In this article you will know everything about the stone fish, one of the most dangerous aquatic creatures, whose bite can be fatal.
The stone fish belong to the Tetraodontiformes order and the Sinancéido family. By nature they are very poisonous fish that stalks their prey in silence and hiding in the form of rock. Even for humans, the bite of this fish is deadly.
Since the human being was made in hunter-gatherer prehistory he has been facing all kinds of fish species of various kinds. Whether they are species with an incalculable beauty, and others that attack without being disturbed or attacked. This is the case of the stone fish.
Table Of Content
- 1 Types of Stone Fish 🐟
- 2 General Characteristics of Stone fish 🐟
- 3 The Stone fish and their Dorsal Fin 🐟
- 4 Types of Stone Fish 🐟
- 5 The Stone Fish Poison
- 6 Main Threats of Stone Fish
- 7 Stone Fish in Aquariums 🐟
- 8 Tips for having Stone fish in Aquariums 🐟
Types of Stone Fish 🐟
Only two species of this fish are known, which are the Synanceja Verrucosa found in the Islands of Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles, East Africa and the Red Sea and there is the species Synanceja horrida that lives in the waters of the Pacific Indus.
General Characteristics of Stone fish 🐟
The stone fish are considered very dangerous creatures and their bite can be fatal in the case of human beings. Generally we find a great variety of fish in the oceans, which have a different character structure and behavior. They are distributed all over the world in both: ocean waters and rivers.
There are millions and millions of fish of all kinds, there are exotic, of unsurpassed beauty, of all sizes, colors and even dangerous as is the case of stone fish.
We can also name the sailfish or marlin that, despite being large and endowed with a dangerous structure, doesn’t attack human beings.
Throughout existence, man has interacted with his environment, especially with fish, from which he feeds.
In the case of the stone fish it’s worth mentioning that they live in the depths of the different oceans, settling next to the rocks where they manage to go unnoticed due to their stone-like characteristics; hence their name.
They are extremely exotic creatures, which are scattered throughout most marine corners. They are considered very dangerous due to the poison that contains in their fins and that can be mortal for the human beings.
However, they don’t directly attack the man and usually the bites occur due to accidents while accidentally stepping on one of these specimens, which go unnoticed due to their resemblance to the rocks.
This camouflage skill is very useful to protect themselves from their predators and sometimes they do it to obtain their food.
However, they say that a good hunter gets to be hunted; this happens to the stone fish that is usually preyed on by the manta rays, whales and white sharks. Even it’s known that a killer whale can eat up to more than fifty stone fish at once.
The stone fish belongs to a majority group of poisonous fish, where there are more than one thousand two hundred species, which contain a super powerful poison which exceeds in an extraordinary way that of snakes and invertebrates.
Even when it’s known about the danger of this fish, bites of this animal continue to occur, of which death has been reported in certain areas of Australia and on the shores of the Indian and Pacific Ocean. Where many of the victims have been treated favorably, since they have come on time, however others have not had the same fate.
In any case, the most important thing in the event of a stonefish bite is to take the proper provisions putting first aid into practice and immediately going to a care center.
let’s meet them
The Stone fish and their Dorsal Fin 🐟
One of the most dangerous structures of these animals are their dorsal fins which are made-up 13 spines where they keep part of their poison. When pricking with such structure they introduce all their venom through it in a proportional and fast way.
It’s a potent poison, almost equal to that of a cobra, which is made-up of neurotoxic and cytotoxins.
This sting is one of the most painful among the bites of any species of fish and causes a swelling of great magnitude, causing the venom to spread through all the tissues, especially in the muscular part.
The effect is paralyzing and causes a strong collapse that can lead to death if corrective measures are not taken urgently. Such an incident can occur in just two hours.
Types of Stone Fish 🐟
Let’s meet the members of this family
Synanceja Horrida (Estuarine Stonefish) 🐟
Animalia Kingdom Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Corpaeniformes Family: Synanceiidae Genus: Synanceia Species: S. horrida
This is a species of only 36 centimeters in length which can vary its color easily.
Its body is decorated with quite wide diffuse stripes and the spines that make up its dorsal fin are shorter than the length of its entire body.
Although the Estuarine Stonefish has a great color, this fish is extremely calm and spends much of its time between the rocks.
It’s usually an animal of nocturnal habits when it goes out in search of food in the dark. It’s worth noting that it’s a carnivorous fish that feeds on small fish, crustaceans and mollusks.
