From the lionfish, to the iguana, to the Burmese python, the Key West Aquarium is becoming home to many invasive species in Southern Florida. That is why we will soon be opening up a new tank just to house invasive species. While these invasive creatures are not welcome in most parts of Florida, we want to welcome them with a special tank so we can teach our guests about the impact invasive species have on our precious, Floridian ecosystem.
One of our new guests could be the lionfish, which has become an invasive species in the waters off the East Coast of the U.S., as well as the Caribbean. The red lionfish was likely first introduced to Caribbean and U.S. coastal waters in the early 1990s from its native region in the Indo-Pacific. Unfortunately, it tends to exhibit aggressive behavior towards smaller fish and invertebrates, and even sports long, beautiful, yet venomous fin rays.
The venom excreted by the lionfish’s fins was found through studies to damage clam and frog hearts, and it even decreased blood pressure in rabbits! The potency of their venom has even become a danger to divers, especially since they have been known to exhibit aggressive behavior to humans as well, which is uncommon in smaller fish. Nevertheless, our invasive species tank will be a great opportunity for guests to observe and learn about animals that were not originally supposed to be here.