With an ungainly body full of lumps and bumps, heavy movements, a large head, protruding eyes, and a big mouth adapted to suck in its prey, the Synanceia family is a close relative to the scorpion fish (Scorpaenidae) and lionfish (Pterois) families. These fish are venomous seabed dwellers with a body structure and behavior which aid in their camouflage. For most of the time they are partially buried in the seabed waiting to ambush their prey, which is mainly fish. When a fish passes by, they suddenly open their jaws wide and suck in a quantity of water along with their prey. The water is expelled in a stream through their gills and the dorsal gill cover, while the prey stays in the mouth. As this method of nutrition hardly requires movement, these fish can survive for long periods without food. There are two species found in the Gulf of Eilat: star gazer, also known as two-stick sting fish, and stone fish.
This fish lives alone in shallow water up to a depth of 20 meters and can reach a length of 45 centimeters.
Like all members of the Synanceia family, the stone fish has a wide, chunky body resembling a bumpy rock. On its dorsal fin, located above poison glands, are 13 venomous spikes. Its ability to change color according to its environment, offers camouflage against the general backdrop of the reef.
The stone fish has a stone like shape and sheds its skin a few times a year. It has a weakened swim bladder and most of the time lies motionless on the back of a rock. Algae frequently grow on its skin humps, lending the stone fish a greenish hue. It feeds mainly on fish.
The stone fish is regarded as the most dangerous fish in the Red Sea. The barbs on its dorsal fin are sharp and poisonous, and a sting can be life threatening. In the event of being stung, the victim must be evacuated immediately to a hospital.
We strongly recommend entering the sea wearing suitable shoes.
Two-Stick Sting Fish, also known as Star Gazer
Synanceia family. A relative of the stone fish and with similar behavior, this fish is a solitary dweller in the shallow reef and sandy areas. It has limited swimming ability, and moves along the seabed in jumps, or crawls using its wide pectoral fanlike fins. With excellent camouflage colors and a delicate cylindrical body, the star gazer grows up to a length of 30 centimeters. It has a wide, flat head, with skin flaps and bumps, and has spikes located above poison glands. The star gazer has round, protruding eyes, wide pectoral fins resembling a fan, and is an overall brown color.
When in danger, it spreads its pectoral fins revealing dazzling colors (yellow, orange and black) as a warning to other fish. In this way it alerts its attackers and scares them off.
The stargazer feeds on fish it captures by ambush. When a fish draws near, it powerfully and quickly opens its mouth creating a vacuum, and the fish is sucked into its mouth.
At the base of its spines are poison glands and this fish is nearly as dangerous as the stone fish.