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Discussion Starter #21
We can look at all the historical plagues of the world and I'm sure none was created by man that couldn't naturally occur, or one that couldn't find it's way.

Quote from Pumelo's post:

"If there's one thing the history of evolution has taught us, it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories, and crashes through barriers painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh, well, there it is...."

"Life, uh, finds a way"
Oh my God! He is quoting a movie. I used a line from a very well known movie, to lighten the post a bit. I even said it was from a movie. It's humor. He is using a line from a movie to try and discredit me? Now that is the funniest thing I've seen for weeks!

Seriously though, Sue, if you are going to use my name, spell it right. You don't even have to spell it. Use the quote button.

I wish I could use my favorite line from Dexter. There will be a few imaginatively replaced words, but here it is.

Vince Masuka "That's not opinion. That's science and science is one cold-hearted (person) with a 14-(ounce hammer)":eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:
 

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Oh my God! He is quoting a movie. I used a line from a very well known movie, to lighten the post a bit. I even said it was from a movie. It's humor. He is using a line from a movie to try and discredit me? Now that is the funniest thing I've seen for weeks!

Seriously though, Sue, if you are going to use my name, spell it right. You don't even have to spell it. Use the quote button.

I wish I could use my favorite line from Dexter. There will be a few imaginatively replaced words, but here it is.

Vince Masuka "That's not opinion. That's science and science is one cold-hearted (person) with a 14-(ounce hammer)":eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:
You quoted a movie to use as supporting "evidence" on a possibility that you believe in, and, you do it against with the Dexter quote thinking your opinion is fact. But I'm not a Dexter kinda guy so I'll concede that one to you.

I'm not here to discredit you. I just have a different opinion than you regarding our role in the prevention of a worldwide pandemic.
 

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Xue, my background is in academia. I can say, conclusively, that to theorize as scientific researchers do is not simply to guess.

Do you have a plan for where you're taking this? It seems that your lashing out has run its course and might simply be better if it ended.

OK?
Yes, I agree on scientific theories. People also come up with theories that have no supporting evidence and chytrid in particular - I have never heard it could have been from the hobby. Maybe I'm not in the right circle.

I have a long time friend who is a biologist who has worked on the chytrid trail in salamanders and frogs and have never heard of such a thing.

For about 3 years I helped collect specimen. We worked more with salamanders than frogs and I never actually saw a dead frog but I'm well aware of the disease.

I don't intend to take this anywhere other than stating a difference of opinion. This is far from lashing out. Do we not want opposing views to an unfounded philosophy?
 

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Yes, I agree on scientific theories. People also come up with theories that have no supporting evidence and chytrid in particular - I have never heard it could have been from the hobby. Maybe I'm not in the right circle.

I have a long time friend who is a biologist who has worked on the chytrid trail in salamanders and frogs and have never heard of such a thing.

For about 3 years I helped collect specimen. We worked more with salamanders than frogs and I never actually saw a dead frog but I'm well aware of the disease.

I don't intend to take this anywhere other than stating a difference of opinion. This is far from lashing out. Do we not want opposing views to an unfounded philosophy?
Chytrid is indeed likely a naturally occuring fungus as far as we know, but there are some things to also take into account here:

African clawed frogs do not experience the same symptoms as most other frogs. Because they were traded across the world as pregnancy tests this likely caused the global spread, or at least had a massive impact on it. Similarly, the more recent spread in SE-Asia is currently thought to have originated from imported american bullfrogs, who are also not very affected by chytrid but do carry it.

This is what pumilio is referring to with the dangers of mixing. If you mix an apparently healthy wild individual that carries a hidden disease with another species, this disease can jump across species. Fungi do not work the same way as viruses (who can easily incorporate new genetic material into their own) but there is still al lot of potential for exchanging genetic material between strains/species.

This also applies to organisms that normally do not cause disease. The skin/gut flora and fauna of a frog from S-America could potentially make a frog from SE-Asia ill because of opportunistic taxa and a lack of proper immune respons (I don't have actual frog examples for this, but opportunistic bacteria and yeasts are a well documented phenomenon. I do have a scientific paper showing that skin bacteria are different in captivity compared to wild specimens).

Furthermore a strain that is nonlethal for species occuring in specific conditions can be extremely deadly to a lot of other species in other environments. The apparent susceptibility of chytrid fungus to temperature points to this being partly the case here.

