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FAQs about Sea Cucumber Stocking/Selection

Related Articles: Sea Cucumber, Marine Scavengers, Sand Sifters

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

Eviscerated sea cucumber      2/1/19
Hi Wet Web Crew,
I received a sea cucumber from an on line retailer that had completely eviscerated it's intestines into the shipping bag.
<Not uncommon... this "throwing up ones guts, respiratory apparatus, gonads... IS a defensive mechanism of Holothuroids>
The water was quite cloudy and nasty with large bits of innards. The retailer suggested putting it into my Quarantine tank to prevent nuking my show tank,
<Good idea>
but I already have fish in quarantine that I have no intention of sacrificing. The cucumber's color looks OK, but it is quite large and potentially full of toxins. Is it safe to put into a 200 gallon show tank
after flushing out all the dirty water? Regards, Doug
<I would put it in another chemically inert container... and flush this out with system water a few times over hours time before placing it in the main display. Bob Fenner>
Re: Eviscerated sea cucumber

Thanks as always for great advice. DC
<Certainly welcome mate. BobF>

Sea Cucumber for my 11 year old, please help!      2/24/15
<Miss M.>
I have an 11 year old son who has been studying sea cucumbers and really wants one for his Birthday. However, as I have been trying to research it has become overwhelming.
<.... Just focus on what is written/archived on WWM... it is sufficient; though certainly not complete>

We do not nor will we plan on having an aquarium that is very large or has many creatures. I already own a small tank that we had for some Beta fish several years ago.
<.... there are no freshwater Sea Cucumbers>
Is there any chance you could give me a list of exactly what I would need to buy (including which type of sea cucumber) to give this to him as a gift?
<Livestock makes for very poor gifting... Might I suggest... a book or perhaps a gift card instead?>
I would really really appreciate your help.
Thank you.
Meg Card
<The reading on WWM. Do you need help using the search tool, indices? Bob Fenner>

Angler and Cuke   9/21/11
Hi all,
I was wondering if I would be able to keep a Cuke with an angler. I read in a post that a sea star, snails, and urchins may be fine, but I'm afraid if the angler gets froggy (pardon the pun) and attacks the Cuke, it would wipe them both out, and everything else in the tank. Please and thanks!
<Should be fine, GIVEN you choose a non-Cuvierian tubule species... BobF, out in Labasa where the beche de mer biz has about wiped out all Holothurians>
Re: Angler and Cuke   9/21/11

Mr. Fenner, I appreciate the quick response on both accounts! My lfs has many Cukes in the holding tank, how would I determine which would expel its innards from sight alone?
<Ahh, need to identify to species...>
The one I have my eye on is black and spiky and is a substrate cleaning type, rather than filterer. Once again, please and thanks!
<Do see/read on WWM re the group. BobF, out for deep diving/collecting>

Re: Fish Compatibility Question Actually 'And Conch Eggs Too? Conch & Cuke sel.  - 04/17/10
Yes! You hear singing - fortunately (for everyone else) there are no mountains near me or I would be singing from the top of them!
I wonder though... Why did no one at my second favorite LFS indicate that the conch I was so interested in would be too big for my aquarium?
<<Mmm well, can't say for sure not knowing them, but'¦ As for the conch, Strombus alatus needs a 100g+ system with more sand (4' deep or more) than rock for a happy lifetime'¦Strombus gigas will need likely three times this volume>>
Actually that's a rhetorical question - I realize that they want my 20 bucks.
-I read that conches can lay up to half a million eggs at a time - but it sounds like I am not going to be making my first million by selling baby conches for $2 a piece at the next frag swap (big sigh) :)
<<Yeah, I used to think I could finance my hobby by selling SPS frags locally 'if it were only that easy, eh?>>
Fortunately, I can take the bad news with the good - eventually I will need to get rid of the conch, so I am not planning on getting too attached. I was merely looking for something to keep my substrate nice and clean. I have gotten past touching crabs, snails, conches, shrimp... but I am not sure I am ready to handle the creepiness factor of a sea cucumber,
<<Some are actually quite good sand sifters/detritivores'¦but don't expect one to keep your substrate all 'clean and white'>>
and the dreaded "Cuke nuke" frightens me.
<<The more commonly available sand-sifting species (e.g. -- Holothuria hilla or Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber and Holothuria floridiana or Common Atlantic Sea Cucumber) pose only a small hazard re, in my opinion. I have kept these since the late eighties without incident>>
(In case I am being too subtle, (ha-ha) I am fishing for suggestions here - if you are so inclined,
<<One of the above mentioned Cukes, with some Nassarius and Cerith snails, and a Brittle Star>>
do feel free to tell me that "Cuke nukes" are over rated)
<<The potential is always there 'but I have even heard 'speculation' that in a captive system the toxicity of these creatures may even decline over time. At any rate, if the animal is not being 'attacked,' I think you have small reason for concern with the species mentioned>>
But on the bright side my Sixline wrasse is going to be fat and happy for a while and.... I think I am going to be getting a beautiful blue fish to complete my palette, which if memory serves, brings me to exactly what I was looking for to begin with! TA DAH!
<<Now how does that saying go'¦oh yeah'¦'Yes, Virginia [Chris!], there is a Santa Claus''¦>>
I plan to follow up with you to let you know how things go
- your wisdom has been invaluable and your patience with my unrelenting droning over a blue fish have been positively inexhaustible.
<<Has been my pleasure>>
I am expecting a good result - and I would like to be able to let you know that your efforts were not wasted!
<<If only one person ever reads/benefits from 'it is never wasted. Not to mention the opportunities provided to expand my own horizons>>
Thanks again - as always!
Chris K
<<Be chatting my friend! Eric Russell>>

Compatibility of fishes: Adding Cukes or Nudi's to an established system. 4/16/2009
Hi there, how are you today?
<Hi Ingrid, great, thank you.>
I have a question about my fishes compatibility. I got a 95 gallon of salt water 70 lbs live rock with live sand.
I want to add some sea cucumbers or sea slugs (Nudibranch) to my tank that already has:
- 1 Choco Chip Starfish (hasn't eaten any fishes yet, I feed her daily with dried Mysis shrimp, she goes to the top every time I feed the other fishes) medium size.
<You may want to try feeding other, meaty foods as well. have a read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstarfdgfaqs.htm >
- 1 blue banded Coral Shrimp medium size.
- 1 medium crab .
- 3 Turbo Snails small size.
- 1 Yellow Tail Damselfish 1 inch size.
- 1 Blue Damselfish 1 inch size.
- 1 other damsel (cant figure it out his name his black with yellow tail but sometimes its black look dark blue, I think it's a blue and gold damselfish, not sure) 1 inch size.
- 2 clownfish 1.5 inch size.
- 1 blue tang (like dory from Nemo movie, lol) 2 inch size.
-1 Scooter Blenny 1 inch size.
<Sounds like a sensibly stocked tank.>
So I want to know if I add the sea cucumber or/and sea slug (Nudibranch) is it going to be fine with the rest of the fish, like not eaten or wont give trouble to other fish.
<Nudibranchs are notoriously difficult to keep. They usually have very specific diet requirements that can be difficult, if not impossible to maintain in an aquarium. They also release toxins when stressed or when they die.>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/MolluscPIX/Gastropods/Opistobranchs%20Sea%20Slugs/Nudibranchs/nudibran6.htm >
<Cucumbers can also be are less difficult to keep, but can poison and wipe out a tank in their own right. Do read the following pages carefully before deciding to put one in your tank:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cukeselfaqs.htm >
Also what other type of fish can I add, I know I cant add a lot of fishes but I want to know what types can I add..
<For your system, you are about at your maximum.>
Thank you very much
<My pleasure.>

