Red Sea Stonefish

Red Sea Stonefish
Red Sea Stonefish (Synanceia nana)

Red Sea Stonefish

I would like to share with you some information about the Red Sea Stonefish

So here I will try to give as much information as possible about this curious Red Sea stonefish.

This is a mash-up of everything I could find on the web. Many various websites have been visited, viewed, and compared by me. I made a point of not duplicating and/or publishing anything that was not permitted. Hopefully, you will find it enjoyable.

 The scientists Eschmeyer & Rama-Rao discovered this fish species in 1973.

The taxonomy

  • To begin with: the Red Sea Stonefish is a member of the animal kingdom.
  • to the Chordata tribe in particular
  • The Actinopterygii class (ray fins),
  • order of Scorpaenodei (Scorpionfishes),
  • family Synanceiidae (Stonefishes),
  • genus Synanceia, and
  • species Synanceia nana.

Some synonyms

I’ll give you a few synonyms: Dwarf Scorpionfish, Arabic stonefish, Reef rockfish, Midget stonefish

Here are some interesting facts I discovered

I discovered that the stonefish is the most poisonous fish in the world. The poison is in the 13 spines on their backs. If you touch these fish, they spray their poison. So getting a sting is extremely painful and in some cases can lead to death.

As a result, there have been a number of human casualties, with symptoms ranging from severe pain and swelling to cardiovascular and neurological problems.

In addition to extreme pain, the poison also causes damage to the heart and paralysis. The poison sac in the spines is becoming active during defense, never during an attack.

Because stonefish are widespread in shallow seas in Australia, people often tread on them because they can’t see them. With all the ramifications that entail… Victims must be transported to an emergency room as soon as possible. Fortunately, there is an antidote, but it must be given soon.

What do you do if you get stung?

If a victim has been stung, the best thing to do is to immerse him or her in a hot bath and administer the antidote as soon as possible. Because it can be fatal in a matter of hours if not treated immediately. Even if you are in minor pain, you should seek medical attention right away.

However, the only commercially available antivenom is for the Indo-Pacific stonefish Synanceia horrida (Estuarine stonefish). SFAV is the name of the antivenom.

Because it looks exactly like a stone, the animal has not stolen its name. Its skin surface, like that of a stone, is riddled with flaws. It also has perfect camouflage due to the colors on its body.

The stonefish is also related to the lionfish, which is another poisonous fish species.

Free photo Aquarium Lionfish Fish Pterois Underwater Animal – Max Pixel

Should it ever happen, these animals can safely survive for 24 hours outside the water because the oxygen is absorbed through the skin. In addition, they even occur on the beach and because they are so unrecognizable, they also pose a danger to the unsuspecting beach walkers.

There are 5 known species of these animals and 95% of them have the same characteristics. So the other 5% is special to that particular species. Here are the 5 types:

The Midget stonefish (Synanceia alula)

(No image available for this species.)

The Estuarine Stonefish (Synanceia horrida)

Estuarine stonefish
Synanceia horrida (Estuarine stonefish) –

The Red Sea (or Arabic) Stonefish (Synanceia nana)

Red Sea Stonefish
Red Sea Stonefish

The Stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa)

Synanceia verrucosa
Synanceia verrucosa (Stonefish) –

Here is a description

  • The stonefish is usually gray or brown in color.
  • However, they also have yellow, red, and orange parts.
  • Their camouflage is so good that you can hardly see them on the bottom.
  • The animals, therefore, lie dead still and only stand out if they move very quickly when prey is nearby.
  • They are 30 to 40 cm long and weigh a maximum of 2 kilograms.
  • The largest specimen found was 51 cm long.

