Pterois Volitans - Reproduction


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The Courtship

Researchers have had little information on the mating habitats of red lionfish until a few years ago when divers witnessed and recorded this incredible event. They begin by collecting into groups of one to two dozen, and for three to four days, they scope out potential mates. Once they find a prospective female, they flaunt themselves by boasting their abilities in front of their desired female (Pterois volitans is strikingly similar to Homo sapiens in this regard). This flaunting involves lunging forward and protruding its spines atop its head at a rival.

If the female is adequately impressed, she will join her man and begin a “spawning dance.” The dance entails the couple diving down to the seafloor, and then face-to-face, they’ll slowly rise while circling, as if doing a waltz.

Just before reaching the surface, the female will expel a mucus ball, containing thousands of eggs, which floats to the surface. Once the egg ball reaches the surface, the male will release 10,000 to 30,000 sperm into the egg ball so fertilization can take place.

The dance then ends as the two part and go their separate ways. After only a day, the eggs hatch into larvae, and then sink to the bottom of the seafloor where it uses rocks, algae, and crevices to hide. Three to four months later, they mature. NOAA researchers have determined that lionfish reach sexual maturity within two years and spawn multiple times during the spawning season. Click on Images for Larger View

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