Its color is quite varied from gray to brown, combined with yellow, red and orange, “it’s a true spectacle to observe the beauty of colors of this stone fish, which although they are labeled ugly or badly called monsters have a particular beauty”
This species has a sexual dimorphism: males have large heads and have a small caudal peduncle. On the other hand, the female peduncle is of greater proportion. Females have 6 bands on the pectoral fins and 10 males.
Spawning occurs on the surface, where the female at dawn spawns more than 20 thousand ovules, which are fertilized by the male, who spreads his semen over the place of spawning.
Then sea currents are responsible for carrying fertilized eggs to the open sea, where the 36-hour larvae dragged by the waves and water currents begin to float.
Once they achieve their ideal size that is about 12 centimeters approximately. They descend to their places on coral reefs and rocks in the oceans.
Synanceja Verrucosa (Reef Stonefish) 🐟
This species inhabits the Caribbean and the Florida Coasts. Its sting is painful, but not fatal.
Its diet is based on crustaceans and a mollusk which complements with small fish «is carnivorous par excellence».
Moreover, their defense mechanisms are the fins on its back (especially the anal one) where Synanceja Verrucosa has a large number of poisonous spikes.
Its size is about 37 centimeters in total length and its color is variant in shades of brown, gray, green, red, yellow and orange which are well distributed throughout its body.
This species is one of the most poisonous in the world; if its bite is not attended quickly it can be deadly. For this reason it’s recommended to cautious when attending rocky places in Indo-Pacific coastal areas. This species can be found in the same way in some rivers.
They are established exhaustively in Australia where they can camouflage perfectly in the middle of the rocks or next to the corals looking like one of them.
Its venom is usually thermolabile, which means that the place of the bite should be washed as soon as possible with enough hot water before going to the doctor to put the antidote.
Despite all the technological advances and research carried out on this fish, there are still many mysteries about its poison that have not been revealed.
Like the others of its kind, it’s known that it can remain up to forty-eight hours outside its habitat and wait for the tide to arrive so that it can be returned to its place.
The Stone Fish Poison
As we have previously mentioned, stone fish are one of the marine species that belongs to the group of the most poisonous animals in the aquatic environment, since they have a powerful poison on its dorsal fin. In addition, its skin contains a toxic substance that can be deadly if not treated on time.
It can be confused with other fish in the family and perhaps at some point it can be confused with the Ragged finned firefish
The famous spines are located on its dorsal fin (twelve and thirteen), on the anal (three), and two on the pelvic one. Each of them are endowed with a venom-containing gland which is one of the most potent, very similar to that of the cobra, containing a large amount of cytotoxins and neurotoxins.
When a bite of this animal occurs, it’s an extremely painful act, which causes a number of symptoms in the body that can cause it to have a fatal outcome. Desperation for pain can directly attack the airways and cause fulminant heart shock.
On other occasions the bite is accompanied by several symptoms such as headache, vomiting, seizures, high blood pressure, muscle paralysis, intestinal spasm, among other symptoms that can cause death if the necessary attention is not sought in the shortest time.
The antidote of this poison is currently available, but the recovery takes a considerable time. The wound is latent and needs good treatment.
One of the most outstanding abilities of this fish is that he can produce his toxins and inoculate them through his spines, tentacles or mouth.
In general, the cases that are known so far reach fifty thousand, where the poison has been successfully counteracted. This bite is in the form of a blister that should slowly deflate.
The stone fish occupies the first place in the list of poisonous animals of all the species of poisonous fish, in any case its poison is almost the same as that of the cobra.
The stone fish is responsible for causing a number of deaths by inoculating its poison, events that have occurred in the Pacific Islands and in the Indian Ocean, despite that the antidote exists since 1957 and was put into practice in 1959.
These fish, even though they are so dangerous because of their poison, are acquired to have them in aquariums and it’s surprising to see them in fresh waters where they have been able to survive for a long time.
Preventive care against a stone fish sting
Although this fish inhabits the depths of the oceans, it sometimes goes to the surface where it can remain for about 48 hours without any difficulty.
Because of its appearance that resembles a rock, it’s not perceived and can be tripped or stepped on and it’s the moment that it throws its spines containing the lethal poison in its defense, since he thinks that they are attacking him.
Once this occurs, the victim should immediately apply hot water compresses to the site of the bite and go as quickly as possible to a medical center where he can receive the required care.
The good news is that there is an antidote for these cases of stonefish bites which is administered intramuscularly.
