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Old 03/07/2018, 06:56 PM   #1
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Urchin spine removal

I have a 1-1/2 foot long (spines) Diadema urchin for algae control in my 75 gal (formerly a quarantine tank). Since putting halides on this tank, algae has grown profusely, but the urchin does a great job keeping it under control.

QUESTION: Anyone have a good way to get these damned urchin spines out of my skin? And no smart-aleck answers either. I tried using a needle, like I would for a splinter, no good, I do more harm than good.

This stupid beast is so big I can be working 16" away and still find the tips of black spines embedded in my arm. They break right off too, none of this just spiking me and going away, oh no, the SOB simply HAS to leave little black momentoes under the soft part of my arm.

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Old 03/07/2018, 09:28 PM   #2
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You might check out "Sea Urchin Spine Removal" on YouTube. There are several videos on this subject, but I'm not going to link them here. They're pretty gruesome.


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Current Tank Info: 65g Mixed Reef Display - 15g Macro Algae/Refugium - 40b Sump
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Old 03/07/2018, 09:59 PM   #3
Crooked Reef
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Not sure if it would work but I have seen people put Elmer’s school glue on imbedded cactus needles. Wait for it to dry and peel it off like a layer of skin. It works for them but there may be an infection issue with marine life too.

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Old 03/07/2018, 10:27 PM   #4
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First: Wash your arm with soap and fresh hot water. Then you could try using tape and apply it over the area with the spines. Peel off the tape and the spines should free themselves from your skin. Sort of like waxing hair lol. Don’t use tweezers, that may drive the spines further into your skin.

If you keep Palyzoa coral, I might be slightly concerned about getting extremely minor palyzoa poisoning from the needles in your arm, but palies supposedly don’t secrete much toxin into the water column, if at all. Otherwise I think you’ll be fine if you clean off your arm really well.

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Old 03/08/2018, 02:57 AM   #5
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Not only palytoxin (one of the most toxic substances on earth) but there’s all kinds of bacteria in your tank that can cause a nasty infection. I’ve always “lived on the edge” but I’ve read way too many horror stories and have heard a few first hand. I bought some nitrile gloves on amazon and have some coralife gloves that go up to my elbow. If you’re getting stuck by an urchin, I’d recommend the coralife gloves since they’re pretty thick. If not, get some leather gloves and put some nitrile gloves over them with a rubber band around your wrists. Seriously, read some stories about people that didn’t take precautions and ended up with long hospital stays and permanent damage and think about your safety.

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Old 03/08/2018, 05:24 AM   #6
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generally you have to cut them out if they are deep, and cant get them with a pair of tweezers or exacto on the surface, of just wait for them to disolve, I wouldnt worry so much about a random spiking causing palytoxin poisoning, but fun stuff like pseudomonas and vibro and other marinum baterium are a very real infection danger one of my co workers almost had to have part of a finger amputated due to an infection caused by a punture and marine water, he got lucky and the infection started to receed a few days before the cut of date (pun intended).

I've had longspine urchins spike me and I just soak the area in the hottest water I can to destroy the protien in the venom and let it disolve on its own if I cant get it out easily.

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Old 03/08/2018, 09:49 AM   #7
Vinny Kreyling
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I have gotten a few when I did maintenance.
Mine went in so quick I had no time to get to them.
I still have the "stain" in my fingers where they were but am told the spines are dissolved by now.

250 gallon mixed reef, 2 Reefbreeder's Photon V 2, RD 3 Speedy 80 Watt, DAS EX-3 Skimmer, MTC mini cal, 2-3/4" Sea Swirls, Aquacontroller & 6 Tunze pumps.
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Old 03/08/2018, 06:41 PM   #8
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When I got stuck, I washed the area with rubbing alcohol and took duct tape to try to pull them out. No go.

Used tweezers and needle, nothing. Put "new skin" (medical crazy glue) on the area and peeled it off, no go.

There can't be any venom as there's no pain nor swelling, etc. I did more damage to myself trying to get them out than the spines themselves did.

Ironically, when I had urchins in accounts, I never got stuck. And most of those tanks were in the wall where I had a very limited view of the tank. This was on my personal aquarium - go figure.

There is a good-sized paly colony near where I got stuck(!). Guess I was lucky THIS TIME! I'm just going to let them be. It looks like two on the punctures are already healing.

By the way - a client of mine, an opthamologist, told me pseudomonas can cause blindness in 48 hours!

Thanks for the replies.

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