The Russel’s lionfish can best be described as a volitans in a slightly smaller package, both in habits and care. It is often seen offered for sale under the incorrect common name red volitans. I actually asked the owner of an aquarium shop why he mis-ID’d this fish, and he told me “The people who really know, know, but most people don’t, and it avoids confusion”. I can’t say I agree with the logic, especially since he has a bit of a passion for oddball fish, but I guess it works for some folks.
The P. russelii is most easily identified by the lack of spots on its caudal and median fins, which also gives rise to one of its common names clearfin lionfish. Its white body is adorned with reddish-brown vertical bands, which are sparser and more widely spaced than those of the P. volitans. Additionally, Russel’s lionfish lack the dark markings under its chin that the volitans has. Once you see a Russel’s, you won’t mistake them as P. volitans thereafter.
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