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FAQs about Spiny Skinned Animals

Related Articles: Echinoderms, An Introduction to the Echinoderms:  The Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers and More... By James W. Fatherree, M.Sc., Sea LiliesSea Stars, Brittle StarsSea Urchins, Sea Cucumber,

Related FAQs: Sea Lilies, Feather Stars, Sea Stars 1, Brittle & Basket Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers

Brackish water... echinoderms?    7/18/11
I was wondering if there was any brackish water starfish or brittle stars.
<Very few exist at all, and none are traded deliberately.>
I have a brackish water tank and I am always looking for some thing different to go in it. If so do you know where I may be able to find one or order one? Thank you for your time.
<There are brackish water invertebrates, including some species traded as marines (e.g., Clibanarius tricolor ) and freshwater animals (e.g., Clibanarius africanus). Depending on the salinity, there are a variety of snails and shrimps that can do well. But in most situations you're best off sticking with fish, if for no other reason that the larger brackish water fish will view invertebrates as food. On the other hand, if you're keeping small, low-end brackish species like gobies and livebearers at SG 1.003 at 25 C, then you'll find things like freshwater Nerites and freshwater shrimps do perfectly well and are worth a gamble.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Brackish water... stkg... echinos?    7/19/11

Any thing in your tanks you don't want that you kill give to me. I want to try it in my tank your going to kill it anyways wouldn't hurt to see if I can keep
<Hmm not sure I agree with you here. If an animal needs to be killed, I insist that it be done humanely, i.e., quickly. Experimenting with animals, for example keeping a starfish in a brackish water aquarium, just isn't acceptable. There is a HUGE scientific literature on osmoregulation in invertebrates, including much on those species, such as Carcinus maenas, known to be euryhaline. Read up, and in the meantime, peruse my Brackish Water FAQ that includes several pages on invertebrates in the final section.
http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Projects/brackishfaq.html
Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish water... echinoderms?    7/18/11
I was wondering if there was any brackish water starfish or brittle stars.
<Very few exist at all, and none are traded deliberately.>
I have a brackish water tank and I am always looking for some thing different to go in it. If so do you know where I may be able to find one or order one? Thank you for your time.
<There are brackish water invertebrates, including some species traded as marines (e.g., Clibanarius tricolor ) and freshwater animals (e.g., Clibanarius africanus). Depending on the salinity, there are a variety of snails and shrimps that can do well. But in most situations you're best off sticking with fish, if for no other reason that the larger brackish water fish will view invertebrates as food. On the other hand, if you're keeping small, low-end brackish species like gobies and livebearers at SG 1.003 at 25 C, then you'll find things like freshwater Nerites and freshwater shrimps do perfectly well and are worth a gamble.
Cheers, Neale.>

Sea and Brittle Star comp.  3/6/07 hi i have a chocolate chip starfish in my 40 gal tank and i just bought a green brittle star.  i was wondering if  two species will coexist or will i have a problem.  any info will be greatly appreciated. <Both are predatory.  The Protoreastor is problematic, and has been known to prey on corals, see here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipfaqs.htm.  The Ophiarachna will eat fish.  This is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.  Please see here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestarfaqs.htm, here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm, and here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestarcompfaqs.htm.  As for the compatibility of these two, they should get along.  Unfortunately I have no idea what you have in your tank other than these two echinoderms, when you mail please try to give a description that is as accurate as possible about the size of your tank, it's inhabitants (not just two of them), your water quality (actual numbers, not just it's fine.), and any equipment you might have, as well as how long you have had the tank set up.>                                                                                            sincerely, Alan <I hope that this is of some help.  Brandon.>

Brittle and seastar problem ... need more info.  7/9/06 Hello        I have tried to introduce seastars & brittlestars into my established 40 gallon tank. <... Mmm, may not be large or stable enough to support...> they seem to do fine for about 2-3 weeks then their rays start to break off and ultimately death occurs. <Or could be a lack or imbalance of alkalinity and biomineral content...> My parameters are all good and i do have a bulb anemone <May be incompatible with...> and polyps that are doing very well and all other fishes are great! Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time, Richard. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the linked files above re both Classes Systems, Compatibility, Disease... Bob Fenner>

