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Scorpionfish, Lionfish, and Stonefish Poisoning

Scorpionfish, Lionfish, and Stonefish Poisoning Overview

Scorpionfish, lionfish, and stonefish are all poisonous fish that live in tropical and temperate oceans, especially the Red Sea and Indian and Pacific oceans. They all have erectile spines on their dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins. Because these fish are not aggressive, contact with them and the poisonings that result are usually accidental.

Contact with the sharp venomous fin ray spines that are covered with mucus-containing poison on lionfish causes mild poisoning and similar contact with spines on camouflaged scorpionfish causes moderate to severe poisoning. The motionless stonefish, when contacted, causes severe to life-threatening neurotoxin poisoning and is likened to cobra venom in toxicity.

Scorpionfish, Lionfish, and Stonefish Poisoning Symptoms

Poisons from these fish spines, in general, may produce the following symptoms, which may vary from person to person, and their intensity is related to the amount of toxin the person is exposed to.

  • Intense throbbing pain peaks in 1 to 2 hours and lasts 12 hours. Pain may be so severe as to cause hallucinations.
  • Redness, bruising, swelling, numbness, tingling, blisters or vesicles, and tissue shedding at the wound site may occur.
  • Severe reactions include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, weakness, headache, diarrhea, slow heart rate (bradycardia), shortness of breath, seizures, decreased blood pressure, fainting, and paralysis. Death may occur.
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Lionfish and Stonefish »

The family Scorpaenidae represents a large array of fish characterized by the ability to envenomate with various types of specialized spines.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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