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FAQs about Pet-fishing & Human Health 3

Related Articles: Wounds ArticlesMoray Eels Bite, But Are They Venomous? by Marco Lichtenberger,

Related FAQs:  Petfishing and Human Health 1Petfish & Your Health 2, & FAQs on: Petfishing Concerns: Getting Poked, Spined, Stuck, Envenomized (injected), Bitten, Poisoning (ingesting), Skin et al. Contact, Companion Animal Involvement, Troubleshooting/Fixing, Bacterial Infections, Parasitic Cross Zoonoses, Turn About's Fair Play... Stingrays

fish disease transfer (to humans)         7/28/16
Greetings Crew, I'm hoping you can put my mind to rest. Have you heard any first hand accounts of parasites being transferred from fish to humans or other pets. I routinely irrigate my lawn with water from my tanks. I recently imported some farm raised fish from Asia and wondering what kind of micro organisms have hitch hiked in. I've become most concerned about my dog as she spends so much time out there. I personally have only heard of mycobacterium infections but how about nematodes/Trematodes and other parasites? Thanks for your time. Thanks, Brandon
<The risk is virtually nil. There are some microbes that can grow around fish tanks that can jump between the aquarium and people. Salmonella is an example, sometimes found around the hood for example. But Salmonella can be
found in any warm, damp environment with decaying organic material, including kitchen bins, reheated food, cat and dog food bowls, terrariums, etc. It's also easily avoided by washing your hands after handling your pets. So assuming you have a healthy immune system and take reasonable precautions like cleaning your hands after working in the fish tank, there's no significant risk here. Mycobacteria are similar, and there are occasional reports of "Fish TB" jumping to humans. Usually it's Mycobacteria marinum that's mentioned in the aquarium press, but whether it's actually this species is open to debate. In any event, same basic rules apply, and a healthy person taking sensible hygiene precautions isn't at serious risk. Even when healthy people do catch aquarium strains of Mycobacteria, the worst that happens is a skin rash on their hands. Beyond these two bacteria types, there really aren't any major health risks in
keeping fish or handling recently imported livestock. The worms you mention usually have complex life cycles that aren't flexible with regard to hosts, so aren't likely to affect humans (indeed, a lot of fresh fish sold in grocery stores is infected with worms like Lernaeocera branchialis, but cooking kills them, and even when eaten raw the risk is negligible, though skilled sushi chefs are trained to remove them before serving -- obviously!
-- and sushi-grade fish is frequently very deep frozen to further minimise the risk). I wouldn't feed live goldfish to a dog, that would be pretty silly, but the risk of you picking up a worm while cleaning the filter and then transferring that worm to your dog having washed your hands first is pretty much zero. Compared with cats and dogs, both of which routinely pose health risks to humans, tropical fish, and even more so marine fish, are extremely safe -- one reason they're frequently in hospitals and doctors' waiting rooms but furry animals aren't! Cheers, Neale.>

In a panic... Cryptosporidium in source water   4/25/16
I live in a very rural area and get my water from a well. My neighbor's house is up for sale, but they just lost a buyer because the well wouldn't pass inspection. They shocked the well and tested it again, but it still didn't pass inspection. Apparently their well is contaminated with cryptosporidium and we are on the same aquifer. I have had repeated problems with constipation and swim bladder disorder in my loaches - could this be caused by cryptosporidium?
<(trouble in humans, not in fishes).....
https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=Cryptosporidium+and+human+health
If it could be, is there anything I can do?
<Yes.... filter the water ahead of all uses; esp. potable. I'd have professional services come out and bid for setting you up a system. Bob Fenner>
*Renee *
Re: In a panic...   4/25/16

Have a system set up, but apparently it is being overwhelmed - will try to upgrade. They're talking about condemning the neighbor's well. They've been digging over there since last Thursday. They found what they believe
are human remains.
<Ugh!>
Are there any medications that will help my fish that are currently being affected?
<I would not be concerned re the fishes. BobF>
Re: In a panic...
   4/25/16
So, to make sure I'm understand you right - when I get rid of the cryptosporidium, the fish will straighten out on their own?
<I doubt that this pathogen is malaffecting your fishes. B>
Re: In a panic...        4/29/16

I don't understand. You said in your first response that the cryptosporidium could be causing my loaches constipation and swim bladder problems?
<Ah no; sorry for the confusion. I meant it could cause gastro-intestinal issues in you/humans. This genus is found, has been cultured from several species of fishes.... more likely akin to Escherichia in humans. B>
Re: In a panic...

Ok, thank you.
<W>

Reef Tank Causing Respiratory Distress; Zoanthids...        1/28/16
Greetings,
<Hola, Earl here.>
A little back-story: My 130 gal reef was broken down into a temporary setup for 3 months due to a silicone defect while the new aquarium was built. Without proper filtration dinoflagellates took root, smothered and killed most of the corals, but the fish/inverts seem OK and 4 days ago I transferred the inhabitants and rock to the new 240 gal system.
<OK Sarah I am sure Bob and some others will have more to say on this but I wanted to give you an immediate heads-up because this is potentially as serious as a heart attack, literally. Look up palytoxins. It is very likely you have "Palys", button polyps, Zoanthids (zoos), such similar in your tank, no? Stress or physical damage or attempts to remove them/kill them
can cause them to release a very dangerous neurotoxin specific to these animals. This needs to be taken extremely seriously...I have heard incredulity from people on the seriousness of this but please know it is definitely something that needs to be dealt with asap, with a cool head.
The symptoms you describe are classic.
http://www.asanltr.com/newsletter/02-2/articles/Neurotoxins.htm  has some good and detailed info. Also check the faq's on WWM regarding this. I have some friends in my reef club who had a very similar occurrence which included hospitalization for 2 of the family. It particularly attacks the respiratory system. The CDC says:
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6431a4.htm.  The first well-reported hobby-related instance commonly known http://www.advancedaquarist.com/blog/personal-experiences-with-palytoxin-poisoning-almost-killed-myself-wife-and-dogs  >
The last few days my husband comes home from work and develops an immediate runny nose and if either of us work on the tank our sinuses burn, develop slight chest discomfort, irritability, clouded thinking, watery eyes and sore throat. We noticed a correlation between our symptoms and working in or near the system and have ruled out possible irritants in the house. The aquarium is plumbed into the basement and we notice the worst effects while in the sump room - last night we set up the skimmer and carbon in a reactor and were quite uncomfortable after.
If it were hydrogen sulfide, I'd expect to have disturbed a sand bed, which I have not.
If it were palytoxin, I'd expect to be severe.
<Please see above. See a doctor quickly for some alleviation and have some of this printed out as it's unlikely to be known to most physicians.
Remember Rule 1: Don't Panic but do decontaminate (nuke with bleach) possibly contaminated gear, etc.. And please follow up your email here with updates as a follow-up as to how things go.>
There's about 10 heads of Zoas in the reef total, although, they are not open.
If it were toxins from the Dinoflagellates, I would expect my CUC to die off - in fact, it's the opposite, the urchin has recently started eating it.
Please chime in, the unknown is making us uneasy.
Sincerely,
Sarah
Re: Reef Tank Causing Respiratory Distress       1/28/16

Thanks for the prompt response, I'm familiar with palytoxin and it's why I've never been a Zoa gardener, but there are about 10 heads of stressed Zoas in the tank, stressed from the dino outbreak I presume.
I think I'm going to cut the large stylo colony off and whip that Zoa rock in the snow.
<Will share this w/ Earl, but want to respond as well. Yes to (carefully) removing the rock/Zoanthids to elsewhere. I would also run a good deal (pounds) of GAC (carbon) and maybe PolyFilter in the system); do a few consecutive daily water changes (to dilute)>
The tank transfer was 4 days ago and for the past 2 we've noticed the symptoms. Didn't boil rock, or leave it out of the water for more than a minute or so. I also wonder if disturbing the dinoflagellates released some kind of toxin. While our symptoms are present, they aren't severe.
Sarah
<See, read on WWM re others archived accounts. Trouble. Bob Fenner>
Re: Reef Tank Causing Respiratory Distress. Zoanthids       2/23/16