Starfish Identification - 05/16/2006 Could you please help me identify my starfish and hopefully find out why it's dying?  It is a dark gray color with 5 raised red bumps at the end of each leg closest to the center of the starfish (I've attached links to pictures but they're not very good).  We've had it for about 6 months now and I have never fed it because I didn't know what type of starfish it was or how to feed it.  Can you help me with this?  It hasn't moved in a while and I think it's just barely alive.  I'm assuming it is because I've never fed it but if there are any other reasons that a starfish would die can you tell me so I might be able to keep him alive?  Thank you. Kim Picture1: http://img352.imageshack.us/img352/7726/pic27nj.jpg Picture 2: http://img352.imageshack.us/img352/2395/pic13cx.jpg <Am away from my reference materials (out in HI), but do read through here: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Sick brittlestar  - 04/05/2006 Hi,     I'm in charge of a tank in my marine biology class. In it, we have a sea peach, <?...> a sea cucumber, a brittle star, and some other small organisms. For the last several weeks, out brittle star has not looked so good. We moved it into a 'hospital' tank and properly set it up with the specific gravity and I check the salinity & use a refractometer daily to check the tank. However, the brittle star seems to be deteriorating. <Not uncommon> It appears as though the skin is literally peeling off of its limbs. It has still been moving (though ever so slightly). It didn't seem to like eating squid, so I have been mainly feeding it brine shrimp. Are there any specific antibiotics I can buy to help it revive??? Thanks, Betsy <... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Sea Apple - 3/6/2006 My sea apple had something orange coming from its butt what is this and what should I do? <<There is no information to go on here, so I suggest removing the Apple to QT, keep your water quality pristine, and watch.  Sea apples are notorious for fouling whole systems, so removal ASAP is recommended.  Lisa.>>

Readily Available Information - 03/02/2006 In a 90 gallon fish only tank - how many stars, and how many kinds, can / will survive? Marine 'newbie' <Time to become acquainted with a marine "necessity". Research. Google WWM/the Net in general. Your answer will be found. - Josh> Black sea cucumber burn   2/10/06 Dear Mr. Fenner,     While reading your article at wwm.com re: sea cucumber, you mention masking the heater to prevent disturbing them.  Could you be a little more specific? <Yes... mostly the use of "sleeving"... at the simplest, plastic pipe over the unit/s, that is/has been drilled with numerous holes> Our black sea cucumber recently burned itself on the Visi-therm heater and eviscerated ( we believe ). <Yikes...> There were sticky strings in the water and a brown patch on the cuke that later came off.  None fo our other livestock were harmed.   <Fortunate> I believe the cuke is regenerating, and I would like to prevent any further harm to it.  I have looked on the web and called my local store regarding some form of heater guard without success.  My husband is handy if given some direction.  Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter. Respectfully, Amy Smith <Mmm, folks/companies have made these over the years, but they were never very popular... log sorts of designs principally... I'd fashion your own if you can't remote these heaters... as to a tied-in (plumbed) sump/refugium. Bob Fenner> Starfish eating habits  9/19/05 Hello! I have a Blue Linckia starfish! Dam neat looking thing. I just got it almost 2 weeks back. I am wondering what to feed him and how? I don't have or get liquid inverts food so suggest me something else maybe a prawn or something. Regards <... please use the Google search tool on WWM, the indices to look-up the files on Linckia, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition of Seastars... Bob Fenner> Red Jewel Star, general lack of echinoderm knowledge I just recently purchased a red jewel star.  I cannot tell that it is eating, I have offered it shrimp which it does not seem to care for.  What can I give it and how often? <This common name is too vague... please see WWM, the Net re species identification... starfishes have highly differing nutritional requirements...> I also purchased a sea cucumber which has chosen a corner halfway up the tank to hang out, I have not seen it move from this location.  Shouldn't it be moving around the bottom of the tank to eat? <Maybe not> Thanks for your help. Marcia Wills <Marcia... please read on WWM re these echinoderms care, behavior. Bob Fenner>

