Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Pet-fishing & Human Health 2

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

Related FAQs:  Petfish & Health 1, Petfishing & Human Health 3, & 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

Three New MASNA Education Pages
The Marine Zoonotic Disease article (
The Zoanthids and Palytoxin article (
The Impacts of Releasing Marine Ornamental Species article (

Stingray toxicity to humans   10/24/07 Hello <Hi there> I was thinking about getting a blue spotted ray and have read on your web site if you are stung that you could have a allergic reaction. How dangerous are they and what percent of the people getting stung have a bad reaction? <Mmm, folks with allergens to proteinaceous stings might be in trouble... how much, how many? I don't know. Much collateral damage is done physically with such injuries....> I have read about the blue ring octopus, it's nothing like that is it, or is it more like a lionfish sting. <More toward the Lion end of the scale> What kind of ray would you recommend that's not to toxic, if the blue spotted is? <One of the non-stingray ray species... See WWM, the Net, Scott Michael's popular cartilaginous fishes book re. Rays are not easily kept BTW... as you will find by reading. Bob Fenner> Thanks Todd

Dangerous Puffers... to human aquarists! SW sel.   7/27/07 Not a question, just a quick story. I was putting an algae sheet on a clip in the tank this morning for my angel and tangs, and my dogface puffer bit the heck outta my finger. Man, those guys have sharp teeth! Beware!!! Thomas <Yep, that can happen. If you've ever seen pufferfish feed in the wild, you won't EVER underestimate their power. They can bite off chunks of coral or grind up oysters without any problems at all. It isn't so much the sharpness of their teeth, but the huge jaw muscles. The whole deal with the bug-eyed face and external nostrils you see on puffers is to make space in the head for the jaw musculature. Thanks for writing, Neale.>

Human arms in reef tanks...  7/12/07 Hello, I was doing some work in the sump of my 300 gallon reef tank (mixed fish inverts) and had to put my whole arm in up to about my elbow. The next day, I noticed several small red bumps on an area of my arm? That I had scraped while it was in the water. It has not spread but it is seriously itchy!!! <This sounds like an allergic reaction to me. Several types of reef invertebrates produce toxins that irritate skin (just like poison ivy does).> Some type of fungal or bacterial infection? Any suggestions? <We certainly can't diagnose you. But this doesn't sound like any of the bacterial infections reef aquarists worry most about.> I don't have any seahorses but I do have a mixture of snails, crabs, lots of live rock, etc. I am off to the dermatologist tomorrow <Good idea. You should always see a doctor when you suspect an infection or allergic reaction. And do tell the doctor you have a reef tank.> but I thought one of you guys might have some insight so I could prevent this from happening again....thx! <Gloves. There really isn't much else you can do to be sure. There are so many things in reef tanks that can cause reactions like this. Best, Sara M.> Dr Steven R. Cantor

Skin Irritations From Handling Live Rock (Wear Those Gloves!) - 07/12/07 Hi there! <<Hello!>> I really appreciate all of your answers, and am currently re-reading Bob's CMA book...wow, what loads of information. <<Ah yes, and if you like CMA you should really enjoy the bit more updated Reef Invertebrates book which Bob co-conspired with Anthony Calfo>> Now my question - when I searched, I found info on corals and fish being hurt, and some reference to what I did on a dive magazine's article, but not the exact answer... <<...?>> After having hurriedly moved my tank early May (we got new floors, and the tank had to move), I only generally put the rocks back in (I swear, aquascaping can be one of the hardest things about this hobby!) <<Indeed...tis a matter of "art" as well as function>> Well, having looked at it now for 2 months, I didn't like the arrangement, and I felt it did not have the nice through-passes I previously had - so on Sunday I carefully redid the aquascaping. No problem with that - except that something on the rocks got me...again! <<Mmm...is not uncommon...and reason enough to wear some type of protective glove>> In May, I got the finger tips on my left ring finger and my right pointing finger - very itchy, slight bumps, and after about 10 days, the skin peeled. <<Yikes!>> Interestingly, when I went snorkeling in Florida in mid-June, that newly peeled skin would turn white vs. the remaining skin. I thought I had recovered, but I did not yet purchase gloves, not being able to find ones that fit or that I thought would work. <<Mmm...>> Well, when I redid the aquascape this Sunday, I got the tips of the thumb through ring finger on my left hand...same as last time. I did not realize it immediately, or I guess an immediate soak in vinegar would have helped, yes? (Dive article solution for majority of stuff you can get while diving). <<Possibly...but if this is a "Bristle Worm" encounter (would be my first guess), a good wash with soap and water has worked best for me...and then of course some time to allow the "bristles" to dissolve. But, everyone is different and some folks can have quite severe reactions (as with insect stings/bites). And there's also the possibility you have encountered or contracted something else altogether>> By Monday morning, my ring finger pad had really swollen (although this time the bumps are actually on the side of the finger) and it has slightly discolored (towards the purple). I have tried the soaking-in-as-hot-water-as-you-can-stand, soak them in Epsom salt water, soak in vinegar, cover with Benadryl (R) cream, cover with an antibiotic cream, taking Benadryl (R) (liquid children's version) - but nothing seems to really help with the periods of itching. <<If this has continued for more than a couple days I would suggest seeing a Doctor/Dermatologist...being sure to explain/making them understand just how you came by the affliction>> Just a few minutes ago my thumb had an itch attack - and then it went away again a few minutes after I applied antibiotic cream - but the itching was almost painful in its intensity, so I am curious what is going on. Any ideas what got me? <<I can only speculate, but my first inclination is you have been "stabbed" by Bristle Worms. These beneficial detritivores are in and around the live rock you have been handling and the slightest touch/brush will leave the ever so sharp (and possibly toxic) bristles embedded in your skin. These bristles will break off leaving bits that irritate and itch...but in most cases will dissolve away within a few days. There's also a myriad of other stinging organisms that could have caused this, depending on your sensitivity re...or this could be a secondary infection due to broken/scraped skin exposed to the water. Do have a read here for some more in-depth info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm >> Any suggestions for reducing the itching? <<I find using a topical ointment containing Cortisone to be helpful>> I have read about toxicity of marine life, but as far as I know, I don't have fire corals - in fact, I was simply touching my rocks, so what is on the rocks that is so toxic? <<Many things...with exposure to Bristle Worms being very common>> I realize it is worse this time, so I am working very hard on getting gloves that fit to prevent this in the future - I did learn my lesson, albeit the painful way. <<Mmm, yes...have heard of some folks developing a more severe reaction with every encounter...so far I have been lucky>> Thanks again for any inputs you have, and maybe this will help someone else in the future as well. Kerstin DeRolf <<I'm sure it will. Do get your wounds looked at/tended if the irritation persists...and get those gloves! Eric Russell>>

Re: Skin Irritations From Handling Live Rock (Wear Those Gloves!) - 07/13/07 Hi again! <<Hello Kerstin!>> Thanks for your response - <<My pleasure>> I do have bristle worms (while my wrasse seems to have reduced the number, I am not silly enough to believe that they are completely gone), <<And not necessarily a desirable objective...are quite efficient/beneficial (and largely misunderstood, I think) detritivores>> but also wonder is something may be growing on some of my rocks that could have done it as well. <<Certainly, yes...this also is a possibility. Or simply a secondary infection of abraded flesh from exposure to the very concentrated soup of microbes in the system>> I am glad (?) to hear that this is not uncommon, and yes, I think I am more sensitive to it just from having done a similar thing 2 months ago. <<Common yes, but without being an alarmist I also don't want to downplay the "potential" for serious consequences here>> I did actually read this article on Tuesday, before I wrote to you - and some of the suggestions are the same as in the Dive article I ran across. <<Ah, I see>> I think one of my biggest problems is that I did not realize it on Sunday, shortly after it happened, and so waited a long time before really doing any treatments. I stymied my vet (specialized in dermatology, also studied fisheries, albeit freshwater) with it - when I showed my fingers to him this morning, at this point his solution is to do hot super-saturated salt water or Epson Salt soaks, twice a day for 20-30 minutes, water as hot as I can stand it. <<If this complaint is still bothering/worsening I urge you to see a "people" doctor (no "slight" intended against your friend)>> I do have the Reef Invertebrates book - like it lots too, has been useful in many ways. <<Indeed>> Should get the next edition of Anthony's Coral Propagation book soon, will also be interesting reading, I feel. <<Very much in agreement>> Right now I am trying to get Latin/technical names for my corals, many of which I admit I bought based on looks more than anything...not useful when I want to discuss them with anyone. <<Mmm...also not useful when trying to determine care level/needs/overall suitability for captive keeping...all of which should be done "before" purchase. Eric Borneman's book "Aquarium Corals" may prove helpful to you...as should this site: http://www2.aims.gov.au/coralsearch/coralsearch.php >> Thanks again for all your help. <<Any time>> I really enjoy reading everything on your website - soooo much information, people coming at it from all various aspects. <<Indeed...quite the collaborative effort>> Kerstin:-) <<Be chatting. EricR>> P.S. Attached is the picture of my tank after the rearrangement that massacred my fingers - a 29-gallon that I know has lots of corals! <<Ah yes...looks quite "busy" in there>> I am working on getting a new skimmer - Aqua-C Remora HOT instead of the SeaClone I now have. <<Will be a huge improvement>> I feel like my tank now has a heavy enough load that it needs more than the periodic skimming <<Agreed>> (Bob called it "a natural method" in one FAQ) <<Indeed...do try a Google search on Lee Chin Eng and the "Natural Method"...you think your tank looks heavily stocked now....>> where I only run the skimmer as an actual skimmer several times a month, and otherwise depend on the LR and LS to do much of the filtering. <<Well past that point...in my opinion>> I think most everyone will be happier <<Oh yes!...have you heard of/researched the term "Allelopathy?">> - and hopefully soon I will upgrade the tank size. <<Always exciting. Eric Russell>>

Zoanthid Spider (Pycnogonid sp.) bite!!! HELP   5/23/07 <Hi tasty human!  Mich here!> I got bit by one of these things on my finger.   <Ouch!> Am I in danger?   <Are you standing in front of a bus?  Holding a lit stick of dynamite?  Perhaps eating something with trans fat?>   Are they poisonous? <No.  They are not poisonous.   More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pycnogonids.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seaspiderfaqs.htm  > I got bit about 4 hours ago and it hurt a bit, but I am not in any pain right now.  It looks a bit swelled up and red but nothing major. <I would keep and eye on it.  If it gets worse consult a doctor.  I think your biggest issue is the possibility of infection.  If you see a red line going up your hand don't waste any time and seek medical attention, can be a sign of septicemia which can be quite serious.  Perhaps a little ice might help reduce the swelling.> [IMG] http://www.zoaid.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemI d=398&g2_serialNumber=2[/IMG] <Nice picture!> Please let me know any information you guys can. <Hope this helps and you are feeling better soon.  Mich>

Re: Zoanthid Spider (Pycnogonid sp.) bite!!! HELP   5/23/07<Hello again tasty human, Mich here!> Thanks for your help. <You're welcome!  Happy to help!> I am glad to hear I'm ok lol.   <Me too!  But do keep an eye on it.  There are a lot of nasty infections you can be exposed to in marine systems.> Have you ever heard of anyone getting bit by them before? <I personally have not, but I do not have much experience with these creatures either. Mich>   

Tank/Human infections  5/17/07 Hi Bob, <Mark> I wanted to reinforce your article on wounds from a reef tank. <Please do> As I was wiping down the sides, I hit 2 of those spikes that was on a rock, similar to picture img_3268. The other 2 pics are my most recent picture of my newest infection. This time the Dr. almost put me in the hospital. <Yeeikes!> Red streaks going up my arm and fever of 101.8.  I guess I'm very suitable to infections. More than others. The attached pic shows no knuckles, very swollen. 2 punctures side by side. After 18 hours my hand showed signs of infection and another 6 hours I had the fever, red streaks which caused at least 3 shots (my buns hurt) from the Dr. I'm still under treatment. As you can tell I haven't down alot <No such word> of homework for my reef tank. What are those Spikey things? Should I break them off? <Look like a type of calcareous algae, but might be the algae growing secondarily on other life or even non-living (like a chemical crystal matrix) material> Now that I read your article about using gloves I'm gonna get some gloves.   Mark Eason
<Thank you for sharing! Bob Fenner>

