How To:

Avoid Getting Ciguatera (Fish Poisoning)

Author: Bullbuster Team

Avoid Getting Ciguatera

In this article we go in depth into Cigautera and provide a number of resources on the subject. We do not claim to be doctors but have brought the best research into one place to help you. 


Cubera Snapper
#BullbusterAmbassador Scott Rose on a guided trip to target Cubera Snapper In South America. Cubera Snapper are one of the large reef fish that have been known to have Cigautera.

What is Cigauterra? 

Ciguaterra is a fish poison caused by an accumulation of poisonous plankton called dinoflagellates (Algae) in big reef fish.  According to the CDC the specific Algae that creates this disease is called (Gambierdiscus toxicus).   If you want to delve more in depth onto this specific species go ahead and do some more searches on it, but this article is about how not to get it. Big reef fish like Grouper and Barracuda accumulate this poison through a process called bio accumulation. This basically means the more fish that they eat with the poison, the more concentrated it is in their meat. The more concentrated it is in their meat, the worse it will be for you. There is no cure for Ciguatera which makes it something to want to avoid, the symptoms can be felt for weeks and can actually last for years.  You don't want to get it a second time, because the symptoms can get even worse. 

How Do You Know If A Fish Has Cigautera?

The only way to see if a fish has Ciguaterra is to use a Cigauterra testing kit. However kits can be hard to find and only some fishing tackle stores carry them.   From our experience Capt Harry's in Miami Florida used to carry them, but we cannot confirm if they still do currently.  With a simple google search there is not one that you can easily find online to buy.  This is probably due to several factors, one the test kit is expensive, and the ones that have been developed can only be used once.  

There are some folk methods on how to test a fish for ciguatera such as seeing that the flies will not eat a fillet, however we have no proof that these folk methods work. Islanders such as Bahamians and Cubans seem to eat the fish that would have the highest risk for these diseases with little caution. 

What Is The Easiest Way To Avoid Cigauterra Posioning? 

The easiest way to avoid Cigauterra is to avoid eating large reef fish, this means large barracuda, large groupers, moray eels, and Cubera snapper completely, as these fish are more likely to have the poison in large concentrations. Remember that smaller fish may have the toxin, but not in enough quantity to do as much damage to you. 

 How Deadly Is Cigautera?

 Cigauterra can be very dangerous and put you in the hospital. Having Cigauterra a second time may even kill you since you already have a concentration in your body. 

If you think you have Ciguatera contact the National Poison Control Center phone number is 1-800-222-1222. This number is routed to the poison control center that serves your area.

Additional Resources On Cigautera:


Article On Testing Kits For Cigautera

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