Two lionfish
Two Lionfish, Pterois volitans, in Reef HQ Aquarium

The spectacularly beautiful lionfish are amongst my favourite creatures in Reef HQ Aquarium, Townsville.

They are a local Reef species but are also found all the way round the Australian coast from southern WA to southern NSW (by way of the Kimberley, Darwin and Cape York, naturally) and elsewhere in the tropical Indo-Pacific. They have a bewildering collection of ‘common’ names: Butterfly Cod, Featherfins, Fire Fish, Red Firefish, Scorpion Fish, Scorpion-cod, Turkeyfish, Zebrafish and probably more.

The ‘Scorpion’ names are justified by the fact that they are members of the Scorpion fish family, Scorpaenidae, which includes many other species (including our Stonefish), most of them well armed with poisonous spines. The poison, I suppose, accounts for the ‘Firefish’ names, while ‘Butterfly’,  ‘Turkey’  and ‘Lion’ probably all refer to those gorgeous fins and ‘Zebra’ refers to the stripes. But ‘Cod’? No connection that I can see, except the very basic point that some fish are cod.

More information:

P.S. (19.6.12) showing why they are called ‘Butterfly’ Cod:

Front view of Lionfish with fins spread
Obviously a Butterfly Cod

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