- Scientific name: Synanceia horrida
- Common Name: Stone Fish, Rock Fish
- Aquarium size: 300 liters
- Temperament: Calm. Motionless for much of the time
- Temperature: Between 23º and 30ºC
- pH: Between 7 and 8
- Diet: Carnivore
- Length: 30 to 35 cms. In aquarium it does not exceed 28 cms.
The stone fish or rock fish belongs to the genus Synanceia , considered one of the most famous poisonous fish species in the world, along with other scorpion fish, such as the scorpion fish or the lion fish . There are different types of stonefish, but the best known are:
- Synanceia horrida
- Synanceia verrucosa
Before deciding to have this fish in your aquarium, you should consider that all types are extremely poisonous.
In nature, it is almost impossible to recognize with the naked eye, since its natural camouflage makes it very similar to a stone from the seabed, hence its popular name.
They live on average between 8 and 12 years, although specimens with more than thirteen years have been found. They tend to withstand periods of up to 24 hours out of the water, as they get stranded on sand or stones, and wait for the tide to rise to return to the water.
Even though your body contains one of the most powerful poisons in the world, it alsoit has natural predators, such as tiger shark and white shark, whales, killer whales and sea snakes, who feed on stonefish.
They are usually caught alive for sale in aquariums around the world. In China, the Philippines and Japan they are coveted as exquisite delicacies and are offered as a luxury delicacy, with very high prices.
The most obvious physical characteristic of the stonefish is its appearance of marine rock or coral. Other notable physical characteristics are:
- Color: Varies according to the species and where they live. They can be red, gray, green, yellow, brown , and also in various shades of blue and white, their entire body is a contrast of all these colors.
- Skin: It has a tough skin and in its natural habitat it is covered with algae and sediment. To adhere to corals and stones, their skin produces a viscous liquid.
- Eyes: They are large and are placed in front of the head, which makes it easier to be alert to hunt and to be on guard in case of attack by a predator.
- Fins: They have several fins , dorsal, pectoral, anal and pelvic. The dorsal fin has 13 quills, the anal fin has 3 and the pelvic fin 2. All the quills have poisonous glands.
Recently it was discovered that they have a kind of «tear saber» on each cheek, which they can draw and retract at will. This new feature could bring about a reorganization in the classification of these animals.
Males are larger and more corpulent than females , with a larger head, and their caudal peduncle, that is, the muscular part of the tail, is smaller than in females. Another important difference is the bands of the pectoral fins, the females have 6 while the males have 10.
This species of fish is considered one of the most poisonous in the world and its bites are among the most feared by divers, along with the sting of the Scorpion Fish and the painful sting of the manta ray.
Its venom is as deadly as that of a cobra. The barbs that cover their fins contain glands that inject a venom that has neurotoxins and cytotoxins.
Stonefish do not attack man directly, and incidents often occur by accident, when someone accidentally steps on a specimen, mistaking it for a stone or rock. Cases have been reported in Australia and in certain coastal areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Fortunately, there is an antidote, very effective if applied in time.
Distribution and habitat
The different species of stonefish that exist are scattered throughout the world, most of them saltwater , although there are also species of Stonefish that can live in freshwater.
Synanceia horrida inhabits the waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans , especially in northern Australia and the Malay archipelago. It is found in shallow reefs off the coast where it is common to find them.
In 2018, several specimens have been found in the vicinity of Australian beaches.
The optimal conditions that an aquarium adapted to Stonefish must have must be managed with a water quality with these parameters.
- An aquarium with a minimum volume of 300 liters is recommended.
- The salinity must be between the values of 15 and 20 ppm.
- The minimum temperature in the aquarium should be 23 degrees and the maximum should not exceed 30 degrees Celsius.
- As for alkalinity , the optimum will be a pH between 7.0 and 8.0
- The hardness of the water should be between 18 and 25 GH.
The bottom should preferably contain rocks and sand to make you feel comfortable. The aquarium must have a lid and a motor to oxygenate the water.
It is carnivorous, with nocturnal habits , and its enormous mouth makes it easy to catch small fish. Its diet is mainly based on fish, crustaceans, mollusks and shrimp.
In captivity they can feed on live shrimp or small fish , although they also feed on fish food for sale in specialized places.
Behavior and Compatibility
Stonefish are very calm, usually spending the day almost completely immobile, usually camouflaged with or under rocks. On rare occasions they are seen in motion.
They can remain without moving for a long time, until the opportune moment to capture their prey.
If you are going to place other fish in the same aquarium with the stonefish, they must be of a larger size, since it is a predator and if they are smaller, their natural behavior will be to catch them for food.
It is poorly documented. During the months of February and March, each female lays around 20 thousand eggs on the stones, then the male fertilizes them by spreading his semen over them. After the fry hatch and come out, they stay with the mother for 3 or 4 months to protect them.
At first, almost everyone would reject the idea of having a specimen of Synanceia horrida, however, the Stonefish is a good option if you want to have a diverse and very original aquarium.
Finally, I remind you that nature always surprises us with its creations, like this strange and wonderful fish, which we must preserve to maintain the diversity of species in our seas, and feel proud of the world that we will leave to future generations.