Reef Stonefish, Synanceia verrucosa Bloch & Schneider 1801


Other Names: Stonefish

A Reef Stonefish, Synanceia verrucosa, in Okinawa, Japan, March 2014. Source: Patrick Randall / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Summary:

A variably-coloured pale to dark brown, orange or pink stonefish, with warty, scaleless skin, fleshy pectoral fins, and a deep pit behind and a smaller pit below each eye.

Stonefish are superbly camouflaged to match their surroundings and are extremely difficult to see. Along with the Estuarine Stonefish, Synanceia horrida, they are considered to be the most venomous of fishes, and a sting can be excruciatingly painful and even fatal. 

Video of a Reef Stonefish in the Kimberley.

Video of Reef Stonefish in the Solomon Islands and Fiji.

Video about Reef Stonefish and their venom.


Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Synanceia verrucosa in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Nov 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3341

Reef Stonefish, Synanceia verrucosa Bloch & Schneider 1801

More Info


Distribution

From Shark Bay, Western Australia, to Woolgoolga, New South Wales, also Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Middleton Reef, Tasman Sea. Found elsewhere in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific; recently recorded from the Mediterranean Sea. Found solitary or in small groups on coral reefs, often resting under ledges or in caves during the day, or half-buried in sand on the reef flat.

Features

Meristic features: Dorsal fin XIII-XIV (usually XIII), 5-7; Anal fin III, 5-6; Pectoral fin 17-19.

Head broad, depressed; eyes small, directed upward, slightly elevated on the head; each eye with a deep pit behind and a smaller pit below; mouth large, opening dorsally, gape vertical; skin naked, covered in warty skin; 13-14 sharp strong dorsal-fin spines, about equal in length, each in a thick sheath of skin with a venom gland at base; pectoral fins large, fleshy.   

Feeding

Nocturnal carnivore - an ambush predator that feeds on fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods.

Remarks

Stonefish are considered to be the most venomous of fishes. Each stout dorsal-fin spine has a groove linked to two venom glands at its base. Rather than fleeing when disturbed, the stonefish usually remains very still, perhaps erecting the dorsal fin for protection. When an unwary victim accidentally steps on the fish, the spines act like hypodermic syringes, forcing venom into puncture wounds.

The venom affects the cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems. The sting is excruciatingly painful and even may prove fatal unless the victim is administered antivenom. Although no deaths from stonefish stings have been recorded in Australia since the arrival of Europeans, deaths have been reported from elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific.

Similar Species

The Estuarine Stonefish, Synanceia horrida, differs in having the eyes well elevated on the head, rather than only slightly elevated in the Reef Stonefish.

Species Citation

Synanceia verrucosa Bloch & Schneider, 1801, Systema Ichthyol.: 195, pl. 45. Type locality: India.

Author

Dianne J. Bray

Reef Stonefish, Synanceia verrucosa Bloch & Schneider 1801

References


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G. 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin 584 pp. 110 pls.

Church, J.E. & Hodgson, W.C. 2002. The pharmacological activity of fish venoms. Toxicon 40: 1083–1093.

Edelist, D., Spanier, E. & Golani, D. 2011. Evidence for the occurrence of the Indo-Pacific stonefish, Synanceia verrucosa (Actinopterygii: Scorpaeniformes: Synanceiidae), in the Mediterranean Sea. Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria 41(2): 129–131. PDF DOI: 10.3750/AIP2011.41.2.09

Eschmeyer, W.N., in Paxton, J.R. & W.N. Eschmeyer (eds). 1994. Encyclopedia of Fishes. Sydney: New South Wales University Press; San Diego: Academic Press. 240 pp.

Eschmeyer, W.N. & Rama-Rao, K.V. 1973. Two new stonefishes (Pisces : Scorpaenidae) from the Indo-west Pacific, with a synopsis of the subfamily Synanceiinae. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 39(18): 337-382 figs 1-13.

Goudey-Perrière, F. & Perrière, C. 1998. Pharmacological properties of fish venoms. C R Seances Soc Biol Fil. 192(3): 503-548. [in French, English abstract]

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Grobecker, D.B. 1983. The 'lie-in-wait' feeding mode of a cryptic teleost, Synanceia verrucosa. Environmental Biology of Fishes 8(3/4): 191-202.

Gwee M.C., Gopalakrishnakone, P., Yuen, R., Khoo, H.E. & Low, K.S. 1994. A review of stonefish venoms and toxins. Pharmacol Ther. 64(3): 509-528.

Halstead B.W. 1970 Poisonous and venomous marine animals of the world. 3rd edn. United States Government Printing Office, Washington DC, USA.

Khoo, H.E. 2002. Bioactive proteins from stonefish venom. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 29(9): 802-806.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Michael, S.W. 1998. Reef Fishes. Volume 1. A guide to their identification, behaviour, and captive care. Microcosm 624 pp.

Ngo, S.Y.A., Ong, S.H.J. & Ponampalam, R. 2009. Stonefish envenomation presenting to a Singapore hospital. Singapore Medical Journal 50(5): 506–509.

Poss, S.G. 1999. Families Scorpaenidae, Caracanthidae, Aploactinidae. pp. 2291-2358 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 2069-2790 pp.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Smith, W.L. & W.C. Wheeler. 2006. Venom evolution widespread in fishes: a phylogenetic rode map for the bioprospecting of piscine venoms. Journal of Heredity 97(3): 206-217.

Underhill, D. 1987. Australia's Dangerous Creatures. Readers Digest. 368 pp.

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37287089

Danger:Extremely venomous spines

Depth:0-20 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:40 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map