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Survival and growth of invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish at low salinities

June 10, 2015

Invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish [Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758) and P. miles (Bennett, 1828)] are now established throughout the Western North Atlantic. Several studies have documented negative effects of lionfish on marine fauna including significant changes to reef fish community composition. Established populations of lionfish have been documented in several estuaries, and there is concern that the species may invade other low-salinity environments where they could potentially affect native fauna. To gain a better understanding of their low-salinity tolerance, we exposed lionfish to four salinities [5, 10, 20 and 34 (control)]. No lionfish mortality was observed at salinities of 34, 20 or 10, but all fish died at salinity = 5 within 12 days. Lionfish survived for at least a month at a salinity of 10 and an average of about a week at 5. Fish started the experiment at an average mass of 127.9 g, which increased at a rate of 0.55 g per day while they were alive, regardless of salinity treatment. Our research indicated lionfish can survive salinities down to 5 for short periods and thus may penetrate and persist in a variety of estuarine habitats. Further study is needed on effects of salinity levels on early life stages (eggs, larvae).