Tigertail Cucumber, Is It Ok In A Refugium? 10/23/09
<Hello Adrian>
I have 2 Tigertail Cucumber<s> in my 56 gal tank. One is 3 inches and the other one is 10 inches when expanded.
<Will get much, much larger than that.>
Because the big one is depositing sand all over my corals, I decided to move him in my 30 gal refugium (3''sand on the bottom but full with Caulerpa). Do you see any negatives with the fact <it> is in my refugium?
Also, should I ever feed the refugium? I figured out some of the food from the main tank will excape <escape> into the refugium anyway. Thank you for your knoledgeble <knowledgeable> opinion.
<Adrian, if it were me, I wouldn't keep the cucumbers at all, find a home for them. They can be more problematic than do good. Do read here.
James (Salty Dog)>

Yellow or Tigertail Sea Cucumber and Tuxedo Urchin, sel.  11/15/08 Hi again! Ok, so I have another question: Which is better for my 24g? A Tigertail or Yellow Cucumber? <Um, neither? 24g is just too small for these animals (imo). I did some looking around on your site, and apparently these are some of the best (attractive/display) cucumbers to have in a tank. Right now, I'm leaning towards a Yellow Cucumber due to its small size, but because of the lack of water volume, I'm worried that it may be too toxic for my aquarium to handle. <That, and, these animals have feeding requirements that make them poor choices for small tanks.> Also, will the Potter's Angel (which I mentioned in an earlier post) pick on it? What about a Tuxedo Urchin? Would it bother one or both of these animals? <Likely not... but again, Urchins are usually better off in larger tanks... with more to feed on. In small tanks they also tend to cause trouble by knocking things over.> And how compatible would they be with my Red and Blue Reef Tip and Blue Banded Hermit Crabs? The only one of my hermits that has ever caused any sort of problem is my Blue Banded Hermit, which ate two rather unhealthy (they had moved under a small rock for some reason and stayed there) Florida Ricordeas and left my healthiest one alone, despite all of them being right next to one another. I've had it (the crab) for a while now and no other problems with it have ever arisen. Does this mean that as long as the cucumber is kept healthy my crab will leave it alone? Or is it best not to risk it? <I would look into animals better suited for "Nano tanks"... though 24g would be considered a "large" Nano tank (oxymoron, I know), you're still quite limited in what you can keep in such a small tank. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysstkgfaqs.htm to start.> Thanks so much for your help! <Best, Sara M.>

