Reefkeeping Dangers


Great info!!! Thanks to all who contributed, great to know info even if it does scare. I suppose knowledge of the dangers is the best tool to use. Learned a few things I hadn't heard of, I've been pretty cautious lately and will be more so in the future, Long tank gloves will arrive soon. I'm giving more thought to a uv sterilizer and ozone too!!


I have been stung badly by a 8" long Lionfish and let me just say its something you will never forget. My finger turned into a hotdog while I was trying to Google the remedy. Hot water seems to be it.

I hand feed my fish now because they are all mostly Tangs and its fun. My Unicorn Tang lets me pet him. I have some pictures posted of this. They will nip my skin occasionally but it doesn't hurt. Anyone else do this or have any advice why I shouldn't? I always keep an eye on my Foxface because of his spines but other than that does anybody see anything dangerous about it?


Well-Known Member
Dangerous to you or dangerous to the fish?
Really it is both but I would be more worried about the fish since they don't have a choice and you do.
As I'm slowly getting back into aquariums. I know the dangers and I had always used gloves. back between 94 to 98 my salt water fish tank, I had 2 Lion Fish, 2 Green Wolf Eels, 2 Morey eels(forgot which ones), and 5 other that i forgot what they where, but everything in this tank was aggressive.

Both of the Lionfish stuck me hand at the same time and as i was removing my hands out of the tank one of the green wolf eels decide to chance my hand as i was pulling it out and came to close biting me.

I remeber the pain I was in from both lion fish. and since then I had always weared shoulder length gloves. and use them when i messed around all of my aquariums. This is something I will have before that first tank either setup or before it finish it's new tank cycle.

I'm glad that I came across this thread, to remind me of the dangers that can lurk, and especially with reef tanks, since this is what I want to build most of all.


I'm sure it's rare but septicemia is something we as humans can get from playing around in the water of the aquarium. All that takes is an open wound. Septicemia is blood poisoning but that can be deadly if not taken care of properly. Fish can get Septicemia as well so anyone who has seen this in their fish should take this seriously.

Tuberculosis is another possibility that may be spread from your fish to us humans.

Going to buy gloves now. I never realized the bumps on my arm that appear a day or so after doing water changes was anything other than where my skin may have been aggravated. I had never given it a thought that it may be dangerous.



was doing a water change today. at the end i noticed that a couple of pieces of foam needed a rinse. so, (without gloves)i pulled them out and gave them a quick swish and squeeze in a bucket of water. as soon as i squeezed the first one my hand started itching! i quickly put my gloves on for the second one. when i finally got to take a look at my hand i found a few of these on it. apparantly something really tiny( bristleworm?) is living in the foam. i won't make that mistake again.


Well-Known Member
I thought it was time for a bit of a :D bump here...yeah I know I didn't hit the bump face...hey I was too lazy to look for anyway with new people posting I thought they should be made aware of this topic and read read read.....:fishy2:


New Member
Bristleworkm stings are really irritating. They can hurt for a few days. I've heard that vinegar works if you use it right away.


Active Member
If taken seriously the dangers are miniscule and perfectly fine to deal with but precautions are important when dealing with saltwater tanks. Many folks get away with it and will say "i never had an issue.." .
Coral toxin exposure from fragging is bad/dangerous- always wear gloves and goggles when fragging (and keep mouth closed to prevent squirts), wash hands well before doing anything else

worm sticks, anemone stings, coral abrasions all have potential for sensitization and becoming serious (as in anaphylaxis).

Best advice is keep hands out of tank unless gloved. and you could contaminate tank too so better for all.


I'll share my experiance with my tank. i was in the tank moving something around and never really felt anything until i took my hand out of the water. It started to burn but i thought it was just because my hands were dried out and the saltwater was bothering them...... I was wrong. within minutes it looked like the top of my hand had bubbles underneath my skin. I didn't go to the ER but it went away a few days later!! It was a bit scary at the moment though. To this day i have no idea what exactly happened.




Active Member
hypersensitivity reaction to something (could be anything) in your tank. it has a good chance of being as bad or worse the next time, so would be careful.


New Member
That reminds me of nudibranchs. They can appear in different forms depending on the species and an unsuspecting aquarist would thought that it is okay to touch them. Their bright coloration never fails to attract attention though but the toxin can be extremely poisonous.