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FAQs about Pet-fishing & Human Health: Pokes, Spikes, Spines: Getting Stuck 

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

Related FAQs:  Petfishing and Human Health 1Petfish & Health 2, Petfishing & Human Health 3, & FAQs on: Petfishing Concerns: 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

There are seemingly no end to sharp biological processes... and gear, decor that can/will give you lacerations, punctures...

Steven pro; Mycobacterial involvement     7/15/14
My name is Mick Virgo, I am from South Australia
I was hoping to contact Steven Pro in regard to his article Mycobacterium Marinum which I found while Googling for information on this disease
<Will bcc him here>
My 20 year old Daughter contracted the disease 3 1/2 years ago working in a aquarium shop cleaning a quarantine tank and was punctured on the hand buy a catfish spine. She was initially treated with Clarithronycin as well as Ethambutol and has been suffering from the arthritis type symptoms he talks
about for about 2 years.
<Yikes... I've encountered these infections over the years; am the person who shot the photo on Steve's hand...>
We have seen several specialist but none have been able to help her and I doubt they believe her when she tries to explain the symptoms and the origins
<And another PA friend of Steve's, Don.... I would ask your doctor to confer w/ American staff in the same field>
The reason for contacting Steve would be to ask if he knows anybody that might be able to help us, or shed some light on what direction to go from here as he describes to a tee what she is suffering at the moment. Would you possibly be able to pass this on to Steve
<Yes I will>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Stung by Long-Spine Urchin  /RMF     4/25/13
Today I was moving an Acro frag up a bit higher in my tank, around the same time a crab moved and knocked it over. Without thinking I reached for the frag, and my index finger met my Long-Spine Urchin. I do not think that the spine broke under the skin, and I dissected my finger with tweezers in the process. It also hurt like nothing else I have felt before, and there was initially lots of inflammation. I ran my finger under hot water because I had no other clue what to do (also remembered this is how to treat Lionfish stings), but am I correct in thinking that a secondary infection from the exposure is of much more concern?
<Not likely problematical, but I would run the wound site under hot water for a few minutes, apply some antibiotic cream... And not worry. BobF>
Stung by Long Spine Urchin    /James   4/25/2013

Today I was moving an Acro frag up a bit higher in my tank, around the  same time a crab moved and knocked it over. Without thinking I reached for the frag, and my index finger met my Long-Spine Urchin. I do not think that the spine broke under the skin, and I dissected my finger with tweezers in the process. It also hurt like nothing else I have felt before, and there was initially lots of inflammation.
I ran my finger under hot water because I had no other clue what to do (also remembered this is how to treat Lionfish stings), but am I correct in thinking that a secondary infection from the exposure is of much more concern?
<Do read here Bryce. 
James (Salty Dog)>

How do bristleworms attack? 3/29/13
Hi there
I've been 'attacked' by a Bristleworm in my tank.  I was moving rock and corals between tanks with gloves on this morning and saw one more rock I could grab and was too lazy to put the gloves back on.  It hurt a bit when it happened but it's OK now as long as I don't play with the hairs.  I thought I'd show my kids and they freaked out thinking I was contagious!   After they calmed down a bit my son had a good look then asked if they shoot out the hairs or do they actively stab you?
<More the latter... not active, but your mechanical contact and pulling brought out these>
 I had no idea!  So whilst I'm waiting for PVA glue to dry I thought I'd ask the question here… How *do* they attack?  Do they see you coming and aim for you or do you actively have to jam your fingers on them? 
<Mmm, there may be some positioning, but most all encounters I've had were passive on the worms' parts>
One more question…Am I a real reefer now I've been electrocuted (mildly), stabbed by a urchin, spent all my money, been bitten by a clown fish, flooded the house and stung by a Bristleworm?
 Or do I need to be cut by my tang first?
<I'd say you're part of the club already!>
Thanks heaps!
Camille :)
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Clown Tang Problem, Please Help (Attacking the hand that cleans'¦) -- 03/04/11
Was cleaning my saltwater fish tank and my clown tang just punctured my thumb with his back spikes.
I'm bleeding and it stings.
<<I'll bet'¦>>
Do you know if they are poisonous and if I should be concerned?
<<They are not 'venomous' in the sense that a poisonous snake is venomous'¦but any open wound exposed to the concentrated bacterial webs in our systems is certainly prone to secondary infection. Clean the wound well and disinfect it, and keep an eye out for any sign of infection that may require a Doctor's attention'¦and a wary eye on that tang from now on>>
Thank you.
<<Quite welcome'¦ EricR>>

Bristle Worm Sting -- What to Expect? -- 12/11/10
Hey WWM guys,
How's it going?
<<So far so good>>
Earlier today when I was moving some live rock I ended up touching a very large Bristle worm of some kind.
<<Been there>>
It was discovered living under a colony of star polyps and its very wide looking considering it's a mere 4 inches. It's not like the others in my tank ether, its blue with a strong iridescent appearance. The others I've seen are tiny by comparison and are solid red. This one also seems to have a much more ornate looking and easily recognizable head region.
<<Thousands of possibilities/species>>
Anyway it seems to have released a battery of hairs into my index finger,
<<Mmm, yes -- the Setae (hair-like structures) of these critters are extremely sharp and detach upon contact, remaining embedded in your flesh and causing irritation>>
some of which are now so deep I do not believe they can be removed.
<<Attempts at extraction most often result in these Setae breaking off/working deeper in to your skin -- furthering the irritation. Carefully dabbing the area with some packing tape or the like (wrap a bit 'sticky side out' around a couple fingers of the opposite hand and gently press against the afflicted area) may help remove some of the Setae. But more than likely you will be left to wait for the embedded particles to 'dissolve' over the next day or so>>
It was quite uncomfortable for a while, similar to tiny Metal slivers.
<<Indeed'¦some are considered mildly venomous which will increase the discomfort. I have been 'stung' more times than I like to admit (just don't like wearing bulky/cumbersome gloves to work in the tank), most times I don't actually see any Setae protruding from my skin as they most often just break off at the surface, but I have certainly come to recognize the sensation. In my case, the irritation is generally gone within a few hours>>
The pain is mostly gone now but the region on the finger where the hairs went in is
currently VERY itchy and feels slightly swollen up, though there is no visible marks anywhere.
<<This is common'¦in my experience>>
Besides these symptoms I feel fine, it seems more like a minor annoyance then anything else.
<<Most often the case>>
I'm just wondering if I should expect this to get any worse.
<<I'm no physician, and folks can/will react differently, but based on my own experiences, no'¦though you will probably have some tenderness to touch in that area for a few days. I do suggest that you 'disinfect' the area of contact by rinsing the spot with some Hydrogen Peroxide from your local drug store>>
And what can I do about this itching?
<<A dab of over-the-counter itch cream containing Cortisone may provide some measure of relief>>
According to the aquarium literature I have, some people have allergic reactions to the hairs of some Polychaetes, which is initially what made me concerned.
<<This is true'¦ Anyone I have ever known to come in physical contact with bristled Polychaetes have only ever experienced local pain/itching/swelling of the contact point'¦and then for no more than a couple days, in extreme cases. But do not take this as medical advice'¦ If you are prone to such allergic reactions (as in being allergic to insect venom/stings) or your symptoms seem to worsen, you should probably consult your physician>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Foxface question, beh., human hazards  -- 03/07/09 I had a Foxface, along with a hippo and dwarf angel in a 90 gallon for about 2 years. The Foxface was always scared of me, and would dive for cover when I came near, and especially when I worked in the tank. But for the last 3 weeks or so, for some reason he has become very, maybe too, bold. He deliberately comes to my hand being in the tank, and I have seen his spines up a couple of times, at which time I take my hand out right away. Is this normal Foxface behavior? <Can be... Siganids can be territorial... and our systems are smaller by far than the space they deem theirs... and you are right to be careful here> He is about 6 inches long now, and being his disposition has changed so suddenly, I was wondering if this is dangerous. I actually felt safer when he was scared of me. Thanks, Eddie <Can be dangerous... this fish appears to be feeling threatened by your hand... do you have a yellow glove on? I would work with someone else helping you... with a good sized net in their hand... when you have your body in this system. Bob Fenner>

