Sea Creature of the Week: Thanksgiving Edition!

Nov 21 2011

Zebra Turkey-Fish, Lion-Fish, Fire-Fish

Scientific name: Dendrochirus zebra

Family: Scorpaenidae

Home: This elegant yet poisonous fish is native to the shallow reefs of the Indo-Pacific region. It has a tendency to shield itself from sunlight by hiding under rocks and coral. In recent years the Zebra Turkey Fish has been spotted terrorizing the waters of the Atlantic (as far North as New York). This invasion is attributed primarily to the fact that aquarium owners set their marine friends free. Most are unaware of the devastating consequences non-native species can have on a marine ecosystem.

Distinguishing characteristics: The colorful ray-finned Turkey Fish grows to be no larger than 12 inches in length. The zebra-like stripes covering its body range between red, brown, black and white. Its dorsal fin has 13 elongated, poison-filled spines which it uses only for self-defense.

Food: Despite its potential to attack and eat a variety of different sea creatures the Turkey fish tends to feed solely on small bottom-dwelling crustaceans.

Fun Facts:

This little guy makes guest appearances in a number of popular Nintendo video games!

• The grouper is the only natural predator known to the Fire Fish!

• Although, slow-moving and peaceful this highly venomous sea creature will attack if threatened by striking with its sharp fins!

• The Turkey Fish is immune to the venom of its relatives yet chooses to live a solitary lifestyle!

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