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Thread: Which corals use neurotoxins?

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    Senior Member new2saltyfish's Avatar
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    Default Which corals use neurotoxins?

    I've seen it discussed before about paly corals having neurotoxins and was wondering if anyone new any other types of corals that have neuro toxins as well? SPS, LPS? Any specific corals?

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    Old Sea Dog jason401's Avatar
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    so keep palys away from other corals?

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    Many different corals excrete all kinds of toxins that's how they wage chemical warfare on each other
    60g deep blue shallow rimless, mixed reef, 150g basement sump, photon 48 led, acan addict

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    Some zoas will mess u up pretty good. Search zoanthid poisoning. Can cause blindness. Always use rubber gloves when fragging

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    Oh yes zoas and palys have the second most deadly toxin. Don't stick your hands in the water and then rub your eyes or mouth and don't eat till you wash your hands. For all the men out there I would wash before going to the bathroom also.
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    Senior Member inverted's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by s_kelley View Post
    Many different corals excrete all kinds of toxins that's how they wage chemical warfare on each other
    I'm curious, do you have a reference to this that wasn't written by Eric Borneman? As far as the scientific literature goes there seems to be only a few papers that have ever suggested such a thing and none of them really ever really went anywhere. It's a common belief in the hobby, but does not appear to be a common belief of marine biologists.

    What happens in nature and in our small, closed systems can certainly differ though. Corals absolutely do contain toxins, but my understanding is that they are generally to deter predation or prevent surface fouling by algae, diatoms, bacteria etc... I'm not sure that these are often if ever "neurotoxins" per say, but they can be quite potent toxins. Palyotoxin for example is very potent, but it doesn't seem to be released into the water unless the coral is damaged. They are organic though and should mostly be readily removed via GAC. When working on zoas or palys, certainly it's a good idea to wear gloves and eye protection, respiratory protection, especially if cutting them out of the tank. I'm not aware of others that are much of a concern for human health though, although there could be.

  7. #7

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    "I'm curious, do you have a reference to this that wasn't written by Eric Borneman?"
    Five minutes on Science Direct will give you many references.
    Is there an issue with Eric Borneman references?


    Isolation and characterization of a novel protein toxin from fire previous coral
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
    Volume 365, Issue 1, 4 January 2008, Pages 107-112

    Some toxicological characteristics of three venomous soft corals from the Red Sea

    Faisal F.Y Radwana, b, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Hosney M Aboul-Dahabb, Joseph W Burnettc
    a Békésy Laboratory of Neurobiology, Pacific Biomedical Research Center, University of Hawaii, 1993 East-West Rd, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
    b Zoology Department, Sohag Faculty of Science, South Valley University, Sohag 82524, Egypt
    c Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, 405 W, Redwood Street, 6th FL, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA

    Abstract

    Three common Red Sea soft(Cnidaria: Anthozoa), Nephthea sp, Dendronephthya sp and Heteroxenia fuscescens
    sting humans. Nematocyst venoms of each animal are lethal to mice and hemolytic to human erythrocytes.
    However, these hemolysins are partially inhibited by known anti-hemolytic agents

    A polypeptide toxin from the coral Goniopora: Purification and action on Ca2+ channels
    FEBS Letters, Volume 202, Issue 2, 7 July 1986, Pages 331-336
    Janti Qar, Hugues Schweitz, Annie Schmid, Michel Lazdunski

    Toxic effects of alcyonacean diterpenes on scleractinian corals Original Research Article
    Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Volume 188, Issue 1, 17 May 1995, Pages 63-78
    T.L. Aceret, P.W. Sammarco, J.C. Coll


    Competitive strategies of soft corals (Coelenterata: Octocorallia). II. Variable defensive responses and susceptibility to scleractinian corals☆

    Paul W. Sammarco, John C. Coll, Stephane La Barre
    Australian Institute of Marine Science, P.M.B. No. 3, Townsville M.C., Queensland 4810, Australia
    Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia


    Received 29 January 1985; revised 20 May 1985; Accepted 30 May 1985. Available online 31 March 2003.
    Abstract

    Interactions involving competition for space between several species of alcyonacean and scleractinian corals were assessed experimentally on Britomart Reef, central region of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Colonies of three soft coral species, Sarcophyton ehrenbergi Marenzeller, Nephthea brassica Kukenthal, and Capnella lacertiliensis Macfayden Forskal (Coelenterata:Alcyonacea) were relocated within stands of two scleractinian corals, Parités andrewsi Vaughan (= P. cylindrica Dana) and Pavona cactus Förskal (Coelenterata:Scleractinia). Undisturbed scleractinian and relocated alcyonacean controls were also monitored.

    Alcyonacean corals induced necrosis of tissue in scleractinian corals. Necrosis was significantly more pronounced when colonies were in contact but was also observed in the absence of contact, implicating the presence of active allelopathic agents. Scleractinian coral species varied in their susceptibility to the ill effects of alcyonaceans, with Pontes andrewsi being more susceptible than Pavona cactus. Of the soft corals, Nephthea caused the highest degree of mortality in the two scleractinian corals examined and Sarcophyton the least. Some soft corals appear to retain their toxins while others release them, implying a combination of anti-predatory and anti-competitor roles for the secondary metabolites. Scleractinian corals were often overgrown by soft corals.
    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. - Henry David Thoreau

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    Moderator s_kelley's Avatar
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    Ummm wow! Just got way too technical for me lol. I get my info from various reef/coral/aquarium sites, books, magazines, etc. Nothing I can readily cite tho. Sorry
    great thread with great info tho
    60g deep blue shallow rimless, mixed reef, 150g basement sump, photon 48 led, acan addict

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    Senior Member inverted's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by me2003 View Post
    "I'm curious, do you have a reference to this that wasn't written by Eric Borneman?"
    Five minutes on Science Direct will give you many references.
    Is there an issue with Eric Borneman references?
    Whoops almost missed this.
    5 minutes on science direct will not provide references showing corals release allopathic chemicals and these chemicals act through the water to effect other corals.
    This may happen, but this really hasn't been shown in corals. There is some evidence from sponges and IIRC recently there was something regarding trunicates (at least since the beginning of 2010, as that was the last time I read throughout the literature).

    The articles you mention look familiar though...
    It has been shown that corals contain chemicals and the chemicals can effect other corals (but not that they are released).

    It also has been shown that corals show negative effects when in proximity to other corals. However, this also is not proof that corals are releasing allopathic chemicals. It could just be that the corals are harboring bacteria or other pathogens that are effecting the other corals for example... Actually, it has recently been hypothesized that even many toxins often associated with corals are not from the corals, but rather from microbes living on the coral.


    There is nothing wrong with Eric Borneman references, except that he has pushed the chemical warfare hypothesis as fact, when in the scientific literature, there isn't any such conclusion, at least not that this is a common phenomena, as accepted by hobbyists.



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    too many gadgets to fail Aquaman_68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by me2003 View Post
    "I'm curious, do you have a reference to this that wasn't written by Eric Borneman?"
    Five minutes on Science Direct will give you many references.
    Is there an issue with Eric Borneman references?


