St. Peter’s Fish

By Wendy Lanier


Ever hear the story of how the disciple Peter caught a fish with a coin in its mouth? Maybe you wondered what kind of fish would have a coin in its mouth and why.

It’s possible the fish Peter caught was a musht fish. Whether it really was or not, the fish has become popularly known as “St. Peter’s fish.” Musht fish are still caught in the Sea of Galilee today.


A musht fish is a type of tilapia that grows anywhere from 6 to 18 inches long and can weigh more than three pounds.  They have a long dorsal fin along their back that looks like a comb when extended.  The word “musht” is Arabic for comb.

Musht fish have a large head with a bag under their mouth. Every year in the spring the musht fish lay their eggs. After the eggs are fertilized, the parents carry first the eggs, then the newly hatched young in their pouch for a few weeks. Later the parents begin scooping up rocks from the bottom of the Sea of Galilee. Soon the pouch is so crowded the young are eager to leave the comforts of home.

In Bible times people sometimes threw coins into the Sea of Galilee as a way to offer a private offering to God. Because musht fish often scooped up coins along with the pebbles from the lake floor, it probably wasn’t unheard of to find a fish with a coin in its mouth. The miracle was that it was in the first fish Peter caught after Jesus sent him fishing.

Matthew 17: 27 “…go out to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth, and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”





Wendy Lanier is a former elementary teacher whose writing credits  include titles for KidHaven Press, Lucent Books, Capstone Press, and contributions to such publications as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse,, and The Amazing Bible Factbook for Kids (a publication of Time Inc. Home Entertainment and the Livingstone Corp.).

Her educational background includes a B.S. in Speech Communication Disorders and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education with over 18 years experience in Texas public and private schools.  She has taught in both regular and gifted/talented classrooms (grades 3, 4, 6, and 7), specializing in the areas of science, social studies, and language arts.  Wendy’s author presentations are fast paced, memorable events filled with laughter and learning.


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