Sea Apple = A-Bomb  03/25/07 I am completely heartbroken and devastated.  All the fish in my main saltwater tank (135 gallons) were just killed by a Sea Apple that eviscerated while I was at work except for three fish.   <Unfortunate, but all too common.  I am sorry for you loss.> Only two paired Ocellaris Clowns and one Blue Green Chromis survived.  Fifteen others sadly died, including four cleaner shrimp.  Apparently this happened when my local electric company temporarily terminated electricity and my equipment turned off.  I came home to find the devastation, dead fish everywhere and the worm-like insides of the Sea Apple were all over the tank.   <Such is the risk of keeping Holothuroids in a populated tank.  Evisceration is really more of an eventuality than a risk.  It most likely WILL happen and at an inopportune moment.> By the way, there were all kinds of unidentified creatures in the tank that I have never seen before, some were crab-like, others had shapeless forms and were about a half inch wide, what are these things? <Various Polychaete worms, and other crustaceans most likely.  Impossible to say for certain without a photo, even then exact I.D. is hit or miss.> Fortunately I had a second tank where I put the three fish (24 gallon Nano).  They seem to be doing OK.   <This is a good thing.  Why don't you have a Quarantine tank?> Unfortunately, I have a pair of established Tomato Clowns that immediately started hassling the Ocellaris' and the Chromis so I caught one of the Tomato Clowns and put him in a ventilated breeding unit to isolate him from the others.  I am working on catching the other which is hiding in his Bubble Tipped Anemone,  I hate to have to do this but I want the stressed fish from the other tank to be able to relax and de-stress without being chased all over the tank.   <Another reason to have the quarantine tank.> Do you think this is a good idea?   <Would be better to have a quarantine tank.  Go purchase a 10 gallon tank, and a heater and filter.  Place some established media from the Nano that you have into it's filter.  Then place your stressed fish into it.  This is much better than hassling an established environment.> I need advice on what to do now with the main tank.   <Siphon out the remaining viscera, and about 70 % of the water.  Over the next few days do a 20% water change each day.  This should dilute the poison.  Make sure that you get ALL of the dead animals.  They will be broken down as part of Nitrification, and will pollute your tank.> I will remove the dead fish but what do I do with the corals, they seem to all be fine, will they survive? <Hard to say.  Time will tell.> Should I remove the corals immediately to plastic container with chemically adjusted RO water?  Or should I risk putting the corals in my 24 gallon Nano?   <I would follow the water change plan firstly.  Then if the corals start to degrade I would consider moving them.  You don't want to do anything drastic that might crash the Nano too.> Would that possibly poison the water in the Nano?   <I would think that the increased bioload would cause problems.> I also have two Crocea Clams, will they likely survive?   <Again time will tell.  Please see above Re: Water Changes.> After I remove the corals and snails or anything else that is still alive what should I do with the water?  I would assume I should completely drain it, is that correct?   <Please see above.  I would NOT drain all of the water.> What about the live rock and live sand, what should I do with them?  How will the worms die and how should I get rid of them? <Not really sure what you are asking.  I was under the impression that these worms were already dead.  If not, then NO LEAVE THEM ALONE.  They are GOOD for your system, and are present in all healthy systems.> Are these worms toxic themselves and if they remain alive in the rock after the cleanup are they harmful to the tank?   <No.  They are your friends.  Likely came out because they sensed carrion which is what they eat.> After a complete water change which I'll assume I should do, how soon can I replace any fish and corals?   <Do not do a complete water change.  I would do one large change and then a few days worth of 20% changes, and then a weeks worth of small 5-10% changes.  Start adding fish one at a time and QUARANTINE them.  I would say one fish every two weeks.> Should I treat the tank in any way?  Do I have to completely recycle the tank?  Could you please take me through the proper steps I should take at this time, I need help.   <If you don't change all of the water at once you should be fine.  There are obviously some creatures that survived.> When I eventually pick myself up and slowly add fish back to the tank I vow to always listen to the advice of the WetWebMedia crew.  You guys know what you are talking about.   <Thank you for your kind words.> My story is probably a typical one; I asked about Sea Apples from a LFS and was told that they were harmless filter feeders.   <More or less true, unless you irritate one.> I was attracted to their bright colors and figured I could trust the store owner.  I didn't do my research and found out a few days later through your site that Sea Apples were potential killers and should be avoided.   <Doh!  You should always research before purchase.> I contemplated returning the Sea Apple and was strongly leaning toward doing just that until I did some further research with obviously less well-informed "experts" that theorized that a tank wipeout was extremely unlikely. <They obviously have not kept Holothuroids for extended periods of time…> They also said that most of the fish would survive even if it did happen and there likely would be time to get the fish out.   <Again Holothurin/Holotoxin is a very powerful neurotoxin.  It also depends on the kind of Holothuroid that you have.  Some are worse than others.> Unfortunately, you were right and they were dead wrong and my fish paid the price.   <Sad to hear this really.> I feel responsible because I was forewarned by you after I bought the Sea Apple.  I had a healthy thriving tank with no deaths for seven months.  The water was good, I was doing routine water changes, all the fish were healthy and I had the Sea Apple for about six months with no problems.  I have learned a painful lesson and I vow to be a more conscientious fish owner from this point forward.   <We all learn from our mistakes.  Everyone was new to this at some point.> I usually follow your advice to the tee but all I takes is one major mistake.  I also learned to never trust my LFS without doing research before hand.   I know this is a touchy subject but what would you do in this situation regarding the LFS that sold me the Sea Apple.  What action and I don't necessarily mean legal action would you take.   <I would make my situation know to them.  If they seem unconcerned or callous about your plight, I would further go to the local Marine Aquarium Society.  I would tell them what happened and ask that they not patron this establishment.  You could put up a blog to share this experience, etc.> I am curious to read your response.  In the meantime I can really use some immediate help with this mess ASAP. <I hope that this helps.> Thank You, <You are welcome.> (please feel free to post this for others to read in the Marine Aquarium articles) <This correspondence, like all correspondence to WWM will be posted.  Brandon.>
Have you received this, I haven't seen a response.     3/26/07
<Yes this was received.  Should be an E-mail in your in box waiting on you.  I have a copy of the response that I sent.  Let me know if I need to resend it.> Where will I see a response, I could use some help with my problem. <You have received an E-mail, and you can check the response on the daily FAQ section of the site as well.> Thanks <You are welcome.  Brandon.>

