Size of stonefish depends on the species (Synanceia alula, Synanceia horrid, Synanceia nana, Synanceia platyrhyncha, and Synanceia verrucosa) can grow to a length of 14 to 20 inches and weigh up to 5 pounds.
The stonefish has 13 sharp dorsal fin spines each with two venom glands which release the poisonous substance when the fish is disturbed or stepped on. It also has two pelvic and three anal spines hidden underneath its thick skin.
It takes a couple of weeks for the empty glands to be refilled with venom which is a mixture of proteins, such as the haemolytic stonustoxin, protinaceous verrucotoxin and the cardioactive cardioleputin.
It takes less than an hour for the poison to kill a human being (depending on the depth of the penetration) who would immediately suffer excruciating pain, the limbs starts to swell and as the toxin flows the vascular system gets affected and if not treated soon enough, the unfortunate victim could die due to lack of oxygen in the brain.
It is called a master of camouflage as it has the ability to blend incredibly well with its surroundings because its body is covered with brown or grey skin with red or yellow patches which make it look like a part of a coral reef or an ordinary stone thus it got its name “stonefish”.
Stonefish is a very fast predator. It sinks itself in the sand and waits patiently for shrimps or small fish to swim by and then swallows the unsuspecting victim in 0.015 seconds.
It has a unique ability of surviving out of water for nearly 24 hours. Hence, be careful while walking at the beaches where they are known to be present. You might mistakenly recognize them as rocks or corals.
They can produce a million eggs. However, only a small number survive till maturity since many of them fall prey to other fishes when their mother releases them as eggs into water. It takes three years for a stonefish to become fully mature which is too long compared to other types of fish.
Although the stonefish is venomous, they are eaten by larger predators which include sharks and rays.
Stonefish can also fall victim to human diet, as these dangerous fishes are served as food and consumed in some parts of Asia, including China and Japan. Their venom become harmless when heated. They are also cooked and served as delicious Okoze Sashimi. In the Philippines, only licensed Japanese executive chef can prepare the dish.