The Stonefish, (Leptosynanceia asteroblepa) can go from appearing to be a simple, harmless rock lying on the ocean’s floor to a stone-cold killer in a flash, making it one of nature’s most amazing quick-change artists.
Known for being the most venomous fish in the world, the stonefish makes its home in the shallow water among the coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans off Africa and the Red Sea to Northern Australia. There are an estimated twenty species of stonefish in the family of scorpion fishes, known for their razor-sharp dorsal fin spines which come factory-equipped with a venom so lethal it can kill any human being unfortunate enough to accidentally step on them. The fish has no scales, appears to be a rough stone with a rounded fish body and huge bug-like eyes. It weighs about 5 pounds, or 2400 grams, and can grow to about a foot long, or 30 to 35 cm. It feeds upon other fishes gliding above what they think is nothing but a harmless rock. Many a small fish or shrimp has become a meal for a fish so quick it snaps up its prey in less than a 15th of a second. It gets its name from the mottled grey, reddish-brown and white coloring that makes it look like a rock, another defense mechanism of the stonefish.
Human victims of the stonefish’s venom can’t do much to save themselves with the possible exception of applying heat. The application of heat to the stonefish’s venom renders the toxin somewhat ineffective. But in cases where a simple application of heat won’t save the day, anti-venom is available. Fishermen and others not careful about where they walk will feel the deadly sting of this remarkable animal, and some may not live to tell the tale.
The stonefish is prey to bottom-feeding scavengers like sharks. However, its defense, the row of 13 spines along its back, is quite effective against any fish that may attempt to put its jaws around the stonefish. The venom causes severe pain, paralysis and shock, and, once discharged, takes a few weeks to regenerate itself. During this time. the stonefish is not necessarily rendered helpless, the spines are still painfully sharp and surgically incisive.
The stonefish is not threatened or endangered in any way. Picture of the stonefish above licensed under GFDL
See this animal video how a stone fish catches its prey, did you see the stonefish?
Stonefish in English
小毒鮋 in Mandarin Chinese
小毒鲉 in Mandarin Chinese