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FAQs about Sea Cucumbers 2

Related Articles: Sea Cucumber, Marine Scavengers, Sand Sifters

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

Pearsonthuria graeffei, the Graffiti Sea Cucumber.

Black Sea Cucumber, fdg.      4/22/20
Hey Crew,
<Hey Joe>
I have enjoyed the info on your site and I have a question about my Black Sea cucumber. I’ve had it for a couple of months. At first he was hidden in the back of tank in between rocks and we barely could find him. After a couple of weeks he became very active all moving around tank ,constantly eating sand & pooping it out in big piles.
<These animals are mainly detritivores, but they also feed on zooplankton and phytoplankton, requiring a well populated, mature sand bed to get enough food. Could you please tell us more about your system; water parameters, tankmates and maintenance routines?>
The last week or so it has taken to climbing up onto the glass.
<Perhaps it was looking for a more suitable spot.>
I’m worried that it’s not getting enough nutrients in the sand bed of my 50 gallon tank & is doing this because it’s hungry.
<Probably it has consumed the available food source on the limited sand area of your tank.>
I don’t want it to get stressed & nuke the tank.
<And they stress very easily... are you aware of the toxins they release when stressed? I have witnessed one of these echinoderms wiping out an entire, well stocked 1000-gallon tank in just a few hours!>
Is this normal or should I be concerned. Please let my know what you think and if I should try bury some food in sand. If so what type of food.
<Do you have a sump/refugium?... if so, there you can grow small organisms like copepods and amphipods to provide a constant food supply for your cucumber, you may also try some frozen or dry foods like Cyclop-Eeze.>
Thanks for any advice/info you can give me.
Best Regards,
Joe Matranga
<You’re welcome.Wil.>
Re: Black Sea Cucumber     4/22/20

Thanks for the quick response
<You're welcome>
I’ve been running an innovative marine AIO 50 gallon tank since the beginning of September. No refugium or sump.
<Ahh yes, filtration is located on the back... am familiar with these tanks.>
The fish in tank : Yellow Chromis Damsel 09/19 Pajama Cardinal10/19, 12 line Wrasse (11/19) Coral banded Shrimp (11/19) Snowflake Clown 11/19 Blue Hippotang 12/19
<Your P. hepatus is going to need more room than this.>
3-Emerald crabs, CUC assorted red& Blue legged hermit crabs, Trochus snails, Pyramid Snails
I have a bubble anemone, SPS Corals Bubble, Toadstool, hammer, Zoanthoid, mushroom colony
I added copods 12/30/19 & 01/15/20 Added Tigger pods 03/25/20
Salinity is 1.025. Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0 PH 8.0 Nitrates .10.
I do 10-12 gallon water change every two weeks
I bought the Sea Cucumber 02/01/19. It was an impulse buy
<It certainly was!>
I should have researched it before buying it.
Let me know if you think I should get it out of the tank.
<If possible, return it to the fish store or trade it for something else.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers. Wil.>

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>

Colochirus robustus dropped a part of itself  2/10/11
Good evening "crew". I have a 20 gallon reef tank
<Hard to keep such small systems stable>
with a MarineLand Emperor 400 filter and a SeaClone 100 skimmer. One of the inhabitants is a knobby yellow cucumber (Colochirus robustus from what I can tell). I have had him for 6 weeks. His feeding tentacle things are usually out. When they aren't, it is usually only for a short time. When I first got him he hung out on the rock that my finger leather is mounted on. A few weeks after I got him I moved all into a new tank. At first he hung out on the gravel looking all shriveled up. I moved him
<Don't do this>
to a higher rock with greater water flow. He moved to the filter sponge on the intake of my protein skimmer. Three days ago I needed to do maintenance on the skimmer, so I gently detached him
from the sponge and put him on a rock with some mushrooms and Zoas.
<Toxic... see WWM re compatibility>
He is under the return water from the filter. He has moved a little on the rock and is now in the middle of the Zoas. The feeding tentacles have not been out since the move, but tonight, at feeding, he lifted his head.
Two days ago, I noticed that one of the "knobs" on his side was extending.
It stretched and the part closest to the body narrowed over two days (like tearing a piece off of a caramel) and about an hour ago a small piece of the cucumber fell off. I have read about these guys reproducing by fission.
<Ahh, no; not of this nature>
I don't think that is what this is because it is not two ends; it is a very small piece off the side. Do you have any idea what is happening here?
<Poisoned, chemically burned likely>
Should I try moving him or just let him find his own way to a happier place?
With such a small tank (good filtration and skimming), am I risking the entire system by having this guy in my tank?
<Not especially, no. See WWM re this species husbandry>
I would like to add seahorses eventually.
Thank you.
<Do learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Colochirus robustus dropped a part of itself   2/10/11