Re: Tank/Human infections   - 5/18/07 Hi Crew, <Mark> Sorry for the previous mis-spelled word(s). My left hand still hurts. Hard to type still. <I'll bet... can relate> I've already learned my lesson about infections. Get gloves! So now I'm thinking about the tank. Does this bacteria effect the corals? Fish? <Mmm, yes... mainly indirectly in most settings... through their metabolic activities...> Would it help the tank to get a UV sterilizer? <Mmm, yes... but not a "cure-all"> My  setup 125 gallon tank / 40 gal refugium with Caulerpa. Big protein skimmer I think it good for up to 250gal. No other filtration.   Lights 48" Orbit (2) 150watt HQI (2) dual 48" fluorescents Actinic03 / 7100k Is this too much? Is there such a thing as too much light? <Mmm, no... and yes> Mark Eason <Keep that curious mind going, studying, discoursing... Much on these topics, issues posted... on WWM. BobF>

Re: Tank/Human infections 5/17/07 Hydroids?   - 5/18/07 Red streaks going up my arm and fever of 101.8.  I guess I'm very  suitable to infections. More than others. The attached pic shows no  knuckles, very swollen. 2 punctures side by side. After 18 hours my hand showed signs of  infection and another 6 hours I had the fever, red streaks which  caused at least 3 shots (my buns hurt) from the Dr. I'm still under  treatment. <<Septicemia is quite serious!>> As you can tell I haven't down alot <No such word> of homework for my reef tank. What are those Spikey things? Should I  break them off? <Look like a type of calcareous algae, but might be the algae growing secondarily on other life or even non-living (like a chemical crystal matrix) material> <<Could these be hydroids?>> >Yes... but I did not make out the tell-tale "hair like" structures of same< Now that I read your article about using gloves I'm gonna get some  gloves. Mark Eason
<Thank you for sharing! Bob Fenner>

Hebrew Cone (Conus ebraeus), Poisonous? Yes!  Degree of toxicity... ?   5/13/07 Hello crew, <Hi Jana, Mich here.> I am trying to find on the Internet how poisonous the Conus ebraeus is? <Well it does kill it's prey, primarily eunicid and Nereid Polychaete worms, by injecting them with conotoxin, a potent neurotoxin that disturbs the ion channels involved in neuromuscular transmission, typically resulting in paralysis.>   I found information on other cone shells but not on this particular one. <Yes, I too am having difficulty finding anything specific to this particular species.  There are more than 600 members of the Conidae family and only 30 documented cases of envenomations by Conus in humans, some resulting in death.  The most toxic is reported to be Conus geographus, though C textile, and C marmoreus are also associated with an increased of mortality.  I have been unable to find any reports describing the degree of toxicity of the conotoxin associated with C. ebraeus, but it is certainly something to take seriously and the effect of the conotoxin would likely vary between individuals.  Also worth noting is current research on members of this family for the treatment of pain and conditions such as Parkinson's.> Is it found in Australia and how poisonous is it. <The distribution of Conus ebraeus occurs in the Indo-west Pacific and Eastern Australia as far south as Sydney. Many thanks, kind regards, Jana. <You're welcome.  Mich>

Re: Lugol's Dip and Gorgonians, Pete, will you take a look at, refer? & bacteria f', human dis.   - 4/10/07 <Yowsa Pete! Thanks as usual for this dissertation! BobF> Dear Mark: Bob forwarded your email to me and asked me to lend a hand with your dilemma.  It's very difficult to say what may have caused the demise of  your H. kuda but I would be happy to share my thoughts on the matter with you  for whatever it's worth, sir. Like all fish, seahorses do occasionally develop various granulomas, malignant neoplasms, tumors and fibrosarcomas associated with certain diseases  or the aging process, but these primarily affect internal organs.   Furthermore, such growths are not characteristic of Vibriosis and, judging from  the symptoms you described -- or lack thereof -- it seems unlikely that a Vibrio infection was involved in this case. I am more concerned about the possibility that the tumor may have been a granuloma symptomatic of a Mycobacterial infection.  Granuloma disease is  caused by gram positive, acid-fast bacteria from either the genus Mycobacteria  or the closely related genus Nocardia invading the tissue and internal organs and organ systems. Both of these bacteria can affect the skin as well as the internal organs, causing nodules and granuloma. And both Mycobacteria and Nocardia can be transmitted to man, causing a localized, unsightly skin rash  after entering through a cut or break in the skin. Here is an excerpt from my new book (Complete Guide to the Greater  Seahorses in the Aquarium, TFH Publications, unpublished) that discusses mycobacteriosis in more detail, Mark.  It may help give you a better idea  whether or not the tumor you noticed could have been associated with granuloma  disease: MYCOBACTERIOSIS, A.K.A. PISCINE TUBERCULOSIS Mycobacteriosis is also known by the following synonyms: fish tuberculosis, piscine tuberculosis, granuloma disease, swimming pool granuloma, fish tank granuloma, and acid-fast disease (Aukes, 2004; Leddo, 2002a). Like all fishes, seahorses are susceptible to Mycobacteriosis. It is not uncommon in wild-caught  seahorses obtained from pet stores and is the second most commonly seen  bacterial infection of syngnathids at large public aquaria after Vibriosis (Bull  and Mitchell, 2002, p20). Cause: Fish tuberculosis is caused by pathogenic Mycobacteria, of which two different species are the primary culprits: Mycobacterium marinum and  Mycobacterium fortuitum (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Unlike most bacteria the plague  fish, these Mycobacteria are gram-positive, and take the form of pleomorphic  rods that are acid-fast and nonmotile (Aukes, 2004). When cultured on solid  media, they form cream-colored to yellowish colonies (Aukes, 2004). Mycobacteriosis is worldwide in distribution (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). All fish species are considered susceptible to it (Aukes, 2004). Although this disease can in fact infect almost all fish, certain species are more vulnerable than others (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). The most susceptible species are freshwater tropicals such as black mollies, all Gouramis, Neons and other tetras, all labyrinth air breathers, and most species of the Carp family (goldfish and Koi, for example), Aukes, 2004. Mycobacteria are ubiquitous and waterborne, and the aquatic environment is considered the disease reservoir for fish tuberculosis (Aukes, 2004).   Mycobacterium marinum has been cultured throughout the world from swimming pools, beaches, natural streams, estuaries, lakes, tropical fish tanks, city tap  water and well water (Aukes, 2004; Leddo, 2002a). Human epidemics of  granulomatous skin disease have occurred from swimming in infected water, and in  fact, this mode of human infection is far more common than infection from  exposure to infected fish tanks (Aukes, 2004; Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Clinical Signs: There is a very severe or peracute form of this disease, in which fish can simply be found dead without showing any telltale signs or symptoms (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p20), but that is quite rare. In my experience, Mycobacteriosis  is a chronic disease that progresses quite slowly in aquarium fishes (Giwojna,  Sep. 2003). It may take years for an infected fish to develop any symptoms of  apparent illness and much longer before it becomes fatal (Aukes, 2004). The  glacial progression of the disease makes it difficult to diagnose. Some early  signs to look out for include lethargy, fin loss, emaciation, skin inflammation  and ulceration, edema, Popeye, and peritonitis (Aukes, 2004). There may be  superficial skin lesions that take the form of small subdermal lumps or pus-filled nodules of granulation tissue (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p21). These  are simply the outward manifestations of a systemic infection that may already  involve many of the major internal organs (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p21). In  later stages, nodules may develop in muscles or skeletal structure and deform  the fish. (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). As difficult as slow-moving TB may be to diagnose while the infected fish  is alive, once the victim expires, postmortem examination will reveal clear, unmistakable signs of Mycobacteriosis (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). The telltale granulomas will appear as gray or white nodules in the liver, kidney, heart  and/or spleen (Aukes, 2004). There is often black, necrotic tissue eating away  at the internal organs, and there may also be skeletal deformities. Diagnosis is then confirmed by the presence of acid fast bacteria in tissue sections (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Treatment and Control: There is no practical method for treating mycobacteriosis or granuloma disease at the hobbyist level.  As discussed below, good aquarium  management can prevent Mycobacteria/Nocardia from becoming problematic.   Prevention is the watchword for this condition. Transmission: The bacteria can be transmitted through the water from open ulcers, through contaminated food (including live foods such as shrimp or molly fry), via feces  of infected fish, or through the consumption of infected, dead or dying fish in  the tank (although the latter does not apply to seahorses), Aukes, 2004. Contributing factors: This disease is not highly contagious and does not seem to spread from fish to fish readily (Aukes, 2004). However, fish TB it is often associated with poorly kept or dirty tanks with poor water quality (Aukes, 2004). Chronic stress  from factors such as overcrowding, malnutrition, or aggressive tankmates often  plays a role as well (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Mycobacterium, the causative organism, is believed to be ubiquitously present, making it very difficult to eliminate it entirely. However, if good aquarium maintenance and management is followed, including vacuuming of the  gravel along with good filtration and regular water changes, combined with a nutritious diet and the addition of an enrichment product rich in vitamins, the problem can be minimized and eliminated as a cause of mortality (Aukes, 2004).   Any dead fish should quickly be removed and disposed of properly. Diseased live fish should be isolated and treated in a hospital tank (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Transmission to Man: The seahorse keeper should be aware that piscine tuberculosis is one of the few forms of fish disease that is communicable to humans (Leddo, 2002a). This transmission usually manifests itself as an unsightly skin rash involving one or  more granulomas on the arms of the fish-keeper (Leddo, 2002a). In severe cases,  these nodules of inflamed tissue can become large and disfiguring. They can  spread and be very difficult to eliminate. The granulomas often take some 2-4  weeks after exposure before manifesting themselves, so the individual is  frequently unaware of how he or she contracted them and the condition very often  goes undiagnosed (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). The Mycobacteria that cause the disease  typically gain entry through a break in the skin such as a cut, scrape, or  abrasion on the hand or arm of the aquarist (Leddo, 2002a). Although unsightly,  the granulomas themselves are not a serious problem and are almost always  localized and most certainly curable in healthy individuals. But for those of us  whose immune systems are compromised by AIDS, kidney disease, diabetes, liver  dysfunction, chemotherapy or the like, the infection can sometimes become  systemic or, on rare occasions, even life threatening (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Awareness is the appropriate response to the risk posed by fish tuberculosis. The seahorse keeper should be aware of the remote possibility of  being exposed to Mycobacteria via his aquarium, and take appropriate  precautions, but there is certainly no need to be overly concerned (Giwojna,  Sep. 2003). The aquarist should merely remain aware of Mycobacteria and follow the  usual sensible precautions. Nets, aquarium accessories and equipment, and any other items that may come in contact with the fish should be sterilized between uses to prevent cross-contamination (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Avoid mouth-siphoning of the water in a Myco-positive tank (use a hand pump instead).    Mycobacterium cannot penetrate intact skin -- it only causes infection after  entering through open wounds or source, so make full use of aquarium gloves and  don't place your hands or arms in the aquarium if you have any cuts or scrapes (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Handle sick fish carefully, dispose of deceased specimens properly, and scrub up afterwards. Do NOT dispose of dead fish by flushing them down the toilet, as this is a prime way to spread disease. Place the fish carcass in a plastic bag or wrap it in some foil and dispose of it with the solid waste of the household. And don't feed dying fish to larger carnivorous fish, since this an excellent way to spread infection (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). One thing hobbyists who are worried about fish TB can do to allay their concerns is to get their seahorses and live foods (crustaceans such as shrimp  are known vectors for Mycobacteriosis) from a High Health facility such as Ocean Rider rather than from their local fish store (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Seahorses at  OR are routinely screened for pathogens and parasites by independent examiners  from an outside agency (DVMs with the Department of Agriculture), and I know for  a fact that Mycobacteriosis is one of the diseases they specifically check for  (Giwojna, Sep. 2003). Thus far, multi-organ histopathology has found no  granulomas and tissue sections have revealed no acid-fast bacteria -- conclusive  proof that Ocean Riders are free of Mycobacteria. <Close quote> That's the rundown on mycobacteriosis or granuloma disease, Mark. The very similar Nocardia is a gram positive, acid-fast, filamentous bacteria and is even more insidious than Myco. Nocardia is closely related to  the Mycobacteria that cause piscine TB or granuloma disease and, like  Mycobacteria, it can affect the skin as well as the internal organs, causing  nodules, granulomas and pyogranulatomous cysts. And like Mycobacteria, Nocardia  can be transmitted to man, so be sure to take appropriate precautions if you  suspect granuloma disease may have caused the death of your H. kuda. Here is some information from Paul Anderson explaining how professional aquarists typically deal with Mycobacterium/Nocardia: Fellow Seahorse Enthusiasts: Mycobacterium is a genus of bacteria that are ubiquitous in almost all environments. Mycobacterium infections occur in many (if not all) vertebrate  taxa (e.g., mammals, birds, fish, etc.). Some studies that have looked at prevalence of infection of Mycobacterium in wild animals have often found that a small percentage of wild animals are infected, even without clinical signs. The most common Mycobacterium species found in seahorses are M. marinum, M. chelonae, and M. fortuitum. There is currently no cure for mycobacterium infections in fish. The options available are to 1) depopulate and disinfect the system, or 2) maintain the fish but prevent cross-contamination by observing strict biosecurity protocols. The second option is often chosen by public aquaria with long-standing displays, when aquaculture/production of the infected  fish is not an issue. Many mycobacterium spp. can cause disease in humans, especially if the species is a rapidly growing one and/or if the person is immunocompromised. Of  the three species mentioned above, M. marinum is a slow grower, and grows at 25 degrees Celsius incubation, but not at 37 degrees Celsius. The other two are rapid-growing species and grow at both temperatures of incubation. The significance of 37 degrees is that it is human body temperature. While most infections of otherwise healthy people are limited to lesions on the extremities (even with infection by a rapid-grower), there is a greater risk of the rapid-growers to cause systemic disease (especially in immunocompromised  people). In a Myco-positive tank, the best option is not to come in contact with water or fish; wear gloves (sleeved gloves if necessary). Avoid mouth siphoning (use a hand pump). Having said that, in an aquarium situation mycobacterium only  causes infection if it enters a wound; it cannot penetrate intact skin.   Effective disinfectants against mycobacterium include spraying with 70% Ethanol and allowing the equipment to air-dry, and bleach baths (I use 50ppm bleach baths with a minimum contact time of one hour, this has been reported to be effective against M. marinum) followed by sodium thiosulfate neutralization baths. Ultraviolet light sterilization is also recommended in Myco-positive systems. If you've got Myco-positive tanks among other systems, common sense suggests performing husbandry on these systems last in your rounds. A note on ethanol: I have found in my experience that seahorses are very sensitive to ethanol, so I advise being very cautious to avoid overspray into tanks (while we're're on the topic, has anybody else observed this?) Check out the following for more information about mycobacterium infections in fish/aquaria: <_ http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VM055_ (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VM055) > <_ http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/Extension/finfish/FF9.html_ ( http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/Extension/finfish/FF9.html) > Mainous, M.E., and S.A. Smith. 2005. Efficacy of common disinfectants against Mycobacterium marinum. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 17:  284-288. Paul Anderson Ph.D. Candidate Department of Fisheries and Aquatic  Sciences University of Florida That's the situation when Mycobacteria is confirmed in an aquarium,  Mark. As long as you observe the proper precautions and practice good  aquarium management, it's a problem the aquarist can sometimes live  with...   Nocardia is a different matter.  When Nocardia is confirmed in an  aquarium, the only real recourse is to break down the entire aquarium, discard  the live rock, substrate, and invertebrates, sterilize everything, and start  over from scratch.  The problem is that Nocardia is saprophytic -- it  doesn't require a host to survive and it will persist in your system  indefinitely. These bacteria live off any kind of dead or decaying organic  matter; in nature they are commonly found in soil and wastewater -- in your  tank, Mark, they are no doubt entrenched in your substrate, live rock, filters,  everything -- where they act as a disease reservoir, ready to infect any new  fish and invertebrates (or careless humans) they encounter when the opportunity  presents itself. The risk of cross-contamination of your other tanks and specimens is great, compounded by the fact that human health (primarily yours, Mark) is also at risk  from this organism.  If your H. kuda was infected with Nocardia, then everything in your 25-gallon aquarium has been exposed to these bacteria and is potentially a source of infection. Leading the tank lay fallow indefinitely will  not help with Nocardia whatsoever.  If Nocardia killed your kuda, you must consider all the equipment, decor and specimens in the tank to be contaminated,  Mark -- treat them like you would toxic waste or any other biohazard. Even your  invertebrates are a risk. Your coral, macroalgae, etc,. are all sources of  organic matter, and can therefore harbor Nocardia and carry the infection. Do NOT disperse your live rock, substratum, Gorgonia and soft corals, macroalgae, equipment or accessories from the 25-gallon tank to your other aquaria, Mark, or you will be inoculating them with Nocardia and spreading the infection to all your tanks! And you must be extremely careful to avoid accidentally cross-contaminating your other tanks from your 25 gallon aquarium.  Any nets, hydrometers, or other equipment used in your 25-gallon aquarium should  be sterilized after every use and not placed into or used in any other tanks. Avoid working in infected aquarium with your bare hands, scrub/disinfect your hands and arms thoroughly after working on the tank, and do not place your hands in the 25-gallon tank and then place your hands in another aquarium. These bacteria can even be transferred from one aquarium to another by splashing water  droplets or as an aerosol via the mist generated from a protein skimmer or an  airstone. Be careful! That is what I typically advise hobbyists when Nocardia has been confirmed in their aquaria, Mark.  I hesitate to recommend such drastic measures when Nocardia or Mycobacterium have not been confirmed.  And the tumor that you described is not typical of the pyogranulatomous cysts that characterize Nocardia.  They most often present as greyish-white pimple like lesions on  the skin.   They are often motile when manipulated and may release a cheesy  exudate when compressed.  That does not sound like the hard mass you  detected beneath the skin near the vent of the H. kuda. So you're going to need to use your own judgment, Mark.  To be 100%  safe, you could discard the contents of your 25-gallon aquarium, sterilize everything, and start over from scratch.  Or you could dip the live rock,  Gorgonia, and corals with Lugol's solution as a precaution and then trust to  good aquarium management to keep the seahorses in your 40-gallon aquarium  healthy and happy.  Since Mycobacteria and Vibrio bacteria are virtually  ubiquitous, and normally only become problematic when the seahorses have been  stressed and their immune systems have been impaired, I might be inclined to  take the latter course in your case.  If you can provide your seahorses  with optimal water quality, a nutritious diet, and they stress-free environment,  the chances are good that your livestock will not be affected by granuloma  disease or Vibriosis.   Starting out with seahorses from a high-health  aquaculture facility that you obtain directly from the breeder will further  increase your chances for success.  As an added precaution, you may also  want to consider installing an ultraviolet sterilizer on your 40-gallon seahorse  tank after it has cycled completely and the biofiltration is  well-established. Best of luck with your new seahorse tank no matter how you decide to proceed, Mark! Respectfully, Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech-Support

Re: Lugol's Dip and Gorgonians, Pete, will you take a look at, refer?  - 4/10/07 Dear Bob: <Pete!> I'm always happy to help when I can, sir. <And you do a fine job of it, I assure you> When I receive inquiries from aquarists regarding Mycobacteria/Nocardia, I feel it is very important to provide them with as much information as possible because of the possibility of human transmission and because they may be confronted with the decision as to whether or not it's necessary to depopulate their aquarium, sterilize everything, and start over from scratch.  So I  make it a point to try to arm them with all the facts they need to make an informed decision in that regard. <Yes... and one of the principal reasons for my encouraging the publication of your book, your articles (as well as others... including my own!) to get "complete answers" to folks... in a speedily manner> Hopefully, once we get my new book on seahorses published and into the  hands of the hobbyists, there won't be a need for us to devote so much time discussing these issues on the forums. <Heeeeee! You'll see...> Happy Trails! Pete Giwojna <And to you, Bob Fenner, out in HI, at times visiting with Carol and Craig and their (now four year old!!!) boys, Dylan and Cooper>

Sohal tang aggressive?  12/30/06 Hello Crew <Hi Wayne, Rick Oellers (via proxy of Graham T.)> Happy New Year to you all. <Thank you! And to you and your's!> I have a 210gal FOWLR with some softies, 100lbs of LR (will have another 100lbs in the next month),<Good Idea.> and just hooked up my AquaC EV240 w/Mag18 (wife got it for me for Christmas).<Wish my wife would do that...>  I currently have a Volitans Lionfish 9", Harlequin Tuskfish 5", and a Yellowtail Damsel.  Everybody gets along great. <Damsel... interesting. How big?> I've been thinking of adding a Sohal Tang to the tank.  I've read they can be aggressive.  What do you think about this choice? <(Rick) A Sohal tang (Acanthurus sohal) added *last* to your tank is a good addition to the community you have currently, with one condition. The specimen should be around 3" or so to avoid over-aggression. In addition to the referenced aggression, slightly less documented is this species' poisonous scalpel! I (Rick) found out the hard way when trying to revive a seemingly distressed specimen in a shipping container, when SMACK! he got me! I recoiled at first, then again, and again as the real pain set in. What a wallop!> Wayne <Rick Oellers & Graham Tasker> <<Thank you both! RMF>> Lionfish poison   10/30/06 Hi to all the crew! < Greetings, Emerson with you today. > I have a little concern about Lionfish stings. I actually tried to find out everywhere how dangerous is their poison, but the same answer shows up: their sting is very painful. What does that mean? < Lions are actually toxic and not poisonous. They are eaten all over the world. > No, I know what it means, but how dangerous is their sting? I have a Pterois volitans, he's still pretty small (3" or so) and I'm taking great care to avoid his spines while cleaning the tank, but an accident can always occur. The problem is that the closer poisoning center around is in the neighbor city in a children's hospital somewhere in that same city. I don't have any allergies, but I'm really concerned about the dangers of the sting. < You really wont know if you are allergic to a Lionfish sting until it happens. > Could it be deadly? < There have been deaths reported from Lionfish, but it is said to be extremely rare. > Or is it ONLY painful? Your help would be more than appreciated! < Most stings are very painful, and treated with hot water immersion to help with the pain.  Keep the poison control # handy in case you get stung. > Thanks!! < Most welcome, and have a great day. > Ivan

Foxface Envenomation (Ouch!) - 10/25/06 Two weeks ago, I was stung by 3 of my Foxface Lo's dorsal fins on the inside of my wrist, for two hours the pain was quite intense. <<Indeed...yikes!>> It was suggested that I soak the wrist in as hot a water as I could handle for at least 1-2 hours -which I did. <<Yes, it is believed the high temperature breaks down the proteins comprising the venom>> It seemed to have solved the problem the three marks almost disappeared in a week. <<Ah good>> Then this week the marks began to turn red and turned into 3 small reddish blisterish looking marks and the skin area around them is slightly red around now as well. <<Mmm...>> I am not sure if this is the type of questions you can answer but here it is.  My question too you, is this - Have you heard or read of any unusual side effects from the Foxface lo venom? <<Have heard the wounds can be slow to heal, with secondary infection a reality.  But as with bee stings/other envenomations, some individuals will react more severely or less severely to the toxin than the "average" person>> Could this just be part of the process of the venom leaving the body? <<I think this is a "secondary infection">> I would appreciate any input you may have. Thank you, Rhonda McAskill <<Were this I, I would have these wounds checked/treated by a doctor.  Regards, Eric Russell>>

