hikknit stinkfish Species in Vazdimet | World Anvil

hikknit stinkfish

Colloquially known as stinkfish, a hikknit can spit a mixture of water and paralytic neurotoxin to catch and consume land- and air-based prey, including small birds and mid-sized rodents. This stinky biotoxin has proven a useful alchemical ingredient for relaxants and painkillers, while the fish are both delicious and healthy once the venom glands have been removed.

Basic Information

Ecology and Habitats

Hikknit are prevalent in freshwater streams, lakes, and wetlands around Janikk, although some minor subspecies have instead made their homes in the brackish water of tropical river mouths. As a species they prefer still or slow moving water, although they are equally capable of navigating stronger currents. The Janikk Wildlife Society hypothesizes this preference is likely a result of the additional complications added when hunting land-based prey from fast-moving water.

Dietary Needs and Habits

The aptly named stinkfish hunts prey by spitting at its target. The fish will position its lips just above the water surface, shrinking its mouth into a single narrow channel with the help of its tongue. By rapidly contracting its gills, the stinkfish forces a high speed stream of water from its mouth, with the water at the back of the stream traveling faster than that in the front. This causes the stream to form a blob prior to impact, adding force to the impact to help maximize the stun to its victim.  

Neurotoxin

This stream of water also contains a high concentration of paralytic neurotoxin, which when mixed with water is easily absorbed through the skin. This stinky but highly lethal biotoxin allows the hikknit to hunt larger prey, including mid-sized rodents. Most smaller creatures living along the water's edge in hikknit territory have developed their own defenses from the stinkfish neurotoxin, such as waterproofed fur or down, but this has only inspired the stinkfish to improve their aim.  

Hunting Preferences

Young hikknit will hunt in schools, increasing the chances of obtaining a meal as they learn to improve their aim. The young fish are also learning to calibrate their expectations for meal sizes, and are known to spit neurotoxin at any passersby, including people. Jannadael children - particularly katanoji, canids, and dracoling, due to their thick fur or skin - have been known to goad each other into dares during the early summer months, seeing who can walk close to their local streams the longest before losing feeling in their bare legs. Fae children are heavily cautioned to avoid these festivities.   Adult fish, on the other hand, are highly territorial and typically hunt and live alone or with a small, select group of potential mates. This is believed to be an intentional remnant of Zokinesis from the ancient original inhabitants of Janikk, as the toxins from a school of adult hikknit working in harmony could potentially overwhelm even the fearsome gromdornis, provided they were able to catch the large bird in its eyes or other, more vulnerable regions.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

Alchemy

Hikknit neurotoxin has found use in a variety of alchemical mixtures, ranging from painkillers to muscle relaxants. This requires careful dilution with oils and dry reagents specially chosen to weaken its effects without denaturing the toxin, and allowing the resultant mixture to dry through evaporation. This is then ground into a powder for storage.   For treatments intended to target the whole body, the powder is coated in pill form and swallowed. This keeps the powder dry and guarantees it does not dissolve directly on the tongue. Topical treatments requires administration by a professional in full personal protective gear, especially gloves, who will carefully dilute the powder in water before crafting a short-term poultice. Effects typically last for one to several days, making hikknit a popular treatment despite its inherent dangers.   It is not recommended as a treatment for children, although some exceptions have been made for severe cases.  

Food

Hikknit is also a flavorful and healthy dish, although this requires care and precision due to their toxic nature. The gland which produces the neurotoxin must be removed prior to further preparation of the fish, without damage to the gland or the surrounding tissue. Fortunately failures in preparation are easy to detect, courtesy of the highly scented nature of the neurotoxin itself.   Regardless of experience, those who work with stinkfish in the kitchen should always wear gloves. Additionally, while one should not prepare food while unwell, this becomes especially important for hikknit chefs, even when suffering from non-contagious nasal irritations such as allergies.  
If flowery and sweet, it's good to eat.
If noseplugs you need, do not proceed!
— common saying when preparing stinkfish

Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms

Some stinkfish communities have recently begun to form symbiotic relationships with the amphibious gornit frogfish, with both species of fish working together to obtain their meals. In these cases, the stinkfish will shoot and paralyze its prey, while the frogfish will use its ability to navigate land to knock their victim back into the water so both fish can consume the catch. These relationships have been proven to build over time, allowing the frogfish to gradually build an immunity to its companion's neurotoxin.   This has launched an assortment of scientific papers among Jannadael biologists, including deep dives into zoological mithridatism and a wide assortment of sociological animal studies.
Geographic Distribution
Diet
Carnivore

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Comments

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Jul 8, 2023 00:41 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Ahhhh, I love them so much! <3 <3   Also I love the idea that in past times they were magically discouraged from forming large groups. Imagine being murdered by stinkfish! :O

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jul 8, 2023 01:43 by Morgan Biscup

All life on Janikk was genetically modified, then left to evolve for thousands of years with only Janikk to watch over it. Part of why I get to have so much fun with them.

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
Jul 8, 2023 13:06 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

I love this fish! It has a very interesting hunting tactic, and I also love how this has impacted your people's culture, and all those dares to get closer to the streams XD

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Jul 8, 2023 18:06 by Morgan Biscup

Thank you! I had a lot of fun writing these up. (You can blame Emy for the name, though. ROFL).

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
Aug 18, 2023 20:34 by Michael Johnson

Oh, very nice. A fish that predates creatures of the land and air. Very interesting concept. And lots of detail. I especially like the bit about the growing symbiosis with frogfish. It all kinda makes me jealous, as I struggle to make the 300 word minimum and you have a small treatise about something that must actually exist somewhere :P Seriously, though, I really like the idea and the execution.

February brings the Cabinet of Curiosities 2024! January had my New Year's Resolutions 2024.
Aug 19, 2023 00:09 by Morgan Biscup

Thank you!   The stinkfish is actually very very loosely based on the archerfish, which is a really cool real world fish that you shoukd totally look up.   Then I got to amp it up a lot, because all the animals on Janikk were genetically modified thousands of years ago and then left to their own devices to survive. It's my favorite planet.

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
Aug 19, 2023 13:05 by Michael Johnson

Thanks for the suggestion. They are pretty cool. As is the genetically altered history.

February brings the Cabinet of Curiosities 2024! January had my New Year's Resolutions 2024.
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