Thank you, I will move him.
Before I wrote last night, I spent 4 hours reading the article and FAQ pages, using the highlight and Google tools. Almost all of the questions about this species were answered that what the questioner was witnessing was reproduction by fission.
<Fission... as in bilateral... What you described was a form/type of schizogyny... partial splitting. Do read re>
I cannot find warnings about cucumbers and Zoas or a compatibility chart, only other comments about not being able to find the chart.
Thanks again.
<... not perhaps in particular, but here:

Sea Cucumbers...Let's play 20 questions, OK 14 questions.   2/22/07 Hello, My name is Cynthia and I am doing a project on Sea Cucumbers at school.   <Hi Cynthia, Mich here.> I have some questions and would really appreciate it if you could take the time to answer a few. Thanks <Hmm, I'm not sure I should be answering these questions, you are a student and I don't want you to miss out on a learning opportunity here!>     1. What do you think is the most important thing about Sea Cucumbers?   <You can eat'em, but some can be toxic> 2. How did you first come to learn about or get interested in Sea Cucumbers? <I don't think it's my opinion that is desired.>   3. How do Sea Cucumbers reproduce? <Both sexually and asexually.> 4. Where do most Sea Cucumbers live? <In the sea silly!> 5. How many species of Sea Cucumbers are there? <Around a thousand> 6. What is the most common type? <Depends if you're in the water or at a restaurant.> 7. What is the average length? <Depends on the species.> 8. How often do they feed? <Are filter feeder so the eat nearly continuously.> 9. What do they eat? <Depends, some eat plankton, some are detritivores.> 10. What is their average life span? <Depends, can be 5-10 years.> 11. What do they feel like? <Also depends.> 12. What was you reaction when you fist held/touched it? (if you have ever done so)   <Hey, that cucumber says "Aloha"!> 13. When is the reproducing season and how many offspring can they have in one season? <Depends.> 14. How do they grow back their insides after spitting them out? <Regeneration> Thanks you for taking the time to read this email. If you could help me with this project, please email me back as soon as possible. <More for you to read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacukes.htm  and blue link on the top of this page.> Thanks <Welcome!  -Mich>

Holothuria arenicola pic - 1/30/2006 Hi Bob, Just to remind you - I host the webguide for the Aqaba Gulf. I want your permission to copy a thumbnail size picture of this species to my site. I case you grant it - to whom shall it be credited? <I do grant you permission for use of my content. This image (and most all on WWM) is by me> I will link this picture to your site. Thanks in advance Jacob <Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner, back to the Red Sea, this time out of Hurghada, in May> >><}}))*>~~>><}}))*>~~>><}}))*>~~>><}}))*> website: http://www.dafni.com/dafni-sites    Save the Gulf of Eilat Website: http://www.dafni.com/gulfsave ?, . .???`?.. ><((((*>`?.??.???`?.?.???`?...?><((((*>

Sea Cucumber Edible Enquiry 10/25/05 hi <Poor English>... I am interested to know. there are so many types of sea cucumber and how do I know which of these are edible while which are not? how to differentiate them? thanks. Marilyn <Mmm, have to either "look up" (as in collective knowledge) or "try-out", as in scientific or human- trial/error... an assay (there are a few) with samples administered to animals, microbial cultures, or put in mouth and see. Bob Fenner>

Medicine? About sea cucumber 7/17/05 Hi!!! I just want to ask if you heard that sea cucumber has an anti-inflammatory effect...... what constituent of the sea cucumber exhibit its anti-inflammatory effect???? any web site we can go.... thanks for the time.... please reply on this e-mail add....... <What? Re human health? I'd send your message to a medicine-related forum. Bob Fenner>

