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Bad-News Beauties

Poison-spined fish from Asia have invaded U.S. waters

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2:56pm, September 5, 2006

With striking red, black, and white stripes decorating its body, fins, and some dozen spines along its head, back, and sides, the red lionfish is at once beautiful and frightening. The football-shaped fish can grow up to 18 inches long and is poisonous to the touch. At smaller sizes, this subtropical fish from Asia is extremely popular for hobbyists with saltwater aquariums, but the red lionfish is a major worry to government biologists charged with protecting native species in the wild.

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