Are Lionfish Reef Safe? {Top 6 Concerns You Should Know}

Does the majestic beauty of a Lionfish appeal to you? Are you concerned about Lionfish attacking coral reefs and damaging your saltwater aquarium ecosystem?

In this article, we will take a deep dive into a reef tank and find out if a Lionfish can be placed safely inside it.

Are Lionfish Reef Safe? Yes. You can keep Lionfish in a reef tank without worrying too much about your coral reef being damaged. Some accidents occur when Lionfish hunt for their prey within your reef tank. Keep your Lionfish well-fed to prevent injuries resulting from hunting near corals.

Can I Put a Lionfish in a Reef Tank?

You can absolutely place a lionfish in your reef tank, but we recommend you keep this tank species-specific if you want to guarantee that your marine life will not be eaten.

Lionfish are known to eat any fish or invertebrate that they can fit into their mouths. Make sure that you’re giving lionfish plenty of chunky and meaty food options to keep them away from possible tankmates.

Instead of letting them hunt through and around corals when other marine life are present, feeding them plenty of food ensures the safety of your reef tank.

Will a Lionfish Eat Coral?

No. Lionfish will not purposely eat or bother your coral that you have established in your reef tank. They are simply looking for food that is actively moving in this area.

The damage to corals that are reported in the oceans attributed to lionfish are due to their aggressive hunting practices.

If you don’t want your coral being damaged, do not add lionfish to a community tank and feed them separately.

Are Zebra Lionfish Reef Safe?

Yes. In the context of harming, eating or damaging plant matter or corals in your reef tank, zebra lionfish will not be a cause for concern.

If you include marine life such as small fish or crustaceans as part of a healthy reef tank, then a zebra lionfish can definitely eat and eliminate them from existing in your reef aquarium.

YouTube video

Top 6 Concerns With Putting Lionfish in a Reef Tank

Lionfish could be a welcome addition to a reef tank because they are not going to attempt to eat any active plants or coral.

There are other concerns regarding lionfish in a reef tank including the following top 6 we have listed below:

  1. Lionfish produce a lot of waste.
  2. Sensitive corals may be affected from poor water conditions.
  3. Tankmates that can fit into its mouth can be hunted and eaten. 
  4. Extra effort is needed to keep reef tanks pristine when including lionfish.
  5. Lionfish can eat clean-up crew members like snails and crabs.
  6. A tank size under 30 gallons for dwarf lionfish may cause accidental damage to your reef tank.

Larger species of lionfish need 55 gallons or over to make sure that they don’t bump into or damage themselves and the coral in your reef tank.

What Can Go in Tanks With Lionfish?

What are the best tankmates for Lionfish? Our best answer is none at all. Keeping a single or multiple lionfish in very spacious tanks are better off for your reef tank.

Injuries, accidents, aggressive hunting of tankmates can lead to damaged marine life, corals and your reef tank as a whole.

The following marine life are noted as suitable to be kept with Lionfish in a very spacious and well decorated reef tank with plenty of hiding spaces to rest and keep to themselves:

  • Threadfin Butterflyfish
  • Atlantic Rock Beauty
  • Blue Hippo Tang
  • Harlequin Tuskfish
  • Clown Triggerfish
  • Foxface Rabbitfish
  • Blue Tang
  • Maroon Clownfish
  • Snowflake Moray Eel
  • Anglerfish
  • Panther Grouper

You are simply looking for tankmates that enjoy similar water parameters and are larger than a lionfish can fit into its mouth.

Smaller fish that keep their distance and know how to evade or hide when necessary can also survive.

Is a Dwarf Lionfish Safe for a Reef Tank?

Yes. Dwarf lionfish are safe for reef tanks because they are not looking to harm sessile inverts like coral. Your main issue would be surrounding any types of injuries that can occur while they are hunting for food.

You may keep a single dwarf lionfish in a tank that is 30 gallons or larger. If you are choosing to add more marine life in this community tank, you would need a lot more hiding spaces and room for lionfish to keep to themselves.

They are messy eaters and you will need to remove leftovers through proper filtration, vacuuming the substrate or manual removal.

Make sure your dwarf lionfish is fed plenty of live or frozen meaty foods. Training your dwarf lionfish to eat food that is not live feeder fish keeps the rest of the community tankmates safer in the long run.

Which Types of Corals Are Safe With Lionfish?

Although most types of corals are generally safe from any lionfish, they could get damaged while your predator is on the hunt for smaller marine life.

Adding the hardiest corals to your reef tank ensures that they can live in harmony with your lionfish.

The following types of corals are relatively safe with lionfish:

Cladiella corals

  • Colt coral
  • Finger leather coral

Pachyclavularia corals

  • Daisy polyps
  • Star polyps
  • Green star polyps


Lionfish are predators that are constantly on the search for fish and invertebrates that they can fit into their mouths. They are not interested in attacking or damaging any structures or corals inside your reef tank.

Accidents may occur when small fish swimming near or within corals end up damaging the live sessile inverts in your reef tank. If the tank is spacious with fewer or no other tankmates, a well-fed lionfish will leave your reef tank unharmed.

Make sure to keep up with reef tank maintenance however, because the pristine waters the ecosystem requires to thrive on can get messy with the way lionfish eat.


Thanks for visiting for another article on Lionfish that we greatly enjoy taking care of in our aquariums. Check out more of our articles on the variety of aquatic and marine life we research and keep. Bye for now!

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.

Recent Posts