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Tang Sting

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  • Tang Sting

    If you are unfortunate enough to get stung/pricked by a tang tail barb, keep calm because the pain is about to get a lot worse. Although they are technically not poisonous, there are irritants present on the barbs.

    The barbs are extremely sharp and they will slice through your skin with ease. Here's a couple of things you can do:

    1) Check the fish. I've never heard of it happening, but it's always possible that the barb could break off. If the fish looks hurt, make sure the barb isn't in your hand/finger.
    2) Get your hand/finger in some hot water, as hot as you can stand for about 60 minutes. This should help denature some of the proteins in the poison/toxin/irritant.
    3) The finger will start to swell and the pain will progressively get worse. After the hot water dip, get some ice on it. This will ease the pain and relieve swelling. Elevate if possible.
    4) Ibuprofen is appropriate as a pain killer and will relieve swelling. ***See indications on box before using this drug***
    5) There is a potential for infection due to the bacteria on the fish. If possible, see a Doc to get a prescription for some antibiotics. If you can't see a Doc, just keep an eye out for infection.
    6) Most of the pain will be gone in 24 hours and the swelling should subside within 72.

    Hope that helps. Remember, this is just a guide. If it's really bad, get to a hospital or call 911.


  • #2
    Got nailed by one of my tangs this past Saturday... let me tell you what... that crap set me on fire for about an hour. I have a very high tolerance for pain and this about made me cry especially since it was right under my fingernail.

    Here is how it went... I was feeding my fish in the 180 some flake food and as I was waving in the initial bunch the tangs came up and I think I startled one and it slapped my finger. At first it was like a needle jabbed me and I knew something got me but I didnt know whether it was a Tang scalpel or a fin from a fish. Then the pain started coming on and I knew something was up. When the pain elevated to a certain level I went up stairs and told Alex to go out to the garage and get Mandy while I was in the bathroom running my finger under cold water. As the pain increased I told her to start looking up the Various Tangs to see if any were poisonous because even though I didn't believe so, SOMETHING got me and it HURT and I just had to figure out what. She found that none of the tangs were technically poisonous but the Blue Hippo Tang is poisonous to eat. I was wondering if maybe I got lanced by its dorsal fin and part broke off under the skin. Then I read that some tangs have irritants as well. She tried to use a Sting Stop for bee/wasp stings and that totally didn't help... in fact it did the exact opposite. That actually did make me cry a bit I think... I hurt so bad and Mandy was saying sorry sorry sorry as I was sitting there bouncing up and down laughing at her and trying not to cry. After about another 15 minutes with my finger under cold water I took some pain relievers and wandered into the kitchen. I survived a couple minutes before the pain returned and I stuck my finger under the cold water in the kitchen sink for another 10-15 minutes. Eventually I could stand the pain long enough to sit on the couch and just hold my finger. Sleeping was difficult and it still was throbbing and red for the next 24 hours. It is now Tuesday morning and I am typing fine but it still is tender and I can see the nice little slice at the top of my finger right below my nail.

    Tip for Tang hits... cold water and pain killers help but not at first.. the first hour is going to suck, period.


    • #3
      WOW! Thanks for the heads up. I had no idea that could even happen. I hope you are better now!