Few fish are as lovely as the lionfish. Few are as venomous.

A frilly, colorful native of the clear tropical waters and reefs of the South Pacific and Indian oceans, the lionfish has been a favorite of aquarium hobbyists for years.

In the Atlantic, however, it was unknown.

Then in the 1980s genetic researchers believe a handful of hobbyists in Florida, perhaps thinking it a kindness, released their aquarium pets into the wild ocean.

At that point, the lionfish proved they aren’t just lovely and venomous — they also breed like rabbits on Viagra. Ravenous eaters, they gobble up any smaller fish they spot and easily displace native species. And because nothing in this part of the Atlantic recognizes them as prey, their population has exploded into a serious and unfortunate marine invasion.

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