Bristleworms... and human hands... Ouch! Dear Bob (or whomever I'm lucky enough to talk to today), <Hello Scott> I have a couple quick questions on bristleworms. I recently took over a tank from someone else. It is LOADED with bristleworms. In the process of moving the live rock, I managed to grab a bristleworm with my bare hand. <Yeowch!> I received about a two inch long, 3/8 inch wide swath of bristles to the inside of my pinkie finger. This was about three weeks ago. Reading, I know that they secrete a neurotoxin, and my finger has been swollen, reddened, and numb (not completely, but pretty significantly). I also have a little fine motor function restriction (kinda "fumble fingered"). I expected all the symptoms, but thought they would subside after a week or so. <Sometimes longer...> The initial pain is gone, but I still have some sensory and motor function deficit. Is this normal? <Mmm, yes... but...> Have you ever seen permanent neuromuscular damage from bristleworms? <Not per se, no> I'm attempting to trap and eliminate a majority of these little critters, which leads to my next question. Would a mantis shrimp eat bristle worms? <Very often, yes> I have a small green mantis in my main tank that I could move over if he'd like a feast:) <I might definitely try this... for sure... Heeee!> I've also considered a six-line wrasse, since I like their coloration. Any other suggestions? <The Stomatopod for now> I don't want to introduce livestock that I'm not interested in keeping long-term (i.e. coral banded shrimp). Thanks for all you guys do! Scott <I urge you to go "see a specialist" re that pinky... It may be that a small local injection (won't play "House" here) will/would greatly speed along healing, return of function. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock "Cacti" Re: Cactus Quills aka Bristle Worm Sting  10/1/08 Hello again! <Howdy> I have a question that I have been trying to get an answer to for quite some time now. About a month ago I decided that I was going to do some aquascaping with my live rock. After I had finished and my hands had dried they began to burn a little. As I took a closer look I noticed what appeared to be tiny cactus quills all in my hand. Someone told me this could be a sign of fire corals in my tank, but seeing as how I only have 50/50 lights, I don't see how the coral could survive for 6 months in that specific tank. This is a FOWLR tank. Any suggestions of what this could have possibly been? I didn't get sick and felt fine, just my hands were on fire and itching really bad! Thanks in advance!! <Did the 'quills' look like this? http://i95.photobucket.com/albums/l127/francis1123/IMG_3110.jpg It is most likely a bristle worm sting. You'd be in a lot more pain if it were fire coral. Please read more about bristle worms here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm and the related articles. Regards, Jessy>

Re: Cactus Quills aka Bristle Worm Sting  10/1/08 No, the quills did not look like that, a lot smaller in fact. <Probably broken off because you kept pillaging around the rocks>  I could barely see them. What happened was I put a stupid Condy anemone in my tank and well, it disappeared. So, I decided that I needed to do some aquascaping anyway. I took out all the Live Rock and searched in all the nook and crannies for this anemone and scrubbed the rock with a toothbrush. I never noticed any bristleworms at all, <Most likely you won't see them unless you are looking for them. They have a way of tucking themselves into rocks and only allowing a centimeter of their body to show as they travel from hole to hole>  but about an hour later I noticed the quills. These things were so small you couldn't really get a picture of them, but there were about 100 of them in each hand. <I can almost guarantee you that it was a bristle worm of some species. The picture I referred you to is a perfect example of undisturbed line of bristles that were freshly stung. If the man in the picture had kept playing in his tank, they would have all broken off in his skin. Just so happens that a when tweezing he found that they are very delicate and prone to breaking easily. A few stayed lodged in his skin, the only evidence was a red swollen area and itchiness, he too couldn't see them. If you had fire coral in your tank, you would not just be complaining of itchiness an hour later. You would have no doubt about being stung by a fire coral. There is a reason it has its name. May I suggest you not go digging around in your tank without gloves on again. Regards, Jessy>