    Isolation and characterization of a novel protein toxin from fire previous coral
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
    Volume 365, Issue 1, 4 January 2008, Pages 107-112

    Some toxicological characteristics of three venomous soft corals from the Red Sea

    Faisal F.Y Radwana, b, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Hosney M Aboul-Dahabb, Joseph W Burnettc
    a Békésy Laboratory of Neurobiology, Pacific Biomedical Research Center, University of Hawaii, 1993 East-West Rd, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
    b Zoology Department, Sohag Faculty of Science, South Valley University, Sohag 82524, Egypt
    c Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, 405 W, Redwood Street, 6th FL, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA

    Abstract

    Three common Red Sea soft(Cnidaria: Anthozoa), Nephthea sp, Dendronephthya sp and Heteroxenia fuscescens
    sting humans. Nematocyst venoms of each animal are lethal to mice and hemolytic to human erythrocytes.
    However, these hemolysins are partially inhibited by known anti-hemolytic agents

    A polypeptide toxin from the coral Goniopora: Purification and action on Ca2+ channels
    FEBS Letters, Volume 202, Issue 2, 7 July 1986, Pages 331-336
    Janti Qar, Hugues Schweitz, Annie Schmid, Michel Lazdunski

    Toxic effects of alcyonacean diterpenes on scleractinian corals Original Research Article
    Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Volume 188, Issue 1, 17 May 1995, Pages 63-78
    T.L. Aceret, P.W. Sammarco, J.C. Coll


    Competitive strategies of soft corals (Coelenterata: Octocorallia). II. Variable defensive responses and susceptibility to scleractinian corals☆

    Paul W. Sammarco, John C. Coll, Stephane La Barre
    Australian Institute of Marine Science, P.M.B. No. 3, Townsville M.C., Queensland 4810, Australia
    Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia


    Received 29 January 1985; revised 20 May 1985; Accepted 30 May 1985. Available online 31 March 2003.
    Abstract

    Interactions involving competition for space between several species of alcyonacean and scleractinian corals were assessed experimentally on Britomart Reef, central region of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Colonies of three soft coral species, Sarcophyton ehrenbergi Marenzeller, Nephthea brassica Kukenthal, and Capnella lacertiliensis Macfayden Forskal (Coelenterata:Alcyonacea) were relocated within stands of two scleractinian corals, Parités andrewsi Vaughan (= P. cylindrica Dana) and Pavona cactus Förskal (Coelenterata:Scleractinia). Undisturbed scleractinian and relocated alcyonacean controls were also monitored.

    Alcyonacean corals induced necrosis of tissue in scleractinian corals. Necrosis was significantly more pronounced when colonies were in contact but was also observed in the absence of contact, implicating the presence of active allelopathic agents. Scleractinian coral species varied in their susceptibility to the ill effects of alcyonaceans, with Pontes andrewsi being more susceptible than Pavona cactus. Of the soft corals, Nephthea caused the highest degree of mortality in the two scleractinian corals examined and Sarcophyton the least. Some soft corals appear to retain their toxins while others release them, implying a combination of anti-predatory and anti-competitor roles for the secondary metabolites. Scleractinian corals were often overgrown by soft corals.
    I enjoy a good touche!!! Everything as far as I'm concerned it is all speculation.... no matter how u slice it or how intelegent u sound in ur explanation!!!!If u drink gasoline is it toxic ? Yes...If a car drinks Gasoline is it toxic? No.... (unless it is a diesel)

    It's all relative to what the comparison is..........two corals may have similar weapons to ward off predators or for survival purposes...so would that b considered a toxin to ea of them?

    I know this is the advanced reef forum....not the super ultra advanced... (maybe we should have a forum "chemists in the reef hobby discussion" !!)
    Last edited by Aquaman_68; 01-04-2012 at 09:48 PM. Reason: Yep I did.....
    For those of you that don't know me I eat humble pie daily. I regularly post pics in the photography forum... got any pudding??

  11. #11

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    1. You agree that corals contain chemicals that harm other corals.
    It has been shown that corals contain chemicals and the chemicals can effect other corals

    2. You state that corals show negative effects when in proximity to other corals.

    Your hypothesis is that some unknown bacteria or pathogens is causing the damage instead of the chemical already in the corals.
    The "in proximity" would tend to support a toxin over a bacteria or pathogens which would cause damage over a larger area.
    Nature has exceptions and in many cases it can be all of the above. Bacteria, toxins, viruses,symbiotic microbes creating toxins etc.
    "not that this is a common phenomena, as accepted by hobbyists." An aquarium is very different than nature so it may be more common
    in an aquarium than nature.


