First report of an emerging ulcerative skin disease in invasive lionfish

Figure 1. Eating large, predatory fish harvested from warmer, tropical waters puts consumers at risk for ciguatoxic fish poisoning, and food safety officials in the United States and Caribbean caution against it. The voracious appetite and diverse eating habits of the lionfish suggest it is also a top-order predator species prone to accumulation of ciguatoxins. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A disease first reported in the summer of 2017 has been causing skin ulcers in invasive lionfish off the coasts of Florida and the Caribbean. Fish health scientists are investigating this disease, but initial evaluations have not yet found the cause. This 7-page fact sheet written by Holden E. Harris, Alexander Q. Fogg, Roy P. E. Yanong, Salvatore Frasca Jr., Theresa Cody, Thomas B. Waltzek, and William F. Patterson III and published by the UF/IFAS program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation describes research efforts to discover more about this disease and its potential to spread to other species as well as its effect on lionfish populations, the lionfish fishery, and reef fish communities.