12 Venomous Facts About The Stonefish

There are a lot of scary creatures in the ocean that you wouldn’t want to come across any time soon, and this particular fish is one of those.

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about the stonefish, one of the most dangerous types of fish in the world!

1. They are the most venomous fish on the planet

The stonefish is an extremely venomous fish that lives near coastal regions in the Indo-Pacific. Of all the venomous fish in the ocean, these are considered to be the most venomous.

Yes, that means that they are extremely dangerous to humans and their sting not only causes extreme pain but can also end up being lethal if not treated correctly.

stonefish facts
The venomous fish / SeanMack / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

2. They are part of the family Synanceiidae

These fish are part of the family “Synanceiidae,” a type of ray-finned in the order “Scorpaeniformes.”

The scientific name of this type of the genus of this fish is “Synanceia” and was originally described by Carl Linnaeus as “Scorpaena” or “Scorpionfish,” a reference to their poisonous sting.

stonefish interesting facts
Synanceia / Source

3. There are 5 different species of stonefish

The genus Synanceia consists of 5 separate species:

  • Midget stonefish – Synanceia alula
  • Estuarine stonefish – Synanceia horrida
  • Red Sea stonefish – Synanceia nana
  • Synanceia platyrhyncha
  • Reef Stonefish – Synanceia verrucosa
facts about the stonefish

4. Where do stonefish live?

This type of fish has a wide range and can be found in vast parts of the Indo-Pacific. This means they can be found around the coasts of:

  • India
  • Solomon Islands
  • China
  • The Philippines
  • Indonesia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Australia
  • East Africa
  • Southern Japan

One of the most remarkable facts about the stonefish is that even though most species are pure marine animals, some species can also be found in rivers.

stonefish on the ocean floor
In the sand / Bernard Dupont / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

5. Stonefish can be found laying on the beach as well

Another those interesting fact about the stonefish is that they can survive up to 24 hours outside of the water. This means that the peculiar-looking stone you just came across on the beach may be actually a stonefish!

This type of fish comes in various colors as well, ranging from a dull brown or grey to an extremely bright yellow, orange, or red.

6. They perfectly blend in with their surroundings

The preferred habitat of this creature is reefs and corals in coastal areas, most commonly in shallow marine waters above the Tropic of Capricorn.

One of the main reasons that they are so dangerous is that they can perfectly blend in with their surroundings. They lie perfectly still and resemble the rocks or corals around them.

stonefish blending in with surroundings
In the Red Sea / Serguei S. Dukachev / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

7. Stonefish are extremely fast ambush predators

One of the most fascinating facts about the stonefish is that they can wait for hours on end until unsuspecting prey passes by, and then shoot up extremely fast to catch it.

This resembles the technique used by stargazer fish, a species of fish that buries itself in the ocean floor and waits until small fish or crustaceans pass by. The main difference is that this type of fish doesn’t have to put in as much effort as they’re already camouflaged.

Stonefish can attack their prey in the blink of an eye in about .015 seconds!

The good thing for the poor victim? They never knew what hit them!

stonefish ready to attack
Ready to attack / Yuvalr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

8. The venom is found in each of their 13 spines

These fish possess neurotoxins that are located at the base of their 13 dorsal fin spines. These needle-like spines are used as a defense mechanism and are stuck upwards when they feel threatened.

This means that if they see a person’s foot approaching from above, the first thing they do is pull out these venomous needles they possess in self-defense and instantly release the toxins that damage the nerve tissue, which is what makes these fish extremely dangerous.

9. They have an even scarier defense mechanism

It seems that nature didn’t feel that the 13 sharp needles containing deadly poison weren’t enough to protect these creatures. Therefore, these fish contain an even deadlier weapon referred to as a “lachrymal saber.”

This is the equivalent of a switchblade and is located right on top of the head of these creatures, growing from a bone under the fish’s eyes. They also have the ability to whip it out whenever they feel in danger, making them even more dangerous!

stonefish pointy blade on top of their head
Pointy blade of the fish / SEJanssen / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

10. Some stonefish can grow pretty big

While the most common reef stonefish grows to a length of between 30 and 40 centimeters (11-15 inches) on average, some other species of stonefish can grow nearly double that size.

The estuarine stonefish, which is found in the West Indo-Pacific, can grow to a length of 60 centimeters (22 inches), which is quite large.

This makes it a very popular fish for aquarium enthusiasts as well!

stonefish in aquarium
In an aquarium / Tim Evanson / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

11. Indigenous Australians have a specific ritual featuring stonefish

Apart from being able to prepare this type of fish in such a way that it can be eaten, the indigenous people of Northern Australia used to have another remarkable ritual referring to stonefish.

Before the 1950s, antivenom wasn’t available so it was possible that somebody stepping on a stonefish didn’t make it. Because of that, these tribes had sacred ceremonies referred to as “corroborees” after a person passed away. In this ceremony, the way the person passed away was reenacted.

12. There are two things you can do if you got stung by a stonefish

So what can you do when you accidentally step onto one of the needles of this fish, or worse, the switchblade they have attached to their heads?

There are basically 2 things you can do:

  • Apply hot water or vinegar to the wound as this makes the pain less extreme.
  • Go to the doctor and get antivenom in case the pain doesn’t go away.

One of the most intriguing facts about the stonefish is that on some Australian beaches in the northern part of the country, vinegar can easily be acquired on the beach.

Feeling some sort of sting followed by extreme pain?

Put some vinegar on top right away!

colorful stonefish
Colorful fish / Bernard Dupont / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en