Jabbed By a Catfish...No Need For Panic - 09/26/06 Hi, <<Hello> I was moving an extremely large (24-30") Albino Channel Catfish from one pond to another in my Grandparents yard in a Koi net (large circle, very flat) and I had someone else carry the net by the handle while I was holding it in the net with another small one.  Then, it tried to jump out, so I restrained it in the net (grabbed it "Irwin Style") with my two bare hands, and after a few more steps, I felt a sharp pain in my right hand. <<Mmm...these fish have very stiff and sharp pectoral and dorsal fins.  They can be handled with bare hands (have handled many a catfish in my younger days), but you need to be aware/know how to "grab">> I now have 3-4  punctures, but they are not very deep. <<Ouch!...been there...often burns like the dickens!>> It did not bite me, but rather stabbed me with something. <<Ah yes...as mentioned>> Are these catfish poisonous? If so, what do I do?  Please answer ASAP!!! <<They are not "poisonous", or more accurately - venomous, in the sense that a snake is poisonous/venomous, but the "slime" that is carried in to the wound can cause pain/infection.  I don't think you need be alarmed, but you might want to call your physician to see if "they" think you should come in for treatment/disinfection of the wound...at the least you will likely need a Tetanus shot if you're not current re>> Thanks, Anthony <<Regards, EricR>>

Gloves would have been nice!  - 09/10/06 Hey Bob!  Hope everything is going well for you these days. <Ah, yes. Mighty fine> I just want to take a minute to thank you for all the help in the past.  Both with my Koi Pond and my Marine tank.  Both are doing very well thanks to your guidance/input.  As a small way of thanks, I wanted to send along a couple of links to some pictures of what NOT to do... <Heee, much thanks> I was re-scaping my tank this weekend and just couldn't be bothered with putting on gloves, despite the fact that I KNEW I have a bunch of bristle worms in there.  Well, as you can guess, I got nailed! <No fun> Anyway, I just wanted to make a small contribution to your site to let everyone know that it is better to be safe than sorry when you are putting your hands anywhere you can't see in your tank. <Oh yes> PLEASE feel free to use the photos in any manner you see fit. http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y195/navajo001/bristle2.jpg http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y195/navajo001/bristles1.jpg (I sent the links since I wanted the resolution to still be acceptable just in case you want to copy the pics for use in the future.) Keep up the good work! Tom (The Tool Man)
<Will endeavour to do so. BobF>

Steve the ex-croc man vs. the Ray... about the animal?   9/4/06 Greetings Mr. Fenner, Today is a tragic day for just about anyone who cares for the  planet's animal's and a grieving family of course. I write today  after viewing your website, and seeing your email address. I want to  pose a question about the animal that took Steve' life, we hear being  reported on the news that this creature is a "Bull Nose" Ray of about  7' across, and I was curious about the approximate measure of the  stinger portion of this individual's tail? thanks. warmest regards, Zander Z. Van Draden Zz <Mmm, likely ten to fifteen cm.... do lose these, regenerate... is actually a "sheath" that covers the poison-secreting/delivery mechanism... Bob Fenner> Sick Goldfish ... RMF's go    7/28/06 I would like to ask you a question about my goldfish. She is losing her orange color, having difficulty getting up to the surface of the water, and when she does make it up (with great effort) she gulps air and then descends again.   She spends most of her time just laying on the bottom of the tank, and she is listing to one side. <All bad signs> While searching the Web for answers I read about fish tuberculosis.  My fish seems to have many of the symptoms. This concerns me (because I don't know if it is or isn't, and I don't know what to do for the fish) and also because it said that this disease is transferable to humans.   <Yes> While I washed my hands afterwards, I did clean out the tank by hand, stirring   up the gravel, washing off the rock, etc. <Unless there are breaks in your skin...> My cat also drank from the fish tank  while I was transferring the fish to a bowl.  Should I be concerned about  the possibility of TB, how could I know for sure if this is what my fish has, and what can be done for the fish? <Not able to tell from here... however Mycobacterial transference is not likely> If it is not TB, then I thought it  could be a swim bladder problem (my fish does have trouble with constipation),  but why is she losing her color? <Could be several influences> Thank you for listening to my question.  Any help you could give me is most appreciated. <Have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshdisease.htm and the linked files above? BobF> Sick Goldfish ... Tom's much better go   7/28/06 <<Greetings. Tom here today.>> I would like to ask you a question about my goldfish. <<Fire away.>> She is losing her orange color, having difficulty getting up to the surface of the water, and when she does make it up (with great effort) she gulps air and then descends again. She spends most of her time just laying on the bottom of the tank, and she is listing to one side.   <<Not good, certainly, but having "peeked" at the remainder of your post, I've noticed that you haven't included any of the very important information that would be useful here. What "type" of Goldfish, tank size, type of filtration, water parameters (critical!), diet, etc. From our perspective, it's like asking us why you just sneezed. A cold? Hay fever? Allergies? Someone tickled your nose with a feather? Sounds a bit silly but I think you see what I mean. Fish can display very similar symptoms from a wide variety of causes.>> While searching the Web for answers I read about fish tuberculosis.  My fish seems to have many of the symptoms. This concerns me  (because I don't know if it is or, isn't, and I don't know what to do for the fish) and also because it said that this disease is transferable to humans. <<Possible? Yes. Likely? No. I understand your concern but I would suggest that it's not warranted. What you've described thus far could simply be due to your pet being in too small of an aquarium or living in water conditions that are sub-par. At this point, I really don't know.>> While I washed my hands afterwards, I did clean out the tank by hand, stirring up the gravel, washing off the rock, etc. My cat also drank from the fish tank while I was transferring the fish to a bowl.  Should I be concerned about the possibility of TB, how could I know for sure if this is what my fish has TB, and what can be done for the fish?   <<I think you should be "aware", as we all should be. Concerned? No. To know for certain would require a laboratory and a pathologist. A couple of indicators would be a sunken stomach or detention (sinking) along the back of the fish. Protruded eyes, loss of scales, lesions on the body of the fish would also be indicative but not definitive. As for what can be done for the fish in the case of TB, there are some treatments that would likely be out of the realm of the typical hobbyist. In all likelihood, the animal couldn't be treated effectively.>> If it is not TB, then I thought it could be a swim bladder problem (my fish does have trouble with constipation), but why is she losing her color?   <<Here, we go back to my earlier comments. Goldfish, regardless of their opportunistic feeding habits, require lots of vegetation in their diets. They don't process proteins well and become "compacted" when fed a diet that is too high in these. Much information on our site about the appropriate diet for Goldfish as well as the environment that they require to thrive.>> Thank you for listening to my question. <<Not a problem at all.>>   Any help you could give me is most appreciated. <<If you wouldn't mind, I'd like you to give me your name when you post again. Tom>>

Re: Sick Goldfish   7/28/06 Thank you for your reply, Tom. <<Good to talk to you again, Debra.>> I do not know the technical name for  the Goldfish--she is orange in color, having a regular, slim, not a "fancy"  body type, with a black dot on her tail (which has always been  there).   <<What you have is either a Common Goldfish or a Comet Goldfish. Both are very similar with the Comet staying a bit slimmer than the Common as it matures. Both can attain 12"-14" in length at adulthood. (Can't blame you if you just did a "double-take".)>> She is now about 2.5 inches long from mouth to tail tip. She is in a two gallon tank. <<Way too small but I'll get back to this as we go on.>> It used to have an air stone, but I put a charcoal and "sponge type" filter in the tank when I found out that it would do a better job of filtering out the ammonia in the tank.   <<Good...with a proviso. While the airstone will do nothing for the ammonia, it does agitate the surface water of the tank and helps in oxygen exchange. This is where your Goldfish is getting its air to breathe. The larger the surface area, the more oxygen that enters the tank. The fact that she's gulping air indicates that she isn't getting enough oxygen from the water. (Small piece of "trivia": A fish's gills are much more efficient in extracting oxygen from water than our lungs are in extracting it from the air. We can "afford" this inefficiency because oxygen is so plentiful in our environment compared to a fish's. I add this for emphasis as well as a bit of extra information.) Side note: activated carbon is effective for no more than 3-4 weeks.>> I changed 80% of her water about every 1-2 weeks, with periodic full tank water changes. When she got sick, I did  a full tank change and rinsed her rock, gravel, sides of the tank, and plastic ornamental plants as I do periodically. <<When ammonia/nitrites are an issue, this amount is likely appropriate but, for now, I'd prefer to see you change out 15%-20% once a week. This presupposes that your ammonia/nitrite levels are at 0 and nitrates are below 20. A fish store can test a sample of your water for you if you don't have a test kit...which I would highly recommend getting.>> Previously, I was using regular filtered tap water for the water changes with several drops of "stress coat" to condition the water, but when she got sick, and I consulted a pet shop, they recommended that I use bottled water, which I did (I still added a couple of drops of Stress Coat, too). <<Neither "filtered" tap water nor bottled water are the best choices here. Filtering water removes elements that fish need, so-called "trace elements" though major and minor elements would be involved, as well. We almost always recommend that you acclimate your fish to whatever source of water you have at the tap - without filtering. Adding a good quality dechlorinator - one that eliminates chlorine and chloramine - is all you need to do. (Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia, used in increasing numbers of areas because chlorine alone dissipates so quickly. Chloramine does not. Stress Coat TM) only removes chlorine, by the way. If your source of water is treated with chloramine, you'd be introducing ammonia to the tank.>> I called my cat's Vet but was told that they don't see fish. <<About what you'd expect from a "cat doctor". :)>> They gave me the number for a fish Vet at U of P. I left several messages, but no one called back yet. I was told the Dr. was only in intermittently--so I turned to the Internet, and your postings for help.   <<Along with your commitment to your pet, we might just get this turned around.>> My Goldfish was very healthy prior to last week (except for the chronic constipation--I did try the peas in the past, but it seemed to only help a little-). She is still hanging on at the bottom of the tank, but is staying in one spot and if I put food in, she will  struggle to rise to the surface, but she mainly gulps a lot of air when she is  up there.   I don't know the chemical status of the water, but I just changed it all with the bottled water, so I don't think there is an ammonia   build up.   <<Goldfish excrete ammonia through their gills just like we exhale CO2. Regardless of the lack of fish waste/detritus in the tank, ammonia is going into the water. Back to what I mentioned about aquarium size now, your Goldfish needs to be in, at least, a 30-gallon tank. Commons and Comets are generally considered to be "pond fish" because of their adult sizes. Unless kept in a sufficiently large indoor tank, you'll ultimately run into one problem after another. Growth will be slowed/stunted leading to health problems like bone disease. Most importantly, despite your best efforts, a two-gallon tank can't dilute the toxins in the water adequately to provide a  high-quality environment for your fish. Any measurable amount of ammonia in the tank will cause the gill membranes to swell/thicken (basically being chemically burned) to the point that your fish will start to suffocate. The "immediate" thing to do now is put the airstone back into the tank and turn that "bad boy" up high! And, start making plans to get a much larger aquarium...>> She is very pale. When she is at the bottom, she lists to one side a bit. She does not look particularly emaciated, though. In fact, she looks fat like she is still constipated--and there are no visible lumps, bumps,   discolorations or spots (other than the one that she was born with), her eyes are not abnormal. She definitely has some sort of equilibrium issue, but she doesn't really fit nicely into any one disease category.   <<All typical of water quality issues with the possible exception of the constipation.>> When I first got her, I fed her the small pellet type food. When even the small pellets looked too large and hard (I would crush them a bit) I tried the flake food, but I think she prefers the pellets, so when she got sick, I switched back to the pellets). <<She needs vegetable matter in her diet, Debra. Goldfish don't process proteins at all well. Zucchini, spinach, shelled peas (which you've tried) among other common veggies are all good for her and will keep her "cleaned out". Brine shrimp also act as a laxative because of their "roughage". Also, do a search on our site regarding Epsom salts. Many folks have good success with a treatment of these.>> I hope this gives you more information, although I know it must be difficult to diagnose a fish sight unseen. Thank you for your time and any help you can give. <<I've probably given you more than you necessarily wanted here, Debra, but I've hit what I believe are the key points. Bigger tank, more filtration, aeration and diet. A little overwhelming, perhaps, but this is what your pet needs.>> Sincerely, Debra <<My best to you and your Goldfish. Tom>>