7 Basic first aid steps
The main cases that require first aid assistance are asphyxiation, fractures, burns, trauma and hemorrhages, to name a few, below what you should do in case of emergency.
✅ Control yourself: first of all you must remain calm; this way you can act quickly and effectively to help the injured. The magnitude of the damage, the prognosis of survival and the consequences depends on your proper behavior.
✅ Personal security: to provide good help it’s essential to be free of risks. Therefore, it’s important that you evaluate the scene where the accident occurred. In this way you guarantee your own physical safety and that of others.
✅ Evaluate the injured: you must check the patient’s general condition, state of consciousness, respiratory and circulatory condition. Subsequently, take the patient by the shoulders, shake slightly and ask if he is well. With this first evaluation you identify if the lesions put the patient’s life at risk.
✅ Vital signs: these are the signs that indicate the presence of life. Count the beats, the pulsations and the breaths in 30 or 20 seconds and multiply by three, in this way you get the total responses per minute.
✅ In case of suffocation: it can occur due to food intake or some foreign object, as well as bronchial aspiration or allergies.
✅ Respiration of rescue: it’s applied in case of absence of breath with unobstructed airway.
✅ Cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR): in case of cardiorespiratory arrest CPR should be applied, which consists of a combination of chest breaths and compressions that give an external cardiac massage.
You must place yourself perpendicular to the patient. Place your hands near the rib edge, hug them and press hard with your arms straight. You should do 30 compressions for 2 vents until breathing signs appear.
With these simple steps you can save someone’s life. However, do not forget that the most important thing is to call medical services immediately to avoid any kind of complication.
Let’s learn more about first aids….
Main Threats of Stone Fish
Among the predators of the stone fish we can mention sharks, both white and tiger shark, whales, blankets and orca, who can easily eat more than forty stone fish in a single bite. Similarly snakes also eat these fish when they are young.
One of the most latent threats that this stone fish has are human beings who have gradually been destroying their habitats and attack this creature that at first sight is an ugly being but at the same time is defenseless: it only attacks if it is disturbed.
It’s already known that its poison can become deadly if medical help is not sought in time, since there is an antidote against this poison that applying in time will not happen to be a scare. Contentive venom in its dorsal fin is not fatal to marine predators but to man.
The bite of this fish causes certain symptoms that you should know to be aware of any mishaps that occurred at any time.
Once you have felt the prick you will feel immense pain and the punctured area will begin to swell rapidly, accompanied by vomiting, headache, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias among others. Just seek immediate help at the nearest hospitals.
Stone Fish in Aquariums 🐟
The optimal conditions that an aquarium adapted to the stone fish must have include these water quality parameters.
An aquarium with a minimum volume of 300 liters is recommended.
☑️ The salinity must be between the values of 15 and 20 ppm.
☑️ The minimum temperature of the aquarium should be 23º C and the maximum should not exceed 30 degrees Celsius.
☑️ As for alkalinity, the optimum will be a pH between 7.0 and 8.0
☑️ Water hardness should be between 18 and 25 GH.
☑️ The bottom should preferably contain rocks and sand to make them feel comfortable. Moreover, the aquarium must have a lid and an engine to oxygenate the water.
The stone fish is carnivorous creature of nocturnal habits whose huge mouth makes it easy to catch small fish. Their diet is mainly based on fish, crustaceans, mollusks and shrimp.
In captivity they can feed on shrimps or small live fish, although they also feed on fish food for sale in specialized locations.
Behavior and Compatibility
The stone fish is a very calm creature that tends to spend the day in total immobility, usually camouflaged with the rocks or under them. On rare occasions they are seen moving. They can remain in such a condition until the right moment of capturing their prey.
If you are going to place other fish in the same aquarium with the stone fish, they must be of a larger size, since it’s predator and if they are smaller, their natural behavior will be to catch them to feed.
How stone fish reproduce?🐟
It is poorly documented. During the months of February and March, each female lays about 20 thousand eggs on the stones, then the male fertilizes them by spreading his semen on them. After the fry hatch and leave, he stays with the mother 3 or 4 months to protect them.
Tips for having Stone fish in Aquariums 🐟
At first, almost everyone would discard the idea of having a specimen of the Synanceia horrida, however, the Stone Fish is a good option if you want to have a diverse and very original aquarium.
Finally, we remind you that nature always surprises us with its creations, like this strange and wonderful fish, that we must preserve to maintain the diversity of species in our seas, and feel proud of the world that we will leave to future generations.
Let’s enjoy them one last time