Research And Dedication, Sea Apple - 05/04/05 Hi Eric, Hope al is well.  Regarding the three-year-old Sea Apple Pseudocolochirus violaceus and the husbandry techniques, I can't say I actually do anything extraordinary.  It has always been kept in a system that houses fish, the first two and a half years with a breeding group of 10 Banggais Pterapogon kauderni, and for the past year with 1 Blue/yellow tang Acanthurus coeruleus and 5 wreck fish Pseudanthias squamipinnis.  Very small amounts of brine/Mysis/Gammarus shrimp etc are fed pretty much every day.  Once weekly the system is feed on newly hatched brine shrimp which is always targeted on the Sea Apple.  I do this by siphoning the brine shrimp through an Artemia sieve… well to be truthful a hanky, and place the contents into a 50ml syringe with a 3 mm wide 20 cm long catheter tube (clean from the vets of course).  The syringe is then filled with tank water and a bit of phytoplankton (5-10ml) and the contents are gently released around the tentacular crown.  This took a bit of practice, not only for me but also for the Sea Apple. The timing and pressure of the flow has to be right and the animal has to 'learn' that you are trying to feed it and not harm it, other wise it will retract into a tight ball. I leave the protein skimmer of whilst feeding, and for about an hour afterwards. Any way hope this may help anyone having trouble with this species. Best wishes Andrea <Hello once again Andrea!  While I still can't recommend this creature be kept at all, you seem to have gone the extra measure to research/learn something about it/them, as well as going to the trouble to provide extra care for its survival.  If others learn to apply the same caring and effort to keeping other "easier", more appropriate creatures, our hobby will be well served.  Thanks so much for sharing.  Regards, Eric Russell>

It's A War Zone Out There! (some kind words) - 05/02/05 Thank you so much for the reply!! Its good to know there are people out there who care enough to offer good sound advice. < Hello again Andrea...happy to serve. > I keep a watchful eye on the sea apple, but he has been an inhabitant of the tank for 3 years now (I realize I've been very lucky!)  < Wow! Maybe you could share what you do to maintain this specimen? > Once again, thanks Best wishes, Andrea < More than welcome my friend. Eric Russell. >

