Venomous Fishes

  • Laith A. Jawad


General Abstract

Fish are in intimate contact with their microbial-rich environment and have a unique physical barrier composed of skin and skin mucus which act as a first line of defence against attachment and penetration by potentially harmful agents. Many species of marine fishes are reported to be ichthyocrinotoxic that releases toxic skin secretions into the surrounding water.

Fish skin mucus comprises a number of immune components which have bactericidal activities. The epithelial skin mucus layers are therefore considered a key component of fish innate defence mechanisms. The mucosal immunity is especially important for the host defence response to invasive pathogens, moreover several fish species possess venomous apparatuses that provide protection against predators during feeding or when fish are stressed or provoked. Many species of marine fishes are reported to be ichthyocrinotoxic which releases toxic skin secretions into the surrounding water as a repellent agent.

Ichthyocrinotoxic fishes can be found in several fish groups such as catfishes, boxfishes, eels, flatfishes, and pufferfishes. In the present chapter, the information was divided into parts: the first deals with the nature of the toxin and the second deals with the species account. Several ichthyocrinotoxic species inhabit the eastern and southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula and they are commercially important in spite of being poisonous.

Abstract for Section 7.2

Venomous organisms are capable of producing venom in specialised tissues or glands that are connected with application structures (e.g., stings) and are called acanthotoxic fishes. They differ from other poisonous creatures that usually produce poisons in nonspecialised tissues or accumulate them after ingestion of prey or algae and may be dangerous to people who consume them. Antivenom is not available for all types of envenomations, but venom for the treatment of stonefish and box stings is available. Acanthotoxic fishes are distributed among the catfishes (Siluriformes) and six groups of ‘acanthomorphs’ or spiny-rayed fishes: toadfishes (Batrachoidiformes), scorpionfishes (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenoidei), surgeonfishes, scats and rabbitfishes (Perciformes: Acanthuroidei), saber-toothed blennies (Perciformes: Blennioidei), jacks (Perciformes: Percoidei), and stargazers and weeverfishes (Perciformes: Trachinoidei).

In the present chapter, cases of envenomation caused by members of acanthotoxic species are described in addition to an account of each species. In the eastern and southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula, there are several species within each acanthotoxic fish group, which mostly have commercial value.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laith A. Jawad
    • 1
  1. 1.ManukauNew Zealand

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