of sightings date back to the 1980s, it is only recently that the species has exploded in numbers and range. In fact, the lionfish invasion is the first documented case of a non-native marine fish establishing itself in the Western North Atlantic/Caribbean region. The predatory invasive fish negatively impacts its non-native environment, disrupting marine food webs as it preys in coral reef ecosystems on invertebrates and fish, including game fish juveniles, such as snappers and groupers. Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific region, and were likely brought to the United States via the pet trade.
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Date published: May 2, 2016

Lionfish Distribution, Geographic Spread, Biology, and Ecology

Many aspects of lionfish biology are studied at the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.  As part of the U.S. Geological Survey Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database, the distribution of lionfish is tracked over time.