Urchins Losing Their Spines (7/19/04) Hi: <Steve Allen with you tonight.> I recently had an occurrence that in my 30+ years of keeping marine fish, never experienced. This is the situation: I have a 75 gal tank (non-reef) that has been the home for 12 Atlantic pencil urchins for about 3 years. I removed them to put them in a fish club show along with a new Atlantic pincushion urchin. All the urchins survived the show and I put the pincushion back into the 75 along with some other inverts I had in the show. I put the pencils in another tank for the time being. About three weeks later I noticed that the pincushion was dropping off his longer spines and left himself with a coat of short spines covering his body. I of course thought this was strange but assumed that he possibly did this to replenish spines that have broken or were old. He was still eating the algae I had growing in the tank like a champ. (You could always tell where he was by the path of clean coral he leaves in his wake.) About a week later he then shed the coat of smaller spines and is now almost naked but still eating like a champ. <That part is reassuring.> The other inverts I put in the same tank are doing fine so the water quality issue should be a non-factor. <Yes, but perhaps being taken to the show or some of the water condition changes from tank to tank shocked him somehow.> The algae he is eating is mostly the normal green micro algae and occasionally hair algae. The only times I have seen urchins shedding spines was after they died. <They can doe it when ill or dying too.> Any ideas what he is doing shedding spines like this? <Really hard to say. Since he is still eating, one can hope that this is temporary and they will grow back. All you can really do is maintain stable, excellent water conditions and hope for the best.> Thank you, Andrew Sager <You're welcome.>

Echinoderm Aggression (6/23/04) Hello again kind Sirs, <Steve Allen here.> Yesterday I added a Tiger tail Cucumber to my 45 gallon tank (50 lb LR, 5” DSB).  Initially he seemed to settle in just fine.  I got up a little while ago and took a quick look into the tank.  My 2 brittle stars (6’’and 8” mottled brown in color) looked like they were trying to pull the Tiger tail Cucumber to pieces. <They probably were trying to eat it. Perhaps they're not getting enough food.> I have never seen this kind of aggression from them and I’ve had them well over a year. <It does seem odd.> I see no visible damage (yet) to the cucumber but he was definitely having a rough night and it looks like he might have released a little bit of innards. <Uh-oh> I pulled the Brittle stars off and removed the cucumber then placed him into a 5 gallon quarantine tank, <smart> which just has some LR rubble in it.  Tomorrow I plan to do a 20% (6 gal.) water change and also change out some of my carbon. <Wise. Polyfilter is useful for removing contaminants too.> How toxic are Tiger tail Cucumbers? <Hard to say. Less than say, sea apples.> Should I be more aggressive with the amount of the water I change?  <If everything in there looks good, I doubt you need to get too aggressive as I would have expected a rapid negative effect right after the event. These toxins are fast-acting.> The next thing is I have to figure out what to do with the cucumber.  I was planning to install a hang on refugium tomorrow would keeping him in there be an option, I know I’m reaching, but I thought he was pretty cool. <Nurse him back to health in the QT. See if feeding your brittle stars small chunks of shrimp or squid keeps them away from him. I suspect there was something wrong with him in the first place that led them to "attack." I would not expect your average Brittlestar to try to eat a healthy sea cucumber.> Do you have any recommendations on “stocking” the hang on refugium (19”x 12” x 4 ?”).  Based on the picture in Reef Inverts (page 66) I was thinking of 1 inch crushed coral plus 3 inches of Carib special grade sand, some LR rubble and then ordering some macro algae (not Caulerpa). <Don't mix sand grades. I'd suggest 3-4 inches of sand and some LR chunk. Chaetomorpha would be your best bet, but I have successfully grown Gracilaria in my AquaFuge. Check www.inlandaquatics.com for an excellent selection and great service. This will make a great environment for 'pods & mysids.> I also have 10 lbs of LS coming in tomorrow (great timing huh) from Walt Smith which I was going to split up between the refugium and the display tank.  I was also planning to add a couple of Ceriths and Nassarius snails to the refugium, thoughts? <Small Strombus snails are nice as well and will reproduce. Check www.ipsf.com> Once again, thanks in advance for the guidance. Chuck <Hope this helps.> Battle of The Echinoderms? Hello Crew, <Scott F. here!> Hopefully you can be of some help. I purchased, what I believe to be a sandsifting starfish. I have had him for about 6 months now. The problem is that I recently added a sea cucumber to my reef tank, and it appears as though the starfish is not to happy about the newcomer. The first time I caught him on the sea cucumber I thought maybe the sea cucumber was just in the way and he was climbing over him. But then last night (after the lights were off of course) the starfish was on the sea cucumber again. So I gently removed him, but this morning I noticed that some of the flesh from the sea cucumber is gone! Surely my dear sweet starfish would not eat my cucumber, would he? I have had the starfish longer than anything, and do not want to get rid of him. If he is not good for the reef tank would he be OK in my 90 gallon fish tank? All that is in the 90 is a Dog-Faced Puffer and a Sunburst Anthias. I hate to say that I get attached to all my little sea creatures but I do, and I would be sad to get rid of him, but I also don't want to endanger my reef tank as I have babied that tank forever, and if I must say so myself it looks darn good! Thanks for your input Carol <Well, Carol, without seeing the specific starfish that you have, I cannot be 100% sure. I would suspect that the damage to your Sea Cucumber is more likely to have been caused by the puffer than anything else! of course, there is the possibility of abrasion on rock or sand, too, or even some sort of disease or trauma caused by the collection/shipping/acclimation process. These animals do display excellent regenerative capabilities, though- so do keep an eye on the creature, provide excellent water conditions, and remove the injured animal if it becomes necessary. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.> 