Thanks for the prompt response, I'm familiar with palytoxin and it's why I've never been a Zoa gardener, but there are about 10 heads of stressed Zoas in the tank, stressed from the dino outbreak I presume.
I think I'm going to cut the large stylo colony off and whip that Zoa rock in the snow.
The tank transfer was 4 days ago and for the past 2 we've noticed the symptoms. Didn't boil rock, or leave it out of the water for more than a minute or so. I also wonder if disturbing the dinoflagellates released some kind of toxin.
<Not likely discernible by humans>
While our symptoms are present, they aren't severe.
Sarah
<I'd be reading (on WWM, elsewhere) re Zoanthid toxic effects, removing these animals (the whole rock they're on); running GAC and more... NOW.... READ here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/zoanthidcompfaqs.htm
and the linked files in the series (above). Bob Fenner>
Re: Reef Tank Causing Respiratory Distress; Zoas     2/24/16

Thank you for the add'l info, I truly appreciate our correspondence.
<VERY glad to help>
After running 2 lbs of carbon, PolyFilters & w/c's we no longer experience symptoms
<Thank goodness>

near the reef tank and then what seemed like a secondary cold set in for both of us - 3 weeks of moderate to severe
sore throat, chest congestion and runny nose. All has returned to normal and I'll share this info with the locals.
Thanks again,
Sarah
<Thank you for your report. Bob Fenner>

Fish handlers disease topic       8/25/15
"On a more serious note I was wondering in your travels if you have ever heard the term fish handlers disease or seen aquarists with wounds that don't heal properly
<Oh yes! Unfortunately. Read here
Spot: http://wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm
AND the pertinent linked files at the top>

and if you have a good "doctor" that has experience with bacteria's acquired through fish!
<Have to call around.... they're about; specialists in tropical medicine, some dermatologists>
I believe the source was from working the Oceanside lobster boat season and having old salmon juice splash on my arm just above my glove line!
Reoccurring wounds where I get small cuts and small infections! Only thing that has helped or healed these wounds happens to be the hemp seed oil I make but it seems like either the bacteria is now throughout my body or I just work way to much on aquariums and I'm always soggy so things just don't heal! Any trade secrets I'm open minded:) thanks bob cheers" -spot
<Let's keep chatting mate. Best to do the concentrated "getting rid of" routine re... Perhaps very aggressive antibiotic series. Bob Fenner>

Important Question: Concern with autoinfection from hands in tanks        6/23/14
emailing you today because I have some concerns. I have no experience with saltwater or freshwater aquariums but have recently secured a position at a leading retail store selling many tropical fish, live rock,
corals, venomous fish and so on. I was unaware of some of the dangers upon taking the position.
<Mmm>
This is where the situation is unique. I know that I have no reason to panic, but instead to use caution and arm myself with knowledge so I can take steps to prevent accidents while cleaning the tanks etc but I have a nail-biting disorder. It's called Onychophagia. Most people find this revolting and something that you should just stop doing. But I simply can't. It is an obsessive compulsive behaviour that I have very, very little control over.
<Well; then I would definitely get/use gloves if you're going to have your hands in the water. More important and likely than trouble from livestock itself; all biological waters, including aquariums, have large mixes of microbial life... some of which you don't want to ingest. Akin to Coliform bacteria, Enterobius worms... from autoinfection, you want to thoroughly wash your hands after having them in the tanks>
I'm aware while at work to be washing and rinsing thoroughly and often but what I'm really worried about is the open wounds around my fingernails.
<You should be. I take it you're seen here on WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm
the linked files above>

If I am to clean 4-8 30gallon tanks per day, amongst other tasks (handling and cleaning protein filters etc) am I especially at risk for contracting diseases?
<To some extent, yes... again, the elbow length gloves are the route I would go>
My worry is that when dealing with things that are microscopic, I can't be sure that I have cleaned my hands thoroughly enough and I can't stop myself from biting once I'm done work.
Should I be anxious about this?
<Yes>
I feel anxious. I would rather be safe and broke than have money and be sick. Thank you so much!! I look forward to hearing your answer.
<I had "the habit" of biting my nails and cuticles when I was younger... and sis still does. I would seek out the help of a dermatologist and their aid in turn in "conditioning" help to rid you of this compulsion.
Bob
Fenner>

African dwarf frogs and salmonella  1/26/14
Hey crew! I'm currently cycling a new planted 10 gallon tank for 3-4 African dwarf frogs. Everything's going good. I did my research and am pretty excited besides the fact that I keep reading about salmonella from adfs. My question is, what're the chances of catching it and does having little spots of psoriasis on my hands increase my chances?
Thanks so much!!
Nicole
<Hello Nicole. Virtually all aquaria and vivaria can "grow" Salmonella.
It's not the animals so much as the combination of warmth, damp, and spilled food particles. Keeping the tank clean will help, but my guess would be even the cleanest aquarium holds a few of these bacteria.
Generally speaking, washing your hands after exposure to things that might carry Salmonella (whether raw meat in the kitchen or water in an aquarium) provides adequate protection, but some people choose to wear rubber gloves when working with animals and their enclosures. But I'm not a medical doctor so if you have serious concerns, you should talk to someone who is medically qualified. Cheers, Neale.>

Popular in Camden? California?     11/15/13
Hi Bob and Crew,
<Hey Johnny!>
Stumbled upon this article at lunchtime, first I've ever heard of these
fish(es).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallucinogenic_fish
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sarpa_salpa_.jpg  >
Have you ever had a request for advise on their upkeep? I bet so!
<Haven't as far as I recall; but have eaten some... tropic boiled
goatfish...>
Dreamfish and chips for tea tonight!
<Yeah!>
Best regards,
Johnny
<Cheers, BobF>

Reef tank causing illness? 1/22/13
Hi Bob and Crew,
<Hello Edie, Lynn here today.>
I am so thankful for your website!  But I've read and read, and can't find anything even remotely like my question:
<Sorry about that!>
I have two reef/fish aquariums, the largest is 90 g.  I do a 5% water change twice a week, wipe down the sides, and deal with any problems or rearrange the live rock or coral.  I've had these tanks for approximately two years (although many fish-only tanks in the past).  I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy---a burning and numbness in my lower legs and feet about 1-1/2 years ago. 
<Yikes, I’m sorry to hear/read that.>
I'm seeing several doctors, but they all say they have no idea why I have this problem.  Needless to say, it is very discouraging.
<I can only imagine.>
I've been reading more about Zoanthids and realized I had been given a Palythoa which he called a clove polyp.  I didn't realize it was a Zoanthid at first, and had decided not to chance keeping one because of the poisonous mucus.
<There’s definitely good reason for caution when dealing with Zoanthids/Palythoa sp.>
I also have a large Pulsing xenia colony, several rocks covered with Pachyclavularia viridis, several mushroom polyps of various kinds, and orange plate corals in addition to the fish (common names: orange-spot goby, fire fish, yellow wrasse, coral beauty angel, Chromis, royal gramma) and two cleaner shrimp in the 90 g; 2 clowns and an ocellated dragonet in the 30 g).
I have to confess I haven't been using gloves because I can't seem to handle anything small with the big clumsy gloves I order on the net--I think they are put out by Coralife. 
<Ah yes, the blue and orange “Aqua Gloves”.  I bought a pair myself years ago with similar results.  All in all, I believe they’re good gloves, but vendors seem to only offer them in one size (which I found to be absolutely gigantic).  You might want to give “Atlas Nitrile Gloves” a try.  I’ve used these for years and love them.  They’re full length, yellow, tough enough to pick up rock/coral, etc., without tearing, come in different sizes, have textured hands (feels like they added some “grit” to the hand areas), an elastic band around the tops, and are reasonably priced.   I got mine from Dr’s Foster & Smith (where they still sell them), but they may be available elsewhere as well.  Size seems to run pretty true.  I typically wear a women’s med/large glove so I got both sizes.  Both fit, but I prefer the large because it gives me a bit more room.>
I'm an older woman now and my hands are not calloused.  Of course, I plan on working with gloves, somehow, from now on.
<Do try the above-mentioned gloves; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!>
Have you ever heard of anyone having a nerve disorder like neuropathy in their feet and legs from having their hands and arms in the fish tank? 
<No, I have not.>
I've had saltwater fish for over 25 years, with no trouble, but only started with live rock and coral two years ago.  I have been scratched a couple times on the live rock, and an electric-like sensation from the orange plate coral, but nothing more serious--yet!  It seemed like an odd coincidence that I also developed the neuropathy at approximately the same time as starting the reef and fish tanks.
<It does seem coincidental, but it’s nothing I’ve run across – so far, anyway.>
 Maybe I'm grasping at straws, I know, but I'd really like to solve the mystery of where I got this disorder, and maybe do something about it.  Can you help? Any ideas?
<I sure wish I could do more than offer a brand of gloves to try! This is just not something I’ve heard of before.  I’m a big proponent of wearing gloves, however, so I do think it’s a great idea to don them whenever working around/within the tank or when handling any livestock, rock, sand, equipment, etc..I know it sounds a bit extreme but there are all sorts of nasty things that can happen when you go bare-handed in a saltwater system (see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm ). If nothing else, it may help you to rule out the possibility that the issues you’re having could be related to your system in particular.>
Thanks so much for all your help in the past, and hopefully, with this one. 
<You’re very welcome.  Again, I just wish there was more I could do to help.>
Edie
<Take care, Lynn Z>
Re: Reef tank causing illness? 1/22/13

Hi again,
<Hi Edie>
I'm sorry I didn't do more research on my newest coral before writing---I thought it was a Zoanthid, but now find it is most likely a Clavulariid, or a "clove polyp". 
<Gotcha>
But the question remains, could reef-keeping be causing the burning and numbness in my legs, known as peripheral neuropathy?  I know you're not doctors, but I was wondering if you ever heard of a similar incident.
<I have not.  I wish you all the best though, and hope that you and/or your doctors can figure out what’s causing this and take care of it quickly!>
Thanks again.
<You’re most welcome.>
Edie
<Lynn Z>

Article: True, False or Mostly Hype, Disease from trop. fish   1/18/13
Hi Bob, Neale and Crewmembers,
<Hello!>
Best wishes to you all and thanks as always for all of your hard work and dedication. The aquarium community is indebted to all of you and I maintain that you cannot be thanked enough for your volunteer services.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I have a short article I'd like you to check out at your leisure, which was written on a mostly gossip-type site with sometimes questionable information. A co-worker stumbled upon it and sent me the link:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2263812/Tropical-fish-diseases-passed-humans-Humans-risk-impetigo-pneumonia-diseases-drug-resistant-tropical-fish.html
<Ah yes, the Daily Mail newspaper. No scare story left untouched!>
My response was that I was always under the impression that fish (as pets) to human diseases for the most part are extraordinarily rare
<Thus far, yes.>
and vice versa but that I'd like to get the experts opinion from you guys...and yes, you guys are experts.
<Perhaps not as microbiologists though… or medics.>
Please don't try to deny it! Thanks as always for answering my question/giving your opinion and I hope you all have a wonderful day!
Nicholas
<Bottom line is that there's always been a risk of contracting things like Salmonella from aquaria and vivarium. Anywhere warm, damp and laden with decaying food can culture such bacteria. But what this article is about is scientists finding antibiotic resistance in fish. That doesn't necessarily put humans at risk, though it may mean that treating sick fish *with antibiotics* could be more difficult. Since antibiotics aren't used in the UK without a prescription, this is not a big deal; but in the US, where many aquarists use antibiotics (such as Maracyn) before using non-antibiotic medications, antibiotic resistance may become a major problem. The bigger picture so far as human health goes depends on whether humans could catch these antibiotic resistant bacteria. That's certainly an issue to think about, but the bacteria in fish rarely affect humans, so even if these bacteria are ten times as dangerous as before, they're still not very dangerous in real terms (going from a 0.001% risk to a 0.01% risk is a ten-fold change, but overall the risk stays small). I'm not a medic, but I wouldn't be any more scared of my fish tank than I am of handling raw meat, cleaning out the cat litter tray, or working soil in my garden. All these things expose me to bacteria, but if I'm sensible and don't do obviously stupid things (like, say, swallowing a sick Goldfish or injecting myself with muck from the filter ) then I can't see how this is a big deal at all. A wise doctor once said that the secret of health is 50% keeping clean and 50% getting dirty. In other words, you have to avoid germs of course but you also need to get exposed to them as well, so your immune system can develop. I'd guess that if you're healthy, interacting with animals, including fish, helps to develop your immune system. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Article: True, False or Mostly Hype  1/18/13

Thanks Neale! As always your explanation seems absolutely reasonable to me.
<Always good to talk, Nick. Cheers, Neale.>

Boiling Liverock almost killed my household the other night.
Zoanthid/human mal-interaction     1/12/13
Good afternoon guys--
<Mario>
I am finally feeling well enough to get out of bed and fully function so I wanted to send a documented email to you to explain our experience.
<Please do share>
The day of the 1/10/13 I purchased a few new corals for my 72g Bow reef aquarium. On my way home I mentally played with changing my aquascape a bit to fit my new corals, and open my tank up a bit for better flow.
5pm and the new corals are acclimating. Since the corals I purchased were Acans, I needed real estate at the bottom of the tank since I am running MHlighting mixed with130w PC actinics. I decided to start re-aquascaping.630pm and the aquascape is now done and looks great. In that time frame I decided to rid my tank of roughly 15lbs of Liverock. I had the extra rock
that was moved sitting next to the tank in a pot. I wanted to save this rock for later use, but I have nowhere to allow it to dry out since we live in an apartment complex so I decided to boil it. Yes, this is where the trouble started.
7pm and the rock is boiling on the stove and I am doing my daily duties around the house before my wife comes home from work.
730pm my wife arrives home, and on a whim we decided to go out for dinner.
By this time the water in the pot is full boil so I cut the stove off and place the pot on the back burner.
8pm we leave for dinner and I notice that my nose is tingling much like having allergies. I suffer from hay fever so I know the signs of my allergies coming on. Once we arrived at the restaurant my nose was pouring like I had a cold and my wife started to complain of a tight chest and a cough. We pushed through it not thinking anything of it.
<Ohh...>
10pm and we arrive home and we are both sick. Thinking that we are both getting the Flu or a nasty cold we bundled up warm to take our dogs out (110lb Lab and 70lb Golden Retriever) to do their nightly duties. I feel short of breath and my wife and I have a nasty headache, even though we are completely bundled up we are freezing cold. After the outing with the dogs
we sit down on the couch to relax and watch a bit of TV before we go to bed. Both of us are sick and grumpy. Body aches, headache, sneezing, running nose and labored breathing. We call it a night and go to bed.
1pm and the our Lab wakes us up to a flurry of vomiting. We clean it up and go back to bed feeling worse than when we went to bed the first time.
Now we cannot fall asleep. My wife is moaning and stating that she feels like she has the Flu. I feel the same and know something is going on in the house. I don't want to alarm her so I refrain from teller her how bad I actually feel as well.
130pm and she is asleep but I am noticing both dogs are breathing very heavy and restless. Our Lab gets up and goes into the kitchen and from a weird smell I realized that he defecated. I wake my wife up and we clean it up. by this time she is moaning and groaning. I take the dog out and he walks maybe 20 feet and lays down. Anyone that has a Lab knows this is not typical behaviour for the breed. I got him up, he urinated and the defecated and laid back down. I was finally able to get him in to find my wife back in bed stating that she may want to go to the ER. She stated she felt like she was dying. I have never heard he whimper and moan like this.
I was feeling just as bad but pushing through it but felt horrid and almost morbid.
2am and I come up with the idea we have mold issues. We had a flood 2 weeks prior that flooded out my car and made its way into the crawl space below our apartment complex. I search and search for mold but cannot find any.
230am and I walk into the kitchen again. In the corner of my eye I see the pot of boiled rocks and the light bulb in my head went off like a Nuclear explosion. I jump on the PC and search for coral poisoning and find that certain types of Zoanthids find their way onto Liverock. This is evident in my tank as there are ugly zoos on some of my rock. I then find that
these types of polyps contain Palytoxin.
<Yes>
245pm and off to the ER for both of us. Prior to leaving I took to pot of rocks and dumped them onto the lawn outside and rushed out.
330pm and we are rushed into the ER with difficulty breathing. The Dr and Practitioner see us both at the same time and listen to my story. I explain how I boiled life rock from my saltwater aquarium and think I poisoned myself and wife as well as dogs by these little polyp things that may have been attached to the rock. I still believe that he thought we were nuts
and were looking for pain meds. After running our vitals, he finds me with a fever of 101.5, wife @ 101.3 and both of us had high blood pressure readings. He asks me, " do you guys want any pain meds?" My answer was to the effect of "Doc, we aren't druggies, we don't need pain meds, we need to know what they hell is going on." I think that squared that thought
process away in his mind.
430pm and he comes back with questions about Palytoxin. Imagine that, the doctor is asking me about a toxic substance in corals. He states he has never come across anything like this before and needs more information. I explain to him to read online as there has been a few documented cases of Palytoxin being ingested causing serious side affects. I also explain I am not a Marine Biologist so I do not have any type of info that would pertain to treating it. He states that he has researched it and found a few documented cases, and also called Poison control. Poison control stated that he could only treat the symptoms if the patient was still "alive" and let it run its course. Prior to all this at around the 330 mark I would assume, they started IVs and took blood and urine samples as well as chest x-rays. the chest x-rays came back with symptoms of Bronchitis.
5am. After our conversation about poison control they gave us Steroid breathing treatments to ease our difficulty breathing and Tylenol for our fevers. He placed us on heart and oxygen monitors and said that its just a waiting game and he will monitor us for a while and we should both get some sleep.
We left the ER at roughly 9pm feeling much better but still in a lot of chest pain. Two days later, both of us are still feeling the effects of the toxin. When we take a deep breath our chest hurts like we have been in a pool or water for too long. Growing up on the beach we called it being water logged. Our abdomens hurt horribly from the violent coughing we are
experiencing. We are both on Ventolin Inhalers and 800mg's of Motrin as well as Z-Pack's for any type of bacteria we inhaled. We were also advised to see a respiratory specialist in the near future. Both dogs are fine now, we opened the windows and allowed any residual toxins to vent out.
Going back to the point of boiling, I do not recall if there were any polyps on the rocks. I can tell you I quickly examined them for any life just out of curiosity. I guess I missed something.
<Something toxic there... but I don't know what. Am not a fan of boiling rock, substrates>
I know this was a long and drawn out read so I do apologize. I felt compelled to send this to you so you can publish it if you choose as a warning to all novice and experienced reefers. We survived this horrid experience.
Lesson learned the hard way.
Regards--
--Mario and Stefanie
<Thank you for sharing. I do hope you have saved others from similar trouble. Bob Fenner>

Re: Boiling Liverock almost killed my household the other night.     1/12/13
Thanks Bob--
<Thank you Mario>
We both appreciate it and hope that it helps others in the future.
<Ah yes>
I posted this on Reefcentral.com as well as thereeftank.com prior to your response.
<Good>
Any ideas on how I can rid my tank of these Hitch Hiker polyps? I cannot remove my rock because there are a few on each rock.
<Well, the best course of action is to take all out at once and air dry, bleach, rinse, air dry again... then re-inoculate the dead rock (after restacking) w/ a bit (a few tens of percent) of new/live. Bob Fenner>

Couple questions; Pterapogon fdg., Scler. stings   1/2/13
Hi Crew and a happy New Year, I haven't asked anything in a while so here are two issues. I bought 2 pair of Banggai Cardinals over the past six months and all starved. The would spit out the food. I guess they wanted only what they were used to. I tried pellets, flakes, decapsulated brine shrimp eggs (which most fish go crazy for), my own home made minced fish.
They were all in good shape but they lasted 2 weeks and that was it. And they were from different stores. You would think they would take anything if really hungry.
<... I'd have tried live and frozen/defrosted foods of appropriate size>
Anyway, I decided to try once more and after a week of watching them spit out everything I went back to the LFS and asked them what they think will work. And they suggested Hikari frozen brine shrimp. Well, it really worked. They are now much livelier and run for all the foods but they still spit out all except the bs. It does contain supplements so do you think they can survive on it.
<I'd expand on the menu... Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/banggaifdg.htm
and for Apogonids in general>
I had a really nice Lobophyllia. It was oval about 3 inches long and 2
wide. Red outside and bright blue center. Had it about 3 years. Any time an Acan or Candycane fell on it they melted away
<?! why are other Scleractinians falling?>
and you could hardly see any mark on the lobo. Recently an Acan fell on it with the same results. About a week later I rearranged my rock so that my Trachyphyllia would have room to spread so I removed all my coral, rearranged everything and put the coral back. The next day I felt a bad sting on a finger and it took a week till it felt normal. And then the Lobo just disintegrated in about 2 days. What could have triggered this event. Thanks, Sam
<The contact with both. Bob Fenner>

Pharmacy Degree Question    1/5/12
Hi,
<Hello Paige>
I created my own Pharmacy education site called http://www.pharmacydegrees.net
a personal project that I've finally gotten to a stage that is "presentable". I would like to submit my website for your review and inclusion in the resource section of your site:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/woundfaq.htm
I created http://www.pharmacydegrees.net as a resource for new college students to find in-depth and unbiased information about picking the right Pharmacy degree to fit their needs. I spent a good amount of time researching each school and providing information to find the best program to fit their needs. I'm hoping that after you take a look, you'll think its a valuable enough resource to include a link to my site in your list of resources.
<Will do here as well as in our educational section>

I'd appreciate the opportunity to answer any questions, or take any other steps in order to get my site's link listed.
Thank you for taking a look!
Paige Dagmar
<Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner>

Upper Respiratory Issues When Cleaning Our Reef Aquarium 1/14/10
<Hello Wayne>
After thoroughly searching the Internet as well as discussing this with my local shop owner as well as one of his aquarium cleaning staff I now turn to you. My 50 gallon saltwater reef aquarium for the past 1.5 years (it was
set up 3 years, 4 months ago) has become seemingly toxic to my health when cleaning. I am forced to wear a full carbon filter face mask (as used for toxic chemicals) to reduce the likelihood of getting an upper respiratory infection when I clean. I spend approx. 3 hours every 2-3 weeks cleaning.
If I break it up to 1 hour increments over a couple of days there is no issue as long as I wear the mask, but if done all at once, even with the mask, I develop (as does my wife if she assists me) a dry throat followed within an hour by mild to more aggressive coughing. The next day the cough is productive and colored. I work in a medical clinic and have considered culturing the sputum, but have not yet. The symptoms (pretty lousy feeling besides the cough) last for 24 to 30 hours. -- Have you heard of this before? I also wear full arm protection so it is unlikely that there is a connection to physical contact of the corals. Surely someone else besides my wife and me have had issues of this nature when cleaning their reef aquarium, but I have been unable to find anything on the Internet.
Thanks for any advise you might be able to provide. If you need more specific information such as what animals I have, I would be pleased to provide that.
<Mmmm, do you run an ozone generator in this system without an ozone filtering method? Seems unlikely that both of you would be allergic to a substance in this system other than ozone. Mr. Fenner may also shed his input here as this is the only item that comes to mind for me in lieu of the protective measures you employ.
James (Salty Dog)><<I am wondering... if some small fraction of the "spray" from the water while these folks are in/near their tank has a titer of toxin/s from some of their Cnidarian livestock. Please search here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
With the string: "human health cnidarians"
Read the cached views... Likely Zoanthids... BobF>>
Wayne Luallen

Re: Upper respiratory issues when cleaning our reef aquarium   1/15/10
Thanks to both Bob and James. I am considering an ozone generator and/or carbon filtration.
<Both worthwhile>
I went to the URL Bob listed below and searched under "human health cnidarians" as suggested. Many of the articles I had already gone thru. Regrettably none of several URL's I went thru provided any information regarding respiratory issues, but instead dealt with the health of the aquarium animals and human "contact" issues. All the same I do very much appreciate you referring me to look there.
If you have any additional suggestions I would appreciate hearing from you.
Thanks so much for your interest and advise.
Wayne
<I would be looking about, seeing if you can't find a doctor, or researcher that has dealt with such maladies from "aquarium contact"... Or perhaps even removing some of the types of life from your system selectively, to see if you can discern the root of the problem. BobF>
Palytoxins   1/15/10
Bob,
Came across this in regard to the gent having breathing problems cleaning his tank.
FWIW I thought I would send to you.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palytoxin
James
<Ah yes. Have sent to Wayne as well. BobF>

Killing Palys. Zoanthid control, human toxicity f's-- 12/04/09
Dear Crew,
<Glenn>
I have a tank being over run by brown polyps. I believe people here call them Texas Trash Palys. At first it looked nice to have a large mat of these but this is getting ridiculous. They were growing on all the rock, sand and back wall. Now I have reason to believe they are making me ill.
<No bueno!>
8 weeks ago, I did a lot of work on my tank, mainly removing algae and removing Palys growing on the sandbed. So my hands were in the water. I was wearing gloves, but they only come up above my wrists. I don't remember having any cuts. That night, I had trouble sleeping due to chills. I got up and went into the bathroom and blacked out. Busted my head open and bruised my ribs in the process. Went to the hospital but had no fever. My lower BP# was initially really low. Recovered an moved on.
A few weeks ago, I discovered a leak in my sump. So I broke down my tank and put all the live rock, including Palys in totes. That night, I had chills again and felt dizzy when I stood up. This time I sat down and did not black out. I recovered later in the day. I got a new DT and setup the new tank and sump. Put the LR and Palys back in. The water smelled terrible. All my Ricordea were dead but the Palys were alive. The can with the fish had a few rocks with Palys. Two fish were dead and the others were near death. That night I got the chills again. My remaining fish were dead by morning.
<Bad, bad and worse>
I'm thinking all of this is from the Palys.
<Could be>
Even if their not the cause, I want to get rid of them anyway. They are reduced in number, but I'm sure they'll be back. My tank completed a cycle and I've started adding some hermits and a brittle star to clean up anything left decaying in there. I as hoping to begin restocking fish this weekend. How can I kill the Paly's and not have another cycle of the tank?
<Remove all rock with them, the Zoanthids on them... Bleach... for a day... Rinse, let the "old" rock air dry... for a few days... Place back in the system with some new atop to reseed with other forms of life>
Not to mention avoid taking the rock out of the tank and manually removing them?
<This is what is necessary... Either that or nuking/bleaching all in place.
Yes, I am serious. You are by far not the first or worst to be malaffected by these Sea Mats... Do take care. Bob Fenner>
Thanks,
Glenn

Infections in the skin from coral (dangers of SW sys. keeping)  11/8/2009
Hello,
<Hi there>
I know these may simply be too gross to post, but if they can prevent someone from undergoing what I've gone through, not once, but twice now, I'd sure like to contribute them.
<I thank you for this. You will have saved many others great trouble>
My name is Renee, and I am a coral enthusiast and like most of us, I heard some things about coral being poisonous, and how not to take much of it to heart, that it's just over-stated to make us afraid, and - well, let me just say that I am now much more cautious due to a couple things that happened to me while reef-keeping, with varying degrees of poisoning and illness.
#1: Longhorn Cowfish poisoning. It's not Tetratoxin, but it's called Ostracitoxin.
<Yes... is an Ostraciid species (a boxfish), not a "true" puffer (family Tetraodontidae)>
My fish was in a 10 gallon hospital tank. She had Ich, and passed on and when she did, I noticed a slight foamy look to the water, so I slid it to the sink to dump it, and as I did, the tank slipped, cut my finger on the plastic liner to the bone and the water went inside of this open wound while I poured it into the sink. I was completely unaware that they carry toxin, as my pet store had told me that they were 100% safe to keep in a reef.
<Mmm, not so>
He even said people over-react about the puffers being poison and laughed it off when I had originally inquired.
I called the poison control center, and they told me that it could make me ill, to be careful for 4 to 6 hours and if I showed any illness signs, to call them back.
About 8 hours later, (way after poison control's time period), I began heavily salivating to the point it was hard to swallow it. Mucous got thick in my throat and I felt really dizzy. I vomited, and it passed, and if it had not subsided, I'd have called 911. I forced water and fluids for 24 hours and was fine.
Additionally: Poison control told me that a curator for the Shedd Aquarium once poked himself with a dead blowfish spike (which was the only case he could find like mine) and had a minor reaction.
<Reactions vary... akin to proteinaceous stings of social insects>
I thought I'd note that when I told the local store owner I had purchased the fish from about the incident, he did not believe me.
<Reflex defensive mechanism>
#2: Foxface Rabbitfish : Ouch. I had him over a year. I took him out of a fish trap he had accidentally gotten into and as I did, his fins went between my thumb and forefinger, lightly brushing as he went into the tank. Mind you, he did not poke my skin. He brushed it. IT BURNS. It stung like an amplified bee-sting. My hand swelled...and I put it under water, cleaned it and it wasn't bothering me an hour later, although I hear they can truly poison you if they poke the skin...I am thankful that mine was just a brush of fins and that I was not poked by one.
#3: The infections: Coral can bring with it some of the worst bacteria known to man. Here is one small video and a few small photos of varying infections caught after handling coral at my home.
The nose images may seem hard to believe, and the video of it, 2 weeks later (still huge, but going down), as it heals is still hard to believe.
Note: The nose.jpg photo is after the initial abscess was removed, after the treatment was given and antibiotics administered, 6 days into the infection. I had become very ill, and at one point, I had begun getting weak and dizzy from the infection.
10dayslater.jpg is 10 days after initial onset of infection.
The video is about 2 weeks later...and you can see how it has permanently damaged my noise now. I have a dent, a little hole and a permanent tear in the nostril.
I had gone to my friend Josh's house, sat on his sofa, handled 3 containers of frags I got from him, itched my nose and by the time it took me to drive 100 miles home, it had already begun itching severely.
Within 24 hours, it was a whopping 2.5" across and was unable to see past my nose.
<Yeeikes!>
You cannot imagine the pain from this. Just think how it feels when you get a blemish on/in the nose, let alone one that goes completely through from the top to the inside.
The neck images (2, one prior to removal of abscess, one after): The neck became infected when I handled coral and then scratched a blemish lightly, after a hand wash. The physicians said I had not cleaned under my nails thoroughly enough, and the bacteria (which I have never had identified) had entered that way. Within 8 hours of touching my tank, it was already swollen and inflamed. Within 5 days, it abscessed into a huge abscess, which subsequently was excised. The remaining hole is what is in the second image, and I am permanently scarred from this as well.
My point in sending this to you is to help prevent readers from undergoing these same infections.
Cautions I now take:
1. Wear gloves.
2. Wash hands under hot soapy water when finished, being very sure to scrub under the nails.
3. Read anything you can on fish before you handle them and check to find out if they carry toxin. I had no clue my Foxfish was poisonous till I was brushed by his fins.
Just be careful. We love our reefs, and fish and tanks, but the truth is, they can be a dangerous place to play in and unless we use some caution, know what we are fishing around in and are aware of potential dangers, then we are blindly walking in an attack zone.
Use caution please.
Renee
<Again, many thanks for your sharing/caring. Bob Fenner>

Re: Infections in the skin from coral 11/8/2009
You are welcome, Bob. You are also more than welcome to use the images or film to help people and to give them a healthy caution of the dangers lurking in their tanks.
<Thank you Renee>
I found that in my local shops, there is a generalized dis-belief about the dangers of reef-keeping.
<Yes... and though there is a bit of risk, I have optioned to post my more dire (though not alarmist in my value system) warnings on WWM, in articles, books>
3 local stores are still selling customers cow-fish, and right in front of me, one week after I had been poisoned, just after I told him the story, the owner told a customer to go ahead and buy the cowfish, that I had been misguided and probably had the flu.
Renee
<!? Bizarre. BobF>

Valentini puffer venom? -- 07/04/09
Hello,
<Hi Wendy.>
I thought I'd done my research on the valentini puffer and just purchased a tiny little specimen to add to my 50 gal tank, but have just found an article calling the valentini venomous, and wondering in what sense? I did read that they are poisonous to eat, and have not planned on eating it, or putting it with aggressive fishes, so thought that would not be a problem.
<You are absolutely right.>
But, is the little cutie dangerous to handle in the tank, say if I'm putting my arm in and he bites me?
<No problem. A bite can be painful and may easily become infected, but there is no venom transferred into your body. However, it is true puffers have toxins such as Tetrodotoxin and are very poisonous when eaten.>
Thank you for your help! Wendy
<Welcome. Marco.>

fish food bioaccumulation and humans 6/24/09
crew,
slightly bizarre question, that I have not found an answer too, though perhaps have been looking in all the wrong places. I have read on the container of fish food "not to be fed to fish intended for human
consumption". Not being learned in the topic, I must assume that whatever component it is that is harmful to humans is accumulated in the flesh of the fish (it would seem organs being most likely but also skeletal muscle). I have also read of many people, myself included, who water their plants (mainly flowers) with the waste water from water changes.
<Not a/to worry>
And now to the question:
Is there any reason, or risk in using the waste water to water plants intended for human consumption?
<Only if it's marine/salt...>
further would the likely hood be greater in a fruit type plant, a leafy vegetable or a root vegetable?
<Zip to nil>
It seemed to me very unlikely but since this is not my area of knowledge and haven't seen any statement one way or the other I would ask the crew.
Thanks again,
Forrest
<I suspect this is mainly an "avoiding liability" issue, though some fish foods have had added medications (antibiotics, anti-protozoals), others have incorporated beef/cow material that in a very tortuous way could be associated with human health. I do not, would not worry. Bob Fenner>

Palytoxin-like compounds and Marine Aerosols... Zoanthid sel., human hlth. f's
I am writing you today, as I came across the question below on your website. My family has experienced a similar situation, and I would like to share it with you, along with a recent article I found dated March 13, 2009 that directly ties Palytoxin-like compounds to marine aerosols.
<Thank you for this>
"Human Lung Disease? 11/26/07
Dear Dr. Fenner,
<Just Bob please... I have no doctorate>
Friday I spent several hours cleaning my sump, pumps, heaters etc. Most of this time was spent hunched over the garage sink with a lot of water vapor rising up into my face. That evening, my lungs felt inflamed. The next day (yesterday) a cough developed and then a high fever followed with all of the usual aches and pains associated. The reason I am writing is because there seems to be a very clear correlation between the cleaning of the sump and the rapid onset of this illness. I read the article posted on your site regarding aquariums and human health, and most of it seemed related to skin infections. Do you know of diseases of the lungs caused by the inhalation of bacteria commonly found in substrate? If so, I would greatly appreciate any references.
Best wishes to you all,
Brad in Basalt
<I do not... but do encourage you to seek out medical attention if you are concerned... I wish you good health. Bob Fenner>"
Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry
http://www.online.karger.com/ProdukteDB/produkte.asp?Aktion=ShowPDF&ArtikelN
r=218190&Ausgabe=249208&ProduktNr=224332&filename=218190.pdf
Production of Functionally Active Palytoxin-like Compounds by Mediterranean Ostreopsis cf. siamensis
Palytoxin is one of the largest and highly potent marine toxins first isolated from Zoanthids of the genus Palythoa. It has been also found in sea anemones, Polychaete worms, crabs and herbivorous fishes. However, algae from the genus Ostreopsis have been proposed as the possible biogenetic origin of this toxin as well as some potent analogues, e.g. ostreocin-D.
Palytoxin-like compounds also cause human sufferings because of exposure to the marine aerosols, with symptoms that include fever associated to serious respiratory disturbs, such as bronchoconstriction, mild dyspnea, wheezes, and in some cases conjunctivitis.
Here is our story:
Palytoxin Poisoning from Palythoa Polyps
Dave and I want to share a bizarre experience we have encountered, should you know of anyone who owns a salt water fish tank, and finds themselves getting sick from the water.
Dave recently purchased a 75 gal aquarium and then found a guy on Craigslist who was selling everything in his tank, as his doctor told him he was allergic to his fish tank. Every time the guy stuck his hand in the water he would get sick.
This sounded "odd", but we went ahead and purchased about 90 pounds of live rock, various sea anemones, etc. We really didn't know what the entire package included, but believed it was safe enough to transfer to our tank without gloves.
That night Dave , Kent and I all became dreadfully ill for 4 days. Dave had a fever for 3 days that peaked at 103.5. All of us had muscle aches, stomach cramps, difficulty breathing, coughing, diarrhea, nausea and headaches. Only Dave had the fever.
We recovered, only finding our family repeating this cycle every time Dave stuck his hand or arm in the tank, (to clean or move things around). After Dave's 5th fever of 101.7 he went to the doctor and they ruled out Swine Flu, but we had him tested for Salmonella Paratyphis B and Vibrio, both rare aquarium diseases that can both be quite dangerous.
We contacted the owners of Saltwater City in Bellevue , one of which is a Marine Biologist, and the other, "Andy" a microbiologist and research scientist. He believed we must have poisonous Palythoa Polyps growing in our tank. (They look like purple flowers.) This turned out to be exactly the problem. We called the previous owner and asked him what his "allergy symptoms" were, and they were identical to ours. Our family would get these symptoms just by BREATHING the fumes from the tank. We have since removed these deadly polyps, and are in the process of de-toxifying our aquarium.
Andy, from Salt Water City had a case of this only one other time. Every time the guy stuck his bare arm in the tank, he would get sick with a fever. He removed his Palys and recovered. Also, we did find out that the previous owner who sold us this live rock package had the exact same symptoms as us! Every time he stuck his hands in the water, he would get sick with a fever.
He has since recovered.
Trev Dakan, the owner and Marine Biologist of Salt Water City claimed that a couple times in his life, when we was cleaning out a "bad tank" he would get very ill with a fever. He just thought he caught the flu.
We have recently removed 4 LARGE clusters of Palythoa Polyps, and we also are removing all the sand in our tank, slowly, in sections to go bare bottom. The sand is in a bucket in our garage. If you were to stick your head in the bucket and breath in, you WILL find yourself coughing.
We have been to the Dr. My husband became the most sick, as his immune system has been compromised prior to all of this due to a sinus surgery.
Anyway, they did a chest X-ray, tested for every kind of bacterial infection, and read the above article linking Palytoxin-like compounds to marine aerosols. They believe this is the cause of our problem. (They did find Dave's white blood cells to be high. The microbiologist said this is common with Palytoxin exposure)
We are currently cycling "Chemipure" thru out tank for two months to try to purify the tank. We understand we may have to "gut" the whole thing and sterilize it, but the experts we have talked to think we can save everything by trying this method. Currently we have not had any reactions around the tank, but we do use gloves up to our armpits before entering the tank.
If you have any thoughts you would like to share, we are more than happy to listen.
Thank you for your time!
Sincerely,
Amy and David Fulton
Monroe, WA
<Again, thank you for sharing... You may well have saved several others from very dire Zoanthid health issues. Bob Fenner>

Poisonous Critters 03/27/09
hello. I was wondering about how poisonous a black long spined sea urchin and a fuzzy dwarf lionfish are. I have looked on the internet for these facts and cant really find any solid info except that they are. Also, if one is poisoned what should they do? Thanks, Bobby
<Well, it really depends on how badly you get "stung"...and how sensitive you are to the toxins. It's quite rare for anyone to end up dead or hospitalized from either of these animals (unless the person has a particular allergy/high sensitivity and are stung badly). However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be extremely careful. Often times, you won't know how sensitive you are until you get stung (which you don't want to ever happen). Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm
Cheers,
Sara M.>

Marine question.. Light hazards to humans  10/6/08 Hi all, firstly let me say what a fantastic resource this site is! I don't think I've ever failed to find the right answer on WWM.... until now! So the question, can viewing my aquarium at close quarters damage my eyes or skin? <Mmm, "if" using some types of metal halides sans protective shields, you might, otherwise, only by long exposure... like a mild "sun burn"> The reason I ask is because the intensity and wavelengths of light (I run 234 Watts of T5 in 150 Litre tank) are not what can be called "natural", and in my experience in situations like this the health and safety bods would be recommending some sort of PPE to be worn! Furthermore, can T5's be more harmful than halides? <Not as far as I'm aware, no> I'm first to admit I spend unfeasible amounts of time observing my reef, so this question may be of interest all the other like-minded pet stone keepers out there! I cannot find an answer anywhere in literature or on the web, possibly because nobody is asking! If you have any knowledge in this area it'd be greatly appreciated. Thanks Kevin W <Relative to other sources of "trouble", this one is vanishingly small. Not to worry. Bob Fenner>

Zoanthus vs. Palythoa vs. Protopalythoa: Palytoxin 07/07/08 Hi WWM crew, <Hello Brian! Sorry about the slow response, I was asleep at the wheel...> I'm writing you about palytoxin because I so far cannot find concrete answers about it anywhere and I have children and pets around my tanks. <Yes...many stories, few facts available to the hobbyist> This is my first letter to you all after many readings (including reading many of your letters on Zoanthidea and palytoxin). I have a few quick questions and I would appreciate any citations to additional resources you can give, the more scientific the better. I'm trying to get hold of the Book of Coral Propagation by Anthony and Corals and Coral Reefs by Eric Borneman since I hear they have good info on palytoxin but no luck so far (they're expensive!). <Calfo gives some anecdotal info that is helpful- cautionary - to the hobbyist. If you're interested in scientific texts on palytoxins you might try a local library or (preferably) a college library where you can gain access to scholarly journals. Perhaps a search of scholar.google.com or JSTOR would be fruitful in this area.> (1) How can you tell the difference between a Zoanthus, a Palythoa, and a Protopalythoa species of Zoanthidea? I would like to concretely identify what is in my tank and learn how to ID future specimens. <As I understand it, this largely relates to the common foot. As hobbyists Zoanthus are the smaller, more colorful polyps sharing a foot; Parazoanthus being larger, more distinctly carnivorous, and still sharing a common foot, and the Palythoa/Protopalythoa being colonies of unconnected large polyps> (2) Do all Zoanthidea species have palytoxin in them? I know that even within Palythoa, not all specimens have palytoxin in them, but I'm wondering here whether all 3 species have palytoxin or if, for example, Zoanthus are safe and do not have it. <All of these families may/do produce palytoxin and other organic poisons> (3) If not all Zoanthidea have palytoxin, which ones do not have it? <Can't be told based on appearance, unfortunately. We must suspect all...for safety reasons> (4) Where is the palytoxin actually "kept" in the Zoanthidea? Is it ever released other than when the specimen is damaged or cut? How is it released (I've read about it squirting out of Zoanthus but never seen anything on how they actually release it)? <It is held in the fluid of the mesophyl, exuded in mucous, as an allelopathic compound.> (5) Is palytoxin also harmful to other things in the tank (e.g. other corals, fish, inverts, macroalgae, etc.)? <Anything with nervous tissue, motor function> (6) I have two Zoanthidea in my tank now that I was told, when buying them, were Zoanthus. I knew nothing about palytoxins so didn't ask any questions beyond that identification. They have spread off the original frag/rock/disc they came on and some of the polyps are bridging the gap between the frag disc and the live rock. If it turns out these are a species that sometimes contains palytoxin I'll probably not keep them, the risk seems not worth it despite their beauty. How should I go about removing them from the tank to minimize the risk of palytoxin exposure? <The only way to eliminate exposure would be to take the polyps and the rocks they are on, bag them in garbage sacks, and dispose of them.> I've taken up a lot of your time already, so I'll stop here. Thank you again for your answers. <Unless these creatures are handled, palytoxin poisoning is unlikely. If you are concerned about colony size or a child reaching a hand in the tank, removing these is probably prudent. DO take care in handling them (gloves, goggles, etc.) especially if they have been severed or crushed.> Sincerely, Brian <Benjamin>

Dragon Goby, Human Injury 6/9/08 Hi, <Hello> I am trying to research the dragon goby, but not for a fish tank. Recently, while we were at Thassos, Greece, my daughter reached down to pick up what she thought was a rock or a shell, but turned out to be a fish that had been resting under the sand. (She was sure it was a sea snake that bit her.) <Did it look like puncture wounds? If so I would guess it was stuck by spines as opposed to bitten.> It did cut her finger and resulted in a very painful and inflammatory reaction. A doctor there came to give her an injection to help with the pain, and said it was probably a Dragonfish. Two weeks later, her finger is still swollen and is now being treated medically. I want to find out more if the dragon goby could be the fish that she touched. <Unlikely, they would not be capable of inflicting such a would, I would guess it was some sort of Scorpaenidae, many of which do have venomous spines and could be mistaken for rocks.> I am not finding very good information so far, and see that you have a lot of expertise. Will you please help me by directing me to the right resources? Please send information directly back to my email address. Thank you. Sincerely, Melissa <Some of these fish can be very dangerous, fortunately it seems as though the injury here is pretty localized. Two weeks seems like a very long time to still have significant injury, perhaps DAN (Diver Alert Network) could direct you to a doctor familiar with dive related injuries, and may have familiarity with something like this. http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/index.asp . Hopefully if Bob has any more ideas he will add here, but I would definitely seek a medical professional here.> <Chris>

v tail aggression 5/12/08 Hello crew I have a 90 gal FOWLR setup with 2 dwarf lionfish and a 6 inch v tail grouper. Every time I put my hand in the tank my grouper darts at me with super speed. I cant rearrange my live rock I want to form more cave like formations. How can I stop him from attacking me without injuring him? I do not want to damage my fish do you have any suggestions? <Have you tried/considered wearing gloves? -Sara M.>

May be Poisoned? 5/10/08 Hi, I was helping my boyfriend move his 12 gallon nano home today from school and in the process I spilled some tank water on my leg that has an open cut. The corals were all extremely irritated at being moved and I'm sure they gave off some type of toxin in the process. <Possibly, the zoos more than anything as far as toxins pertaining to effects on humans.> Its been about 10 hours and my leg is starting to hurt from my hip to my foot almost as if its just a strained muscle. I thought at first that's what it was because we moved a lot of stuff today but that was until I thought about the water being spilled on my leg where I had a cut. The corals in the tank are Zoanthids, mushrooms, Ricordea mushrooms, Acans, Xenia, yellow Toadstool Leather, and Frogspawn. I believe that's everything that's in there. The pain in my leg didn't start right away but now its extremely sore. Its 2 a.m. where I am and I don't know if I want to wake my entire house to go to the hospital if it really is just a sore muscle. I don't even remember cutting my leg so I'm not sure how old the cut actually was once the water hit it. <Even if there were toxins in the water, the dilution thereof should be of no consequence. It is likely not related to the water spilling onto your leg other than any possibility of an infection (even then not likely brought about by the spill alone). I/we are not M.D.'s, if you have any concerns about your well being, by all means do consult a physician, other concerns may be at play here. I wish you the best, Scott V.>