    Also one of the articles states
    "Some soft corals appear to retain their toxins while others release them, implying a combination of anti-predatory and anti-competitor roles for the secondary metabolites."

    I believe there is more evidence to support the chemical warfare hypothesis. From a practical stand point, I have see many corals
    damaged or destroyed by being touched or near another coral. There are threads on which corals are the most toxic.



    "Alcyonacean corals induced necrosis of tissue in scleractinian corals. Necrosis was significantly more pronounced when colonies were in contact but was also observed in the absence of contact, implicating the presence of active allelopathic agents."

    "Some soft corals appear to retain their toxins while others release them, implying a combination of anti-predatory and anti-competitor roles for the secondary metabolites."
    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. - Henry David Thoreau

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    Senior Member inverted's Avatar
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    First, since I'm sure not everyone cares about the details, just to get back to the OPs question. The point of bringing this up was we know a lot less about toxins and chemical defenses in marine organisms than some in the hobby have led on, or themselves believe. The general conclusions that can be reached are often quite limited as in reality not much is now regarding these topics. Many people in the hobby seem to believe that this stuff is well understood and take it for granted as fact, when it isn't. If it were, answering the OPs question would be possible, but with a few exceptions, such as palytoxin, it generally is not.

    As to comments, for those who do care about the details....

    Quote Originally Posted by me2003 View Post
    1. You agree that corals contain chemicals that harm other corals.
    It has been shown that corals contain chemicals and the chemicals can effect other corals

    2. You state that corals show negative effects when in proximity to other corals.

    Your hypothesis is that some unknown bacteria or pathogens is causing the damage instead of the chemical already in the corals.
    The "in proximity" would tend to support a toxin over a bacteria or pathogens which would cause damage over a larger area.
    Maybe, maybe not, that wold depend on the mode of transmission, ability to survive away from a host, currents etc... It's certainly reasonable to me to think that bacteria, viruses, protozoans etc.. may in some cases only be able to "jump" short distances to new hosts. Perhaps even toxins, if released are actually from microbes, which can jump to different animals (see below) and are not coral specific.

    Quote Originally Posted by me2003 View Post
    Nature has exceptions and in many cases it can be all of the above. Bacteria, toxins, viruses,symbiotic microbes creating toxins etc.
    "not that this is a common phenomena, as accepted by hobbyists." An aquarium is very different than nature so it may be more common
    in an aquarium than nature.
    Certainly, I agree 100%. There can be extenuating circumstances in a small closed system, such as an aquarium. Chemicals, not normally toxic in the ocean may rise to more dangerous levels in a small, closed system. Pathogens may accumulate to higher levels. Stressors may reduce immune response or resistance and result in negative effects otherwise not observed in nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by me2003 View Post
    Also one of the articles states
    "Some soft corals appear to retain their toxins while others release them, implying a combination of anti-predatory and anti-competitor roles for the secondary metabolites."
    Which article are you referring too? I can take a look, but I know I've read through these before and as I recall, there was nothing more than conjecture.



    Quote Originally Posted by me2003 View Post
    I believe there is more evidence to support the chemical warfare hypothesis. From a practical stand point, I have see many corals
    damaged or destroyed by being touched or near another coral. There are threads on which corals are the most toxic.
    As far as being "touched" I'd agree that there is a lot of evidence, and I'd consider that basically fact for all intents and purposes. There isn't really much of a question as to whether nematocysts, mesenterial filaments and other stinging cells exist, or that they can be used for aggression. However, I wouldn't consider that chemical warfare, but rather physical aggression. What I'm arguing against is the notion that chemical aggression, through the water, without contact is a fact, as many in the hobby assume. As far as I've seen, at best, there is very limited evidence for this. As far as which corals are more physically aggressive, there are some general rules, although, in reality, these can vary greatly by specimen.

