Paly Toxin Question

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I am planning to add my first corals this weekend, including potentially a paly. How at risk are we for this toxin? In particular, my son occasionally will stick his hand in the sump if we are not watching, is this a major risk for the toxin? Of course handling of the coral we will use gloves, but I don’t want to put my family at risk if y’all think it could be.
 

Reefkeeper14

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My understanding is that the toxin can only get onto people of they directly touch the paly. There are of course exceptions to this such as cases where people have bowled the coral or rocks it is on to kill it. In these cases the toxin has gone airborne and hurt entire families. This can be avoided though by not boiling the coral or any of the rocks it was on.

Another important consideration is that you could also get a zoanthis. Not all zoas are going to contain the toxin as described by this article
https://reefs.com/2015/09/14/the-dangers-and-myths-of-zoa-toxicity-part-1/
 

Fishbird

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People have had documented problems with palys from fragging them, breaking down a tank and setting up a new one, exposing palys and zoas to the air in the process, and from boiling them literally in water (don't do this with live rock or any coral ever). If you frag yours, wear eye protection and gloves.

You can't tell from looking which palys or zoas have palytoxin. Many people keep these corals for years and frag them all the time and have no problem. Other people do end up in the hospital with palytoxin poisoning.

I'm sure that people posting after me will tell you you're silly for worrying and that everything in the tank produces toxins. I agree that most things in the tank produce toxins that are toxic to some organism, but there aren't articles and scientific papers being written about humans sent to the emergency room because of poisoning from a bristle worm, or a hammer coral, etc. Palytoxin is definitely unique in its severe toxicity to humans. (Of course, an individual could be allergic to a compound produced by bristle worms and for that one person, contact with a bristle worm would be bad, just like some people can die from being stung by bees but bees are not generally recognized as potentially lethally toxic animal to humans in general.)

I don't think anybody can tell you what the risk is for you because of what I said earlier about not knowing which species contain palyoxin. Palythoa, protopalythoa and zoanthus are genera. There are multiple species within each genus. Species are not determined by colors/different color morphs are separate from different species. Some research suggests that even palys or zoas of the same species have different levels of palytoxin and the reason for this is unknown. You cannot know that the coral in your tank is "safe" and, like I also said above, many people keep these corals and never have a problem. Whether you choose to keep them or not is up to you.
 
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Fishbird

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Here's some further reading. :)




 

scott11106

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I did a ton of research as i put my first PALY in and then there was a big scare in the news the same week so i freaked out a bit, but now i have a good amount and my personal opinion is that they are fine as long as you are not fragging or handling a ton, especially out of the water. If you just respect them and pay attention it should be fine. just like a lion fish, perfectly ok to have put don't stick your hand in tank and play with him.

my 2 cents....
 
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WIReefer

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I’ve heard about people getting really injured over this... I’ve personally never had this happen and have fragged many before I try and wear gloves for the most part.
 

TJDSEKULA

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My concern wouldn't necessarily be pally/zoa, it sounds like you have a young son and an open sump tho. I'd recommend finding a way to close the sump off. Little hands inevitably end up in little mouths and there's plenty of things: toxins, bacteria, etc that you probably wouldn't want your child to contact and taste.. and salt is pretty tasty for a young kid theres a high likelihood of tasting.
On the other hand you also don't want toys accidentally dropped in the sump that could cause other tank issues.

I do understand accidents happen but under normal circumstances my experience is that pally/zoa are relatively safe.. if their Waring, your killing them off, fragging, etc. is when there's a chance of toxin being released. Just keep in mind that while pally toxin is one of the more well known toxins with serious consequences most coral can release toxins when stressed. Different people have different tolerances to these things but I'd take as much care as possible to ensure that your son cannot access the tank or sump to minimize any risk.
 

Bosreef

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Dude get that sump locked up.... what if something's leaking electricity into the water...... sure you don't have a grounding probe lots dont its overlooked in this hobby for new aquarist for some reason.
 

Billdogg

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I've been on the wrong end of palytoxin exposure. It cost me a week off work and some permanent scarring on my arm. It was entirely my own fault due to extended contact with a large number of them while tearing down one tank to set up another. Lesson learned!



I would be way more concerned about your child having access to the sump as well. Toys, food, cleaning supplies, etc etc etc can/will end up in there, and none of them will be good for the tank. Secure the sump area so that he is not able to explore!
 
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Frigus Reef

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Watch this all the way through, he talks about the risk. It’s really not as big of a problem as people make it to be.
 

MnFish1

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I am planning to add my first corals this weekend, including potentially a paly. How at risk are we for this toxin? In particular, my son occasionally will stick his hand in the sump if we are not watching, is this a major risk for the toxin? Of course handling of the coral we will use gloves, but I don’t want to put my family at risk if y’all think it could be.
I dont think there is any way to answer this question appropriately - except to say 1. Your son needs to be taught - he should not be sticking his hands in your tank any time - for any reason (including the sump) - I would suggest you get some of those Kid-proof things for the sump doors. 2. As many others have suggested - it seems like the major risk of palytoxin is when the animal is disturbed. But - though you're only buying '1', they multiply - and soon you might have 100. I think the risk of just putting your hand in the water is quite low. I personally decided - just because I tend to forget and do stupid things - to remove all of them from my tank. They are certainly beautiful - and I'm not trying to dissuade you from buying them. BTW - there are multiple risks with kids putting their hands in tanks - that are far more likely than palytoxin. Vibrio infections, mycobacterium marinium, etc. Make sure your son is not doing that - Palytoxin shoudl be a low risk. A cut on his hand - in the tank - can lead to a serious infection. Best of luck no matter what you decide
 

Henryb9

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They are only risky if you bother them, I remember 2 years ago I was cleaning some green hair algae with twizzers from the rock near the poly’s and pulled a few little ones out.. well that night I ended up with a fever and shaking and feeling weak and stuff out of no where.. I didn’t knew about them until I have read some news about poisonings from them. ever since that time I got rid of the rock which contained them.
 

sp1187

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I've been on the wrong end of palytoxin exposure. It cost me a week off work and some permanent scarring on my arm. It was entirely my own fault due to extended contact with a large number of them while tearing down one tank to set up another. Lesson learned!



I would be way more concerned about your child having access to the sump as well. Toys, food, cleaning supplies, etc etc etc can/will end up in there, and none of them will be good for the tank. Secure the sump area so that he is not able to explore!
curious... painful? like a foxface or lionfish poke? itchy like poison ivy?
 

MnFish1

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Billdogg

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curious... painful? like a foxface or lionfish poke? itchy like poison ivy?
It started with a little redness, and warm like a sunburn. That's when I told my wife what I had gotten myself into and the possibility of needing to call EMS while rescue breathing for me. I washed my arm off and went to dinner without incident. It continued to burn until bedtime but hadn't gotten too much worse. I woke up about 4AM to fairly intense pain, went into the bathroom and turned on the light. Then I started to get worried (what you see is 7 days post exposure). As soon as Urgent care opened, I went, and when I explained the situation, they took me straight back right past everyone else in the waiting room. The Dr called Poison Control on speaker so I could tell them (I knew way more about palytoxin than the Dr), who asked if I was conscious and breathing. I assured them that I was! There really wasn't much to do at that point, so I went home on steroids and pain meds. The next day (Monday) I went to my PCP just because. He agreed that working wasn't really an option until I healed up some (I scrub in for surgical procedures - yeah - not gonna happen). He also took a tissue sample to send off for cultures to make sure there wasn't an infection. That was done without lidocaine to numb it up - didn't want to risk affecting the sample. He then wrapped me up and sent me on my way with sound advice - "Don't do that again!". So far I haven't!!! I still keep some zoanthids, but the green "texas trash" palys are long gone.

I also own a pair of shoulder length gloves now.
 

Frigus Reef

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Well - I wouldn't call this guy an 'expert'. But - In fact - though everyone talks about Zoas - MANY marine organisms can contain palytoxins. Including fish, algae, dinoflagellates - etc - here is a nice review: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4771986/
Obviously, but he talks about how there isn’t a big risk... he also talks about how it is in most fish and marine organisms. He talks about how you’d have to boil it, cut up the Zoanthids like an 80s slasher movie, Or irritate it really bad and have an open cut or something to get poisoned. He also talks about a few precautions to take for it. He’s not an expert but he’s pretty fricken educated.
 

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