Lionfish in the Shark Tank


Lionfish look nice in an aquarium with their intricate colors and feathery fins, but, just like a lion, they can be dangerous. Those feathery fins are actually venomous spines that can be fatal to humans, but that isn't what makes the Lionfish so dangerous. Lionfish are native to Pacific Ocean near Indonesia, but they've invaded the Caribbean Sea and Southern Atlantic Ocean and are considered an invasive species. Scientists speculate that a wrecked aquarium during Hurricane Andrew released Lionfish into the ocean and/or negligent aquarists released them deliberately. However they got there, they are threatening the reef ecosystems in their non native waters and eradication efforts are highly encouraged.

Traditional Fisheries Seeks to Eradicate Lionfish

Traditional Fisheries, who pitches in the Shark Tank in episode 419, has an old-fashioned way of controlling the Lionfish population: catch 'em and cook 'em! Despite being poisonous, the Lionfish is a delicate and tasty fish. Traditional Fisheries made selling Lionfish as a food product their business, so they're killing two birds (or fish) with one stone: providing Lionfish eradication services and making some money selling fish.

Traditional Fisheries has received a lot of media attention and accolades for their efforts, but they don't catch the fish themselves, they contract with local fisherman.  The business embodies everything a good business should ideally be: profitable enough to provide income for the owners, employment opportunities for local fisherman, and a unique and quality product for consumers all while serving the larger purpose of re-balancing an important ecosystem.

Do Sharks bite on Lionfish?

Traditional Fisheries is one of the more unusual businesses to appear in the Shark Tank this season. Even if they have good numbers and a sound business model, I'm not sure any of the Sharks will be interested. This has the “this is cool, but it's not for me” response from the Sharks written all over it. I could potentially see Robert and/or Mark taking a flyer on this if it isn't big money, but I'm willing to bet the margins are too thin and that Sharks won't bite on Lionfish.

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob and more.


  1. nikki comley says:

    I don’t understand why Traditional Fisheries feels the need to eradicate Lion Fish. Why don’t they focus on promoting the selling of them for aquariums instead of killing them. From my understanding they aren’t cheap for the fish tank anyways so maybe they could lower the price & move more of them. They are beautiful creatures and there are other solutions other than eating them which I don’t think is the solution.

    • Tastes like chicken….

    • Lion fish have no natural enemies. I have s.c.u.b.a.’d around them & sharks in Belize where they have now spread so sadly. Sharks cant even eat them unless we spear & kill them first. This makes their poison immedietly leave their bodies Then & only Then can they be eaten even by a shark. Ceviche is very popular w/ them, & fund raisers of fish fry’s for lap tops for school children happen often. Belizian’s care so much about their ocean that they dont even allow anchors on boats. Will ruin coral reefs. Lion Fish are destroying the natural balance of our ocean one of the reasons our coral reefs are dying

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