[Coral-List] Mechanisms of Predation on Lionfish Egg Masses: A New Focus for Scientific Research?

Brent Rintoul eatmorelionfish at gmail.com
Thu Jun 12 16:20:31 EDT 2014

Hi Lori,

Thanks for sending me the Moyer and Zaiser, 1981 study. Having reviewed it,
and other related papers, I am still left with many questions and concerns
about lionfish reproductive biology relating to ongoing invasive lionfish
control and management efforts, which currently seem to be focused more on
promoting localized culling on a regular and consistent basis until
continued research identifies more effective methodologies.

To that end, I would like to begin, through this List, by asking for
further idea-sharing about the feasibility of studying natural predation
mechanisms on spawned egg masses, in the natural environment, specifically
for the predominant invasive species, Red Lionfish (Pterois Volitans).
While the Moyer/Zaiser study showed that egg masses of the single lionfish
species studied (not P. Volitans), were not accepted as food by 18
different fish species in the aquarium environment, known, in general, to
prey on egg masses of other fishes, more studies are needed to substantiate
due scientific diligence to identify other potential lionfish egg predators
among other likely reef fish predator suspects, beginning with Surgeonfish,
Triggerfish, and Cornetfish, for example, on both free-floating masses and
masses adhered to, or otherwise tethered to structure, at various depths in
the water column. For instance, knowing that lionfish egg masses can be
released anywhere from just off the bottom and upward in the water column,
is it not reasonable to suggest that some portion of the egg masses,
perhaps many of them, given specific structural formations in the spawning
area, and specific conditions of current and swell at the time of any given
spawning event, and the gelatinous nature of the egg masses themselves,
that egg masses could very likely adhere to structure, and that subsequent
ingestion of such 'pseudo-benthic' egg masses by opportunistic predators
might be worthy of study?

On that note, I am pleased to report seeing an encouraging response from a
fellow lister, a professional scientist, to the idea of determining,
through further research, if specific wavelength light sources, e.g.
ultraviolet, could be used to facilitate post-release egg mass enumeration,
tracking, and location in order to facilitate such studies.

Comments? Further idea-sharing?
 Hi Brent:

Lionfish do not lay benthic eggs.  See Moyer and Zaiser, 1981 and Fishelson
cited therein.

* Social organization and spawning behavior of the pteroine fish
<http://www.wdc-jp.biz/pdf_store/isj/publication/pdf/28/281/28106.pdf>* zebra
at Miyake-jima, Japan
*Moyer*, MJ Zaiser - Jpn. J. Ichthyol, 1981


Don't believe everything the dive master tells you!

Lori Bell

At 03:23 AM 6/6/2014, you wrote:

Greetings, Fellow Listers,

Thanks to the ground-breaking 2014 Blue Oceans Business Summit for leading
me to this discussion and, especially to it's proponents who are actively
engaged in invasive lionfish research as it relates to management and
control of exponential invasive population growth.

To that end, I would like to contribute what I hope becomes a game-changing
revelation relative to the efficacy of ongoing mitigation efforts:

On a recent dive trip in the Indo-Pacific, the lionfish's native range, I
was told by a local dive master that lionfish populations there are limited
there primarily by predation on their egg masses, mostly by Triggerfish and
Surgeon Fish, and not by predation on viable juvenile and adult individuals
by other reef predator species (obvious cause/effect being 5" venemous
spines, as REEF's Lad Akins had previously pointed out in this forum).
Furthermore, I was told the eggs are easily visible as they are deposited
on and left 'glued' to reef structure awaiting fertilization.

In all of my research of the scientific literature on invasive lionfish to
date I have not yet seen any studies focusing on the egg masses!

As difficult as it may be to find enough of these egg masses to study,
given that published rates of reproduction and population densities are
much higher in the invaded range than they are in the native range, then
location and study of egg masses should be feasible.

'Blue-sky' vision might see these egg masses showing up vividly under
ultraviolet light... then divers and/or submersible ROVs equipped with UV
torches and suction devices could search and destroy the egg masses, thus
taking out 100's if not 1000's of lionfish seed at once! Then again, maybe
lionfish eggs are good in sushi? I've seen lots of eggs in ones I've see
speared, but never thought to taste them...


R. Brent Rintoul, Retired Ecologist
Facebook Community Page (search):
'ILEAD Invasive Lionfish Eco-action Discovery'
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