Can the lionfish, Pterois spp., differentiate between colors?

Since the invasion of red lionfish, Pterois spp., in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean, many studies have evaluated the predatory behavior of the species both in the field and in the laboratory. There is still relatively little knowledge regarding the intraspecific behaviors of the species, which could be successfully studied with the use of visual models. However, information is lacking regarding visual ability of the species. One study has confirmed that the lens of the eye of the lionfish eye is adapted to transmit visible light, but further anatomical evidence is required to confirm the use of color vision in the species. Color vision has recently been assessed in reef fish using stimulus-reward methods. Similar methods were repeated with lionfish in this study. Preference tests were performed following a week-long rewardstimulus training regime. The difference between time spent with the “training color” and the “distraction color” was not significant, but the group as a whole spent more time on the correct side than the incorrect side of the aquarium. Although there was no significant data to support color vision in the species, the behaviors of each individual are discussed in detail. The study, however, does not rule out nor confirm color vision in lionfish. It can be concluded that lionfish do not learn to associate colors with food rewards as readily as other reef fish species.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XV (Spring 2014)19: 52-57 from CIEE Bonaire.

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