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Aquariums fascinate me.  Life underwater, especial in the world’s seas is intriguing.  There is something about the endless variety of sea life that make me marvel at the wonder of creation.

When I wander through the maze of aquarium tanks and exhibits, it never fails to amaze me at the attention that Lionfish generate.  There is usually a crowd around their display.  You can hear the people “ooh” and “ah”.

Parents tell their children, “I saw these Lionfish that last time we were scuba diving.  They are beautiful but dangerous.”  Unmistakably identified by their reddish and white stripes, Lionfish are worth a long lingering look.

While beautiful, they are also venomous.  The toxin in the stinging fin rays of his animal will commonly be painful, cause nausea, vomiting and result in a fever.  This fish’s sting is particularly dangerous to the young or the elderly.  Death can occur especially among those who have a weakened immune system or allergies to the venom. 

Chest pain, difficulty in breathing, low blood pressure and speech slurring are common symptoms of a Lionfish sting.  An encounter with this deadly fish will not go away on its own.  Medical treatment must be sought.

Inside a fish tank, its beauty can we appreciated by all the visitors who never venture into the world below the seas.  These ornate creatures swim with purpose, slowly while on the prowl. Then, with swiftness that will surprise any who are lulled into a lazy tracking of this highly adept predator, are startled when this animal attacks for a meal.

They jettison streams of water to disorient their prey.  Gaping mouths open and inhale their prey in one swift motion.  This fish can position itself with great precision to best dominate their next meal, then move back into a casual holding pattern.

With the light so low, it wasn’t easy trying to photograph these amazingly attractive fish.  I would have to angle the picture correctly to avoid a flash reflection.  Then I would hope that the Lionfish would cooperate and not move during the exposure.  No one like a blurry picture.

Salt water is naturally hazy too.  People bump in these tight quarters as well.  Kids run and collide with other kids and shoving makes many a steady photographer’s arm move at the wrong time. 

But, patience, concentration and God’s moment of blessing prove to be part of my first visit to the Houston Aquarium.  I like these photos of the Lionfish.  It is stunning and deadly; so fascinating!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography