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Thread: Danger in Your Reef Tank

  1. #1
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    Danger in Your Reef Tank

    I’ve been noticing lately that there have been several people on this forum trading and selling corals. Along with several others removing weed zoas from their rock work. I want to urge those of you handling these corals, as well as any coral, to PLEASE BE CAREFUL!
    I'm not trying to promote paranoia by providing this information I am hoping to promote good habits, and a safe hobby. It is not certain that all zoas have palytoxin, but why take the chance. As most things in nature – the pretty things can be very dangerous.
    Palytoxin is a very dangerous toxin; it is considered to be one of the most toxic non-peptide substances known, second only to maitotoxin in terms of toxicity in mice.
    Unfortunately this is becoming much too common, and the reefer community (new and old) needs to be aware of the dangers that lurk in our tanks. It only takes one time. If you have been fragging corals and begin the have any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention fast.

    Symptoms of palytoxin poisoning:
    Anxiety – Panic attacks
    Rapid heart rate – Labored breathing
    Flu like symptoms
    Metallic taste in mouth
    People with allergies may experience other and more severe symptoms
    Death

    Prevention:
    Wear eye protection when fragging corals
    Use Latex gloves or similar
    Wash all tools and equipment upon completion of handling corals
    While washing equipment with hot water, Avoid breathing the vapors
    If you use something from your kitchen on your reef tank, never put it back in the kitchen for food prep.

    Treatments:
    Varies - due to type and severity of exposure.
    My research has revealed that Benadryl will give temporary relief.
    Get medical attention.

    I have chosen to share a few personal experiences from reefers through out the reefing community.

    FraggleRocks – Reef Central
    I had a big mark on the back of my hand that looked similar to a burn mark, made the whole back of my hand blotchy.
    It happened after some zoas were cut and slimed on my cutting board. I was rinsing it off with water, and thought it had been rinsed well enough, so I flipped over both hands and proceeded to "push" the leftover water from the board into the sink. Guess some slime was still in the water.
    It didn’t stop itching and burning for FOUR WHOLE DAYS. The swelling and itching has gone away by itself, but the "burn" mark is still there, only smaller.
    This happened about 11 days ago.
    Learned my lesson for sure...

    TangsRule – Reef Central
    2 weeks ago I moved them bare hand in the main(dropped them) and when I picked the frag back up, I touched one of the polyps a bit and got that mucus on my index finger - right hand......only thing i moved that morning and didn't wash hands really well. Only rinsed fingers in the sink and went on about my day....A bit later I stepped outside for smoke - using the same fingers for a cig....within seconds - my lips were tingly. Licking them with my tongue made my tongue tingle, and seconds later the front 1/2 of my mouth was numb. Within minutes I was vomiting badly and having very rapid pulse rate, and fast but short respiration...Was an hour before the serious symptoms cleared up - most of the day before my lips/mouth was not numb. But I had an awful metallic taste for a week. I should have called 911, but didn't.

    Richierich2000 – Reef Central
    a couple years ago I had set a big rock on a shelf to dry out and kill off the brown Paly's (2-3 months) when I got it down they where all dried up and dusty I set it in my sump. I know now that was very bad thing to do. my tank crashed and me and my English bulldog got very sick I felt all the things listed here I made it but my dog didn't, so keep pets away also.

    Kreeger1 – Reeftools
    Tommy (Tcat3rd) almost died Wednesday evening after being exposed to the deadly Palytoxin from zoanthids left over night in a bucket. The zoos were dead from leaving them over night in a bucket so he decided to clean the rocks off in his utility tub with hot water and scrubbing them. He was full aware of the danger of the toxin, he used eye protection and full length gloves to clean the rocks. What he didn't protect was his lungs, the hot water and steam from the water made the toxin airborne. After 20 minutes of cleaning the rocks he went up stairs, feeling sick to his stomach. After another half hour passed he was ready to head to the emergency room but before he left he printed out articles on the toxin to take with him. In the waiting room he became almost paralyzed and started to cough up blood, his lungs were filling up with blood as well. The Dr's treated him with everything they could think of and were getting results, they called in the priest for last rights that evening and didn't think he'd make it through the night. Thursday morning they continued massive treat of antibiotics and steroids with little improvement. Today he's on his way back from his death bed and will be in the hospital for days to run tests and monitor his progress. We wanted me to post up to let everyone know and to remind them the dangers of our tanks. Thoughts and prayers go out to Tommy and his family, which also got sick from the toxin just not as bad as Tommy did being in closer range to the steam.

    Our own reefkoi
    Careful cutting palys
    Damn thing squirted me from 1 foot or so away burns like hell.......

    When I asked for permission to reference his post, he replied.
    “Yeah no problem, btw it’s been 10 days and it's still hurting and I'm still on antibiotic and steroid drops in my eyes, it sucks!”


    "Palytoxin which had been primarily detected in marine zoanthids (Palythoa sp.), occurs also in a wide range of other animals, e.g. in sponges, corals, shellfish, polychaetes and crustaceans, but also in fish, which feed on crustaceans and zoanthids as well.
    Toxicon. 1998 Nov;36(11):1519-22. Occurrence and sequestration of toxins in food chains. Mebs D.Zentrum der Rechtsmedizin, University of Frankfurt, Germany.
    Last edited by hooked; 03-06-2012 at 11:39 AM.
    Doyle

    "It's better to be silent and thought the fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."



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    Registered User Aricml's Avatar
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    Thanks for this Doyle, I'm just starting fragging and do use goggles and gloves but hadn't considered vapors. It's good to be reminded about just how dangerous some of these things are.

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    Registered User Chase Thorn's Avatar

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    Thank you for this! It's good for a young reefer such as myself to be catious with this hobby!

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    Registered User jasonp87's Avatar

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    Thanks for the info Doyle. This is very important to know. I know that I have come in contact with this toxin unknowingly and rubbed it under my eye. Thankfully never in it. Took me a long time to figure out what had done it to me and the rash that resulted stuck for a long time.
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    Registered User notxes11's Avatar

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    I've had some fun with this stuff too. Makes your mouth taste like pennies. I never had serious symptoms, but it's easy to forget especially when your in a hurry.

    Good read doyle.
    -dilution is the solution to pollution.

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    Registered User Chase Thorn's Avatar

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    I have cuts on my hands 24/7! always have, very sensitive skin... So gloves will be on the list when i start to frag more!

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    Picked up a few new pallys today and handled them barehanded as usual, since reading this not only will I be using gloves to handle them from this point on but the hypochondriac in me now has flu like symptoms and am reading further on the subject. No penny taste in my mouth, but wow I feel like crap today.

    Excellent read and made me order some more gloves. I remember when I first started the hobby I wouldn't touch anything. I wore gloves to clean my skimmer....
    By the end of two years I had gotten to the point were I would handle damn near anything in my tank without thinking twice. Thank you for the reminder that the tank full of critters in three rooms of my house can be extremely dangerous if not respected.
    Dirtefish
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    "Desperate times may call for desperate measures, but will never call for acts of desperation"
    Quote inspired after running out of beer and a friend passed me a smirnoff ice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtefish View Post
    I remember when I first started the hobby I wouldn't touch anything. I wore gloves to clean my skimmer....
    Thank you for the reminder that the tank full of critters in three rooms of my house can be extremely dangerous if not respected.
    I also read that any palytoxins released into the water column are collected in the protein skimmer. So you were smart to wear protection. Something I haven't done in the past. But will consider in the future.
    Doyle

    "It's better to be silent and thought the fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."



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    Registered User mikea213's Avatar

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    Good write up Doyle. I have been doing alot of research over the last week about this due to the fact I keep getting really sick and it normally comes on after i have had my hands in the tank cleaning and touching the corals and I always have small cuts on my hands. Dr last week kind of turned me to that direction.

    Just want to added to this I read where some ones dog died from drink water that spilled on the floor that had the toxin in it so watch out for your pets to. They say it doesn't take much to harm our pets if they come into contact.

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    Registered User TAllen's Avatar

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    This should be on our home page.

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    Pulled this off of Reef Builders site;

    Palythoa toxin from Palythoa and Zoanthus polyps is widely known to be one of the most poisonous substances in the natural world, gram for gram. Armed with this knowledge a well-informed aquarist suited up for Palythoa removal duty from one of his aquarium rocks with gloves to protect his hands, safety glasses to protect his eyes but he made one crucial mistake that almost cost him his life.

    In a near fatal mis-judgement, this aquarist went to scraping and brushing the Palythoa in a utility sink using hot water, thereby steaming the Palytoxin from the undesirable zoanthids and vaporizing the noxious chemical straight into his unprotected lungs. Half an hour of breathing in aerosolized palytoxin and home-reefer wasn’t feeling so hot, an hour later he was headed to the emergency room where he began coughing blood and was nearly paralyzed.

    Despite having the foresight to print out information about zoanthid and palytoxin to take with him to the hospital, the doctors there were nearly helpless to rescue him. We’re not sure what worked but in the end the would-be Palythoa remover nearly lost his life by protecting only 2/3 of himself from the dangers of palytoxin, although we do know not if he has yet been released from the hospital.

    The moral of the story is to not inhale the palytoxin steam that is created when you steam Palythoas with hot water, or to not vaporize them in the first place. The palytoxin from our aquarium zoanthids should never be underestimated, no wonder it was first isolated from zoanthids that Hawaiians called the “Seaweed of Death from Hana”.

    Read more: http://reefbuilders.com/2012/03/04/p...#ixzz1oMLpaomP


    Take the rock out and throw it in the cold for a week or so, then just use a wire brush to get rid of them ;-)
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    Registered User Ranger's Avatar

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    I used to frag all the time in my old tank. I wore surgical gloves every time. Still got me though. Twice, very sick with the penny taste in my mouth. Assume I had a mild case both times as it went away and I never sought medical attention. Lot's of numbness, but the biggest thing I remember was just feeling ill and the terrible taste.

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    Senior Member JLAURENCE32's Avatar

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    Great post Doyle! We must never forget the dangers of these amazing creatures we keep. Thanks for the reminder!

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    Registered User jasonp87's Avatar

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    So we need to be careful about getting it on ourselves and cleaning up after we're done, but what should be used to clean with? Is a cold water wash good enough or should we go as far as bleach or alcohol? Obviously something that neutralizes the toxin is required, but what?
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    To remind everyone...bump
    Doyle

    "It's better to be silent and thought the fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."



    90g sps Reef, DIY LED Lighting.
    180g Reef - rebirth started Jan 2013
    260g Coral Propagation System.


    Go dtí go bhfilleann sé abhaile!

  17. #17
    Senior Member codeman01's Avatar

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    This is crazy, I never knew any of this. I knew certain things could sting but only thought the stings were enough to hurt fish. There have been a few times that I have rearranged rock and corals and felt very sick afterward and figured I was stung by something, but never knew of the potential severity. Thanks for the info everyone, and to be honest, I am kinda freaked out about my dogs now.

  18. #18
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    Has anyone only experienced the metal taste in their mouth but none of the other symptoms?

  19. #19
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    I have had a rash like poison ivy on my fingers before that I think could have been from a toxin in my tank, but no other symptoms. I've never had the metallic taste.
    Don't look here for a comment.

  20. #20
    Registered User stacy_vennes's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by kmellon View Post
    Has anyone only experienced the metal taste in their mouth but none of the other symptoms?
    I have but it made me a little nausea (didn't puke)
    Last edited by Murfman; 08-31-2013 at 05:36 PM.
    I'm not crazy I'm just southern!!

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