Re: Sick Goldfish   7/28/06 Dear Bob F., Thank you for your prompt reply. I did peruse the site you listed plus many others, but my fish did not fit nicely into any of the disease categories, so I  was still puzzled. I will copy Tom's email to me and my reply to Tom's email  FYI. <I see (place) all> I hope that this information will shed more light on the matter, and that  the problem may have a solution. And yes, my hands did have breaks in the skin  from playing with my cat who accidentally scratched me, and from torn cuticles,  that was why I was concerned. <... might be worth a visit to a medical center if you are indeed concerned>   I also quarantined my fish in a large glass  salad bowl while I was changing the water in her tank--I bleached out the salad  bowl and washed it with antibacterial soap --along with my improvised "net", a  slotted kitchen spoon (we do not have a dishwasher) but now I wonder if I should  just discard the bowl and the slotted spoon I used to transfer the fish  with. Sincerely, Debra <Mmm... there are a myriad of degrees-of-infectious microbes in most everyone's experience every day... I strongly suspect you have nothing to fear here. I would not discard these implements. Bob Fenner>

Millepora? rxn help   7/18/06 I was down in Playa Del Carmen  a week and a half ago. They believe I got into fire coral. <Very common there... as are fire sponges (another distinct possibility)> I was given a shot <Of?...> and told to take Allegra and put an ointment <Of?> on it. I was better in 3 days and no complaints. Until this morning I woke up with it all over again. My fingers a severely swollen and itch and red and in alot of pain. any suggestions?   Casey <Yes... I would see someone in the medical field re... stat! Reactions differ per individual, but such stings can be quite serious... Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Millepora? rxn help   7/18/06 I don't have a open wound or site of a sting is the problem. I live in Dallas Texas and no one here quite knows what to do. I saw my doc. this morning and he is clueless. <I... would... seek... other medical help... An endocrinologist likely... a large hospital. BobF>

Re: Milleporid sting?  - 07/18/2006 Let me ask you this is this something you would consider serious or life threatening if this was in fact a Fire Coral sting ? Have you ever seen a case where it came back ? <Mmm, not "come back" so much as never went away... the analgesic and likely anti-inflammatory you were administered just gave temporary relief. Some folks have dire reactions to such stings... Bob Fenner> So should I go to the actual hospital ? <Up to you... how do you feel? I have been stung by Milleporina all over the world... the pain, swelling, redness go away for me in about a day... Bob Fenner>

Red Phorbas sponge   7/7/06 Have you ever heard of a red Phorbas sponge encrusting a red fire coral?   <Yes, have seen this> I was snorkeling in Bermuda recently and as a novice didn't know not to touch, <Yeeowch> so I picked up what looked to me like a sponge, it was red, sort of cone shaped but with holes in the top that made it look like a sponge.  I carried it around for a few minutes while snorkeling and showed my son.  He also picked one up.  When we got out of the water our hands began to burn. The locals told us it was red fire coral.  Our hands burned and itched for 24-48 hours but then resolved.  My reaction has come back and my hands all swelled up.  I am now on prednisone.  I told the doctors that I picked up red fire coral.  In researching this on your site the red fire corals seem to be fan shaped. <Mmm, commonly, but come in all shapes> In looking at pictures of sponges I came across the red Phorbas sponge and that looks like what I picked up.  It says that they encrust dead or live corals.  Or do you know if this is one of the "fire" sponges.  And where I might find more info about fire sponges?  I am still searching.   Thanks for any help you can provide Typing with sore fingers, Katie McDonald <I'll bet, and unfortunately I'm fresh out of time as well. Please read through this search listing: http://www.google.com/search?q=are+phorbas+sponges+toxic%3f Bob Fenner, off to finish cooking dinner for 500>

Rash from Handling Live Rock (Wear Those Gloves!) - 05/10/06 I don't know if this e-mail should be addressed to you, "crew," or otherwise. <<"Crew" is fine as there is no set protocol on "who" will reply>> I've seen some info on your site about infections/diseases which can be caught from an aquarium.  About 3 weeks ago (this Thursday), I was cleaning a new batch of Fiji live rock that I had just received.  I foolishly did not use gloves (which after the fact, I found out was a good idea). <<Indeed>> I was holding each piece in my left hand, while scrubbing it with a brush in my right, and then adding it to a garbage can.  After I had finished, my left hand began burning, and I noticed little spines sticking out of my hands... <<Mmm...>> This reminded me of getting fiberglass on my hand. <<Very similar, but with a twist...the spines may have carried a venom.  It sounds like you came in contact with a/several large bristle worms while cleaning/handling the rock>> These spines were very thin, and appeared to be clear.  I removed what I could find with tweezers, but I could tell that a couple were still there. <<Yes, very difficult to remove this way as most will fragment leaving behind the embedded portion in your skin...though these usually dissolve away within a couple/few days>> About 2 days ago, I have developed a rash on my left hand. <<Possibly an infection...different folks react/have differing levels of sensitivity to these "stings">> It is red, blotchy, and slightly bumpy, and it itches.  The two incidents may be completely unrelated, <<Not likely>> and I am going to see a doctor tomorrow about this; however, if he is unfamiliar with the hobby and the "glass spines" are the cause, he may not know. <<This is true>> If you have any thoughts as to what this rash may be, please let me know. <<I'm fairly certain your rash is a reaction to contact with bristle worms.  Do a Google search on our site/the NET re "bristle worms" to arm yourself with some information to pass on to the doctor>> Thanks for your help. <<Regards, EricR>>

Palytoxin from Palythoa spp. in my eyes? Greetings to all the WWM Crew! <and to you!> I have a question regarding a very painful experience I am presently still experiencing. Two days ago while doing my regular weekly cleaning and water change,( I have a 50 gallon reef ), I noticed a few of my button polyps had detached from the main cluster. One small group of perhaps four were just an inch or so away from the main cluster, but I then noticed that a few had somehow become stuck in-between the slots at the input of my power head. So as is my custom when doing cleaning, I removed the syphon piece and went to the sink to clean it out. Then comes my big unknown mistake! As the button polyps were tightly fit between the syphon piece and would not come loose by rinsing with water, I pushed them through with my finger, which resulted in my getting a full strong squirt directly into my eyes. I was surprised at both the force and amount that had made direct contact into my eyes. I felt a slight sting but thought nothing of it so I just quickly splashed some tap water on my eyes and continued on with my water change. Soon after I went to bed. Upon waking up yesterday morning due to the pain in my eyes, I got up and proceeded to take a look at them and found they were almost completely swollen shut, with the whites of my eyes beet red and a burning pain I cannot put into words! I went to my local hospital where my eyes were examined for corneal damage,( Non had occurred), and they proceeded to flush my eyes with large amounts of saline. This is the first I was to hear about Palythoa / Palytoxin! The doctor had gotten the information through the poison center who had described my nights unfortunate encounter with my button polyp. I was told upon my leaving the hospital, that I could experience extreme swelling, redness, burning, etc. . for up to a week or even more. My question to you. The doctor made it clear he knew little of this toxin. Today my eyes are almost swollen shut, completely red, with a large amount of crusty discharge around the lids. My question to you is, Is this toxin known to cause permanent damage to the eyes? I know that in the bloodstream it can be extremely dangerous, but I would appreciate any input you might have regarding this mysterious and highly painful toxin. Especially as it relates to my experience? ( I realize you are not able to give me medical advise, but please provide me with some information, as even the doctor here seems to know little of it). Thanks WWM Crew ! I am looking forward to asking questions without the pain next time around! <Wow! I am glad you received medical attention here because it can be extremely serious!  I feel your pain.  You can read up on more here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/blane-zoanthids/zoanthids.htm    I haven't heard of permanent damage to eye per se, only when it enters the blood stream and then can interact with the heart/lungs and so on.  It seems you may be having more of an allergic reaction here - did they put you on any antibiotics?  Considering I'm not a medical doctor I really can't tell you what needs to be done.  However I would go see a specialist (or your general for a reference first.)  Hopefully he/she will be able to do more tests/prescribe more to help your situation.  I am very sorry that you have to experience this and it is one of the worse encounters I've heard of.  However it is your eyes, you can't be too careful.  Good luck with this.  Like I said check the link above, do more searches on here and the internet for more in-depth info on the toxin.  Keep us updated!  Jen S.>                       Sincerely,  Trever.

Siphoning... TGIF once again Crew, Assuming maybe Jen S. is still answering since I just got an email back from you. <I'm still here... wish I was on a tropical island somewhere, but hey.  I have fun w/ this too!> I just wanted to share something I do for siphoning water since reading that a lot of people use there mouths. <Ick, not me... use an automatic syphon here.  I could never understand why people used to siphon gas tanks with their mouth either.  ick.> I also use to do this but being paranoid I always thought "Hey is my mouth dry, arms a little shaky, little dizzy" so I decided to figure out another way. Many may use this same technique but from what I read a lot don't. Simply go to your local Wal-mart and buy a spare power head or use one if you have access to it in your fishtank. Stick the hose right in front of it and  pump enough water to start the flow take away and your siphon has started. <Very cool!>   Figured I would share this with people that may need a solution to using there mouth. Since finding out about palytoxin today and realizing there is a lot of dangerous stuff in there I am sure to be A LOT more careful in future handling of my aquarium. <Hahaha, yes you should!  Don't want to inhale something that might bite, right?> Thanks for the time, Homerj <No, thank you for sharing!  Excellent.  Have a great night!  Jen S.> Several questions about clownfish, Kalkwasser, human pregnancy  - 03/05/06 Hello wise wet pet peeps, <Okay> I sent in a question about 6 months ago but I don't know how to find the answer. <We respond directly to all, post most all> I searched using a bunch of keywords but didn't find anything. So I guess my pre-question is if my question(s) are answered how do I find them on the WetWebMedia website? <Mmm, I'd search (Google on WWM) by key terms> How do I know if they are answered at all? <If we get it, we respond... Have had troubles with incoming however off and on> But here are my current questions. Question 1 is about a clownfish. I have been thinking about an anemone for about 6 months but every time I do research I realize it is not a wise thing to do so I have given up on that dream. One day I will set up an anemone tank. Something to look forward to. I have a 90 gallon tank with metal halides and power compacts, a very good protein skimmer, good current, and great water quality. I do a 5 to 10 gallon water change twice a week. Everything in my tank seems very consistently happy (although I have had a bit of bubble algae since almost day one) (I have a couple tangs, couple clowns, royal Gramma, shrimp, snails, hermits, red and green brain, hammerhead, mushrooms, polyps, cabbage, trumpet, leather, clam). The tank is a year and a half old. I have 2 ocellaris clowns that are tank bred. The female tried to host in a flowerpot that was thriving for about a year. After about 2 months the constant kamikaze dives by the female clownfish killed it. Now the clown is going after two other corals in my tank. A green brain and a pagoda. The brain doesn't seem to mind it too much but the pagoda is not a happy camper. I moved the pagoda but the clown found it quickly. I have a 2nd similar tank at my office and the clownfish there tries to use a green brain as well. I'm wondering will the brains survive? <Perhaps> Is there any other coral that will withstand the clown's hosting attempts better that I can put in my tanks? <Likely a/nother Euphylliid> Question 2 is about Kalkwasser. I drip this every other day or so and on the alternate days I use the A/B combo mix. I've read about the dangers of KW on human lungs and I'm wondering if there is an alternative? <...?> Why doesn't someone develop a sort of Alka seltzer like dissolving tablet that can be dropped in the dripper so there is no powder "smoke" to be inhaled? <Good idea> It is quite hilarious that all of us reef nerds have learned to hold our breath long enough to prepare a KW drip! Question 3 is about human pregnancy and a reef tank. I have had 3 miscarriages in the last year and a half and I am wondering if there are any areas of reef keeping that have been linked with prenatal problems. <... not as far as I'm aware> I've done research and can't find anything on this topic. I have been wearing gloves (FYI). I am also wondering about the dangers of Kalkwasser pertaining to this subject? <I hope not> I appreciate your response on the 3 questions above. Sorry for the lengthy prose! Regards. <Bob Fenner>

Ich Me - 2/27/2006 Hello. <<Hi Pam>> Forgive me for this one, but is there anyway humans can become infected by ich? I'm just dealing with an outbreak and I'm becoming paranoid. <<Just be sure to keep your showers under 30 minutes per day, and you should be fine :).  Just kidding, not to worry my friend.>> Thanks! Pam <<You are welcome!  Lisa.>>

