Dendrochirus brachypterus

Common Names: Dwarf lionfish, shortfin turkeyfish, fuzzy lionfish

Type Locality: Unknown

Range: Indo-West Pacific. From the Red Sea and eastern Africa to samoa and Tonga, north to southern Japan, south to Lord Howe Island, also the Mariana Islands, the Arafura Sea, and Australia

Taxonomic Troubles: Originally described as Pterois brachypterus

Size: 17 cm (6.5 inches)

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical marine. Temperature 24 to 26 degrees Celsius (75 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit)

Difficulty: Usually hardy, but special care must be taken, especially with feeding. This fish is venomous, and its sting can be quite dangerous. Most aquarist envenomations occur through carelessness when servicing the tank. First aid is immerse the affected area in

Tank Setup: These are nocturnal predators and should have subdued lighting or at least deep caves into which they can retreat. They often can be found resting upside-down in a dark recess. They will probably ignore sessile inverts, but ornamental crabs and shrimp ar

Feeding: This is a predator that can swallow fish close to its own size. It can easily be trained to take non-living foods, and should be. Do NOT feed it goldfish. Bits of fish or shellfish meat offered wiggled on a skewer work well, and most individuals can be

Breeding: This species has been spawned (see TFH January 1998), but fry have not been reared yet. The egg mass is released and fertilized in a lionfish-typical loop-the-loop run to the surface.

Fish Description

Other than size, lionfish of this genus differ from Pterois spp. in having webbing almost to the tips of their fin rays. Thus, they look less prickly, but the rays are still venomous. This species is quite variable in color, with the basic lionfish red often mixing with yellowish or greenish pigments.


Lionfish are always popular due to their hardiness, exotic appearance, and personable natures. Most, however, get quite large--obviously, if a 7-inch species is considered a "dwarf." Even these smaller animals are heavy-feeding predators, and large tanks with ample filtration are necessary.

Regular water changes should follow periodic feedings. The shortfin lionfish is considered by many to be even more engaging than its relatives, and they become true pets, swimming up to the glass to greet a familiar face.

They usually tolerate both conspecifics and other species, but make sure that tankmates are too large to be eaten. Likewise, aviod fin nippers like triggers and puffers.

This fish is an excellent choice for the hobbyist wishing to enjoy lionfish in smaller tanks or wishing to keep several lionfish together in a large aquarium.