    Quote Originally Posted by me2003 View Post
    "Alcyonacean corals induced necrosis of tissue in scleractinian corals. Necrosis was significantly more pronounced when colonies were in contact but was also observed in the absence of contact, implicating the presence of active allelopathic agents."
    "Implicating", there are many other possible explanations.

    Quote Originally Posted by me2003 View Post
    "Some soft corals appear to retain their toxins while others release them, implying a combination of anti-predatory and anti-competitor roles for the secondary metabolites."
    Again, "implying". Until a mechanism is shown, it's always a bit wishy-washy to draw any definitive scientific conclusions. For example, just because the hobby literature dosn't discuss it, other, perfectly valid possibilities exist. For example, in addition to alternative hypothesis mentioned, it isn't even clear that these compounds are from the corals themselves. Even the metabolites may be from other organisms living on the coral. For example see Outz and Proksch (2010) "Chemical Defence in Marine Ecosystems"

    "Summary

    Nature has provided a broad arsenal of structurally diverse and pharmacologically active compounds that serve as highly effective drugs or lead structures for the development of novel drugs to combat a multitude of diseases. Traditionally, terrestrial organisms represent the richest source of natural drugs. Considering the fact that over 70% of the surface of the earth is covered by oceans that harbour a rich biodiversity, aspiration in marine bioprospecting as a viable counterpart for the discovery of bioactive compounds from the terrestrial environment seems justified. Interestingly, the majority of marine natural products involved in clinical or preclinical trials is produced by invertebrates, which is in contrast to compounds derived from the terrestrial environment where plants by far exceed animals with respect to the production of bioactive metabolites. The fact that bioactive metabolites are predominantly found in sessile or slow-moving marine organisms that lack physical defence structures thus appears to reflect the ecological importance of these compounds with respect to inter- as well as intraspecific interactions, for example predation, competition for space and fouling. Numerous natural products from marine invertebrates show striking structural similarities to known metabolites of microbial origin. This fact suggests that microorganisms such as bacteria and microalgae that often live associated with marine invertebrates are at least involved in the biosynthesis or are in fact the true sources of these respective metabolites in many cases."

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    Senior Member inverted's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Aquaman_68;1034748]I enjoy a good touche!!! Everything as far as I'm concerned it is all speculation.... no matter how u slice it or how intelegent u sound in ur explanation!!!!If u drink gasoline is it toxic ? Yes...If a car drinks Gasoline is it toxic? No.... (unless it is a diesel)

    LMAO

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquaman_68 View Post
    I know this is the advanced reef forum....not the super ultra advanced... (maybe we should have a forum "chemists in the reef hobby discussion" !!)
    It's a fine line for sure, but reef keeping can get "super ultra advanced". When people introduce concepts to the hobby, which are based "super ultra advanced" concepts, it's tough to critique without resorting to "super ultra advanced" concepts.

    Hopefully, the basic ideas and opinions presented in a way which can be followed without following all of the the "super ultra advanced" details. In some cases, I think it is still better to provide the details so, others, who are inclined have the opportunity to critique... I do see your point though

  14. #14

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    Some of the discussion can get advanced and this is an advanced forum. You do have to respond with some references on occasion.
    It is also important to try to clearly state your interpretation of the information so it is not to "super ultra advanced". There are three current
    threads "anyone run skimmerless tanks?","Which corals use neurotoxins?", and "Derasa Clam" (http://www.reef-geeks.com/forums/cla...ing-truth.html)
    that have a lot of references but hopefully people can follow the discussion. I also have an issue with claims that are made with no research or
    with evidence to support the claim. It is also a good point to make sure the discussion is understandable to the readers.

