Red Firefish - Pterois volitans

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The Red Firefish (Pterois volitans), order Perciformes, family Scorpaenidae, is one of the most spectacular of all Queensland fish. It is found on the cays of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. This fish is a dazzling exhibition of feathery fins and stripes of cream, yellow, pink, scarlet or warm-brown. The spines and rays of the dorsal and pectoral fins are extended fantastically beyond the general levels of the fin membrane with the coloured bars and stripes providing effective camouflage as disruptive colouration. The head resembles a grotesque mask in that it bears a series of red tassel-like appendages, often extending above the eyes.

A slowly-swimming Firefish, with fins extended and waving gently, has been described as one of the most gorgeous sights in nature; however, it looks more like a water-borne bundle of weeds than the remarkably voracious predator that it is. The Firefish will rest motionless on the ocean floor until a small fish approachs; the fins are then moved deliberately in a slow undulation as the Firefish gains on its prey, spreading first one pectoral then the other, net-fashion, to drive the prey into a suitable postion for attack. The act of feeding is incredibly rapid: as the jaws open, the gill-covers are flung wide and the floor of the mouth drops, causing a powerful water-jet which sweeps the prey into the mouth.

The Firefish is a member of the family of Scorpion-fishes. The dorsal spines are venomous and can cause severe pain; however, it is not as dangerous as the related Stonefish. The Firefish, also known as the Butterfly-Cod, Lionfish, Featherfins and Zebrafish, can reach 40 cm in length.

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