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Old 01/12/2013, 11:40 AM   #1
superrmario
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Almost killed myself, wife and dogs. Novices, Please read!

Being a novice, I figured I would post this. For Novices such as myself, please read before you do anything in your tank. The outcome could be fatal.

I sent this to WWM so they can review and post of they would like. I also posted it on another forum as well.

Long read:

I am finally feeling well enough to get out of bed and fully function so I wanted to send a documented email to you to explain our experience.

The day of the 1/10/13 I purchased a few new corals for my 72g Bow reef aquarium. On my way home I mentally played with changing my aquascape a bit to fit my new corals, and open my tank up a bit for better flow.


5pm and the new corals are acclimating. Since the corals I purchased were Acans, I needed real estate at the bottom of the tank since I am running MH lighting mixed with130w PC actinics. I decided to start re-aquascaping.


630pm and the aquascape is now done and looks great. In that time frame I decided to rid my tank of roughly 15lbs of liverock. I had the extra rock that was moved sitting next to the tank in a pot. I wanted to save this rock for later use, but I have no where to allow it to dry out since we live in an apartment complex so I decided to boil it. Yes, this is where the trouble started.


7pm and the rock is boiling on the stove and I am doing my daily duties around the house before my wife comes home from work.


730pm my wife arrives home, and on a whim we decided to go out for dinner. By this time the water in the pot is full boil so I cut the stove off and place the pot on the back burner.


8pm we leave for dinner and I notice that my nose is tingling much like having allergies. I suffer from hay fever so I know the signs of my allergies coming on. Once we arrived at the restaurant my nose was pouring like I had a cold and my wife started to complain of a tight chest and a cough. We pushed through it not thinking anything of it.


10pm and we arrive home and we are both sick. Thinking that we are both getting the Flu or a nasty cold we bundled up warm to take our dogs out (110lb Lab and 70lb Golden Retriever) to do their nightly duties. I feel short of breath and my wife and I have a nasty headache, even though we are completely bundled up we are freezing cold. After the outing with the dogs we sit down on the couch to relax and watch a bit of TV before we go to bed. Both of us are sick and grumpy. Body aches, headache, sneezing, running nose and labored breathing. We call it a night and go to bed.


1am and the our Lab wakes us up to a flurry of vomiting. We clean it up and go back to bed feeling worse than when we went to bed the first time. Now we cannot fall asleep. My wife is moaning and stating that she feels like she has the Flu. I feel the same and know something is going on in the house. I don't want to alarm her so I refrain from teller her how bad I actually feel as well.


130am and she is asleep but I am noticing both dogs are breathing very heavy and restless. Our Lab gets up and goes into the kitchen and from a weird smell I realized that he defecated. I wake my wife up and we clean it up. by this time she is moaning and groaning. I take the dog out and he walks maybe 20 feet and lays down. Anyone that has a Lab knows this is not typical behaviour for the breed. I got him up, he urinated and the defecated and laid back down. I was finally able to get him in to find my wife back in bed stating that she may want to go to the ER. She stated she felt like she was dying. I have never heard he whimper and moan like this. I was feeling just as bad but pushing through it but felt horrid and almost morbid.


2am and I come up with the idea we have mold issues. We had a flood 2 weeks prior that flooded out my car and made its way into the crawl space below our apartment complex. I search and search for mold but cannot find any.


230am and I walk into the kitchen again. In the corner of my eye I see the pot of boiled rocks and the light bulb in my head went off like a Nuclear explosion. I jump on the PC and search for coral poisoning and find that certain types of zooanthids find their way onto liverock. This is evident in my tank as there are ugly zoos on some of my rock. I then find that these types of polyps contain Palytoxin.


245am and off to the ER for both of us. Prior to leaving I took to pot of rocks and dumped them onto the lawn outside and rushed out.


330am and we are rushed into the ER with difficulty breathing. The Dr and Practitioner see us both at the same time and listen to my story. I explain how I boiled life rock from my saltwater aquarium and think I poisoned myself and wife as well as dogs by these little polyp things that may have been attached to the rock. I still believe that he thought we were nuts and were looking for pain meds. After running our vitals, he finds me with a fever of 101.5, wife @ 101.3 and both of us had high blood pressure readings. He asks me, " do you guys want any pain meds?" My answer was to the effect of "Doc, we aren't druggies, we don't need pain meds, we need to know what they hell is going on." I think that squared that thought process away in his mind.


430am and he comes back with questions about Palytoxin. Imagine that, the doctor is asking me about a toxic substance in corals. He states he has never come across anything like this before and needs more information. I explain to him to read online as there has been a few documented cases of Palytoxin being ingested causing serious side affects. I also explain I am not a Marine Biologist so I do not have any type of info that would pertain to treating it. He states that he has researched it and found a few documented cases, and also called Poison control. Poison control stated that he could only treat the symptoms if the patient was still "alive" and let it run its course. Prior to all this at around the 330 mark I would assume, they started IVs and took blood and urine samples as well as chest xrays. the chest xrays came back with symptoms of Bronchitis.


5am. After our conversation about poison control they gave us Steroid breathing treatments to ease our difficulty breathing and Tylenol for our fevers. He placed us on heart and oxygen monitors and said that its just a waiting game and he will monitor us for a while and we should both get some sleep.


We left the ER at roughly 9pm feeling much better but still in a lot of chest pain. Two days later, both of us are still feeling the effects of the toxin. When we take a deep breath our chest hurts like we have been in a pool or water for too long. Growing up on the beach we called it being water logged. Our abdomens hurt horribly from the violent coughing we are experiencing. We are both on Ventolin Inhalers and 800mg's of Motrin as well as Z-Pack's for any type of bacteria we inhaled. We were also advised to see a respiratory specialist in the near future. Both dogs are fine now, we opened the windows and allowed any residual toxins to vent out.


Going back to the point of boiling, I do not recall if there were any polyps on the rocks. I can tell you I quickly examined them for any life just out of curiosity. I guess I missed something.


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Old 01/12/2013, 11:50 AM   #2
Steve175
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Yep. A guy in our local club almost offed himself by boiling Palys as well. DO NOT BOIL LIVE ROCK EVER!!! Thanks for the thread/You may end up saving someone else the agony.


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Old 01/12/2013, 11:58 AM   #3
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a scary story indeed. A good reminder that alot of the marine inhabitants that we keep are experts at chemical warfare developed over thousands of years of survival. Many doctors are not well versed in the toxins that lurk in our tanks. So we should all take some precautions and educate ourselves on the dangers just in case. Thanks for sharing.


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Old 01/12/2013, 12:02 PM   #4
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What about the dogs!?

Glad you guys are doing better


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Old 01/12/2013, 12:05 PM   #5
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Wow! I am sooo thankful that you, your wife and dogs are all doing better and on way to full recovery!!! Those damn things can be soooo damn dangerous!! I have read many a posts to its dangers!! from irritation to temporarily blindness to your story!
Very Scary!!!! Soooo Glad you are all OK!!!


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Old 01/12/2013, 12:36 PM   #6
superrmario
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Thanks for well wishes guys. I wanted to share this story as a warning to novice and even experienced reefers. I assumed I was going to be flamed for boiling rocks, but received a warm surprise. Thanks again.

I could have sworn that that I have posted here before, but I guess not seeing that this is my second post.

Wife and I are okay and the dogs are fine. Our Lab suffered the most regarding our animals with the vomiting and pooping. Our Golden was lethargic for a day, but both are back to normal. Our cat seemed perfectly fine and not effected.


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Old 01/12/2013, 12:42 PM   #7
dmcrete
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Wow !!

Im Glad your OK,, I Hope also that everybody HANDLEING Live rock And Corals Wear some Sort of glove Protection, Bristle worm sting made me sick, Even when i get fresh shrimp for OUR Dinner, I Have to wear gloves to peel them, My Hands ITCH SO BADddd, And turn Bright red, Some people React differently than others, BUT,, No Need to find that out the Hard way,, Safety first Guys,,
Im Really Glad to hear you and your family (DOGS) R OK,, Great story Lesson,,
Thanks Dennis


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Old 01/12/2013, 12:54 PM   #8
superrmario
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So now that I want to rid my tank of these Hitch Hiker Polyps, anyone have experience in doing so? I cannot take the rocks out since there are a few on basicly every rock in the tank.

Please let me know so I don't kill myself trying to rid them. Much pun intended.


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Old 01/12/2013, 01:05 PM   #9
terirass
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wow, that is indeed a scary story. I had no idea corals could be so dangerous, and I'm glad you and your wife and dogs made it through it ok. I'm definitely going to pass on to my husband that he wear gloves when handling the rocks and corals in our tank. Thanks for passing on the warning.


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Old 01/12/2013, 01:07 PM   #10
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Can you post a picture of the polyps?


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Old 01/12/2013, 01:11 PM   #11
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I dont think rock boiling is all that uncommon. Im glad to hear that everyone is ok. Ive done the boiling route myself. 1 tip I have for this is to do it outside, I have a large stock put that we use for pressure cooking that runs off LP. Ive used that a couple times to boil the rocks outside. Ive also literally cooked them as well, I dont recommend this, I had alot of my rocks literally explode.


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Old 01/12/2013, 01:11 PM   #12
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Im glad you saved the princess. Where's Luigi when you need him.


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Old 01/12/2013, 01:16 PM   #13
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That's scary story.
I knew zoas/polyps contain toxin and if get into a cut can cause breathing and heart issue, but didn't think by boiling them would turn those toxin into a toxic gas. I would only had thought the vapor from the pot is just distilled water vapor.

Well you won't be catching this guy boiling rocks in the near future. I use a different approach to kill LR.


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Old 01/12/2013, 02:01 PM   #14
superrmario
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terirass View Post
wow, that is indeed a scary story. I had no idea corals could be so dangerous, and I'm glad you and your wife and dogs made it through it ok. I'm definitely going to pass on to my husband that he wear gloves when handling the rocks and corals in our tank. Thanks for passing on the warning.
Always wear gloves no matter what.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltwatercoral2 View Post
Can you post a picture of the polyps?
Sure. I attached a few pictures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tickle View Post
I dont think rock boiling is all that uncommon. Im glad to hear that everyone is ok. Ive done the boiling route myself. 1 tip I have for this is to do it outside, I have a large stock put that we use for pressure cooking that runs off LP. Ive used that a couple times to boil the rocks outside. Ive also literally cooked them as well, I dont recommend this, I had alot of my rocks literally explode.
From my experience, I would choose not to do this. Inside, outside doesnt matter. If you or someone else unexpectedly inhales the steam they are in danger.

Quote:
Originally Posted by username in use View Post
Im glad you saved the princess. Where's Luigi when you need him.


Funny. My late fathers Biz partners name was Luigi. No, they werent plumbers either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Painted skin View Post
That's scary story.
I knew zoas/polyps contain toxin and if get into a cut can cause breathing and heart issue, but didn't think by boiling them would turn those toxin into a toxic gas. I would only had thought the vapor from the pot is just distilled water vapor.

Well you won't be catching this guy boiling rocks in the near future. I use a different approach to kill LR.
My next approach is just letting them dry out.










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Old 01/12/2013, 02:05 PM   #15
JaYbIrD1969
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Wow! So sorry for your suffering and very happy everyone is okay. I bet that was terrifying when you put the puzzle together.

I hope this thread stays active for 1000s to see it. Theres only one better thing than learning from our mistakes, and thats learning from others.

Thanks for sharing this.


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Old 01/12/2013, 02:09 PM   #16
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Glad you guys made it out okay. To think, some people have been chastised on this site for suggestions palytoxins can become airborne if the live rock is boiled. It's happened a few times, but some are resistant to that fact. At any rate, I'm happy that light bulb went off and you sought help.

Just another tip, they say not to boil LR because it is also very porous. These small pockets of air expand and can literally cause the rock to explode. I say they, because I've never blown a rock up myself.


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Old 01/12/2013, 02:31 PM   #17
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Wow, i never would have guessed such a thing could happen. Glad you are all okay!


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Old 01/12/2013, 03:44 PM   #18
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You know what else is interesting about this

For the palytoxin to be vaporized and carried throughout the house means every contact surface in the house is contaminated with settled palytoxin, it doesn't just evaporate. So it makes sense to expect every surface in the house as a source of reinfection, thats interesting if it only got you sick through the air and then no thin film exists on all surfaces if air was truly the vector./


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Old 01/12/2013, 03:59 PM   #19
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What a crazy story. A good reminder that as much pleasure as our reefs give us, they can also be deadly as well. We need to be careful and always pay attention. Glad you and your family are ok!


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Old 01/12/2013, 04:19 PM   #20
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Wow what a scary story. Thanks for the info, and lets try to keep this thread bumped so others can read this. Glad all are o.k....Nice tank btw!


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Old 01/12/2013, 04:33 PM   #21
brandon429
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Im thinking you might get sick again...sheets, bed, floors etc?


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Old 01/12/2013, 04:34 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superrmario View Post
So now that I want to rid my tank of these Hitch Hiker Polyps, anyone have experience in doing so?
Try boiling them..

Nah, lol im jk. Glad your okay


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Old 01/12/2013, 04:44 PM   #23
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thank you for this post I too am a newbie getting into it so far never thought of boiling live rock and as a process engineer and some what of a chemical understanding I see how this could be a problem, would I have thought about it at first too probably not. Although we all know a lot of what we deal with are poisonous and as said before masters of chemical warfare your story can help many more of us to not do or take for granted the idea that we rule them all the time, I myself have had a few stings and rough nights but glad that your all OK and good. Thank you for this post!


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Old 01/12/2013, 05:13 PM   #24
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Wow! I'm glad you're OK.

If I were you, I'd get the wife and dogs out for a day or two, get a respirator and some gloves, and thoroughly clean everything in the house. I believe palytoxin is a rather stable molecule. I think water + tsp would be able to remove it from surfaces pretty well.

I've always made a habit of using nitrile gloves while handling live rock or inverts, but I'll definitely be doubly sure to take all precautions now after reading this story :-O. I always did it more for the animal's sake than mine, but sheesh.


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Old 01/12/2013, 05:58 PM   #25
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"Going back to the point of boiling, I do not recall if there were any polyps on the rocks. I can tell you I quickly examined them for any life just out of curiosity. I guess I missed something. "

Sorry to hear this, this is awful. No,you didn't necessarily miss a polyp, many organisms , especially algae and even some bacteria, cyano etc.. contain very toxic substances and boiling will vaporize them. Some dinoflagellates have recently been found to even contain s substance almost identical to palytoxin and just because you don't see dinos doesn't mean there aren't some there. Never, ever boil rocks! I don't know how often i need to post this. Boiling does not necessarily remove organics and can even cause further binding to some extent and does not remove phosphate or other metals etc...

It DOES vaporize toxins.

Bleaching rock is the safest and most effective way to remove organics. Muriatic acid the most reliable way to remove phosphate and metals. Period, never any need to risk you life boiling rocks.


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