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>

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 fiancé 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 

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>

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

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>

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>

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>>

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

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

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

Yellow Tang Accident Dear Mr. Fenner, I had an accident on Dec. 23rd while cleaning my salt water tank. My yellow tang was frightened and I did not see him before he cut my middle finger knuckle with the bone on his tail. It happened in an instant and the pain was instant and horrible. My knuckle swelled, turned black and blue, throbbed non-stop for 6 hours, and the pain radiated clear through my hand into my wrist. <Yowch...> I called the Aquarium store right away and they told me that the fish not only cuts your skin ( I had 3 small cuts) but it injects a poison into the wound. I was told to place it in warm water to draw out the poison, and try meat tenderizer, which I did. I could not take my hand out of the warm water without excruciating pain for over an hour! It took a several days before the pain subsided completely. <Mmm, may be a toxin associated with this species... there is with other genera, but not documented as far as I'm aware with Zebrasomas> It is now Feb. 5th and I have had a resurgence of pain, slight bruising, and swelling in that knuckle. I spoke with the Aquarium store again today and they told me that I was misinformed initially and that yellow tangs do not poison, they only cut you. I was referred to you. Can you help me? I don't know if this is normal or if I need to see a physician. I would greatly appreciate your expertise. <I would definitely see a physician re this injury. There may not have been envenomation, but there is a real possibility of infection. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm and the associated FAQs file. Do seek medical care, at least examination here. Bob Fenner> Thank you. Claire Hart

Re: Yellow Tang Accident Dear Mr. Fenner, Thank you for your reply. I'm not sure that I got your complete message because it was mixed into my message. I will call my dermatologist today. I read the articles you referred to me, very interesting! I have had a tank for 8 years and this is my first time to have a wound. I have almost always had yellow tangs and I was always aware that I could be cut. I just didn't expect this! <Small chance of real trouble... but best to clean, keep covered... and have a practitioner take a look. Good luck, life. Bob Fenner> Thank you again. Claire Hart

Bob! just got pricked.... Hi Bob, hope your vacation was nice (sure it was), I was just doing a water change and foolishly moved my hand onto my long spine black urchin (the one with the blue and orange eye looking thing in the middle) got a couple pricks on the side of my finger, anything to worry about?, just don't tell me I'm dying, lol.....thanks for your time.... <Do soak the area in warm water (as hot as comfortable) and put a dab of Neosporin (or equivalent) over the puncture and a bandage... and call me in the AM! Oh, and read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm  Bob Fenner>

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

Owee from Mantis Hi! <Hello again Sugeng, PF here.>My finger was impaled by a mantis shrimp a week ago and part of my finger stills feel numb and I am have difficulty straightening my injured finger. I am afraid the shrimp has hurt my nerve as well, will the nerve heal by itself? <I don't really know, nerve damage is tricky thing. In my own experience, I have a numb spot on my arm from an encounter with a jellyfish about 15 years ago. You really should see a doctor about this.> Thanks. Best Regards, Sugeng <Sorry I can't give you more information, but I hope your finger feels better soon. Best wishes, PF>

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 cliché 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>

