Shout out to the Today I Learned (TIL) subreddit for bringing interesting factoids about hallucinogenic fish (a.k.a. “dreamfish”) to our attention. It turns out that sarpa salpa, a species of sea bream, can induce LSD-like hallucinations when eaten. Those would be some next-level fish sticks—just saying.
The widely distributed coastal fish, known commonly as the salema porgy, became a recreational drug during the Roman Empire, and are called “the fish that make dreams” in Arabic.
According to a case report in Clinical Toxicology, two men ingested the sarpa salpa at a Mediterranean restaurant in 2006 and began to experience numerous hallucinogenic effects. These hallucinations, described by the men as “terrifying,” occurred minutes after the fish was ingested and lasted 36 hours.
There are other hallucinogenic fish out there, too. One is siganus spinus, called “the fish that inebriates” in Reunion Island, and another is Mulloides flavolineatus (formerly Mulloidichthys samoensis), called “the chief of ghosts” in Hawaii.
About the sarpa salpa, one redditor commented,
To which another redditor responded, “Unless you like hallucinating in which they went to a FUCKING AWESOME RESTAURANT.”
A different (but no less fascinating) category of fish are psychedelic fish. Psychedelic fish do not usually produce hallucinations if eaten, but look as if they were the product of a psychedelic hallucination, like the Psychadelic Mandarin pictured below.