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GSPs . . . Poisonous when handled?


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#1 Alaskan

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 08:34 PM

I have a question regarding Green Spotted Puffers (GSB) and would appreciate some clarification. Is it possible to be poisoned by one of these fish from handling? Essentially, what happened according to a customer, was that the GSB died, and puffed up. Shortly thereafter, the remaining fish in the tank also died and after the customer's daughter removed the GSB, she needed to spend the night in the hospital. So, is this likely, or even possble? I've handled GSBs before, and while I've never been poisoned. Granted, I've never touched one while puffed up, and always wash my hands afterwards. Anyways, any replies or comments are welcome.

#2 Sawyer

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 09:56 PM

Yes, they have toxin in their spines. Like if a fish bit a GSP, the fish would be harmed/die from the poison. I can't remember whether it can hurt a human who has been poked by one though.
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#3 Alaskan

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 01:04 AM

Alright, thanks for the info. From what I gathered, it was a pretty young child.

#4 brianjim

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 07:01 AM

I found this excerpt from a Mike Hellweg article (he is a TFH magazine contributor).

"It is important for hobbyists to note that this toxin is only produced in some species of blowfish, and it is entirely diet related. Levels of the toxin fluctuate throughout the year based on the availability of the food items that are the source. Synthesis of the toxin requires both certain bacteria and a certain type of algae that grows on the shells of certain mollusks. Both must be ingested in quantity by the puffer in question. If either of these items is absent from the diet, no toxin is produced.

In marine (and some brackish) species, this toxin is called tetrodotoxin. It accumulates mainly in the organs, with only a small amount accumulating in the flesh. In freshwater species, the toxin is called saxitoxin and it accumulates in the flesh. Eating the flesh of these freshwater fish can cause (and has caused) death, hence the source of the rumors.

Without the dietary sources, the toxin in wild-caught puffers dissipates with time, as evidenced by the seasonal fluctuations. Though I have found much hobbyist-based speculation (often stated as fact) on the Internet, I have found no scientific evidence to support the idea that C. travancoricus ever, even in the wild, synthesizes saxitoxin. That is not to say they donít, just that I have not seen any scientific evidence that they do; the only freshwater puffer species that I have found in the literature associated with saxitoxin is Tetraodon cutcutia.

Dwarfs in captivity do eat small snails. Small snails are generally very young and havenít had time for any algae to accumulate on their shells. On rare occasions when dwarf puffers in captivity do eat larger snails, they usually eat only the flesh and not the shell. So itís not likely that they ever ingest enough of the necessary algae in the wild-if it is even found in their habitat- to synthesize the toxin.

It all boils down the simple fact that captive-raised puffers do not produce the toxin if they are not exposed to these specific bacteria and algae in their diet. There is nothing for the hobbyist to fear, even if the toxin is found in wild-caught dwarfs, it canít harm you unless you eat the fish!

In my research for this article Iíve read anecdotal evidence (again, on the internet, so consider the source) stating that larger fish that have consumed dwarfs have died soon thereafter. Whether this is a result of poisoning or of the little fish inflating itself and getting stuck in the larger fishís digestive tract is never noted. I was unable to find a single instance where either a necropsy or any toxicology screening was done to verify the cause of the larger fishís death. To be safe for both the puffers and larger fish, I would not recommend keeping the dwarfs with any fish that can swallow themÖ"
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#5 LilGreenPuffer

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 01:16 PM

It's only dangerous if you start eating the puffer's internal organs, and even then, as brianjim said, it would probably have to be a wild-caught puffer.

BTW, brianjim, that's a different species in your quote.
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#6 Alaskan

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 08:37 PM

Okay, thanks again for the information. I didn't think it was possible, but you never know.




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