Hermit crabs, human hlth.  5/1/08 Hi I just have a few quick questions. My daughter is very ill and can not be around any disease carrying pets someone suggested a hermit crab to her and she has been searching to see if she can have one. Do they carry any diseases that can be transmitted to humans? <Mmm, not unless the human is badly challenged immunity wise... some waste bacteria...> Are they expensive to take care of? <Mmm, no> I hope to hear form you soon. I would like to purchase a couple as soon as I know if they are safe for her because we don't know how much longer she will be with us and I want to give her what ever she wants but sometimes I can't. She is just recently without her dog due to this illness and now she just wants something she can love. Also if they are safe where is the most reputable place to buy them? I only have corporate pet stores near me like Pet smart and Pet co. <Some of these (due to individual staff) are excellent. I would visit, engage them in conversation... purchase a small book on Hermit husbandry, read it with your child. Oh, and do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/hermitcrabfaqs.htm for some general care input> Thank you Valeri <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Zoanthids, palytoxin, human contact  4/9/08 Mr. Fenner, I have a disease called scleroderma that effects my autoimmune process and need to be cautious. I have read about the neurotoxin called palytoxin that occurs with Zoanthid polyps. I read about the need for caution and it's effects but on the other hand I get the impression its occurrence in the aquarium hobby seems rare. With this in mind I have what I believe is a Zoanthid Palythoa that looks like the common type with green polyps. I'm new to the hobby and need to know if I have a serious concern. I intend to use gloves if the need comes to physical touch it, but do I need to be concerned about making contact with the aquarium water with my hands. Your input will be appreciated. Steve C. <Mmm, always best to be cautious when dealing with Zoanthids... particularly in handling directly, as in asexual propagation/cutting. I do advise that you, actually most everyone wear good gloves whenever they place their hands in their tanks... to prevent possible troubles for themselves during exposure, as well as to disallow contamination. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Help - my son ingested Tri-start!! -- 03/13/08 Hi I have a fresh water aquarium and treat my water with Tri-start when I do a water change. Today my two year old son got into my fish equipment cupboard and had a sip of my tri-start. I panicked and called poisons info (I am in Australia) but they couldn't find any information on the ingredients of tri-start. They did eventually find one database that said water conditioners are mostly sodium chloride. I was wondering if you could tell me if that is the case, and if not, what the main ingredients are for Tri-start or similar products. So far my son seems fine but I am worried and surprised that manufacturers do not have to list at least an active constituent. The poor man at poisons agreed as it makes their job very difficult! Thanks a lot. Hope you can help me. Regards Sarah <Sarah, water conditioners -- dechlorinators -- are mostly sodium thiosulphate. That's what you need to tell your medical practitioner. My understanding is that sodium thiosulphate is relatively harmless unless consumed in large amounts, though it is an irritant and emetic, and you should certainly get in touch with your MD. Cheers, Neale.>

Skin Condition due to Saltwater  3/12/08 I can't find an answer to my dilemma. Please help. Have you ever heard of anyone getting a serious skin condition from exposure to saltwater? <Yes... an "industry hazard"...> My 125 gallon reef tank has a smell even though the water is clear. Seems like an algae smell. My problem is that I am getting skin outbreaks & eye itching that I can't help but think is coming from the aquarium. When I rub my eyes, I think I smell "that smell" coming from my tear ducts. Any of this make sense? <... Yes! Very important that you be extremely careful here... I would ONLY place my hands in the system with long gloves on my hands... There are such for many purposes... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm and esp. the linked FAQs files above. I would see a dermatologist re as well. Bob Fenner>

Re: Skin Condition due to Saltwater  3/14/08 Thank you! <Welcome! I and many other friends in the trade have suffered dermatological troubles from SW exposure... some can "get by" with lotions of different sorts use... Others have had to learn to keep their hands/arms out of tanks entirely! There are many possible negative interactions biologically as well to consider... The best "remedy" are arm-length gloves of quality. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

IMPORTANT .....my cat drank medicated fish water!! 01/26/2008 NEED INFO: <<Hello, Andrew here>> I turned my back for one second, and my cat was drinking the medicated fish water I'd just prepared! It was Furan (1/2 tablet in a 5 gallons of water) for 1 sick fish. He couldn't have gotten more than a few licks......will this hurt him?? I've searched the net, and can't find any info Thanks so much Carol Herard. <<This medication is classed as not harmful by ingestion/swallowing. I would not be overly concerned. Just keep fresh drinking water available for the cat. <<Thanks for the question. A Nixon>>

Rabbitfish question, handling  12/15/2007 Hello. I've got a one-spot Foxface Rabbitfish and we've had it for some time now. It's doing well and growing like crazy. We bought him in town and nobody told me that the spines could be dangerous. <Oh yes> Needless to say, we moved him between 3 tanks now and didn't know. I held him in my hand at one point and even helped him get his gills going in the new tank when the smaller tank he had been raised in crashed. (We had numerous newbie fish disasters throughout the year, but everything is a+ stable now). I am concerned after finding out that they are venomous, quite by accident, because nobody took the time to tell us, knowing we were newbies. I've searched the site thoroughly and read the Rabbitfish FAQs, and I see that it mentions that they have a painful sting and are venomous. It does not, however, tell you how venomous they are (from what I saw, but I may have missed it somewhere) or if they are actually fatal, such as the lionfish can be. <Somewhat less than Pteroines... more than bees... Can be dangerous to folks who have aversion to proteinaceous stings> I am concerned, needless to say, because he's grown to about six inches long and he's quite the boss of the big tank, with the exception of a few of our tangs, who rule the roost. Thank you <I too have hand-handled many Siganids... one just needs to be careful to keep their hands away from the spiny (anterior) portions of their dorsal and anal fins... Bob Fenner>

Snowflake Eel Bite -- 11/28/2007 Hi! <Hello.> I have read through the posts on snowflake morays. I could not find an answer to my question. I care for a 300 gallon tank at the junior high where I teach science. I have had a snowflake eel in my home aquarium and have never had a problem like this. Today while trying to feed the inhabitants of the tank, at school, the snowflake eel was wildly thrashing in and out of the tank. I had some silversides for him and the lion fish so I grabbed one with me fingers to give him (I know, not recommended ) anyway, he latched onto my finger and would not let go without some coaxing. After he let go I had several small piercings in my finger, and was bleeding. I cleaned the injury with peroxide, but was wondering - do they carry any weird bacteria that could be infectious. <Several dangerous bacteria have been found in the mouths of moray eels, among them Vibrio and Pseudomonas. If the wound swells, is becoming severely red or you feel insecure about what to do, visit a medical doctor. In addition many (probably all) moray eels possess a weak toxin produced by club shaped cells in their skin, that might be transferred by a bite. Dizziness and tremendous pain are reported symptoms, but the toxin is so far not considered very dangerous (perhaps only to allergic persons).> I don't know where else to seek an answer. <The aquarium magazine TFH had an article on moray bites in its September issue. Possibly will be at WWM some day, too.> Living in Cheyenne, Wyoming doesn't afford me a wealth of expert advise. <So far I am not aware of anyone, who died due to a moray eel bite, but I am aware of some people, who had to go to the hospital, some because of infection, some because of massive loss of tissue (larger eels). Although most moray eel bites heal without infection and further problems, I'd stop hand feeding. Fingers and silversides are not the healthiest diet anyway. Clam and mussel meat, squid and crustaceans should be used to alter the diet.> Thanks in advance for any info you can provide. <Hope that helps. Cheers, Marco.>

Human Lung Disease?  11/26/07 Dear Dr. Fenner, <Just Bob please... I have no doctorate> Friday I spent several hours cleaning my sump, pumps, heaters etc. Most of this time was spent hunched over the garage sink with a lot of water vapor rising up into my face. That evening, my lungs felt inflamed. The next day (yesterday) a cough developed and then a high fever followed with all of the usual aches and pains associated. The reason I am writing is because there seems to be a very clear correlation between the cleaning of the sump and the rapid onset of this illness. I read the article posted on your site regarding aquariums and human health, and most of it seemed related to skin infections. Do you know of diseases of the lungs caused by the inhalation of bacteria commonly found in substrate? If so, I would greatly appreciate any references. Best wishes to you all, Brad in Basalt <I do not... but do encourage you to seek out medical attention if you are concerned... I wish you good health. Bob Fenner>

Fire Coral, human hlth.  11/15/07 Just reading your article on fire coral. You mention about getting stung and the treatment, you should also mention that extreme caution should be exercised also, some people like me have extreme allergy to fire coral which can land people like me in hospital, it is not just ouch. I am starting up the salt again soon and I shall do what you say and use gloves at all times. Also I do not know if you mention any other corals that can sting, I know for someone like, I must exercise extreme caution in the hobby now.  By the way I do love your site and your articles, they are very helpful in giving information and giving advice. Cheers Richard South <Thank you for your input here. Will add/share. Cheers, Bob Fenner... always watching out for Milleporines UW>

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