Zoanthid toxicity... to aquarists 02/12/06 Greetings to the best reef site on the net! <Hello! John here this morning!> As always when I have a question or concern I turn to WWM. The question/concern is in regard to Zoanthids. I seem to be finding many references as to the toxicity of Zoanthids. As i am just reef hobbyist I am in no way an expert on such matters. <Me too.. but have read first-hand accounts of problems due to Palytoxin, the toxin responsible.> Can you give me and all of my fellow reefers some insight into just how dangerous Zoanthids are? Are they potentially fatal? <Very much so, although this appears to be uncommon> What are the risks to us? <Dizziness, Short-term paralysis, death. Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" has a few accounts of Palytoxin poisoning by aquarists. Here is an account: http://www.browseatwork.com/nph-proxy.cgi/000110A/http/www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php=3ft=3d2729 . Another is here: http://www.reefpark.co.uk/bb/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=703> What special precautions are needed when handling zos? <I would wear gloves, and wash hands/gloves thoroughly after use. If you don't have gloves, make sure you have no breaks in your skin when handling these corals. If fragging Zoanthids, definitely wear gloves, and consider eye protection.> Are all zos venomous? <Not sure... I believe Palythoa are the worst.> Which types are the deadliest? Sorry to be alarmed or worried but I don't ever recall seeing any warnings posted in any LFS. Thanks again <You're welcome... Best regards, John.>

Oscar... human health/siphon Problem   2/9/06    I've been reading the page, very helpful. I have one Oscar that is a foot long and he has hole in the head, I ordered Flagyl and it should be coming in a few weeks. when I was changing the water, I got some in my mouth while sucking on the tube to create suction for the water. does this disease of the one celled organism effect humans also? <Good question... I don't believe so... and unless you have an ulceration in your stomach or small intestine, I don't think you need to be concerned here. I do suggest that you develop a "non-sucking" method of starting siphons though... I hold up the end of the hose, vacuum and get water started down, then dip the end back in to prevent siphon loss. Many techniques... Bob Fenner> Echinothrix calamaris (Hatpin Urchin)    1/19/06 Hello Bob, <James today>    I work at a small LFS and we the boss picked up 3 "zebra urchins" at our supplier the other day. They are Echinothrix calamaris I believe. My first question is, do these urchins have the ability to "shoot" their shorter spines out? <<No... don't shoot out. RMF>> I touched the longer tubular spines with my thumb while trying to move it (and ONLY the bigger ones, I am positive) but received two of the smaller spines buried in my thumb. Very painful. I've heard from several sources that they may be able to do so but no definitive proof. Second question is, are they reef-safe? They are in our fish-only tanks at the moment because we could not find any information on whether they are or not reef-friendly. <The spines of these urchins have hundreds of alternating light/dark bands, some being strong, thick and hollow and others shorter and finer with all being very sharp.  I'm guessing while you were trying to move it the shorter finer ones nailed you.  The venom is very much like a bee sting so it doesn't surprise me that it is painful.  Interesting urchin as in nature they can attain lengths of up to 9" and  Banggai Cardinals often seek shelter among their spines during the day.  I did some researching and couldn't find anything as to the urchin "shooting spines".  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you and keep up the good work! <You're welcome> Brandon

Lions, lions, more lions!  12/13/05 Thank you, <Welcome!>        I received your message the other day and I was happy with it, <Glad we can be helpful> but it arose just more questions. <That'll happen sometimes.> I wanted to know more about the venom how powerful and what to do when stung. <It hurts like CRAZY, swells up, turns red, and burns until you cry. If you have an allergic reaction you'll need to get to the hospital ASAP. In the meantime, you run the hottest water you can tolerate (without actually burning yourself!) over the effected area.> Also i found out the fish store I am getting my lion from has been feeding it just feeder goldfish (ACK). <That is very sad, and too common.> I have decided to get a new lion and I wanted to ask you guys what one you would recommend. <The dwarf species are all nice.> I would like a small cool looking one with some red in it so I can tell the fish store what to order. <Browse the lionfish pages and pictures online!> I think it would be great to have more than one lionfish in the tank. Can I have more than one lionfish in the tank? <When they are juveniles, yes. But that doesn't last long.> Would it be best to have 2 different types? <No. Just one, please.> Is a 100 gallon big enough for two? <No.> With more than one lion can I have other fish? <N/A> Will they both have the same diet? <Each other?> Would I want to put them in at the same time? <N/A> I also wanted to know will lionfish hurt corals or vice versa? <No, they couldn't care less about corals.> Should I put corals in soft or hard? <Your choice - depends on MANY other factors, least of all the lionfish.> I know it may seem like a lot of questions but these are some I need to know. Thanks again for all your help. <Our pleasure. Good luck! -Zo>                                                                                      Your aquarist in need (one last question do you think it would be safe to get a rock fish?) <If you mean Stonefish, the answer is No, no, no, no, no. And... NO. But "Rock Fish" is a decidedly generic common name, and even refers to certain food fishes. And some are okay for aquarium use. -Zo> Zebra Danios With TB  12/05/2005 Hi, We have 10 gallon tank and have started the tank 4 months from now. We bought 3 Danios to start with, and they did very well for first 2.5-3 months. We used to do weekly water change. Our local pet store suggested to not to change water for first month to have fully cycled tank. We stopped the water change. I am not sure if this is the cause or something else, but we lost our smallest fish during this time.  Rest two fishes has lived fine for some time and they started slowing down. They used to eat a lot and swim around in whole tank that is filled with natural plants. They stopped eating with that eagerness. They stopped playing. We noticed that their spine is also got curved.  First we were thinking that they are getting old. After reading FAQ section in your website, we are scared about fish TB.  I have been touching the water to clean up the tank. Though I don't have any wounds, but still I am scared and wanted to know what measure we can take to diagnose if we got infected or not. About the fishes, now they both are dull and during the night they lie down on the bottom of tank. Actually till light is off mostly they lie down on the bottom. If light is on, they try to swim. We can see they have hard time swimming. They most stand still at one place. I have also read on internet somewhere that when they are at the end of their life cycle, then also they develop curve in their spine. So how do I know if my fishes have TB or they are just old. In summary these are questions I have. 1) What measures can we take to find out if we have infected ourselves with the fish TB? < Fish TB is very very rare. If people were getting infected and it was a problem I think you would see warnings all over the place. As a precaution I just wash up after having my hands in an aquarium.> <Rare in people, yes....  but I have seen many, many cases in fish lately - many of which were Betta splendens....  -SCF> 2) how do I find out if my fish's spine is getting curved because they are old or they have fish TB? < More than likely your fish are getting old. Usually these little guys don't last more than a couple of years tops and the contouring of the spine is one of the signs of a fish getting older.> 3) In case of fish TB, how do I sterilize the whole tank? Do we have to start from scratch for the new fishes? < I think you fish may have gotten ill due to poor water quality. Check the nitrates. The lower the better. These little guys like clean well oxygenated water.-Chuck>

Watch Out! There's a Lion fish behind you…avoiding those nasty stings  12/2/05 Hi! <Hello.> While my friend goes on vacation, I volunteered to take care of his marine tank. <He must trust you a lot.> In the tank is a Lionfish. He says that when he's cleaning he has to be really vigilant just in case it mistakes his hand for food. I'm kind of afraid. Can I use new rubber gloves when cleaning his tank?  <Yes but I still would not attempt to touch the fish, having never been stung by one I'm not sure how protective these gloves will be, of course they are better than nothing. However be sure they are not used as far as soap or other harmful materials….they need to be as sterile as possible.>  <<Not sterile, chemically inert is the issue here.  Regular "Playtex" gloves will not offer sufficient protection from a spine.  You need heavy-duty, try chemical gloves.  Marina>> Would that protect me? <When I clean a tank with lions I usually (carefully without touching them for your safety and theirs) herd them into the corner with some sort of utensil, (Kent scraper in my case). Some folks use barriers such as eggcrate or acrylic to keep the animal at bay. In general the animal will be much more afraid of you than you are of it and will keep a distance itself, also just be aware of where the fish is at all times don't get lazy or day dream. ;) > Thanks <Welcome, Adam J.> 

Paranoid Mom - Marina's Experience II 10/29/05 Thank you so much Marina for your detailed reply.  <<You're welcome, though you should know that I can't help myself (when it comes to detailed replies).>> This has really helped put my mind at rest.  <<Excellent, we have enough to worry about, don't we?>> I must say I wasn't best pleased with hubby but think I am coming round to the idea now as Marcus is in love with "Nemo" and "Marvin".  <<I think we should take a poll - How many of us first got into pet fishkeeping for our kids? I sure did, to help my oldest boy while he was an infant by having something to look at (a 10gal. tankful of goldfishes and Koi, oy!). Look what that did to me.>> What a fantastic website this is.  <<Glad we could be of help. Though not exactly professional, most often some one of us has some experience with most questions. Marina>> 

Tanks are not toys...nor food. - 10/27/2005 Sorry to ask such a pathetic question - My husband has just bought a Juwel marine aquarium with 2 clown fish for my 2 year old sold. <What...?>  <<Maybe she has a son..?>> Please could you tell me if the bacteria from the live rock could be harmful to humans. <Well a two year old has a weaker immune system than an adult so they are more at risk. That said, a rock should not be eaten. That said, the numerous hitchhiking organisms could prove quite harmful. That said, a two year old is not ready for a fish tank and should never be left unattended with one. - Josh> Thank you <you're welcome>  

Paranoid Mom - Marina's Experience 10/27/05 Sorry to ask such a pathetic question - My husband has just bought a Juwel marine aquarium with 2 clown fish for my 2 year old sold. Please could you tell me if the bacteria from the live rock could be harmful to humans? Thank you <<Hi Jaquie, this is Marina here. I know that Josh already replied, but as a mother of two (well.. three now, but that's another story) I just wanted to let you know that I actually have direct experience with this.  I had to work an aquarium shop to pay for my habit (marine fish aquaria), and both my boys would come in to visit, help me work (they would help Mom do "dead run" - netting up all the dead fishes, they got to do the feeder tanks). They would often be whisked off by other employees to cause their own mischief, and one day I found my youngest, who was about 2 or 3 at the time, with another employee and they were licking the live rock!  Now, I admit, I used some choice language, and I thought it was gross, but it caused absolutely no harm. I had no other problems with this (other than being rather annoyed with the employee in question), because I was caring for these systems and I knew there were no chemicals and only real ocean water being used.  Don't be surprised if you discover something like contact dermatitis, but otherwise there should be no harm outside of any sensitivities the child may have. While there are known instances of bacterial infection (I *think* Mycobacterium marinum is the name) affecting humans (do Google our site, we've got at least one article regarding), this has always been associated with fishes/vertebrates, and is a problem with open wounds. In case you're wondering, the boy in question is now 16 years old, almost 6' tall, and is a varsity football player (who *rarely* gets sick). Ultimately, the answer would have to be yes, it *could* be harmful, but the really pertinent question is "What are the chances it could cause my child harm?" In my own experience, little to none. I hope this puts your mind at ease (and reduces the chance for argument between yourself and your husband). Marina>> Delayed reactions to stingray stings  9/24/05 Saw a child who was stung in the front of the ankle by a stingray 3 weeks ago. He soaked his foot in hot water, and it got better. About a week later, he started to get these small dense bumps in the sting area. They continued to increase in number. About a week ago, he was swimming in a pool and slightly scraped his forehead and nose. Now those same bumps are developing in these areas. They itch slightly and are not painful. A few more come out each day. Any ideas? <Mmm, yes... I would take this child to his pediatrician, ask for a referral to folks who deal in such matters... There are two or more components in such stings... some involve the immediate trauma, venom... others more latent infection... Bob Fenner>

