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My tank got me sick


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#1
71GTO

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Ok, I am pretty sure I know what did it, but I wanted to run my story with you guys and see what you think and what I did wrong.
I guess it was November, I was doing a big water change and I was removing some live rock that was covering in these green palys. They are taking over the tank. I did not handle them directly to much just grabbed the rock out of the tank and did a big water change because moving the rocks stired up a lot of stuff... I took the rock in the basement and set the rock in the wash sink and ran a little hot water over it to kill everything off the rock. That is how frustrating these things are making me. Later that night I started feeling something like a congestion in my chest and aching. A few hours later I was shivering cold, but hot at the same time and I could not get warm. I felt like this tighness and conjestion was worse. After that phase, I just felt burning hot, but my skin felt cold. I could not cool down. By the morning I felt better, but I was tired from not sleeping and I had a headache. While this was going on I felt like something with the tank did this and I googled the palys and the first thing that came up was someone who did the same thing I did and had to go to the hospital. He said the steam from him using boiling water had the toxin in it. Now I'm freaking out, but I didn't think I needed to go to the ER since I was feeling better. I felt better by the morning, but I still called out of work. I went to the doctor and they did nothing... I went back to work and told them about what happened and a coworker said she had the same thing and it was going around. Now I figure I just freaked out about my tank for nothing.
So fast foward months of me doing water changes, touching corals, ect... No problems. the middle of last week my heater went bad power on and my tank hit 96. I lost a few corals, a fish, almost all my clean up crew and it looks like my chiller is toast. Those palys are all alive though. I'm doing another water change and really moving things around to get all the dead corals and critters out of there. I decide to take out large rock with the palys on it. I figured things can't be much worse and let me just start fresh. This time I just put in the sink and rinse it with cold water , brushed off some crap on the rock and left it. I used gloves to take it out of the bucket and handle it, but being an idiot I did not use the gloves while working in the tank. I was working in the tank a lot longer then usual to clean it up from the heater and a lot of the sand bed got stirred up. Now a few hours later. I'm getting the same symptoms from that time in November. This time it was not as bad, but the same exact thing happened. It seemed to run its course in a few hours. Now pretty postive it's the Palys. The only things I did different from this time and the last time. Is this time I changed the chemipure bag and I added purigen. The purigen kicked up a little dust when I was pouring it in the bag and the salt kicked up some dust when I scooping it from the bottom of the bucket and I am sure that stuff isn't great to breath in. Those are the only things I can think of that were different then last time. I am convinced it is the Palys.
I had read all the back and forth on them. A lot of people saying they can be toxic and then plenty of people who handle them all day with bare hands and everything else with no problem. So, From now on I'm wearing gloves in the tank and I have one last rock with those palys on it. I might get a hazmat suit for that, lol, but it is going. I think I see now how it is important to be careful with these tanks and I for one will be taking things more seriously from now on.

#2
iball1804

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Oh yeahh. Some guy's heater overheated and boiled the tank, with these palies. He and his wife suffered the same symptoms.

#3
Alexraptor

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It sometimes amazes me how unrestricted the trade of toxic/poisonus/venomus marine animals is, when you consider how tightly venemous snakes are controlled.... but then I guess they figure its not a big deal since corals cant escape and attack people... heh.

#4
71GTO

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Wow, I thought might have been the only one... I guess the heat made the really stress and release some toxin? I can't get rid of these things fast enough

#5
scapegoat

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It sometimes amazes me how unrestricted the trade of toxic/poisonus/venomus marine animals is, when you consider how tightly venemous snakes are controlled.... but then I guess they figure its not a big deal since corals cant escape and attack people... heh.


venomous snakes aren't that tightly controlled, at least in pennsylvania. in fact, in PA, if you go to a snake and lizard expo you can pick up a venomous snake w/o any sort of permits or other requirements.

#6
jestep

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It sound like a toxic effect, such as palytoxin, more than any allergy related symptoms which I was thinking based on the title. Obviously you got a mild dose, but nonetheless it's something to worry about "if" that's what it actually is. I don't like to make assumptions like palytoxin as there as tons of potential things in a reef tank that could cause minor issues in certain people.

I think a big concern should be inhaling in addition to physical contact in which you need more than just a paper or cloth mask.

How many times have you had your hands in the tank that there were no symptoms? Did you record your heart rate or BP when you were ill?

I think people underestimate their own ability to create symptoms, but if your hands are in the tank all the time, and 2 arbitrary times involving excessive heat, you get the same reaction, something is going on.

Edited by jestep, 02 April 2012 - 06:12 PM.


#7
Dani3d

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wow, this is becoming so ridiculously common. Like UFO sighting.

#8
71GTO

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I had my hands in the tank all the time. Even during water changes I have bumped into those palys and nothing happened. I did not take my BP or check my heart rate. I did not really think to do that. The similarity is maybe that I had taken rocks with them on it out of the tank and maybe that I had my hands in there longer then normal. I guess I could have breathed in something from them when I dumped the water? I put the rock in the bucket of wast water to take it into the basement then dumped the water and took out the rock with gloves. Are you saying a mask might be needed if you are handling them?

#9
Degener8

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I think the common thing was excessive heat causing the pallys to stress and release toxin which you had a reaction to. If they are not stressed they are nto spewing toxins (their defense) thus no reaction.

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#10
71GTO

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That makes sense. I guess even though the tanks temp was back to normal for a few days the toxin is still in the water.

#11
jestep

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Even with this, I wouldn't necessarily assume it's something as bad as palytoxin. I would be very careful working in the tank, because it is possible it's an allergy, possible it's something worse, and possible you just start having psychosomatic symptoms when working on your tank. Don't go dumping boiling or similar water on any rock for certain. If you have any friends in a biomed field that could test the coral in your tank, it would be really interesting to see if they can isolate something.

#12
71GTO

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Yeah, I will be more careful. It is weird. I usually have no issues. It was only these two times. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who can test my tank also, most of my corals are now dead from the heater malfunction. All I have left are mushrooms, those palys and maybe a acan. I can't tell yet if it's totally dead.

#13
jestep

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All I have left are mushrooms, those palys and maybe a acan.


Those damn paly's. Like some super corals or something ;)

#14
71GTO

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Yeah they really are. They multipled so fast. I would frag them to thin the out and they would grow back in days it seemed like. That is why I just gave up and wanted to take the rocks out.

#15
Degener8

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Do you have a reference pic of the supposed offenders ?

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#16
hochunk

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I was doing a waterchange this morning and got a snoutful of water, and now I feel like I have something sitting on my right lung. I had a bout with pneumonia a while back, and while I had some complications from it and had to use an inhaler for a while, I've been off it for a good week or two and haven't noticed any problems. Since the water change, I've got chest pain again. Might be time to get a siphon bulb to start the siphon with, given all the exotic stuff that's in our tanks.

#17
tibbsy07

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I was doing a waterchange this morning and got a snoutful of water, and now I feel like I have something sitting on my right lung. I had a bout with pneumonia a while back, and while I had some complications from it and had to use an inhaler for a while, I've been off it for a good week or two and haven't noticed any problems. Since the water change, I've got chest pain again. Might be time to get a siphon bulb to start the siphon with, given all the exotic stuff that's in our tanks.


I doubt you'd end up with a lung infection from anything in the salt water. Marine microbes are largely non-pathogenic. The human body is a much different environment with a number of different stresses. My guess is that the pneumonia issue wasn't entirely cleared and that you're concerned, thus projecting the lump feeling. I suppose it's possible that you picked something up from the siphoning tubing, depending on how clean you keep it, but pathogens don't do very well in salt water and marine microbes don't do very well in the human body.

Also jestep is right. It may not have been palytoxin. It sounds, based on your description, to be more of some virus that was going around, especially given the fact that the doctor played it down and your coworker said that a bug with those symptoms was going around. It's possible that the palytoxin was released due to the stress placed on the palys, and you may have been exposed to a small amount, but a little hot water shouldn't cause the toxin to be aerosolized to the point where it would be a major issue. Boiling the water would be more likely to cause it, which is what it sounds like the one guy did. Either way, be careful! Wear a cheap mask or something.

Edited by tibbsy07, 03 April 2012 - 03:20 PM.


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#18
71GTO

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Here is a picture of the Palys. This is an older pic. THey look a little more frazzled now since the heater malfunction.

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  • palys.jpg


#19
71GTO

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Yeah, Usually I'm all for just thinking its something going around, but I just can't see how twice I get the same exact reaction while doing pretty much the same thing months apart. Also, my coworker might not be the best resource, lol. I don't know for sure it was those palys, but I'm thinking something tank related had to do it. I rarely get sick like this. I just think I will be more cautious.

#20
Tenor

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Palytoxin is somethingthat we cann't over look. I learned that painfull lesson myself. The story is: One time I tried to frag the Nuclear green using the razor blade and my kids were making a lot of noise and I was distract then slice the razor blade to my middle finger a bit. The cut was not that deep, I could see some blood came out. I went in the kitchen squeezed out some blood, clean the cut area with iodine and alcohol, sealed with band aid. I went back to the table try to finished all the frags.

Make the story shot: 2 hours later after the incident I was felt the pain was getting more and more and also my finger start to swollen as the same time. The finger was getting bigger as twice of it original. I could not slept all night that night and was in pain most of the time. I tooksome tylenol, advil and motrin and nothing were working.

Next day my hold arm start to swell up and in blood red color. I got to entry the emergency at the hospital for the treatment. The funny thing is the nurse and doctor at the hospital got no clue about the Palytoxin...They took the blood for testing and give me the antibiotic and also pain killer. The cut place got infection badly from toxin, it created the hole on my finger, and alot of the green liquid came out from the hole, I guess from the tissue damaged due to toxic.

It took around a month and a half for the small cut to healed and it left on my finger the scar from the damaged tissue.

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#21
Alexraptor

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Toxins don't cause infections like that.
Your wound most likely got contaminated with some bacteria or microbe from the water column or in the mucus coating of the coral.
But definitely not palytoxin poisoning.

#22
Tenor

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Toxins don't cause infections like that.
Your wound most likely got contaminated with some bacteria or microbe from the water column or in the mucus coating of the coral.
But definitely not palytoxin poisoning.


The Nuclear released the slammy stuff and the brown color liquid from their gut. I might got some of those.

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