7 Facts About the Stonefish: The Ocean’s Camouflaged Hunter

In a world full of interesting sea creatures, the stonefish is often forgotten. Find out more about this fascinating creature below!

Oct 12, 2023By Nikita Hillier
facts stonefish ocean camouflaged hunter

Stonefish are nasty-looking creatures, but they also pack a punch when it comes to their venom. In fact, stonefish are one of the deadliest animals in all of Australia. The venom inside this fish is very lethal to humans, which is dangerous considering how well they can hide!

They are masters of disguise who can completely adapt to their surroundings. If you’re out swimming or diving in Australia, make sure you keep an eye on the ocean floor to ensure that you don’t step on one of these gnarly creatures.

7. They are the Most Venomous Fish in the World

stonefish mimic rocks in aquarium
Image Credit: David Clode on Unsplash

When you’re living in the deep blue, you really don’t have to be the scariest, largest, or most violent to be the most feared. This is very true when it comes to the stonefish. While they’re only usually 30-40 centimeters long. These guys produce some of the deadliest venom in the world.

Not only are marine animals at risk, but any humans that may be unfortunate enough to step on a stonefish. If you step on a stonefish, you must quickly seek emergency help as you will only make a recovery if you use anti-venom to reverse the effects of the venom.

If you’re stung by a stonefish, you can expect to experience paralysis, stinging pain, swelling, tissue necrosis, and even heart failure if you’re unable to find help as soon as possible.

6. They Hide Extremely Well

stonefish camouflaged in coral
Image Credit: CSITDMS on Pixabay

As stated above, stonefish are truly masters of disguise. They have a real knack when it comes to disguising themselves as an unassuming rock on the ocean floor. They blend in far too well, which makes them even more of a dangerous threat.

When walking through any coral reefs or stone sections, make sure you wear protective shoes or avoid the area if possible. Not keeping an eye out for these guys can prove deadly. If you’re not sure what lies below the ocean’s surface, don’t risk it! Your safety needs to come first.

Stonefish don’t store their venom where you think they would! In fact, their venom sacs sit in their dorsal fin spines. Yes, all 13 of them!

Each spine has two glands filled to the brim with venom when the fish is stepped on, threatened, or disturbed.

5. They’re Incredibly Fast

close up orange purple stonefish in aquarium
Image Credit: David Clode on Unsplash

While these underwater creatures may seem slow, lazy, and delayed in their movements, they are extremely quick and direct predators. In fact, they can easily attack their prey in less than 0.015 seconds. Before the prey notices, they’re under attack.

The spines of a stonefish have very little, if not nothing, to do with their predatory capture. In fact, their speed is the number one skill when capturing their prey. Stonefish will stay very still in the sand, wait for something delicious to swim past, and act quickly to swallow it in under a second.

4. They Can Live Out of Water for 24 Hours

stonefish hidden amongst coral close up
Image Credit: Wildfaces on Pixabay

Did you know that stonefish can easily survive out of water for up to 24 hours? Unlike most fish species in the world, these guys can live out of water without negative impacts for about a day.

So, if you’re in coastal regions of the Pacific and Indian oceans, you even need to be careful when walking around on beaches. Stepping on these creatures out of water is just as dangerous as stepping on them in water.

3. They Sting Lots of People Every Year

close up profile of stonefish
Image Credit: David Clode on Unsplash

While there have been no recorded deaths in Australia as a result of a stonefish sting, they definitely sting a lot of people and sea animals every single year. Many people simply step on them while they are in the ocean or on the beach hiding. Luckily, getting to the hospital quickly and getting hit with a dose of anti-venom can reverse the effects and save lives.

Yes, stonefish have very lethal venom, but they don’t use it for hunting at all! In fact, it is strictly used for self-defense. They will never actively use their venom on humans. When they sting, it is always by accident when people step on them.

2. They’re a Sea Snake’s Chosen Snack

sea snake swimming amongst coral
Image Credit: Emma Li on Pexels

Funnily enough, sea snakes actually love to consume these spiked creatures. It is believed that sea snakes may be immune to venom produced by stonefish, but that can’t be proven for sure. The sea snakes bite the stonefish, inject them with venom, wait until they’re paralyzed, and then swallow them whole.

Yes, whole. They devour them headfirst to avoid getting hurt by the spines.

1. They Are a Delicacy in Many Cultures

close up stonefish on ocean floor
Image Credit: MaxX42 on Pixabay

Even though they have a disturbing outward appearance, stonefish are said to be delicious when prepared correctly! They are a delicacy in Japan, Guangdong, Hong Kong, and China. The venom loses any toxicity when it is cooked.

You can even eat it raw if the spines are removed.

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!