Re: Maroon Clowns  9/2/05 James, She started eating and she has a pretty big appetite now. I tried frozen brine and I decided to give one of the other fish some small chunks of frozen krill and she ate it before they even had a chance. She did not even like krill the last time I tried to give it to her. Thank you guys so much. I also wanted to tell everybody that I had my first encounter with an anemone sting last night. I was trying to get my LTA to settle down yesterday and I put a light plastic net over it, went to work and felt a little spaced out all day, a couple of people asked me if I was alright and I didn't know any better at that point so I thought I was okay. I also decided to go for a 7.8 miles long bike ride and felt a little more sluggish than usual afterwards. Last night at 4:30 AM I woke up and had a panic attack, was covered in hives, and felt like my skin was on fire from the inside. I was beyond terrified at this point, and after a little research found that soaking the affected area in Vinegar for 30 minutes and taking some Benadryl the panic attack and hives went away. There were about 30 little white things that I could see floating in the Vinegar after I was done soaking my hand in it. I'm going to invest in some really good gloves now. Just thought that might be useful to let anybody interested in keeping anemones know about the prospective dangers involved. I did not even feel it sting me. You guys are the best resource available in this hobby. Thank you for what you do.   <Tate, glad to hear the clown is eating.  Your reaction to the anemone sting is not a common occurrence.  You would probably have a similar reaction to a bee sting.  Some people are much more sensitive to stings than others.  James (Salty Dog)> Tate Poisoned by Hydrocotyle tea? 8/31/05 Hi Bob, could you help me with some information? My friend  ingested a "strong" cup of Hydrocotyle tea. He's in pretty bad shape; Headache, diarrhea, Fever... Can you advise if there is indeed anything to neutralize effects???  I'd greatly appreciate it ! ED Moscati <Mmm, am hesitant to even mention... but I would immediately call your local "Poison Center", call "911" if you can't find this, and get their input, take your friend down for a visit. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Stingray sting 8/23/05 My husband and I were on vacation in Corpus Christi Texas and he got stung by a stingray. I took him to the emergency room and they stuck his foot in hot water, took an x-ray, and gave him some antibiotics. It is now 2 weeks later and he is still having some pain in his foot and he is very tired, nauseated, has diarrhea, and sweats a lot even though he is not hot. Could this be because of the sting? Thank you, Amber  <Amber, Sting Rays have one or more barbed stingers and two ventrolateral venom containing grooves that are encased in a sheath, so to speak.  When a victim is stung, such as your hubby, the stinger apparatus then injects a protein based toxin into the wound generally causing immediate intense pain.  The injury may occur without envenomation since many rays lose or tear off the sheath covering the venom gland.  In your hubby's case, sounds like the gland was intact.  And yes, your hubby's symptoms are included along with others listed below. Syncope Nausea Vomiting Diarrhea Diaphoresis Muscle cramps Abdominal pain Seizures, and Hypotension Have hubby keep taking his antibiotics as the doctor prescribed.  Hope he is feeling fine soon.  James (Salty Dog)>

Palytoxin poisoning? 8.15.05 I've got a very important question here. This morning 11 AM, I changed 30% of water in my 15 gallon reef tank. I also rearranged the live rocks. But I forgot that I have a wound on my finger. But it was already dry, a scab. I have a Zoanthid colony (cats eye polyp) in my tank and I also moved it with my hands and been in contact with it for about 5 minutes, also removing some of the polyps that had been detached from the colony. I worked in the tank for about 20 minutes so the dry wound became soft again because of being soaked by the sea water. And only about 10 min.s ago I was reading about the palytoxins that Zoanthid have. I'm really very concerned about this. Have I been poisoned? I'm not really feeling anything unusual up to now and its been 12 hrs since I've had contact with the polyps. Please advise. I'm really scared. <no worries my friend... as someone who has been poisoned... sigh (my stupidity), no less than three times, I can assure you that you'd know it by now. The sensation is almost instantaneous... starting with a metallic taste in the mouth. in severe cases/reactions, you will have difficulty breathing. A search of the big message boards will reveal other such stories.> I didn't know about the potential dangers of Zoanthids. I did some research about their care but haven't read about their toxicity. <Some species are fatally toxic. But you'd be amazed how many other organisms in your tank are also quite noxious to taste, touch, etc: sponges, tunicates, many snails, etc. The lesson here is to please(!) wear latex gloves - for your safety and for your corals safe(r) keeping. Anthony> Grabbing Bristleworms - 08/08/2005 Hello, <Hi.> My name is Julie and I am writing b/c my boyfriend was moving some things around in our salt water tank and moved a rock that had some bristle worms under it and in return got stuck by them. He pulled his hand out with about 200 little sticky things on it. <Yeeeee-OWCH!> I am unsure if they were the legs of the worm or what exactly. <The spines of the worm(s), most likely.  Try to remove ASAP> But we searched the web and your site and saw nothing in regards to this. Is this going to do anything to him? <Mm.  Quite honestly, if you're not sure what sort of animal you're dealing with (bristleworm vs. fireworm), I would suggest consulting your physician, just to be on the safe side.  Bristleworms, though they can inflict a rather painful wound, are not usually very dangerous, whereas a fireworm can really inflict some pain/damage.  I understand that running very hot water over the site of the wound will break down the proteins in the toxin and make it much less painful - hot water from the tap, as hot as he can stand it but NOT hot enough to scald, is perhaps your best first course of action while you contact your doctor.  Chances are, this is a mostly harmless wound, but please do not hesitate to talk to your doctor; at least he will be somewhat informed of what's going on in case something does come of this.> Thank you so much for your time in reading this and answering, <Please also search the 'net very well for similar instances, and try to identify the animals involved.  And PLEASE consider a pair of heavy-duty reef handling gloves!!  Something like this:   http://www.thatpetplace.com/Products/KW/gloves/
Class//T1/F11+0047+0279/EDP/3377/Itemdy00.aspx .> Julie <Wishing you and your loved one well,  -Sabrina>

Saltwater in eyes 7/28/05 Good evening WWM Crew,<Hey Ellen, MacL here with you today.> Thanks for being an invaluable resource. I looked around and couldn't seem to find anything on this particular topic in your wounds section. What happened is that during a rather dramatic coral feeding, I inadvertently yanked my drippy hand out of the tank and dripped tank water directly into my husband's eye. <Youch.> He rinsed immediately, and isn't uncomfortable or anything but is worried and not happy with the careless dripper (me... I understand...). Do you think we need to do anything other than watch it for signs of infection? <Ellen I don't want to make light of what I am sure was a painful incident for the both of you but having gotten salt in my eyes many, many times from my different salt tanks and still have my eyesight (admittedly bad though my sight is).  For the most part unless you have a scratch in the eye your eye tears will wash it clean. Think of it as a short dip in the ocean. Always be cautious of course but I think your husband can let his worries about this particular matter go.> Thanks very much for your help. <Good luck to both you and your husband! MacL> -Ellen

Medicine? About sea cucumber 7/17/05 Hi!!! I just want to ask if you heard that sea cucumber has an anti-inflammatory effect...... what constituent of the sea cucumber exhibit its anti-inflammatory effect???? any web site we can go.... thanks for the time.... please reply on this e-mail add....... <What? Re human health? I'd send your message to a medicine-related forum. Bob Fenner>

Reference for article 7/10/05 Sorry I sent to other blank.  I was wanting to use the following article for a microbiology report.  I need the author and date written.  I would appreciate your help.   It's Just A Scratch; Or Is It? Wound Management, Livestock Toxicity and Pet Fishing this is my link to it   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm Thank you, Stacy <I am the author, the last time this piece was substantially amended was about four years back. Bob Fenner> Cone Snails--Steer Clear (6/3/05 I am a chronic pain patient. I now have the cone snail venom medicine in me called Prialt. (just approved by the FDA December 31, 2004) <I hope it is helping you.> I am fascinated by these snails and want to get one or a very small group. <I would only keep one of these if I had a death wish. Prialt, like Botox, is safe because it is so dilute and weakened. Like botulinum toxin, some cone snail toxins are among the deadliest toxins on the planet.> I have 20, 30, 50, 100 gallon tanks (although not in use because of my pain problem, 11 back surgeries). <yikes!> Anyway, do you need a permit? <Probably not, just a death wish.> If so, how do you obtain one? <not sure> And how would you go about obtaining a group? I am very well read on care, feeding and safety. <If so, you should be able to find some, but I strongly advise against it--see what Dr. Ron Shimek says about them in "Marine Invertebrates.> Thanks, Brent Ryther, Salt Lake City. <If you really want more info on the possibility of keeping these extremely dangerous creatures and how to get them, you might want to speak to Brad at The Aquarium in Sandy (fantastic new store) or Randy at Mountain Shadow Marine in Centerville. They know a lot about marine aquariums. Steve Allen, Taylorsville.> Is that a smasher or a splitter? Dear Mr. Fenner, <PF here> My finger was impaled by a mantis shrimp a week ago <ouch!> and my finger has not fully cover from sensory feel. As there are no relevant doctor for these in my area, would you please inform me more about injury from a mantis shrimp? <I'm sorry Sugeng, I can't be more specific than this: treat it as any other wound. Make sure it stays clean, and keep that finger out of any infectious material. I would go see a regular (i.e. general practitioner) about this injury, and I would recommend you go as soon as possible. Hope that helps and best wishes, PF>Thanks. Sugeng

Re: Your help on/with WWM Thank you to whoever titled the "Is that a smasher or a splitter?" for me. <No worries... wish I was as clever as the ed.s at WSJ> Next time, I'll catch that and include a link (specifically the one for wounds...), to say I was a little freaked out by my first question being medically related (I'm not a doctor ,nor do I play one or TV) would be rather accurate. <We takes and gives what we gets> I certainly hope I made it clear he should go see a doctor, and I hope the AMA doesn't come after me for practicing without a license. ; ) <Something to contemplate. Bob>

Wound Care Advice Bob: I read the two posts yesterday & today about a mantis shrimp wound. The advice was sound. Actually, your wound/infection article is very appropriate and correct. As the clich?goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The most important treatment of a non-venomous wound is prompt cleaning/disinfection. As for the loss of sensation in the writer's finger--as long as there was no venom involved, it is likely that the impalement cut a nerve. Cutting a larger nerve closer to the base of the finger would affect all sensation beyond that point. Cutting a small nerve near the tip would affect just a small area. I still have a small numb spot on one finger from a laceration I sustained over 25 years ago. It is always smart to see a doctor when a  wound isn't healing properly or looks infected. Any primary care physician is a good starter. Steve Allen, M.D. PS: don't fret about the AMA--I'm sure they've got bigger fish to fry. ;) <Thank you for this timely input. Will share, post. Bob Fenner>

Elegance sting Bob, I normally am good about my research, but I can't seem to get a straight answer about this question: -Details: I have a med. to large elegance coral in a healthy 75 gal mini reef about 2 years old. A few months ago I removed a nuisance Condy anemone and my Maroon Clown started nesting in the elegance. Cool! The only problem is that the elegance seems to have become much more aggressive/venomous.  <I do not believe it is virtue of the clownfish> I was working with a little placement in the tank and it's tentacles grabbed on as usual and I washed my arms when I was done... That evening, I had about 11 sting marks on my arm that had grown into gigantic welts. They later became scars that haunt me today -3 months later.  <yes very serious indeed> I am not allergic to bee stings and I never went into any kind of shock, but there is one symptom I received that worried me both last time and tonight. - I become slightly disorientated and nervous...like a panic attack. (remember... I thought nothing of the first sting and was not worried at all) <you must be careful of repetitive stings... each will get worse and enough in a lifetime can theoretically send you into anaphylactic shock.> WHOA! -I have already consulted the appropriate doctors and all they can say is - "you can breath, you must be fine."  <they just have no experience with repetitive Cnidarian stings> I certainly would understand any hesitancy to answer, but I'm just shooting in the dark. -Meaning, I would never hold your advise responsible. <yes... thank you. And I am simply saying that your concern seems to be warranted. My advice to you and all aquarists for the safety of you and your corals (from each other) is for you to wear gloves when working in the aquarium. Corals are protected from contamination from your skin, under nails, etc and you are protected fro pads, paws and claws> -Question: In your experience, can coral toxins have this effect? It's not a nervous shock by any means, just an in between state.  <having been a coral farmer for nearly a decade on a commercial scale, I am very familiar with this. Euphylliids like your elegant coral are some of the worst. My nemesis is a relative Euphylliid the torch coral (E. glabrescens). I have been stung enough times by such cnidarians that the slightest brush with he animal feels like a full wall current electric shock! Indeed... it amplifies/gets worse every time> Are there known euphoric effects these toxins have?  <I'm still looking...heehee> Are there any resources that discuss this in plain English? <hmm.... more than a studies on the derivatives of "toxins" from coral, but you haven't actually been poisoned with a toxin. You have been stung and the sensation that you feel is mostly your bodies reaction to being stung. Indeed... an allergic reaction. Like being asthmatic> Thanks for any hints on this -Best! Dan J.W. <advice: Tunze gloves...heehee. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Elegance sting Thank you Anthony for the hints! <very welcome my friend> I'm certainly a careful person, but it just seemed harmless in the beginning. I'll be ordering gloves tonight in case I have to do any more shifting in the near future. <excellent!> You know, the sting can never be felt until minutes later. (I think my bodies nervous system just freaks out when there's something like that present. Similar to negative feelings I had at a few parties in college when someone passed around something cheap!) <Ha!> Any how, I'm a Graphic designer/developer for a large ISP in MN... If there's something small I could contribute as thanks... Let me know.  <how about a small, single, fair skinned girl that likes short hairy men of Mediterranean extraction who eats enough garlic to drop bats from eaves as he walks by?> I would be more than happy:-) <and I would too... in the meantime, your friendship is more than enough> -Best! <with kind regards, Anthony> Dan PS> You'll find my evil friend in the pic as he sat in a 55 gal last fall. ( I have plenty of sand room in my 75 to set him in now...) <indeed... such corals with conical corallums NEED to be nestled upon a spacious sand bottom. Kudos>