There is a decent chance that the hobby helped the spread of chytrid across the globe and it may also have caused more deadly strains to appear because it could spread to new hosts. Chytrid has several known nonlethal strains (some of the earlier documented cases of it in the 1800s and early 1900s were nonlethal), yet now we see an extremely lethal form going around the globe.
 

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I feel like whilst there is a real but extremely minimal risk here, arguing that mixing species could create novel pathogens and comparing it to covid 19 is so hyperbolic that it's likely to be counterproductive. There are much better and simpler arguments against mixing species.
Also if Doug expected everyone to agree wholeheartedly with his post why bother posting it at all? Seems to me it was desgned to draw out opposing opinions from people like Xue and begin a discussion. None of you have enough authority that anyone is just going to blindly accept whatever you say about best practices regardless of any "background in academia" and it seems pointless to get frustrated with people voicing dissenting opinions as bringing them into the discussion must have been the intent of the original post.
I know that some of you were or are also reefkeepers, has anyone addressed Xue's point about community fishkeeping? did/do you all take the same measures to avoid mixing species from different geographical areas of the ocean or different bodies of freshwater? If not, why? Surely the risk of a novel pathogen escaping into the environment from mixed community fishtanks is far greater as often water from changes is poured straight down the drain.
Mixing species of fish from all around the world has been going on for hundreds of years at a scale that dwarfs the tiny niche hobby of keeping dart frogs, which novel pathogens emerged as a result of this?
I'm not arguing in favour of mixing species I'm just genuinely curious.
Anyone who doubts that what Doug outlines is possible at all just needs to google 'novel pathogens zoos" to see that it's something which does occur but I still think there are simpler arguments that are more likely to actually convince people not to mix species though.
 

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Found some information about problematic fish pathogens actually but I'm still curious about problems arising specifically from the monumental scale of species mixing that occurs in the fishkeeping hobby.

Pathogens capable of inciting disease pandemics are a major global worry. Just look at human concerns about antibiotic abuse and the occurrence of MRSA. Look at recent worries about Ebola outbreaks. Even look at the return of diseases that could easily be prevented in humans, were people not so blinkered and scientifically ill informed about vaccines. Disease pandemics are a major fear.

If you’re a newcomer to the hobby, then whatever you think you know about fish farming – forget it. If you have images of clinical facilities where each and every fish is treated like a newborn infant, then it’s back to the drawing board time. Farms are businesses, plain and simple. The goal is to get young fish out of adults as eggs, to hatch them, and to get them up to saleable juveniles as soon as possible, and that means that pretty much anything is on the cards to get them there. Antibiotics are used where necessary (and maybe even where not), and not just the kinds of antibiotics that you or I might have access to via a vet. Different countries have different laws about what can and can’t be used, and in some it’s a bit of a medicine free for all.

Hopefully we all know the dangers of antibiotic abuse, but in case anyone is unsure, here’s a brief recap:

Antibiotics kill things indiscriminately (the very word 'antibiotic' literally translates as ‘against life’). The idea is that they kill bacteria at a lower dose rate than which they kill the host. So if a fish gets ill, you can poison everything in the tank with antibiotics, and the pathogens making the fish ill should die before the fish does, and then you can stop the antibiotics.

However, if you leave a few bacteria behind, they start to get immune, and can build tolerance to the antibiotic. So, the next outbreak of bacteria will be a bit 'harder' to control than the first lot. Repeat the process, leave a few bacteria behind, and they get harder to kill again, until eventually you end up with pathogens that are so resistant to antibiotics that you’d need to use a dose rate so high that you’d kill the host before the pathogen.

That’s the abridged version, anyway.

The problem of course is that unregulated use of antibiotics over in the farming nations could quite feasibly create a strain of bacteria that our own antibiotics have no effect against. With diseased fish coming in, and no ability to cure them, we wouldn’t stand a chance.

But it’s not just bacteria.

There are a few pathogens on the horizon that are cause for concern at this time. In coldwater fish, there are the dreaded illnesses of KHV (Koi herpes virus) and SVC (Spring viraemia of Carp), both of which have the potential to cause massive problems to Cyprinids. Not so long ago, massive wipeouts from the former blighted farms across the world, causing losses on unmentionable scales in both ornamental and food fish culture. Here in the UK, some retailers faced the furious backlash from introducing the disease to consumer’s ponds. One was even driven to bankruptcy over it.