Sea cucumber Hi Bob, I have a question related with sea cucumber..... I've noticed my Holothuria edulis has the skin wrapped and you can see many white mucus-like spots along the body, is that normal or some pathology? this happens since he/she came right from sea... please write me back as soon as possible, thank u Daniela Hill Ecuador :) <Likely no problem... saw the same species today while diving in Hawaii! And we're back visiting Guayaquil and Galapagos in April! Bob Fenner!> Sea Cucumber Curiosity! Hello Bob and Crew. <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I'm happy to report my tank and all its inhabitants are in great shape and that's thanks in no small part to your help. <We're glad to have been of service!> As soon as I can afford it, I hope to setup a grow-out tank and start aqua-culturing some of my more prolific corals. <Excellent! And very ecologically sound- we certainly encourage captive propagation of marine animals!> Anyways, thanks again for everything. I write today in hopes you can help solve a bit of a mystery at the LFS. There, I help take care of their cucumbers since they don't really know how, nor will they stop ordering them despite my repeated pleas. I figure if I can't get them to stop altogether, at least I can try to see that they do it right. <Most noble of you!> For whatever reason, their supplier doesn't identify the cucumbers by species, so every time they order more, something new comes in. This last bunch were Tigertails (H. hilla). They have separate tanks for more sensitive or dangerous creatures and since these guys are both, they got their own 75gal with few fellow tank mates. They insist on putting a few things in to make the tank look more appealing (not to mention space is tight), so in addition to the live rock and 2" of live sand there is some Green Star Polyp, an Umbrella Leather, a couple Purple Gorgonians, a tiny bit of Pulsing Xenia, a handful of mushrooms, dwarf hermits, Turbo snails, a Purple & Yellow Tang, a Raccoon Butterfly - I know, I know. nothing I could do.- a blenny of some sort, a Pseudochromis (sp?), and an Amphiprion percula or ocellaris (not sure which; they say "True", but I disagree). The tank has its own hang-on filter with skimmer (not sure what kind) and a couple of powerheads, one with a Quickfilter and some Phosguard. Dual fluorescent lights of some ilk, and an actinic, all on a 12hr timer. The tank has been running for awhile with all residents except the Cucumbers and the Clownfish, both of which were added last week. Oh yeah, they also put in a small Condylactis, but at least he's on the other side of the tank from the Echinoderms. The tank previously served as a hospital for sick fish (about two months ago, I think) but hasn't been medicated since well before then, and was tested for copper before being converted to its current state. <As long as there is no additional presence of sick fish in the tank, it sounds satisfactory to me.> I'd like to add at this point that as far as pet shop-folk go, this lot is all right. They don't lie to people and will caution their customers to the best of their knowledge when making a sale. <Excellent for long term survival; and for their clientele!> They keep their tanks and equipment clean and in good working order. They tend to the livestock as much as they can and most of them are hobbyists themselves. With the exceptions of some overstocking and occasionally ordering animals for which they can't properly care, they run a pretty respectable shop - by far the most responsible in the area and one of only two that is exclusively saltwater. <Cool!> Anyways, on too the big mystery....Okay, so the cucumbers came in looking very healthy; all eight made it through shipping seemingly fine (no Cuverian secretions or eviscerating in bag). They are young, 4" stretched out, max. The sand is sugar-grade fine and I rearranged the LR to make plenty of caves and crevices for them to hide in. We acclimated them over a period of an entire afternoon and within a day most of them were eating (I know because they were pooping). Then yesterday, exactly a week after they came in, one suddenly eviscerated. Today, three more did! Three have already been sold and I've been unable to track down the new owners. One seems fine. My question is, what's causing this?!? I tested all the water parameters: Spg 1.0235; pH 8.1; nitrate <10; nitrite 0; ammonia 0; dKH and calcium within normal range. The phosphate was high, nearly 1.0ppm, but I'm thinking that may have been because they spit their guts into the water and undoubtedly we didn't get them all with the vacuum and certainly not right away as in all cases it happened overnight. <Well, the first thing that you need to be aware of the high level of sensitivity that these animals have to environmental changes of any kind. They simply don't take well to rapid changes in their environment, and even well-intentioned acclimation protocols may result in a damaged or dead animal...That being said, the evisceration process generally only occurs when the animal is stressed, which is either due to environmental lapses (unlikely, based on the conditions that you described) or some sort of stress resulting from capture, transport, and acclimation. Despite your best effort, they are still subject to the whims of nature, unfortunately.> Another thing: today one of the gut-less little guys was crawling around out in the open and both the tang and the raccoon were actually taking chunks out of him. Not a good thing> I figured they'd stop after a bite or too, but to my surprise they just kept on eating him like it was a tasty treat. Needless to say he didn't make it and has been removed from the tank. The others, save those that were sold, still remain. I know those which have eviscerated stand little chance of making it, but they are clearly still kicking (as a figure of speech, that is; they don't move around much now), and since the fish seemed fine even after their macabre meal, we decided to let them all stay in the tank. Which brings me to my next question, aren't cucumbers supposed to be poisonous? <Some are, some aren't!> Shouldn't the fish at least get sick? Shouldn't all the toxins released into the water have had some effect? <If there were toxins released, and if your filtration system and husbandry techniques cannot overcome the pollution, then this us certainly something that is possible> I mean, everything looks fine. I don't get it. <Let's keep en eye on the fishes and count ourselves as luck here!> Anyway, my big question is again, why are they suddenly doing his? Is this species one of the sort that naturally eviscerates on a seasonal basis and if so, is this the right time of the year? <I'm not aware of this as part of "routine" behavior.  My understanding is that this is a response to stress. However, some species are known to "absorb" their own innards to survive for extended periods of time without other food.> I have no idea if they were tank-raised or caught, nor whether or not it matters. These aren't the first cucumbers they've had, but they are the first Hillas. Since I've been helping out this is the first major problem we've run in to and its driving me nuts. I feel terrible. Please help. Any insight would be most appreciated. <Well, first off- don't feel bad! You're doing a great job, and it's obvious that you care very much about the animals you're working with. As mentioned above, these are part of a group of animals that simply are very sensitive to changes in their environment (even if the conditions are good!). Perhaps you are dealing with a group that are extra-sensitive; perhaps they were initially collected and transshipped poorly, dooming them from the outset. Or, it could be that they were unhealthy to begin with. Lots of possibilities; unfortunately, there is no one perfect answer here. My thinking is that you simply need to try a different supplier, and continue your slow, careful acclimation with new specimens. BTW, here is an article in the latest issue of "Conscientious Aquarist" online magazine here on the WWM site by Jim Fatherree, which addresses some of the unique aspects of Echinoderm husbandry, selection, and species. Keep your chin up! Regards, Scott F> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/echinoderms/echinoderms.htm