Sea Cukes Recommendation:  Yellow cucumber (Colochirus robustus)   2/20/07 Dear WWM Crew, <Hi Alex.  Mich here.> What is a good beginner sea cucumber, also I need 2 sea cucumbers and I have a 40gal and a 10 gal what are my options? Please help. <The Yellow cucumber (Colochirus robustus) is one of the easiest to keep, commonly reproduce in captivity and is quite pretty too!    It is best to start them in an area of high water flow.  These are suspension feeders and they do better in systems with refugiums.  Also hermit crabs, particular Blue legged hermit crabs can be potential threats to these cucumbers.  Good luck!  -Mich> Sincerely, Alex

Sea Apple For a Nano?--Not Advisable (6/7/05)
Hi, I inherited a 12 gallon Nano cube and am interested in keeping a sea apple. The only other livestock I plan on having is Zoanthids, Blasto, and possibly a couple sexy shrimp. Will this tank be large enough and will the lighting be bright enough (24 watt pc) to accommodate what I am planning on stocking? Also, is there anything that I mention that may not get along with the sea apple? Could you possibly point out some of the more notorious apple antagonizers so I can avoid them? <Anything that nips, as in virtually any fish.> The apple is definitely the focus of the tank and I'm willing to house only that creature if need be, but I'd love to make things look a little more interesting. Thank you. Mike <Sorry Mike, but I have to advise against this. The vast majority of Sea Apples slowly waste away and die even in big tanks. They are very difficult to feed. In a small tank such as yours, the chances would be even less, not to mention the devastation if it releases its toxins. Study the FAQs and articles about these on WWM and elsewhere. It is possible to set up a nice little Nano reef in a 12. I suggest you study WWM and check out our Nano forum on our chat forum for info. Hope this helps. Steve Allen.>

Sea Cukes Quick question:   Bob's book & your site both suggest only a nut case would keep sea cucumbers. Yet the book also implies that they might be good in a refugium. These seem to contradict. <Actually, it's mainly the larger species, particularly the "Sea Apples" which are problematical. Many small species are fine> I saw some fascinating small sea cucumbers (pink & bumpy--look like attached photo borrowed from your site). Am interested in one of these for my DSB/LR/Algae refugium. Am I nuts? <Not about these Cukes at least! They're fine for refugium use. Bob Fenner> Steve

Starfish Addition Possibilities (cucumber too?) - 2/6/03 Hey again: Furniture - ugh!  Definitely not how I meant it. <heehee... didn't think so :) But you scared me a little <G>> Thanks for the sea star advice.  "Freshwater veteran, Marine newbie" - I am taking this endeavor very seriously (and I take deaths very badly)! <very good, my friend> But, alas, I have fallen short grammatically :(!   <I have that problem daily and I get paid (a little) to do it. Ha!> I currently have a 10 gal QT and all future inhabitants will rest there first.   <excellent!> Now that you mention it, any chance for a cucumber too?   <a few are hardy... most are not worth the trouble. One of the easiest serves no useful purpose at all but is quite handsome. The Bright Yellow Fijian Cucumarid is a filter feeder that fares well and reproduces by division easily> I haven't gotten to that section of your site yet.  I have some hitchhiking slugs from LR (or I think they are - they look like snails without shell, but with sort of a pint-size shell on bodies).   <actually... you have a paper shell snail of the genus Stomatella... do use that genus name to find pics on the Internet to confirm> I did read in a recent AFM article (or other Mag) that cucumbers are too hard, and to get a lettuce slug instead.   <although most Nudibranchs are even more delicate than the Holothuroid cucumbers at large, I would agree that the lettuce slug is hardy if you can grow enough to keep it fed. Still... the choices overall are weak (sea star, cucumber or sea slug). Have you considered any of the hardier Echinoid urchins instead? Some real beauties like the Tuxedo urchin> Would  you agree with that statement (if I have paraphrased correctly)?   <agreed> I just love all the different life forms, but I know I am limited by tank size. <actually... by species selection at this point. Do consider some hardier options to be safe. Brittle and serpent starfish are excellent too> Thanks, again!  Rich <best regards, Anthony>

