Skip to main content

First record of the snapper-choking isopod Cymothoa excisa (Isopoda: Cymothoidae) parasitizing invasive lionfish Pterois volitans (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae)

  • Alfonso Aguilar-Perera (a1), Luis Quijano-Puerto (a1), Evelyn Carrillo-Flota (a1), Ernest H. Williams (a2) (a3) and Lucy Bunkley-Williams (a2) (a4)...

Two female snapper-choking isopods Cymothoa excisa (body length 11 and 14 mm) were in the buccal cavity of two invasive lionfish Pterois volitans (total length 294 and 301 mm) collected in Alacranes Reef, southern Gulf of Mexico. This is the first record of C. excisa parasitizing invasive lionfish P. volitans in coral reefs of the Western Atlantic, where these isopods appear to have infected the host through adult prey-predator transfer.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: A. Aguilar-Perera Departamento de Biología Marina, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida, Yucatán, México email:
Hide All
Aguilar-Perera, A. and Tuz-Sulub, A. (2010) Non-native, invasive red lionfish (Pterois volitans [Linnaeus, 1758]: Scorpaenidae), is first recorded in the southern Gulf of Mexico, off the northern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Aquatic Invasions 5, 912.
Bonilla-Gómez, J.L., Ramírez-Rojas, A., Badillo-Alemán, M. and Chiappa-Carrara, X. (2014) Nuevo registro de Lagodon rhomboides (Pisciformes: Sparidae) como hospedero de Cymothoa excisa (Isopoda: Cymothoidae) en la costa noroeste de la península de Yucatán. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad 85, 633637.
Bullard, S.A., Barse, A.M., Curan, S.S. and Morris, J.A. Jr (2011) First record of a digenean from invasive lionfish, Pterois cf. volitans (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae) in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Journal of Parasitology 97, 833837.
Bunkley-Williams, L., Williams, E.H. Jr and Bashirullah, A.K. (2006) Isopods (Isopoda: Aegidae, Cymothoidae, Gnathiidae) associated with Venezuelan marine fishes (Elasmobranchii, Actinopterygii). Revista de Biología Tropical 54, 175188.
Bunkley-Williams, L., Williams, E.H. Jr and Garzon-Ferreira, J. (1999) Some isopod and copepod parasites (Crustacea) of Colombian marine fishes. Caribbean Journal of Science 35, 311314.
Côté, I.M., Green, S.J. and Hixon, M.A. (2013) Predatory fish invaders: insights from Indo-Pacific lionfish in the western Atlantic and Caribbean. Biological Conservation 164, 5061.
Fernández Osorio, R.A., Corrada Wong, R.I., Chevalier Monteagudo, P.P., Caballero Aragón, H. and Cabrera Sanson, E. (2014) Primeros registros parasitológicos en pez león, Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758), para aguas cubanas. Proceedings of the Gulf Caribbean Fisheries Institute 66, 180185.
Joca, L.K., Leray, V.L., Zigler, K.S. and Brusca, R.C. (2015) A new host and reproduction at a small size for the ‘snapper-choking isopod’ Cymothoa excisa (Isopoda: Cymothoidae). Journal of Crustacean Biology 35, 292294.
Kensley, B. and Schotte, M. (1989) Marine isopod crustaceans of the Caribbean. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 308 pp.
Loerch, S.M., McCammon, A.M. and Sikkel, P.C. (2015) Low susceptibility of invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois volitans to ectoparasitic Neobenedenia in the eastern Caribbean. Environmental Biology of Fishes 98, 19791985.
López-Gómez, M.J., Aguilar-Perera, A. and Perera-Chan, L. (2014) Mayan diver-fishers as citizen scientists: detection and monitoring of the invasive red lionfish in the Parque Nacional Arrecife Alacranes, southern Gulf of Mexico. Biological Invasions 16, 13511357.
Morris, J.A. and Akins, J.L. (2009) Feeding ecology of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the Bahamian archipelago. Environmental Biology of Fishes 86, 389398.
Poole, T. (2011) The sensitivity of the invasive lionfish, Pterois volitans, to parasitism in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. Physis: Journal of Marine Science 9, 4449.
Ramos-Ascherl, Z., Williams, E.H. Jr, Bunkley-Williams, L., Tuttle, L.J., Sikkel, P.C. and Hixon, M.A. (2015) Parasitism in Pterois volitans (Scorpaenidae) from coastal waters of Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. Journal of Parasitology 101, 5056.
Ruiz-Carus, R., Matheson, R.E., Roberts, D.E. and Whitfield, P.E. (2006) The western Pacific red lionfish, Pterois volitans (Scorpaenidae), in Florida: evidence for reproduction and parasitism in the first exotic marine fish established in state waters. Biological Conservation 128, 384390.
Schofield, P.J. (2010) Update on geographic spread of invasive lionfishes (Pterois volitans [Linnaeus, 1758] and P. miles [Bennett, 1828]) in the Western North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Aquatic Invasions 5, S117S122.
Sellers, A.J., Ruiz, G.M., Leung, B. and Torchin, M.E. (2015) Regional variation in parasite species richness and abundance in the introduced range of the invasive lionfish, Pterois volitans . PLoS ONE 10, e0131075.
Sikkel, P.C., Tuttle, L.J., Cure, K., Coile, A.M. and Hixon, M.A. (2014) Low susceptibility of invasive red lionfish (Pterois volitans) to a generalist ectoparasite in both its introduced and native ranges. PLoS ONE 9, e95854.
Simmons, K.R. (2014) Evidence of the enemy release hypothesis: parasites of the lionfish complex (Pterios volitans and P. miles) in the Western North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. MSc thesis. Nova Southeastern University.
Thatcher, V.E., Jost, G.F. and Souza-Conceição, J.M. (2003) Comparative morphology of Cymothoa spp. (Isopoda, Cymothoidae) from Brazilian fishes, with the description of Cymothoa catarinensis sp. nov. and redescriptions of C. excisa Perty and C. oestrum (Linnaeus). Revista Brasileira do Zoologia 20, 541552.
Torchin, M.E., Lafferty, K.D., Dobson, A.P., McKenzie, V.J. and Kuris, A.M. (2003) Introduced species and their missing parasites. Nature 421, 628630.
Tuttle, L.J., Sikkel, P.C., Cure, K. and Hixon, M.A. (2017) Parasite-mediated enemy release and low biotic resistance may facilitate invasion of Atlantic coral reefs by Pacific red lionfish (Pterois volitans). Biological Invasions 19, 563575.
Whitfield, P.E., Gardner, T., Vives, S.P., Gilligan, M.R., Courtenay, W.R. Jr, Ray, G.C. and Hare, J.A. (2002) Biological invasion of the Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois volitans along the Atlantic coast of North America. Marine Ecology Progress Series 235, 289297.
Williams, E.H. Jr and Bunkley-Williams, L. (1994) Four cases of unusual crustacean-fish associations and comments on parasitic processes. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 6, 202208.
Williams, E.H. Jr and Bunkley-Williams, L. (in press) Life cycle and history strategies of parasitic Crustacea. In Bruce, N.L. and Smit, N.J. (eds) Parasitic Crustacea. Springer.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 45 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 433 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 19th September 2017 - 24th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.