Yellow Sea Cucumber Fission (11/28/04) Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen, echinoderm enthusiast, answering this evening.> I just got one Colochirus robustus 2 weeks ago and now it looks like it is splitting in to two parts? <Lucky you! Two for the price of one.> It just looks like the other part moves other direction than the other and between those parts there is like intestine or something like that? So what is happening it looks really strange, the cucumber looks otherwise o.k. Thank you in advance. John Hyttinen <It is very common for this species to multiply by fission. I bought 2 and now have 6. They split in the middle and the front part grows a new tail and the back part grows a new front. I suspect that what you are seeing that looks like intestine may be the tentacles of the back parts new front end. If all goes well, the two sea cucumbers will grow and thrive. Is there anything in your tank that might have bitten or cut it in half? This, of course, would be bad, but I'd bet your dealing with reproductive fission. Way cool. Let us know how it turns out.>

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

Cucumber Problems (1/11/04) Hello again resplendent friends.
<Hmm. Not looking particularly resplendent this time of night personally. Steve Allen at your service.>
I have another cucumber question I sincerely hope you can answer. A couple weeks ago I was at LFS and noticed they had a new black sea cucumber. It's a young Holothuria atra and he/she didn't look happy. <Could be dangerous to take home a potentially ill sea cucumber given their toxic potential.> They had no idea how to care for it and so, despite their reputation (of which I am well aware), I took him home and named him Bort. <?> I built a small species refugium beneath my 200 Gal display tank w/ separate filtration as well as plumbing to main sump - I will seek other arrangements as he grows. I put down a few inches of sugar-size LS and built him a little cave out of LR. His only other tank mates are a few small leather corals (Sarcophyton sp. and Nephthea sp.) that I'm procreating and a half dozen Astrea snails. He seemed to be getting on quite well until this evening. He is out and about long before the lights are set to switch off and he is clinging to the glass, which struck me as a bit odd. <Indeed, this is a sand-sifting species that should keep itself to the sandbed. Is there enough food for it there.> And yes, I'm sure about the taxonomy. I can see his tentacles feeding as though he were grazing. What worries me is the milky viscous mass that spears to be emanating from his side. <uh-oh> These threads appear to be Cuverian in nature, but shouldn't they be coming out of his mouth? <Unless he ruptured.> And why has he released them? <If he ejected, but could be that his side split open for whatever reason.> No ammonia or nitrite and almost no nitrate (20ppm-ish). pH is a bit low as is Alk; <number, please.> can't figure out why, but working on it. Phos shows smallest possible reading. SG 1.0245. Temp 77-80ish. So what gives? <I trust you acclimated slowly over a couple of hours or longer.> Also, should I try to remove the threads from the system or will that just further agitate him? <I would not do this, you might totally eviscerate it.> I have a strong skimmer, added carbon and do frequent water changes. Don't really care about anything in his tank except the cucumber. Do, of course, care about display tank. Should I isolate his tank? <Definitely at risk of poisoning the entire system if any connection.> That will leave him with no heat or skimmer so I'm a bit hesitant, but I will try to arrange something if his continued exposure to the main system threatens its major contents. So yeah, please help. How do I make him happy? I'd appreciate any insight or advice you might be able to share. Thanks. -Dekon. <Sorry to say, but I strongly doubt that you can save a ruptures cucumber. The only hope is probably a sandy hospital tank with lots of food in the sand and a broad-spectrum antibiotic to treat/prevent infection to see if this rupture heals. Even that is a long shot at this point. We really don't know much about how to treat diseases and injuries of these creatures, regrettably. If you are seeing any progression of this lesion, I'd say it's safest to give up and remove him from your system.>

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.>

Cucumber & Crab Question Hello Bob. I was just reading over your "Crabs for Marine Aquarium" article trying to ID a little guy I found hitchhiking on my new Tigertail Cucumber; low and behold, it would appear you've encountered this precise situation before. Apparently, I have a Lissocarcinus sp. just like the one in your photo (from N. Sulawesi). <Neat> Although I can not tell for certain from the image, it appears to be the same kind of cucumber. The crab seems quite intent on staying with the cucumber both in your photo and my tank. Thus I am very curious about the relationship between my two new guests. Would you happen to know more about it? Is it perhaps symbiotic? Parasitic? Or just a coincidence? Thanks for your time. <Very likely this is more of a commensal to mutualistic relationship... with at least the crab benefiting (getting towed about, likely avoiding some types of predation) and not harming the Cucumber host. Bob Fenner>