Sea Cuke too big! Bob, <Linda> Hi there!  We talked a few years ago as I converted my tank to include a Caulerpa refugium in the built-in sump area in the back.  It has worked out pretty well.  After growing up my human babies a little, I decided to stock the tank with a couple of interesting critters.  From a reputable mail-order place.  I got a fancy serpent star, a sand-sifting star, a bulb anemone, a tiger tail sea cucumber, a dwarf feather duster, a small maroon clown (tank-raised), and a small red-headed goby (tank-raised).  Also, a couple of macroalgae "plants" for the display.  The sand-sifting star was doa (this was refunded immediately).  The rest of the specimens look great and are behaving normally.  The clownfish has bonded thoroughly with the anemone and the goby is scooting around.  The feather duster is trying to find its happiest spot and has attached upside-down to some rock (weird!). The sea cucumber had really murky water and looked like it might have expelled some stuff on shipping or it was shipped with a bunch of detritus.  Having been forewarned, I am very wary of problems with Cukes.  I observed it in a fish bucket overnight with an airstone and heater and several small partial water changes during that time, since I don't have a sponge filter ready to go yet.  Upon closer observation, it appeared fully intact with good color and was moving about. <Good precautionary measures here>   I added it to my tank and am observing it.  It looks as though it is starting to do what it should be doing.  Unfortunately, I think it is WAY too large for my tank. <This can be trouble... take a read through the June ish of FAMA (2003) for a pc. by Iggy Tavares re his experiences and reflections of using Sea Apples...> It came in a package for a 30 gallon tank, which is at least 50% smaller than mine (I undersized carefully).  Also, the place I bought it from advertises that these specimens will be 2-5" when sold.  Mine is at least 12 and probably more like 16"!!!!  It is beautiful, to be sure, but I am afraid that it will not find a suitable home in my tank. <Agreed. I would try to trade this in> Should I offer it to the LFS so they can find it a more appropriate home? <Definitely> Your friend in fish, Linda <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Scared of Turds? WOW!   After reading http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacukes.htm , I think I'd rather scrub each grain of sand by hand than deal with a Sandsifter like a cucumber! I don't want to turn my tank into a dangerous neighborhood! <Hehe, no worries, the cuc's that I'm recommending are the turd-like Caribbean varieties (Holothuria floridiana) and tiger tail cuc's. Neither I, nor any of my customers, nor any search on the popular reef boards has yielded a toxic experience with these critters. Check out Dr. Shimek's forum on reef central for some more reassurance.> What other options exist? <Hermit crabs pretty much "scrub each grain of sand by hand", Nassarius snails turn over bits of the sand as they burrow, and so do sand sifting gobies (which are detrimental to the sandbed fauna). -Kevin> Rich

