Red Tide Toxins May Also Impact Your Home Aquarium and Your Health

First Posted: Jan 18, 2016 01:18 PM EST

The Red Tide isn't just something you find in the ocean. Scientists have found that these "red tide" algal blooms can also occur on a much smaller scale among home aquariums.

There are many that raise brightly colored tropical fish and coral at home in their own aquarium. These small bodies of water are miniature, dynamic ecosystems. While this means that they can thrive, it also means that they're susceptible to the same issues that can be found in the wild, such as the harmful toxins that algal blooms release.

In fact, some owners have reported fevers, difficulty breathing and flu-like systems after using hot water to clean their aquaria. Hot water on rocks that harbor algae and other creatures can create steam that can then be inhaled. However, there is little scientific evidence to shore up this link.

In this latest study, the researchers developed a method to rapidly test aquaria for toxins. They used their procedure to sample the soft coral and synthetic seawater from a home system when a family of four in the Netherlands fell ill and ended up in the hospital about 45 minutes after cleaning their aquarium.

What did the researchers find? It turns out that samples had high levels of palytoxins, which are among the most potent non-protein marine toxins known and a possible cause of red tide health effects.

The findings are published in the journal Environmental Science &Technology.

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