How NOT to frag zoanthids

by | Oct 29, 2012 | Advanced Aquarist | 0 comments

How NOT to frag zoanthids

Palythoa variabilis, brown zoanthids. Photo by Brian Gratwicke / Flickr.

We have covered how potentially dangerous fragging zoanthids are to reef hobbyists. Certain species are loaded with palytoxin, a naturally occurring toxin that is one of the most deadly natural toxins known with an LD50 of 300ng/kg in mice. LD50 means that 50% of mice dosed with just 300ng/kg body weight died when subjected to palytoxin (one nanogram is one BILLIONTH of one gram!). It is very potent and is not something to toy with when fragging.  Scientists noted in their PLoS ONE paper that a single zoanthid polyp contained 600ug palytoxin, which is enough to kill 1,000 mice. A simple slip of a razor blade or rubbing a mucous membrane like the nose or eye could lead to serious injury and hospitalization when working with zoanthids.

Adrienne Longo-White shared her experience with palytoxin in her first-hand account last year and recently we reported how a 3reef member was  blinded in one eye simply by rubbing her eye after handling a rock containing zoanthids.  Palytoxins from zoanthids are not something reefkeepers should take lightly.

That is why we wanted to mention this youtube video (below) by fishinaddict94. In his video “how to frag zoas,” he demonstrates (obviously) how to frag zoanthids. In our opinion, however, this video actually serves as an example on how not to frag zoanthids. Here are the dangerous mistakes seen in his presentation:

  1. He is not wearing nitrile gloves
  2. He is not wearing razor-proof gloves, which is especially important given how close he potentially comes to cutting himself during his fragging session
  3. He is not wearing safety glasses


It is not our intention to shame well-intentioned aquarists looking to help others, but it’s extremely important that all reefkeepers learn the proper handling of potentially harmful organisms we keep.  If you are going to work with potentially dangerous animals, you need to take the proper safety precautions. Some may say we are overly cautious, but our motto is: Safety first.  You are given only ten fingers, two eyes, and one life. Don’t chance any of them by not practicing safe animal handling. It takes just one mishap.



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