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Old 06-24-2010, 01:03 PM   #1
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Talking Let the debate begin - Boxfish Family Toxins

Ok I am new to this site and I guess I will stir up the tank right away.
My question is this.........What is everyones opinion or facts on the myth that the boxfish family (longhorn cowfish)(spotted boxfish) etc. can and do give off a toxin that can destroy and kill everything in a tank? As you can see I believe this to be a myth and have found no hard evidence to back the claim up. I believe it to be an urban legend stemming from people who eat sushi and get sick or die from the toxins. I have had a number of boxfish and puffers and yes some have died but none of my tanks have ever suffered multiple losses. I have a friend that has been in this business for over 30 years and has never seen it happen. He believes that people who lose a boxfish or multiples want to immediatley blame it on the toxin. So with that being said I would love to hear peoples thoughts on the subject!! Thanks alot!

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Old 06-24-2010, 01:30 PM   #2
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Welcome to AA! The Truth is that I just don't know much about them giving off toxins when they die. I know they have poison glands and that's about it.

Happy Reefing,
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Old 06-24-2010, 01:50 PM   #3
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Its not so much when a boxfish dies that they release a toxin, supposedly when they are threatened or scared they release it. So I am told anyway. My thoughts are that yes they may release a toxin but I do not believe it to be strong enough to kill anything just strong enough to be irratating. The store I currently go to (That fish place) Lancaster PA insists that the toxins kill tanks. Almost to the point they were not going to sell me my cowfish because they thought the burrfish I have would be to aggressive. Needless to say with the proper acclimation they are now buddies!
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Old 06-24-2010, 02:38 PM   #4
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Boxfish do secrete a toxin named Ostracitoxin as a defense mechanism when stressed. The amount and lethality of the toxin is relational to the size of the boxfish. If it is tiny like is common among our ranks (1-2 inches) then the amount of toxin it produces when stressed will easily be processed out of our systems with the use of GAC or aggressive protein skimming and depending on the size of the tank it is in, may not cause any effect what so ever. Now if the boxfish is a mature adult and is full grown then the effects of them releasing the toxins can be devastating to a home aquarium as it is a much greater quantity.

Here's a couple links with info about the toxin:
Ostracitoxin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ostracitoxin: An Ichthyotoxic Stress Secretion of the Boxfish, Ostracion lentiginosus -- Thomson 146 (3641): 244 -- Science

In order to read the science article, you gotta subscribe and do other stuff to download the pdf version of the article.
"If your wife ever asks how much something was for your tank, just tell her you got it on sale and you had to have it! She'll understand"

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boxfish, toxin

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