Echinoderm repro. 101 I'm doing a research project for my biology class and I was wondering how fast starfish reproduce? I only have a month to get an invertebrate to reproduce and I was wondering if I could do a starfish. ~Bert~ <Mmm, I suggest a sea urchin instead... they're used in embryology classes most everywhere for the ability to spawn them on demand. You can look up their general and reproductive biology on the internet, books in the library, or on our site: WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Word! In the http://www.wetwebmedia.com/echinode.htm site.... "Echinoderms can ingest, digest and egest a propitious amount of material" ?? Propitious = favorably inclined, well-disposed. "The time is propitious for our venture." Maybe it was meant to be prodigious? <Thank you for this... yes, Bob F, misusing adverbs to the end> But very informative site! John Bonavia

Re: just a few questions (urchins, other echinoderms together) thank you so much for the fast reply. sorry for the late response. i thought about what you had said, and thought that maybe, again due to my stringent academic situation, that i would try keeping sea urchins. after reading your site and numerous other sources, i see the greatest threat would be their poisonous spines.  <Actually, tube feet, pedicellariae> if i keep them, the tank will be exclusively for them, so i don't fear them eating the rock matter or injuring other animals in the tank. however, i am not sure about the recommended species. can i mix the species?  <If you have the room> for instance at my LFS they sell the long spine( diadema antillarum), red slate (Heterocentrotus mammillatus), and what they have as assortment of Atlantic species, which i think are variated or purple urchins. can i mix any of the species? <Yes... the shorter spine, slate types are easier to live among each other...> if not what about other echinoderms? i have keep numerous chocolate chip stars and had great success w/ them, and was curious if i could mix urchins and stars. any insight would be appreciated. thank you again. and thank you in advance.  <Yes to many, most spiny-skinned animals cohabitating in captivity. It's obvious you are keeping good notes and investigating ahead of purchase. Bob Fenner>

 

 

 

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