    There are also a lot of organisms you can add to your tank that may be dangerous to you or damage other corals.
    Fire corals, zooanthids, venomous fish,fire worms , Urchins, Mycobacterium marinum ... all marine aquarist should know about in detail.
    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. - Henry David Thoreau

  15. #15
    too many gadgets to fail Aquaman_68's Avatar
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    Oh I agree totally.....& without the discussions there r many who never learn....It's the "insurance form/mortgage type theme" that is presented that makes me chuckle... not by u I may add.... We r in the advanced forum.. right place for this discussion....But sometimes we do have to throttle down the details to help the less experienced....This way they r not overwhelmed!!! outside of this advanced forum I see advanced diologue...& it kills me..... cause most people r blown away....Not me......I've been around the hobby a long time & researched like most others do not.... But I refrain from the scientific language most times because it turns people off or scares them because it sounds to complex!!! Just my take & others may not agree..some people have a good hold on breaking things down for the less experienced to understand.... Others don't or I feel they don't ....but that is IMHO....

    No defense by this post from me in any way....just explanation....
    For those of you that don't know me I eat humble pie daily. I regularly post pics in the photography forum... got any pudding??

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    Senior Member inverted's Avatar
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    I honestly have trouble following what you say a lot of the time, but have no issue with you posting

    I'm curious though what an "insurance form/mortgage type theme" is with respect to "which corals use neurotoxins" though? And why it makes you "chuckle"?

    Moving on... you can post your opinion without the details and be criticized for over simplifying, or you can post too much and be criticized by someone else for being too technical. Sometimes, different people will criticize you for both reasons, for the same post! People who state their opinion as fact, without explanation, turn off some people. While others prefer to just be given the "answer" and are turned off by technical discussion. You can't please everyone. Really, the best you can do IMO, is take the time to provide a well thought out answer, with a reasonable explanation. Sometimes people will ask questions, which may lead to more technical explanations. That turn of the conversation may turn some off. However, I'd personally respect someone more, if they tried to explain something to me, even if I had trouble understanding, than I would someone who just assumed I should listen to them, because "they know". So, I'll always try to extend the same courtesy to others... If some don't like it, well .... (insert euphemism here)

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    Senior Member new2saltyfish's Avatar
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    Good discussion! i've been reading along with everything so far. I myself also found that article when i google'd before i posted and figured i'd get everyone else' opinion. I myself just bought a pair of aqua gloves (just in case) but i dont feel i've had an adverse effects thus far handling any of the corals in my tank. I think i'm going to stay away from paly's just in case though from what i've heard which is fine cause they don't do too much for me anyways lol.

  18. #18
    too many gadgets to fail Aquaman_68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by new2saltyfish View Post
    Good discussion! i've been reading along with everything so far. I myself also found that article when i google'd before i posted and figured i'd get everyone else' opinion. I myself just bought a pair of aqua gloves (just in case) but i dont feel i've had an adverse effects thus far handling any of the corals in my tank. I think i'm going to stay away from paly's just in case though from what i've heard which is fine cause they don't do too much for me anyways lol.
    So on a simple response to ur comment!! "trying to finish my chuckle!!!" after being in this hobby for close to 14 years.. (that is the reef side) & another extra decade with a SWFO tank......I have this to add.......There is no doubt neuro toxins r in all corals.... Call it bacteria, simple or not...IDC.... I have found in myself personally that the tolerance to touching corals with bare hands has somewhat changed over the years...The reaction I've experienced when I brush against stonies I've housed for many years has changed.... from rashes to numbing....it's present now & wasn't for close to a decade....I haven't labored over a test tube or done a study with others. I have not broke down the neuro toxins in a nice educated formula!! I feel personally....The reason to be very simple....My natural filters in my body r most likely tapped to the max...( I don't have scientific data...But I do know my body.....) I say personally...I wonder how much damage I've done over the years to my liver, Kidneys or whatever natural filters in my body responsible for filtering toxins....& that is a direct issue I know that is present from handling corals with bare hands... I'm not going to do a google search & cut & paste some scientific explanation to sound ultra intelegent.......