Sea Cucumber Questions (10/21/04) Hello crew. I hope this finds you all well. <Thank you. I hope you are well to. Steve Allen tonight.> Thank you for the prompt and informative response to my last question. I'm hoping you could field a few more about Sea Cucumbers. <I'll give it a shot.> I absolutely adore the little critters <Fascinating indeed, but some are quite risky.> and would like to add more to my 200 Gal tank. As it stands I have a pair of Pink and Green guys <Pentacta anceps> that are getting along quite well now that the Butterfly is leaving them alone. <How long have you had them. It may take months for them to starve to death if underfed.> According to your Cukes page, they are one of the more docile species. <all Cukes are docile in the behavioral meaning of the word, as in not aggressive. It's their poisonous insides that are a problem.> I'm well aware of the risk in keeping any cucumber, <Good> but assuming one were intent on doing so, can you recommend (some of) the species that tend to get along well in captivity? <I'm a big fan of the small yellow Colochirus robustus, which often reproduce by fission in the tank. I started with two and now have six. Some of the detritus-eaters, such as Tiger Tails are hardy. I'd skip Medusa Worms and Sea Apples.> Perhaps you could rank those on your Cukes page in terms of difficulty? If that's too much trouble, I'm specifically curious about Pink, Yellow, Black, and Tigertail Cucumbers. Do these tend to get along well in the reef aquarium? Is my tank large enough to house the latter most? Any negative interactions I should watch out for between species or with other common tank mates? Thanks for you time. <I highly recommend reading the Sea Cucumber chapter in Fenner & Calfo's "Reef Invertebrates"--very practical and useful. Another great one is Volume 4 of Foss?& Nielsen's "The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium." Hope this helps.>

Cucumber Follow-Up (10/22/04) Okay, so I decided to get a Tigertail and a couple Black Cucumbers. I also plan to add some Yellows a little later, but I digress. I think my Tigertail is in trouble...he appears to be shedding! <Could be problem. >I noticed on your second Cuke FAQs page that someone else has encountered this problem. You (that is, Steve Allen) said that it was not normal. I was curious about what exactly is going on and did some online research. <good> I found several sources which agree it is abnormal and sign of poor health. However, I also found a number of sites which said that they secrete a mucus-like substance when stressed and still other sites which said they can accumulate a thin layer of sand which they occasionally shed - both of which say its nothing to worry about. <Well, I'd worry about "stress." This varying information shows just how much we don't know about these creatures.> Now, I'm inclined to take your word over these other sources, especially given that he's not moving around much, but I wonder if you could tell me a little more about what exactly is happening to my cucumber? <I think that the key here is its behavior. It may indeed be normal for them to shed some material, but the skin should remain intact. If not, there is a problem. Additionally, a creature that does not behave normally is having some issue. I trust you acclimated these echinoderms slowly. Hard to say if it is a water quality issue, stress from being moved to a new home, or some illness.> Also I've also emailed the conflicting sources for more info because I'm really rather concerned about the poor little guy. I'm going to try and track down one of the texts you recommended later this weekend, but would really appreciate some quick advice. Please help. If he is indeed sick, what can I do? <Keep an eye on things and maintain excellent water quality. Consider moving it to a quarantine tank for observation and then treatment with antibiotics if this appears to be indicated.> I don't have the heart to simply yank him out. Oh, also, I've had the Pentacta anceps for a couple months. When I first got them, they didn't look so good and there was the trouble with the Butterfly, but I feed them a ton (directly) and their colors have really come out so I think they're doing well. <Good job.> Thanks again for your help! <I certainly hope things work out. Steve Allen.>

Yellow Cucumber Follow-Up (11/30/04) Hi Steve. <Greetings> Thanks for your help, that is just what happens here, now I have 2 cucumbers. <cool!> That was something I was wondering but never really believed because I try to find information from books and all I find was that this creature can poison everything in the tank. <Seeing is believing. Check out Anthony Calfo & Bob Fenner's "Reef Invertebrates" book for great info on many sea cucumbers and other cool creatures, as well as excellent chapters on refugiums and algae. As for wipeout, these smaller critters are very unlikely to cause this in all but smaller tanks. It's the Sea Apples that are the big risk. Some other larger sea cucumbers are also a risk, but these little yellow ones are seldom a problem.> So lets see how many I will have next year. <Hopefully  quite a few if you can keep them healthy and well-fed.> Thank you again for so many help for this hobby. <My pleasure to play a small part in the wonderful service that WWM is.> John Hyttinen