International names are:

  • Arabic (global): Firyala
  • China (Mandarin Chinese): 南娜毒鮋
  • Denmark: Rødehavsstenfisk
  • English (global): Dwarf scorpionfish
  • USA (global): Red Sea stonefish

Here are some photos of different Red Sea stonefish

Red Sea Stonefish
Red Sea Stonefish
Stone Fish
Max Pixel Free photo Underwater Stone Fish Marine Scuba Diving Fauna – Max Pixel
Stone Fish
Stone Fish of the Red Sea
Egypt, by Christian HENLE –
Red Sea Meeresbewohner
Red Sea Meeresbewohner Stone Fish –
Pink Stone Fish
Pink Stone Fish Red Sea close up –
Stonefish(1) –
Stonefish(2) –
Stonefish(3) –

You find The Red Sea stonefish in these regions

Stonefish can be found primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Of course, the Red Sea is a haven for them as well.

They are mostly found in shallow tropical waters, but they can also be found at depths ranging from one to fifty meters. Their preferred habitats are coral reefs or seabeds, where they can blend in nicely. Plants and rocks, on the other hand, “inhabit” them.

As previously stated, they are most common on Australia’s west coast, where many victims have already been reported. They also enjoy staying close to the islands of Réunion and Mauritius. Some have already made their way to the Eastern Mediterranean (and this through release or migration).

Mauritius & Réunion (East of Madagascar)

Most of these fish live in Asian countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Some species can also be found in rivers, which is very unusual.

Red Sea Stonefish consume the following food:

This fish does not have to make much effort to find food. It settles on a reef floor where it is not visible, and sometimes the animal burrows under the sand. The stonefish can stay still for hours. You will never see this animal actively hunting.

But make no mistake, if prey comes close, the animal acts extremely quickly and with precise accuracy. The victim doesn’t stand a chance. A study has shown that there are only 0.015 seconds between catching its prey and eating it. See the following video:

Small fish, crustaceans, and shrimp make up their diet.

What is the mating process like for these animals?

Since the stonefish lead a solitary life, they will only come together during the mating season and then leave afterward. During this period, the female will lay eggs on the bottom of the reef. These eggs are considerably larger than regular fish eggs.

Then the male will swim over these eggs lay a layer of sperm over them and fertilize them in that way.

Just like the eggs, the young are quite large with the females being among the largest. From then on, these young specimens will also start their solitary life.

Human consumption of the Red Sea stonefish

Although this is an extremely poisonous fish, they are very popular in Asia. For the people there they are a true delicacy. They are therefore also on many menus.

The poison disappears when the animal is well-cooked. All spines are removed beforehand to ensure that the poison cannot be swallowed. The fish is even eaten raw in, for example, China, Hong Kong, and Japan.

If you would also like to taste it, I suggest you go there on a trip…

However, the stonefish is also used in Marseille (France). There the animal is first well-cooked in fish stock with white wine and saffron. This is then used to make their famous fish soup, bouillabaisse.

What is the best way to catch Stonefish?

Since these venomous fish live in shallow water, they are easy to catch. But of course, you will have to have a trained eye and wear good protective clothing. A good strong pair of gloves is a minimum requirement.

So you certainly don’t need fishing tackle because you can pick up these animals like stones…

The enemies of the Stonefish

Although these animals hardly ever move, are well camouflaged, and are extremely poisonous, they do have some enemies such as the stingray, the eel, the shark, and the sea snake.

The latter is their worst enemy because it is very little bothered by their poison and does not hesitate to attack them. First, the sea snake will bite to spread its venom to the stonefish. If the victim stops moving, the sea snake will swallow the animal whole. The snake starts with the head of the stonefish so as not to be hindered by the spines.

(For those who are interested: I have also written articles about the Southern Stingray, Sharks 1, and Sharks 2)

Humans also pose a danger to them because they are seen as a delicacy in Asia. So there is a lot of fishing.

Is this a threatened species?

Despite the predators and fisheries, these animals are not yet on the IUCN list. This is mainly due to their immobility, their perfect camouflage, and the fear present in some people.

IUCN = International Union for Conservation of Nature


This brings me to the conclusion of this article. I hope you enjoyed it, and please feel free to leave any questions, more information, comments, ambiguities, or untruths in the comments section. Please accept my sincere gratitude.

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