In the tropical world, I am very twitchy about Tetrahymena pyriformis, otherwise known as Guppy disease (though this is unfair as many fish are susceptible). This disease can cause massive mortality at breakneck speeds, especially in farm, wholesale and retail environments. I’m not the only one worried about this particular pathogen, either.

What is so very infuriating is the ‘wait and see’ attitude of some traders. This is not a disease to ignore, and to do so is not just at your own peril, but that of the entire industry.
 

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Chytrid is indeed likely a naturally occuring fungus as far as we know, but there are some things to also take into account here:

African clawed frogs do not experience the same symptoms as most other frogs. Because they were traded across the world as pregnancy tests this likely caused the global spread, or at least had a massive impact on it. Similarly, the more recent spread in SE-Asia is currently thought to have originated from imported american bullfrogs, who are also not very affected by chytrid but do carry it.

This is what pumilio is referring to with the dangers of mixing. If you mix an apparently healthy wild individual that carries a hidden disease with another species, this disease can jump across species. Fungi do not work the same way as viruses (who can easily incorporate new genetic material into their own) but there is still al lot of potential for exchanging genetic material between strains/species.

This also applies to organisms that normally do not cause disease. The skin/gut flora and fauna of a frog from S-America could potentially make a frog from SE-Asia ill because of opportunistic taxa and a lack of proper immune respons (I don't have actual frog examples for this, but opportunistic bacteria and yeasts are a well documented phenomenon. I do have a scientific paper showing that skin bacteria are different in captivity compared to wild specimens).

Furthermore a strain that is nonlethal for species occuring in specific conditions can be extremely deadly to a lot of other species in other environments. The apparent susceptibility of chytrid fungus to temperature points to this being partly the case here.

There is a decent chance that the hobby helped the spread of chytrid across the globe and it may also have caused more deadly strains to appear because it could spread to new hosts. Chytrid has several known nonlethal strains (some of the earlier documented cases of it in the 1800s and early 1900s were nonlethal), yet now we see an extremely lethal form going around the globe.
The mixing of animals in the amphibian and reptile hobby are very minimal as far as I have experienced, and again, the likeliness that we start something is not one that I think will happen. Our animals are contained in our homes for the most part, and they themselves are contained inside an enclosure with minimal handling, if any.

If the premise of the conversation was that our hobby could potentially spread diseases then I think we would all agree that we can and possibly may have contributed.

The introduction of non-native species to the local environment is a far more probability in my opinion, like the pythons in Florida and Asian Carp in the Mississippi here in the states.

It's a different conversation.
 

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Most people who keep/acquire fish, amphibians, reptiles are not hobbyists that think about pathogens, the future of the industry, or even the environment.

They are casual enthusiasts who are drawn to the exotic appearance, and mythical low maintenance of herpetofauna.

The internet is a study in itself - a psychodramatic Serengeti of paradoxical input/output.

Many undescribed diseases outside the radar have occurred. Were these self limited by the isolative factor of singular ownership?

A large % of ill herps that reach the treatment tables of exotics-treating practices are treated empirically, because of limited diagnostic equipments (in comparison to human medical facilities) unwillingness of client to spend money, and unknown, yet unstudied etiologies.

The vast array of bodies compared to human medicine, who's doctors must learn Only One Model, is demanding of awe to the Veterinarian that endeavors to treat exotics patients.

The catch 22 of the propagation, wild collection, and distribution of living animals being an industry means the bigger it gets the more risk there is of biological mishap.

Human actions are unlimited and impossible to control. I am truly, truly biting my tongue on this understatement.
 

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Here is another angle.

Among other things, I do a lot of fishing.

People often use bait from the ocean or other parts of the country/world and toss it in the local lake, for catfish especially. Sometimes they even use animals packaged as food for bait. Lots of Asian markets have wild caught fish and frogs, bugs, etc. packaged foods. I'm sure some of those end up in local bodies of waters and I'm sure if any diseases were on them could have been deposited.

I haven't done this specifically because I don't fish for catfish, but I have used packaged foods from Asia in the ocean. I've also used them to feed my aquarium fish, fresh and salt.
 

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None of you have enough authority that anyone is just going to blindly accept whatever you say about best practices regardless of any "background in academia"
You're quoting me -- witheringly, or it at least comes off as such -- so I'll reply.

