Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish - Care and Requirements
There are many species of lionfish that are available for the home aquarium but some are less appropriate than others. Some of the commonly offered lionfish species grow to 15" or more and require a minimum tank size of 75 to 100 gallons. Many hobbyists often purchase these types of lionfish without doing proper research about the specific species and they are shocked when their lionfish outgrows their aquarium. On the other hand, there are some species of lionfish that are less commonly available but they reach a more modest size and are easier to maintain in the constraints of an aquarium.
The fuzzy dwarf lionfish (Dendrochirus brachypterus) is a prime example of a modestly sized lionfish that can be maintained in a medium sized aquarium. The maximum length for a fuzzy dwarf lionfish is roughly 7" with many specimens growing to be a little bit larger than the size of a softball. With this in mind a single specimen could be housed alone in a 30 gallon tank. If one were to want to have other types of species in the set up than a more appropriate aquarium size would be in the neighborhood of 50 to 75 gallons.
There are various color varieties of fuzzy dwarf lionfish with prices varying depending on the color of the specific fish. This does sometimes lead to confusion for hobbyists and even local fish stores as the variety of colors may lead to one thinking that it is an entirely different species. Regardless of color, the common visual theme for fuzzy dwarf lionfish is that of a carpet-like skin texture. In others words fuzzy dwarf lionfish look like they were rolled across old loose carpet then placed in a tank!
One must remember that all lionfish species are predatory and the fuzzy dwarf lionfishes are no exception. Any fish, shrimp, or other crustacean that is less than half the size of the fuzzy dwarf lionfish is at risk for being attacked and potentially eaten. It is best to find tank-mates that reach a similar adult size and are not overly aggressive themselves as certain fish such as some of the more aggressive triggerfish will harass your fuzzy dwarf lionfish. Fuzzy dwarf lionfish are hardy aquarium residents and often easily acclimate to prepared aquarium foods. Appropriate foods include but are not limited to krill, mysis shrimp, market shrimp, ghost shrimp, silversides, cut squid, and cut fish fillets. Most pet stores and tropical fish stores will carry blends of prepared frozen marine predator foods.
Fuzzy dwarf lionfish are probably the best candidate of all the lionfish species to be kept in a reef type setting due to their size. They tend to mind their own business and leave other species alone if they do not think they can make a meal out of them. It is vital to remember that fuzzy dwarf lionfish have venomous dorsal spines just like their larger lionfish relatives. It is extremely important to take proper safety precautions when removing any lionfish from an aquarium as a sting from one of the spines is quite painful and can even cause a reaction in some people which may result in an emergency room visit. When performing tank maintenance owners should always be aware of the location of their lionfish as an accidental sting could potentially occur on a clumsy hand while rearranging tank décor.
If you are considering a lionfish for your home aquarium and you don't have a a very large tank then look no further than the fuzzy dwarf lionfish. They have all the personality of larger lionfish in a more manageable package and they are quite hardy. Just remember fuzzy dwarf lionfish will consume or attempt to consume any other fish or crustacean that they believe will fit in their mouth so stock your tank accordingly. Check out the videos below of some fuzzy dwarf lionfish in action!