For those that do not have the space to house a fully grown Pterois volitans or common lionfish, the Fu Manchu lionfish may be the answer. And for those ‘predator’ junkies out there, don’t worry the Fu Manchu’s small size in no way diminishes its predatory nature. Be aware that as with all lionfish the Fu Manchu has venomous spines that are capable of causing severe pain. Therefore, when keeping one of these animals it is important to take note of the lionfish’s whereabouts in the aquarium before performing any kind of maintenance.
Fu Manchu lionfish (Dendrochirus biocellatus) are compatible with all peaceful community fish that are at least the same size or bigger than the lionfish itself. However, it should not be kept with aggressive fish as this will cause the lionfish to become shy and reclusive. As with other predatory fish you shouldn’t keep Fu Manchu lionfish with anything small enough to fit in their mouths. In this case, any fish shorter than half the length of the lionfish will be considered food. Ornamental shrimp will also become food. Although these lionfish can be kept together, caution is advised. The lionfish should be of similar size and should be added at the same time. Adding lionfish separately will result in the first one added becoming dominant and likely killing any other lionfish added at a later date.
A 115 litre or 30-gallon aquarium should be the minimum tank size considered when keeping Fu Manchu lionfish. Rockwork that forms caves and shelves is advisable. The lionfish will spend most of the day suspended upside-down beneath these structures. As with all lionfish, they are reef safe and compatible with corals. Just keep in mind that small inverts will become lunch.
Feeding is perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome when keeping lionfish. Being a predator lionfish prefer live food and getting them to eat frozen foods or pellets is a challenge. Unless you have consistent and reliable access to live foods it is advisable to ween your lionfish onto frozen foods.
You can encourage your lionfish to eat frozen foods by suspending the food in front of the lionfish with a pair of long tweezers. Moving the food through the water will simulate the natural movement of prey and will encourage your lionfish to eat. If your lionfish does not eat immediately, DO NOT panic. Lionfish are able to go several weeks without food. If your lionfish does not accept the food after a couple of day’s then cease all feeding for 2-3 days. The complete lack of food may stimulate the lionfish to take whatever food comes along next. Eventually your lionfish will associate you with food and you will be able to just add the food to the tank without any ‘prey simulation’.
Once you get your lionfish eating frozen foods, they will need a variety of different meaty foods, such as prawns and Mysis shrimp. Be careful not to overfeed a lionfish as they have been known to overeat to the point of creating an internal blockage if given the chance. If your lionfish is a juvenile then feed every second day, if it is an adult, then feed three times a week.
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