Sea Apple liability... lawyer question? Bob, Who should be held responsible when a retailer sells a customer a sea apple which poisons the tank and doesn't even tell the customer how to feed it? In looking back now, soon after I purchased my first sea apple and added it to the tank, I started losing fish quickly. My first sea apple died because I wasn't told how to feed it and was told that it blew up from the inside out because of lack of food. I was told when I bought it that it fed much like that of an anemone. I have purchased a second sea apple now from the same retailer and I am starting to see my fish die again, one by one (four in the first 24 hours the sea apple was in the tank). I didn't know about the poison the sea apple puts out until recently and I read the question sent in to you by Ryan. The retailer where I bought both of my sea apples says he took the poison out of both of them. My question to you is: Is this possible? <Re the first responsibility question... I don't know. The retailer for assuming the customer knows enough? The customer for buying something without investigating it sufficiently ahead of time? Concerning the second question; I've never heard of such a thing as removing the poisoning capacity of sea cucumbers... but don't believe it really can be done. They have a few mechanisms (front and back)... including "throwing up" much of their internal organs... some bits of which are toxic. and regenerating them later. How would you do this preventative surgery?> I also bought a spotted moray eel (approximate size: 8") which ate other expensive fish and bit me! I was also sold a panther grouper that ate my shrimp the first night it was in the tank. I was never warned by the retailer about the eel or the panther grouper's eating habits or their aggressive behavior. <Hmmm, maybe time to look around for other dealers.> I am not asking you to be an attorney, but in your professional opinion, don't you think the retailer has a responsibility to the customers he sells to advise them of possible problems or special feeding habits--especially in a community tank such as mine. This certain retailer has even been to my house and is familiar with my tank. Sincerely Submitted, Ronnie <Sounds dedicated, just not very well informed. Bob Fenner >>

Question: First off I would like to say you have a great site, keep up the good work. My question is about a sea apple. I recently bought one and now I think I may have made a mistake. I have talked to may local retailer, and he tells stories about being sued for sea apples poisoning an entire tank. Also, he commented about their eggs killing an entire tank. In the past few weeks I have noticed small white growths all over my live rock, and I am concerned that these are "baby" sea apples. I would appreciate any input you have on this matter. Bob's Answer: Ryan, I doubt that these are "baby" Sea Apples (they're definitely not). But you should be concerned. Paracucumaria, in particular of all their Order, are bad news. They don't have to reproduce to cause real trouble. Just getting "upset" by being sucked against an intake, burned by a heater, tormented by you or a tank mate... can/does bring about the end of many a pet fish hobbyists avocation.

Sea Apple? Dear Bob: I just received an order from FFExpress and one of the things I got for my reef tank is an Australian Sea Apple. This apple is huge! Its about 10" X 4.5" What my question is, will this apple release toxins if it gets near my anemones. About 20 minutes after I put the apple in my tank it started heading straight for my biggest long tentacle anemone (8"). Then when my apple fell right into the anemone I got worried so I moved him to the other side of the tank.  Any suggestions would be great! Thanks, Boyd Bunk >> These animals are very poor risks for small marine systems (only hundreds of gallons)... Keep an eye on your livestock... and be prepared to dump most all the water and replace it... add PolyFilter... and remove the animal/or the rest of your livestock if/when the Apple/cucumber eviscerates, or dies... Bob Fenner

Sea Cucumber I was thinking on getting a small Sea Cucumber to help rid the tank of Detritus and to stir up the live sand. My concern is whether my brittle star will eat the cucumber. I have never seen it take a snail or hermit crab but wanted to make sure. >> Need to be careful here... Depending on the species of cucumber (make it/them small ones... more numbers rather than larger ones... definitely not the Sea Apple...too toxic, likely to cause poisoning troubles)... and your size of system (bigger than a sixty?...) you ought to look for fish-stirrers rather than Cukes... Bob Fenner, whose sand-stirrer, Sea Cucumber, Marine Scavenger pieces can be found archived at www.WetWebMedia.com

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