Why Is My Lionfish Not Eating? {Does It Need Food Daily?}

Are you concerned about your Lionfish going on a hunger strike? Is your Lionfish spooked, stressed or just sick of eating the same food? In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons why your Lionfish is not eating.

Why Is My Lionfish Not Eating? Acclimating your Lionfish to your tank’s conditions and training it to eat the food you’re offering gets tricky. Too much krill may cause lockjaw in your Lionfish. Try stick feeding, a variety of live foods or soak frozen and freeze dried food in garlic to ignite its appetite.

How Can I Feed My Lionfish?

There are many methods of feeding a Lionfish. Usually, they like to corner their prey and attack it without your help. In captivity, things may change to the point where your Lionfish gets stressed, confused and would love some assistance.

Hold a feeder fish like goldfish or silversides by the tail at the top of the water. The live fish will try to swim and will hopefully catch the attention of your Lionfish to swim up and snatch it.

You can also use a stick to feed your Lionfish. Once it gets used to feeding from the top of the tank or from a stick, you can try other types of foods that are frozen, freeze dried or even meaty pellets.

How Do I Feed Lionfish Shrimp?

Lionfish will usually gobble up a shrimp in one gulp. The best thing to do first is to gut load the live shrimp with plenty of nutrients. Ghost shrimp are the cheapest and easiest solution to offering live, gut-loaded shrimp.

Wiggle shrimplets or krill or allow them to flow in a current. If they hit the substrate directly, your Lionfish may not notice it.

You can maneuver the ghost shrimp into the line of sight of your Lionfish by using a tube or feeding stick. Try to get the shrimp cornered and you’ll have a better chance of getting your Lionfish to spot it moving to eat it.

How Do I Train A Lionfish to Eat Frozen Foods?

A feeding stick is helpful to mimic the movement of live food if you’re trying to train your lionfish to eat frozen or freeze dried meals instead.

Keep the stick near the mouth of the Lionfish. Dip the food into liquid garlic first to make it more enticing to snatch it from the stick.

The instincts of your lionfish will most likely kick in and it will attempt to grab what is artificially moving (with your help and the stick) right in front of its mouth.

YouTube video

Why Is My Lionfish Not Eating Krill?

Krill is a very popular option for Lionfish food. Unfortunately, too much krill can lead to your Lionfish deciding not to eat it anymore. Another risk is that it could lead to lockjaw. They can also hit objects or the glass and break their jaw when trying to eat live prey.

A lionfish could be injured from lockjaw. If you notice your Lionfish looking like it’s yawning all the time or if it’s jaw is tweaked, you may need to help pop it back in. Sedating your Lionfish will be necessary before you can help.

Tube feeding a Lionfish also requires sedation. These procedures are very delicate and should be done so carefully with enough research, guidance and possibly the help of a professional.

Should I Tube Feed My Lionfish?

Tube feeding is invasive, stressful and downright scary for your Lionfish. This is the last resort option and should only be done after 2 weeks of not seeing your Lionfish eating. Always start with offering live feeder fish or shrimp.

Sedate your Lionfish first with medication like Tricaine mesylate (MS-222). Insert the tube deep into its stomach and inject flakes, roe or pulverized frozen food. Try not to go over 3% of its body weight with a single dose.

If your Lionfish hasn’t eaten in over a week, this meal could make it sick. Tube feeding is not an option we recommend unless the situation is dire.

Is My Lionfish Starving?

A Lionfish should eat daily or every two days. If you think your Lionfish is starved, you will notice some of the following symptoms:

  • spots on the mouth or body
  • cloudy eyes
  • difficulty breathing
  • dull coloring
  • erratic swimming

Offer smaller portions of food about the size of its eye. Your Lionfish might be intimidated by larger looking food if it isn’t used to it through its time in captivity.

Allow the food to move on a stick or flow through the current. Movement makes it more enticing to eat. A period of not eating may help to train your Lionfish to shift away from live food into frozen or prepared foods.

Is My Lionfish Healthy?

Your Lionfish may be spooked for a little while as it tries to adjust to a new life in your tank. Make sure there is plenty of room. A dwarf Lionfish could survive in a 20 gallon tank, but 30 gallons would be better. A full sized adult Lionfish would require 50 gallons or more.

Make sure that your Lionfish thrives near or at the ideal conditions below:

  • Average size: 6-18 inches
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Tank Size: 50 gallons+
  • Water Temperature: 72-78°F
  • Salinity: 1.020-1.026
  • pH: 8.1 and 8.4
  • Feedings: 1-2 times a day or once every 2 days
  • Decorations: Rocks and plants for hiding spaces

Does A Lionfish Need To Eat Every Day?

It is not essential for a Lionfish to eat daily. Overfeeding can make it hard for their slow digestion to kick in. Food may rot inside before it can be digested. Bacterial infections may result and cause more damage than allowing a day off between meals.

Drooping fins, loss of color and bloating could be indicators that your Lionfish is eating too much. Studies show that Lionfish can slow down their metabolism in the wild and give up eating for up to 3 months. 1-2 weeks of not eating in captivity shouldn’t kill a Lionfish.


Thanks for visiting HelpUsFish.com 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.

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