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FAQs about Sea Cucumber Feeding

Related Articles: Sea Cucumber, Marine Scavengers, Sand Sifters

Related FAQs: Sea Cucumbers 1, Sea Cucumbers 2, Cuke IDs, Cuke Behavior, Cuke Compatibility, Cuke Selection, Cuke Systems, Cuke Disease, Cuke Reproduction,

Most species are "slimer uppers", a few are filter feeders, not many in the aquarium trade are predaceous, but some are quite dangerous if disturbed, like this Pseudocolchirus violaceus (Theel 1886), (Australian) Sea Apple.

Hello, I've found another new critter. 2/5/11
As I'm sure you may be getting used to from me. This one is a cucumber, brownish green upper body, pink belly with black and yellow feeding appendages.
<Ah yes>
this picture is the best I could get at the time, hopefully after tomorrow I will have a better one for you. Currently he is about 1" with tentacles outstretched. I'm sure he is harmless, but I'm interested in his species, mature length, dietary requirements and what night.
<Mmm, don't know, but if it "appeared" out of nowhere, there is likely sufficient foods in your rock, substrate to support it. Bob Fenner>

Pink and Green Cuke (Another common tale) -- 12/21/10
<<Greetings all>>
We have had a pink and green sea cucumber for a few months in a 200 gallon tank with live rock and various fish.
<<Marvelous creatures, but is a filter-feeding species that requires a bit of specialized care -- and are best kept in mature reef-like settings with very high water quality and an in-line refugium to provide planktors/natural food items. Even then, many succumb slowly to starvation without some kind of supplemental feeding. Start reading here and among the links in blue at the top of the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacukes.htm >>
He seemed to be doing fine until recently when he began to not put his feeding tentacles out and every few hours he twists his top half and seems to squish out his bottom half to make it seem fatter. (photos are attached).
<<I see these>>
We recently inherited the care of the tank and are curious what he is doing.
<<Mmm, possibly responding to some imbalance in water chemistry 'but almost certainly this animal is on the decline - from starvation>>
All of the chemical levels test at a good level except nitrates,
<<This could/would be a factor if levels measure much above 5ppm>>
which we are working on but our tap water has high nitrate levels and would like a recommendation on what to do about that as well.
<<Several options (see here/the associated links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm ), but for long-term use I would go with a RO/DI unit to treat your tap water top and salt mix use>>
Thank you in advance,
<<Happy to share>>
The staff at Wolf Furniture
<<It's not likely you will be able to save this specimen. Also be aware these animals are toxic to varying degrees (depending upon species, and maybe even time kept in captivity)'¦and release said toxins upon death/decomposition. Depending on its level of decline, you might be able to trade/give this animal to someone with a system better equipped to keep it. Eric Russell>>

Pink & Green Cucumber Question 1/14/06 Hi,<Hello Mordy> Thanks for taking the item to answer all these questions, you are an invaluable resource. <Thank you.> I purchased a pair of pink & green Cukes described by the online vendor as Holothuria sp., what I got however was a pair of Pentacta anceps. They certainly look nicer but I am not sure how to feed them. Are they detritus eaters or filter feeders? They are in a heavily stocked FOWLR & Inverts 125 gal tank running for about two years. Water parameters are stable and within all normal ranges. Mordy, they are detritivores feeding on particulate and dissolved organic matter. Phytoplankton/zooplankton is on the menu also. They do require food on a daily basis or they will shrink up and waste away. In an aged tank such as yours there should be enough food supply to sustain one. Keep in mind injured Cukes may release mild to potent toxins into the water. James (Salty Dog)> Please advise. Mordy Eisenberg

Black Sea Cucumber Problems (3/29/04) Hello to whomever is at the helm today. <Steve Allen at your service tonight.> I have a question about my black sea cucumber that I got about one year ago. When I first got him, he ate the sand in my tank, and I would see pellets of sand coming out the other end, but after a week or so, he left the bottom of the tank and would spend his time on the live rock, and on the back of the tank. Now he is much skinnier and doesn't move much at all. <very concerning.> If I put him on the sand he will crawl back into an upper corner of the tank and just sit there. Did I get a specimen that is doomed to starvation? <Probably> I thought they eat sand and digest the detritus that they take in. <Yes. It sounds like there's not enough food in the substrate.> Could he be eating algae off the tank glass? <not likely> I have a 2-21/2 bed of sugar fine aragonite. <Could be that it needs a little coarser substrate if it is fairly large, but I am uncertain.> PH usually 8.1-8.2, SG 1.025. No ammonia, Nitrite or nitrate. Any advice on my lethargic Cuke? <You might want to try target-feeding with frozen Cyclop-Eeze. This may work. Unfortunately, it sounds like it's wasting away. May be to late. Do some more searching on the web. Consider starting a topic at www.wetwebfotos.com do get other opinions.> Thanks for your help, and I really enjoy your website! Cord. <Good luck with this. If the Cuke is obviously dying, take it out before it starts to disintegrate and let out toxins.>

Cucumbers What do most cucumbers eat? Also What is the best thing and way to feed them? >> Most species in the world (and all the ones I'm familiar with in the trade/hobby) are detritivores... using their tentacular "head" to scrounge up small living things from substrates. There are other feeding modes (of other "wild" cucumber species... some are walking, swimming predators...). The best thing to feed them, is actually "nothing"... that is to instead rely on placing them in a suitable setting where they slowly feed on what they can find in the way of detritus... In a well-established reef setting. Bob Fenner

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