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LionFish carry a deadly poison in their spines.

LionFish are not poisonous, they are venomous. The difference between poison and venom is the method of delivery. Venom must be injected into the bloodstream to cause injury, such as through a sharp spine or fang, but is harmless if drunk or eaten. Poison has to be ingested or absorbed to be harmful; LionFish carry no poison in the edible meat of the fish.

The venom found in the needle-sharp dorsal, pelvic and anal fins of a LionFish is NOT deadly to an otherwise healthy human being, though envenomation WILL cause an immense amount of localized pain, swelling and, in some instances, blistering and infection if not treated properly. It is possible for some people to have an allergic reaction to the venom, which comes with a host of potentially deadly complications resulting from anaphylactic shock, which could also be caused by any other serious allergy to bee stings or eating shellfish.

LionFish fact: LionFish venom is a protein-based, neuromuscular toxin that can be denatured when cooked over 350 degrees for just a short period of time. Heat breaks the proteins down, which is why soaking the affected area in very hot water is also an effective first aid treatment for LionFish stings.

Note, however, cooking LionFish is NOT required. They are NOT poisonous to eat and if you did consume the venom from the spines, nothing is likely to happen.

  1. Scorpion fishes get their common name from their ability to defend themselves with a venomous “sting” or stab.
  2. 13 (Thirteen) of the long dorsal spines, 2  (two) pelvic and 3 (three) of the anal spines are venomous, with the venom being produced by glands located in grooves on the spines covered with skin.
  3. LionFish have venomous spines from birth and these spines are used by the LionFish both to capture their prey and deter predators.
  4. LionFish spines are used defensively, not offensively.

LionFish is poisonous or dangerous to eat?

Healthy LionFish are NOT poisonous or dangerous to eat. Unlike the puffer fish (fugu) death is NOT likely from eating a LionFish that has been improperly butchered or prepared. LionFish meat contains no poisonous toxins and is no different than grouper, snapper, wahoo, triggerfish, etc. Thousands of anglers and spearfishermen kill, fillet and eat LionFish without consequence. Of course, the LionFish should be handled correctly to prevent injury from the LionFish’s many venomous spines until they can be removed or the venom rendered inert.

LionFish Fact: Fresh LionFish can be eaten raw, in ceviche (cooked in citric acid) or cooked any number of ways.

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