That reference to my background was mentioned in order only to establish that I have the experience necessary to speak knowledgeably about the comparison between "theorizing" (which I took to mean 'hypothesis formation') and "just a guess"; I thought that launching into a discussion of the scientific method would have fallen on deaf ears. I made no reference there to best practices. No one in this thread has made a 'best practices' argument from authority, as far as I recall, so your accusation is unjustified.

Nor is anyone requesting that someone accept anything "blindly"; I don't know why you'd make that claim, unless it were to be "hyperbolic". I linked to two sources that show the existence of novel pathogen formation through genetic transfer; if that's not enough evidence to show that such a mechanism exists, I don't know what would be.

This fact (that such a mechanism exists) itself makes it unnecessary to search for examples in the ornamental fish industry. Maybe such examples are known, maybe they are not; it wouldn't prove anything about the current discussion either way. Doug's point was that it is a known mechanism, and that mixing species in captivity is a possible locus for that mixing to occur. That's all. The Covid-19 part was a different argument, "another way" (there's the marker for a shift in argument) -- a way that involves not genetic mixing but species-crossing. This argument is relevant in a discussion of mixing species in vivs, which is I assume why he made that case here.

Also: maybe there are simpler arguments as to why not to mix species. I think there are, too (on a certain reading of 'simpler', anyway), but that does not diminish Doug's argument in the least. We are not here to learn only the simplest truths; we are here to learn all the truths.

That specific background I mentioned: my Master's was in evolutionary theory (evolutionary moral psychology, specifically) and my minor field of study at the PhD level was the philosophy of science. If someone doesn't think that qualifies a person to (as I was doing up there, recall) make a distinction between scientific hypothesis formation and mere guessing (which actually is a completely non-contentious, middle-school-level claim), then I simply don't know what to say.
 

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I sense a hint of provocateur in your posts, Xue.

I smell it sharply in your last.

Yes, people blithely use the world around them as their own table and toilet.

Thanks for the reminder, Xue.
 

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Discussion Starter #33 (Edited)
I'm just fine with Xue and Louis posting that the risk is minimum, then defending their stance. Yes, that is exactly what this forum is for. I love it. No, not for the argument. Every time somebody posts, postive or negative, this thread gets top posted again for everybody to see. Every time somebody replies, positive or negative, The "replies" count goes up on the dendroboard home page. Every time the "replies" count goes up, The "views" count goes up. Every time both of these numbers climb, and thread gets top posted, this thread looks more and more interesting to visitors.

I already know that Xue won't change his stance. That doesn't matter. All that matters is that more and more people see this thread.
Plenty of people see the difference between science, and people's limited experience. It doesn't matter how limited or extensive one person's personal experience is. It doesn't matter what one person's opinion is.
Are you ready for this one? It doesn't matter what my opinion is, and it doesn't matter what my experience is.
Science tells a story that cannot be refuted. So please, if you find this utterly ridiculous, keep posting!


In all seriousness, friends, if you have an acquaintance with the attitude, "whatever happens is gonna happen", STAY AWAY FROM THEM! Covid 19 is real, and the attitude that whatever is gonna happen, is gonna happen, is a good way to check yourself into a hospital!!
Stay safe, and stay smart.
 

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Internet discussions are a mutation of discourse. There are integral elements missing, and an 'audience' peer factor added.

If you present an item that strikes a note of veracity, that causes the 'original doubter' to question their own position, it will, because of the audience factor and human ego, instigate even more heel grinding and defense of premise, even as they read information that they didnt have exposure to before, that privately makes them realize they are wrong.


So its good this is here.

Mechanisms exist. Being responsible means letting that be enough to influence your behaviors.

The world and its life do not belong to your wants.
 

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What's your point?

There are many zoos that dont even allow other than designated primate keepers anywhere near great apes, their night houses or prep rooms.

This zoo has decided to enable interface of otters and orangutans, as a part of mental enrichment. It is also attractive from a visitors draw standpoint.

But many zoos would go in a different direction. Animals that come in contact with their own waste matter per vehicle of water situ can pose an infectious risk.

This particular zoo has decided or has otherwise taken some measure, to allow interaction.

It is probably very entertaining for the orangs. And same here in the thread.

You've proven no point by adding it, but it did make me smile.
 

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What's your point?

