Devil firefish (Pterois miles) have beautiful reddish or brown stripes and delicate fins, making them interesting to watch and photograph. “Pterois” means “winged” and “miles” means soldier, so in English, their species name means “winged soldier”.

At the Two Oceans Aquarium, we have some of these fish in a separate tank, near the entrance.

This Indian Ocean fish, which favours reefs, rocky outcrops and tidal pools, occurs along the east coast of South Africa, around India and Indonesia, and along the east coast of Australia.

According to A Guide to The Common Sea Fishes of Southern Africa by Rudy van der Elst (Struik, 1985), these fish eat mostly small crabs, which they stalk expertly, but will also feed on shrimps and squid.

The devil firefish’s dorsal spines are venomous, and are a tool of defence. The venom is rarely fatal to humans.

These are popular fish with aquarists, and they tend to do well in captivity.

Species Facts

  • There are five species of devil firefish that occur in South Africa, all with different markings
  • The young of this species are almost transparent