Torch Coral Sting 4/28/05 Hi, During routine cleaning, I accidentally touched my torch coral several times with my left hand. I have been experiencing numbness in the hand since then. I understand that this coral has moderately potent stinging capability. Are my symptoms normal? I have no redness or swelling, and no pain. Thank you, Matthew W. Stone R.T.(R) Cardiac Cath Lab Lead Tech  <Some folks can be quite sensitive to coral stings. Symptoms typically range from minor irritation to redness and welts. Severe sensitivities and allergies are rare but do occur. Since you work in a hospital, I would suggest that you ask some of the physicians (especially ER) for any suggestions. In the future, I would suggest that you wear gloves when working in the tank if you have symptoms of more serious allergic reactions, seek formal medical advice.  Best Regards. AdamC, CCP Perfusionist.>

Hosting Sea anemone killed BC Shrimp & Terrorizing hosted Clarkiis Hi. My sea anemone is friends with my mated pair of Clarkiis but today when I came home it had the BC shrimp trapped-not eaten, but dead- and retracts when the clowns try to snuggle. I tried to remove it with a tool but my hands quickly became swollen upon contact with the water. I took Benadryl and am fine. My clowns, however, look sick and are breath hard. my ? is : is the water full of toxin or is it electrified or low on oxygen or what??? Also, the shrimp is large, should I try to remove it? The clowns are still trying to feed the anemone and are not eating themselves. <I don't know what has gone on here... but perhaps the anemone caught, killed the shrimp on its contacting it... You apparently have a great sensitivity to whatever is in the water... I would change out a good percentage of the water here, monitor water quality... Bob Fenner>

Coral reef injury   Hi , I am wondering if you know what kind of infection might be possible for a human cut on a coral reef. This happened to me when I was 8 years old, I am now 41....but having problems that may be due to an old infection. At the time , I cut my ankle on a reef in Puerto Rico , by the time my mother took me to a Doctor the infection was all the way up my leg. I don't remember why , but I was made to give them stool samples. (ewww)                            Thanks for any input you may have.                                                Sissy <Am unaware of such infections being studied, written about... but I have an area in my left heel that was snagged on a reef in the Philippines as a kid that "grows back" most years when I'm in the ocean for weeks at a time diving... Bob Fenner>

Eeyouch! Got Myself Stuck by my Foxface! >My Foxface got sucked into one of my powerheads and I inadvertently reacted, my try to get him off and got stung. >>Something's wrong with your fish if it actually got stuck to the powerhead. >It is like a really bad bee sting I have run it under hot water... Can this thing kill me? >>Not unless you're already allergic to bug stings. I have always had my kids pee on the stings (yes, and it works), also, meat tenderizer can help with stings of jellyfishes/nematocysts.  Most important here: clean the wound, then use a good antiseptic, and a good antibiotic ointment (Neosporin or similar). If you experience signs of infection (redness, swelling), I strongly suggest you go see a doctor and tell him/her that you were stuck by this fish. If a bit of the spine stays in the wound, it will (it WILL) hurt a lot. The biggest concern here is secondary infection, and we don't want to have to amputate. I'm not going to post your signature, because it's like riding a horse - do it long enough, and you ARE going to get nailed. Doesn't make you dumb. Marina P.S. Maybe you should go ahead and make sure your affairs are sorted out. 

Got Myself Stuck by my Foxface! It Worked..! >OH God thank you for your quick response!!! >>You're very welcome, you had the good sense to get nailed while I was working on queries, my friend. >I have been sitting here hitting send and receive over and over waiting and hoping that you guys would reply.. >>I honestly don't know if anyone else would have had you pee on your finger... <giggle> >I have read everything on your site but have never asked anything, what a whopper for the first one... >>You ain't kiddin'!  >You have no Idea how nice it is to pee on your finger and feel the pain go away.  hahahahahaahahahahaa... >>My fianc?and I got a good laugh at that one.. don't know if he's ever been nailed thusly, but I sure have!  >I can not tell my wife that I did this but thank you so much. >>Jamie, you are MOST welcome. Do follow the other instructions re: preventing secondary infection. Even though urine straight from the bladder is sterile, I don't think it will actually sterilize/disinfect. >Could I make a donation to something in your name? >>Why, of course! Go to the bottom of the WWM page, and you'll see the Amazon.com banner for making donations to WWM. I owe Bob a great deal, and this is his brainchild. The more support the better for all, yeah? >Jamie >>Take care, and keep this one in mind when thinking of stories to tell the grandchildren. Marina 

Re: lost bookmark - Seeking Mycobacterium marinum Now I know what it was: MYCOBACTERIUM MARINUM. The article that was sent to me had pictures of the victims' hands and even their facial infections (I can't recall all of it well now).  The article was emailed to me when I asked about scoliosis and the person who answered said that scoliosis was a symptom of "tuberculosis" and then went on to caution about this MYCOBACTERIUM MARINUM and how it is hard to diagnose and that they had had to spend lots of money on extensive medication over a long period of time that then caused other problems.  Hope you can recover this article for me based upon this new information.  Sincerely, Leslie Wilson <Ahh, not our article, but a lead to it here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/woundfaq.htm In future... all can use the search tool on the WWM homepage... indices... Bob Fenner>

Good Snails, Bad Snails.. I know I have had my share... <Wow, sounds like the lyrics from "Cream" from a sixties R & B adaptation! "If it weren't for bad snails, I wouldn't have no snails at all...."> I have recently set up a 29g tank with 30lbs of Marshall Island live rock. The tank has cycled and I am slowly adding livestock. I have had a few hitchhiking snails on the rock. I call them "checkerboard snails" due to their patterning. What are the chances of these snails growing up to be a deadly seashell? <Not likely at all... almost zip> Conus magnus or some such?  <Nah! Dangerous conids are sand dwellers> The rock is from the south seas where these animals originate. From what I understand these seashells can be some of the most deadly creatures on the planet. Should I pluck them out (with great care) or let them be? <... the latter IMO> I have 911 on speed dial but I really didn't think I'd need that for an aquarium. Besides my own personal safety, are these snails a danger to coral? Thanks for all your help. <Not likely... they're all part and parcel of what makes live rock so. Enjoy the show! Bob Fenner> 

Medusa Sting in Mexico Hello, My 80 year old father was stung 2 days ago in Santiago, Mexico. The Jellyfish was described as "small, stringy and black with 'legs'". A doctor in town said "medusa", gave my father an antidote shot as well as a shot for the pain. He sent him home with prescription to take for 2 days that was something like an antihistamine and some pills for pain. As soon as shot wore off, Dad had an all- nighter in pain which only hot packs would relieve. He now feels fine.  Can you tell me the likely identity of this jellyfish, the antidote and whether there is any remaining threat to my Dad's health. He was stung in the ankle. Much Thanks, JM <Cannot tell either... but am surprised at the availability of an "antidote"... antihistamines, analgesics are standard treatment for such stings... with more treatment for shock in some folks. Some Medusoids are very dangerous indeed. Bob Fenner>

Attack Oscars Hi I have some Oscars that someone gave me, when I was putting one in my tank he caught my knuckle on my finger. Now it feels like I have a cactus needle in it. I have not found anything, I used a needle to open it up. Is there a chance of maybe some type of poison that he would have in his fin to make it feel that way. Thanks for your time. Connie < Oscars like all cichlids have sharp dorsal spines that protect them from predators. They are not know to contain poison but it is entirely possible and highly probable that their skin is covered with bacteria and could cause infection. It is also possible that there may still be a tip of a dorsal spine still embedded in your knuckle. thus causing your discomfort.-Chuck> Turtles as a Human Health Hazard (12/12/04) I was trying to get my Fluval pump working for my red eared slider tank, and I stupidly used my mouth to try to siphon the water to get the air out of the pump tubes and some dirty turtle water went in to my mouth. I did spit it out immediately, but am very paranoid and nervous.  Should I be overly concerned?  Should I take any antibiotics?  Please provide your opinions or any links to problems like this. Thank you in advance for your assistance. <I would not lose any sleep right now. Salmonella is the greatest risk, and most cases of this are seldom treated with antibiotics in otherwise healthy adults. Prophylactic antibiotics are not a good idea in this situation. If you get sick (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, etc), go see your doctor and tell him/her what happened. Learn from this and do not use your mouth to start siphon in the future. Steve Allen.>

Eating sea urchins Sorry I searched all over----just want to know how to tell if a sea urchin is poisonous ( to eat)---I have found several recipes on how to prepare but have  been told some are toxic. < < Good question.  Yes they are edible, and many dishes are made with them.  But yes they are poisonous.  You're the first person to bring this to my attention (can't believe I never thought of that before).  I wouldn't think their is much preparation involved in cooking them.  Best person for this is Bob, I'll pass on this email to him. >> Living on sailboat in western Caribbean--   Respectfully, Carolyn << Blundell- jealous as he lives in a laboratory in the western US >>

Toxic sea urchins Sorry I searched all over----just want to know how to tell if a sea urchin is poisonous ( to eat)---I have found several recipes on how to prepare but have  been told some are toxic. Living on sailboat in western Caribbean--   Respectfully, Carolyn <Am not aware of any echinoids that are toxic to ingest (Uni, their eggs), though there are some that are dangerous to touch... e.g. the family Toxopneustidae. Bob Fenner>

Advice to ALL re dangers of pet-fishing Hi crew, <How goes it, M. Maddox here, tired of answering "how do I get rid of algae" questions, this one looked like a nice reprieve ;)> I just want to give advice to all reef keepers.  It should go without saying, but it is easy to be lax on this.  After putting your hands in your  reef tank, SCRUB them clean immediately.  I added 2 corals and re-arranged  some others, and failed to wash my hands after. I now have Allergic Conjuctivitis in both my eyes, and it really sucks.  <Ouch, get well soon. I sound bit of advice> I imagine one of you is laughing, but it is an overlooked  "procedure". <Not at all, good practice.  Also, avoid ingesting\absorbing toxins from Zoanthids\palythoas, all of you!> Tearing, blood shot, and miserable, James <Hope you feel better soon.  M. Maddox>

Human injury from marines 11/29/04 HELP! I was pulling macro algae from my refugiums this morning and something toxic or poisonous splashed or squirted into my right eye and has caused severe burning and dizziness for past 3 hours... I am going to the hospital soon but was wondering if anyone might know a bit more about poisonous or toxic plants... or sea anemones.   <many possibilities here... but cnidarians (coral or anemone.. especially Zoanthids) are the likely dangerous candidates> I have Grape, Fern Caulerpa, Halimeda  and Chaetomorpha as macros and they're may be a tiny anemones in there as well.. could it have been an anemone or fluid from one of these macros? <Caulerpa is actually rather toxic> It's something so nasty I have been in severe pain for several hours and my nose is running constantly with headache and nausea. I will see a doctor but he will need to know more about what may have caused this. Any help would be great. Thanks, Chris <get thee to a hospital ASAP, my friend! With a list of species in your tank. Anthony>  

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: