How to Care for Your Freshwater Stonefish
Aqualand's inside scoop on Batrachus trispinosus
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Name: Freshwater (really brackish water) stonefish, aka freshwater lionfish, freshwater toadfish, and freshwater frogfish belong to a curious group known as toad fish. Probably the “freshwater” in their moniker is to distinguish them from their saltwater cousins. We’ll call them freshwater stonefish because they try to look like a harmless lumpy stone until a swallowable fish swims by.
Venomous? All of the toadfish cousins are venomous to some extent. We do not recommend the finger test to find out just how venomous these rascals are. Experience is the best teacher, but it’s also the most painful and sometimes the most expensive. Let’s just say you’d best not touch your stonefish (and net him carefully).
Origins: You can find (if you look very closely) freshwater stonefish in many countries in the Indo-Pacific rim. They’re just one more reason not to go wading barefooted. In the tropics, they fear stepping on corals, sea urchins, stingrays, and freshwater stonefish. In Des Moines we fear stepping on broken glass and bullheads.
Brackish Water: Freshwater stonefish or whatever they call them in your neck of the woods come from tropical areas where rivers flow into the ocean (estuaries). This means they live in brackish water. When the tide goes out, they live in freshwater. When the tide comes in, they live in river water mixed with ocean water (brackish water). They are flexible little beasts.
Skulkers: Freshwater stonefish skulk 98% of the time. In some cases they get behind bulky objects in their tank. In others, they wedge themselves into a corner or cave. Big guys sometimes just loaf on the bottom looking like a big lumpy stone. Thus the name.
Walkers: Upon occasion your freshwater stonefish will stomp around on his specialized fins. He’s about as graceful as a toad. Thus the “toadfish” name as the Ontarians in Ontario call them, eh.
Nocturnal: Some freshwater stonefish will zip out and inhale their lunch as soon as you drop in another smaller critter with fins. Most prefer to wait for the cover of darkness to dine at a more fashionable hour. GIGO (goldfish in, goldfish out) overnight.
Breeding. Probably not going to happen. Although, Travis’s toadfish (as he calls it, because he’s an Ontarian and can’t help himself) did lay eggs. One of mine laid a few yellow (possibly immature) eggs. And Kara Zeinner from Indianapolis also reported white egg production (10). If I recall correctly, stonefish scatter their eggs. No fry reports yet.
Last Words: Take a look at a freshwater stonefish if you like amusing predators. LA
And here’s some extra outtakes in the meantime ...
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