Stingray Wound - 8/15/03 What is the recommended treatment of a wound caused by the barb of a Round Stingray?  <To a human, fish, invertebrate, itself? I do assume you are speaking of a human, no? Here is what the dive doctor has for ya:  Prehospital Care: As soon as possible, immerse the affected body part in very hot water (as hot as the patient can tolerate without actually getting burned) or apply a hot pack to the affected body part. Heat rapidly decreases the patient's pain.  Emergency Department Care: If a patient has demonstrated any sign of systemic effect, it should be addressed quickly.  No specific antidote is available, and supportive care is recommended, including use of analgesics.  An easy and important initial treatment that can be started (sometimes at the scene of the injury) is immersion of the injured extremity in hot water (preferably 110-115°F). The water should be as hot as the patient can tolerate but should not cause burns. The water should be exchanged for more hot water as it cools, for an immersion duration of 30-90 minutes.  Very little has been written about the toxin left in wounds after a stingray injury. The authors do know that the stingray toxin is a protein and is very sensitive to heat. The patient should obtain very rapid symptomatic improvement with heat as the poison denatures and becomes neutralized. In addition, some practitioners also infiltrate the wound with a local anesthetic, such as Lidocaine (Lignocaine) or the longer-acting Bupivacaine. Occasionally, parenteral narcotics also may be given.  After the toxin has been deactivated by the hot water, attention to local wound care should begin because it is not uncommon for part of the stinging apparatus to break off in the wound.  Obtain a plain radiographic image (X-ray) of the injured area to look for retained barbs or other foreign material. Explore the wound thoroughly and irrigate it. Perform any necessary debridement. (debris removal).  Remove any foreign body from the wounds, including the spine and sheath from the stingray stinger, as well as dirt or sand.  As with other potentially contaminated wounds, consider allowing the wound to heal without closure. Because most of the wounds are small, this usually is not an issue. If the wound is very large or gaping, consider loose primary closure.  Address the patient's tetanus immunization status and administer a booster as needed.  -Paul>

Stingray Wound to a Hooman Beene - 8/15/03 Hi, Paul!  Wow, that was FAST!!!  <We aim to please, plus a marine inflicted wound is nothing to wait about> Yas, it be to a hooman beene!  <Lucky guess. I figured fish know enough not to muck with a stingray. :-) Diving or venturing into the frigid south coast waters?>  Excellent info, and Thank You Very Much,  R.L. "Bob" Dean  <My pleasure. Take the wound seriously and let us know if we can be of anymore help -Paul>

Medical Article Related to Marine Aquaria Bob & Fellow Crewmates: I thought you might find this article about "Poisonings, Envenomations and Trauma From Marine Creatures" found in the most recent issue of American Family Physician to be interesting/useful. Steve http://www.aafp.org/afp/20040215/885.html

Arius seemanni Venom (3/7/04) Hi, <Steve Allen today>   I have a aggressive Arius seemanni and I have read that they have anticoagulant venom. My question is, what would happen if I where to be bitten <the venom is actually through the dorsal spines> , would this pose a risk to my health (could I get sick/die), and what should I do if she does bite me? <I found little about this on the internet, suggesting there have been few cases of actual harm. You might w ant to do more research on the web or through a university library. Anticoagulant venoms aren't really likely to kill you, but there could be a lot of localized bleeding. If you got a lot of venom in you, it could possibly cause serious problems. In your position, I'd keep my bare skin out of the tank. Get some puncture-resistant aquarium gloves and keep an eye on him. If something happens, cal your doctor immediately. >  Thank You-Joey <Hope this helps.>

Netting fish with spines Hello- <Hi there> I've been an avid reader of all the info on WWM for about 8 months now.  It's been a great help while I try to get my 75 gallon bow front up and running.  My question is about fish with spines or even venomous spines (specifically tangs and Rabbitfish).  I've seen it mentioned that these fish need to be netted with caution.  Is there a specific net you recommend?  A specific technique? <A couple things... do use two nets (much better than chasing fishes around with just one), and thick rubber gloves to cradle the caught specimens if they have such spines (many fishes and quite a few non-fishes do)> Thanks for your help and keep up all the great work on WWM, it's such a great resource for all of us just starting out! Danielle <A pleasure to serve, share. Bob Fenner>

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