    & I'll go out on a limb here & say this to all other than the creator of this thread...Pretty sure this thread subject was opened up for this reason by the creator..

    Wear Gloves Now!!! Some day we will have the true answer to this question....Not speculation thru a few studies!!!
    Chemistry class is over for a few mins!!!!
    Can we get back To Reefing? Before I go to:


    Last edited by Aquaman_68; 01-06-2012 at 11:45 AM. Reason: for the cute icon!!!
    For those of you that don't know me I eat humble pie daily. I regularly post pics in the photography forum... got any pudding??

  19. #19
    Senior Member inverted's Avatar
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    The discussion certainly appears to fall within the mission statement of the forum.
    http://www.bostonreefers.org/forums/...-of-this-forum. As someone relatively new to the forum, this is what I have to go by. I have learned to keep technical discussion to a minimal in the "reef talk" forum, however this is the "advanced" forum.

    Certainly, if the OP would prefer less technical discussion? that is fine and reasonable.
    Re-reading this thread however, there is nothing more technical than anything commonly found in a typical, Advanced Aquarist, Reefkeeping, Coral Magazine article etc... These have been staples and driving forces in the hobby longer than I have been in it. It is also a relatively common level of discussion for various other forums. If you believe such topics shouldn't be discussed in the advanced forum, perhaps you should petition to change the stated mission of the forum and perhaps, rename it.


    Now, getting back to reefing, I looked into the quote:
    "Some soft corals appear to retain their toxins while others release them, implying a combination of anti-predatory and anti-competitor roles for the secondary metabolites."


    It comes from:
    Sammarco et al (1985) " Competitive strategies of soft corals (Coelenterata: Octocorallia): II. Variable defensive response and susceptibility to scleractinian corals."

    In this study, the authors tested a few combinations of hard coral, soft coral interactions, after transplantation of the corals. In these experiments, there was no significant evidence of allelopathy at a distance, through water.

    It looks like the authors hypothesized that this occurs in some corals, based on a previous study, similar study,
    (Sammarco et al (1982) Competitive strategies of soft corals (Coelenterata: Octocorallia): Allelopathic effects on selected scleractinian corals), where in one instance, out of the few tested, they observed slowed growth of a hard coral. (So, one of many experiments... showed an effect at a distance, although the mechanism was not identified).

    Of particular interest to the OP, the authors primary reference for toxicity of soft corals appear to be based on Coll et al. (1982) "Chemical defences in soft corals (Coelenterata: Octocorallia) of the Great Barrier Reef: a study of comparative toxicities."

    In this study, extracts were taken from 136 soft corals and were tested to see if there was toxicity to fish. Toxicity was categorized, in 4 categories, ranging from "non-toxic" to "very toxic" based on a combination of observations, ranging from behavioral changes to mortality. Of the corals, 48% were "non-toxic", 23% were "harmful", 27% were "toxic" and 21% were "very toxic". It should be noted however, that this is just an extract; the actual toxins are not identified and concentrations therefore are not standardized. Likely many organisms will contain toxins, at varying concentrations, which under natural conditions are not a threat to other organisms. There have certainly been other, more recent studies however, providing more details about certain toxins. So, I do not doubt toxicity. The best you can do however, if be cautious, wear gloves, don't drink the water etc...
    Last edited by inverted; 01-07-2012 at 10:32 AM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Sean Irwin's Avatar
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    I think you're asking some great questions and I love that you're demanding evidence. That's what science is all about. Bravo!

    1980's? That's a lifetime in Science. I think you'll find some more current references on coral allelopathy if you spend at little time using google scholar (scifinder doesn't cover as many topics or journals). Also keep in mind that funding for coral reef ecology is minute compared to say, Cancer Biology. Therefore, these studies are never going to be as thorough.
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