Just because you’re building a saltwater enclosure doesn’t automatically mean that you can keep just any organisms as pets. After all, the ocean has a wide variety of animals, and we don’t even know if we’ve discovered all the secrets surrounding its depths. Some of these creatures can be harmful to you and other specimens nearby even if they look cute and harmless. Let’s explore some of the most dangerous marine life to keep in an aquarium and why you should start out with tamer species instead.
Stonefish are some of the coolest looking organisms skirting the ocean floor. Their rock-like bumps and coloring allow them to blend in with their surroundings while they graze sand beds for food. However, what makes them dangerous is their highly potent venom. Stone fish have several spines along their backs that inject poison into predators, requiring immediate medical attention. So, despite the novelty of owning one yourself, it’s recommended that you steer clear.
Lionfish can also present a safety hazard in a home aquarium. Like the stonefish, they have several spines that disperse toxin when predators are nearby. Though their distinct color scheme and size make them a desirable pet for hobbyists, it’s best you avoid handling them. Lionfish poison can cause severe headaches, nausea, and pain, but, on the plus side, it isn’t usually fatal to humans.
Another of the most dangerous types of marine life to keep in an aquarium is, believe it or not, a species of coral. Zoanthids are a unique coral species in that they’re the only colonies that produce a substance called palytoxin. This material can absorb into the body through the skin and cause an individual to get very sick. Palytoxin poisoning is a real threat to those keeping these corals. As such, beginners to the hobby should purchase other kinds of corals instead. Though, you can keep them if you know how to properly handle them.
Snails don’t often come to mind when we think of dangerous predators—but the cone snail is a noteworthy exception. With very powerful venom and a skewer-like, hollow teeth, they kill their prey quickly before feeding. So, if you’re looking to make this species a part of your home collection, think again.
Avoiding these species when populating your tank can ensure that you’re not only minimizing your risk but keeping your ecosystem safe as well. Because of this, make sure you talk to knowledgeable aquarium builders about your options and what to know, should you decide to purchase one of these marine organisms as a pet.