There are many zoos that dont even allow other than designated primate keepers anywhere near great apes, their night houses or prep rooms.

This zoo has decided to enable interface of otters and orangutans, as a part of mental enrichment. It is also attractive from a visitors draw standpoint.

But many zoos would go in a different direction. Animals that come in contact with their own waste matter per vehicle of water situ can pose an infectious risk.

This particular zoo has decided or has otherwise taken some measure, to allow interaction.

It is probably very entertaining for the orangs. And same here in the thread.

You've proven no point by adding it, but it did make me smile.

This particular zoo is often frowned upon by most other zoos in Belgium.

It does not particularly care for conservation based breeding programs and it still allows people to feed the animals (leading for example to massively obese ring-tailed makis because they get cookies etc from people). The reason it gets to do this kind of stuff is because it is privately owned and goes more for the sensation based entertainment for attracting more visitors.
 

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This has been a most interesting discussion thread! Thanks Pumilo for initiating it! The timing and format of the discussion was, of course, very likely to engender a response. I do fear it's blurred the gradients in viral transmission a bit. Mixing species in an enclosure, whether it be frogs or tropical fish is most likely (note: here I am using "likely" as a vernacular statement relating to probability) to wipe out your charges, and far less likely to create a global pandemic in novel lineages. Not impossible of course. At the scale of loss from a single keeper, it may well be that this does happen on the regular with tropical fish. We are in no way setup to track and uncover that in the millions of fish keepers around the world. Same would apply to herps, fwiw.

Creating a global pandemic in humans... Well that, interestingly is the exact same process from the stand point of a virus. You have to clear some hurdles, but the process is the same. You need to be able to get into a new species; that is access. You need to able to evade the immune response (immune responses vary wildly across the tree of life). You need to be able to replicate within the new host. But that of course is the sing point jump, which may happen far more often than we are comfortable thinking about. The last hurdle is that you need to be able to spread between your new hosts. Once you've cleared that, you are free to access a new resource, whether that is sweeping through a hobbyist's collection, or across the sea of humanity that spans the globe.

Engaging ways to think about this form the propensity for wildlife to human end:

https://ensia.com/features/covid-19-coronavirus-biodiversity-planetary-health-zoonoses/

If you prefer a film here is one from some friends of mine:
https://www.pbs.org/spillover-zika-ebola-beyond/watch-videos/
 

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Damn, does this mean I shouldn't have different species of rainbow fish from Australia and New Guinea mixed together ?
I'm not in favour of mixing species in vivariums but I'm still genuinely curious about this

Louis said:
I know that some of you were or are also reefkeepers, has anyone addressed Xue's point about community fishkeeping? did/do you all take the same measures to avoid mixing species from different geographical areas of the ocean or different bodies of freshwater? If not, why? Surely the risk of a novel pathogen escaping into the environment from mixed community fishtanks is far greater as water from changes are often poured straight down the drain.
I've never seen mixing species discussed in the same way on reef or aquarium forums and I know that Pumilio for example was a reefkeeper and coral farmer. Presumably he never kept any community aquariums, never bought or sold any live rock, strictly isolated species from different areas and sterlisied all of the waste water generated before disposing of it but I really want to know if there's a reason why this potentially isn't as much of a concern for fishkeepers or if it's just something that's overlooked given that people have grown used to keeping community aquariums for hundreds of years without, as far as I'm aware, creating any novel pathogens. As of 2012 in the US there were an estimated

73 million homes with more than 151.1 million freshwater and 8.61 million saltwater fishes. During the past decade, fishes were one of the fastest growing categories of pets in the U.S., increasing in ownership by more than 20% over the previous decade [1]. Ornamental fishes sold in the country are both bred domestically and imported from abroad [2], [3]. More than 90% of live non-domesticated wildlife imported to the U.S. during the period 2000–2006 was freshwater and marine ornamental fishes, originating largely from Southeast Asia, and totaling ∼1.1 billion individuals. On average, ∼18 thousand shipments and ∼187 million live aquarium fishes were imported annually, 99% of which were intended for commercial sale in the pet industry.
In terms of scale and risk keeping dart frogs seems almost insignificant in comparison and as Pumilio was involved in this trade I'm sure he must have previously addressed this issue.
I am not advocating for mixing species of amphibian. don't mix species. I am genuinely interested in seeing this point addressed though if someone has any specific knowledge.
 
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