Cucumber and huge worm compatibility Hello. Me again. Sorry to keep bothering you, but I've just made what might be a relevant discovery pertaining to the matter about which I have sought your esteemed aid. After writing that last email, I went to go check on the Tigertail (it is presently night time here) and was shocked to find a monster of a Bristol Worm on top of him! Now, I don't use the word monster lightly: the exposed part of this worm had to be at least a couple feet! Although it moved very rapidly back under a nearby rock from which it had extended, the thing was so long I got a pretty good look at it. I think it was a Hermodice canunculata based on your pictures, or perhaps just something closely related. I've noticed smaller versions (a couple inches max) living in some sort of plant ticket in turn within a small forest of Spaghetti Finger Leather Coral. The Leathers have always been quite boisterous, so I assumed they weren't the kind of Fire Worm I had to worry about, but now this monster seems to have taken an interest in my cucumber and that has me worried.
<< I usually don't worry about worms.  But if he is that big, I guess removing him isn't a bad idea. >> I know this to be true because after first spotting him, I left the tank dark for about thirty minutes before returning to again find him atop the Tigertail. I repeated the experiment a second time, just to be sure, and sure enough, he was back. So, what do you think? Should I invest in a trap or might this just be some sort of zany coincidence?
<< I'd just pull him out with some salad tongs.  But don't tell your wife. >>
Oh, also, the Tigertail has a little passenger - a Lissocarcinus sp., I believe. Bob said the crab was no threat, but might the worm be after the crab instead of the cucumber? << Yeah a worm that big is big.  It may be best to just remove him to be safe.  Although you may have dozens of worms that size in your tank. >> Any insight you might provide would go a long way to puttering my nerves at rest. I've already named the Tigertail and am determined to see him live a long, happy, monster-free life. Thanks
<< For a trap, I'm impressed with the traps people make by folding up that checkerboard style craft plastic.  The just fold it up and put a piece of shrimp in the middle.  The worm wiggles its way into the plastic mesh, but can't get out very fast so you can just lift it out throw it away. >> again...again.     <<  Blundell  >>

Pentacta lutea (10/3/04) Bob, <Steve Allen covering> Interesting article. <Not certain which article you are referring to, but I always find Bob's articles fascinating and helpful. I'll pass along the compliment.> I have been keeping one black and two pink sea cucumbers since 1997 in a reef tank with coral and fish and have to date no adverse experience.  <Glad to hear. Many succeed with these lest toxic and more hardy species. Sea Apples are another story...> Last week I purchased two 2" yellow Pentacta lutea which you list as Colochirus robustus. <As near as I can tell from Googling, these names describe the same animal, but Pentacta lutea appears to be used far less commonly.> The other day while performing janitorial duties I moved one of them and it separated into two 1" sections. I thought that I caused the separation but the other one located on another rock separated also. I now have four distinct individual sea cucumbers. Three of them seem to remain in their position with no movement and are about 1" in length. The other one moved about a foot across the tank and has grown back to 2" in length. <I used to have two of these, now I have 8.> I have read that they are capable of breeding in captivity but have never heard of them dividing. <Rather common actually. Fascinating indeed. The front half grows a new back end and the back half grows an new front, tentacles and all. They don't move unless they're dissatisfied with their current location.> I would appreciate it you know any more details about their breeding habits? <I'd say they split more often than spawning, but that's just because I've seen them do it so much. You can probably get more info by searching under Colochirus robustus. Per Foss?& Nielsen's extensively researched "The Coral Modern Reef Aquarium, Volume 4, c2002" the details of their natural reproduction are not known> Tony <Hope this helps.>

Butterfly eating a cucumber Hi guys. Let me quickly say first that I am a huge fan. Your website and published material are a magnificent resource - unparalleled, to my knowledge. Furthermore, individuals of your caliber are a credit to the species; your very existence is sublime. Now that I'm through gushing, on to my question. I recently inherited a well established 200 gal reef tank. It was my fathers before me and although I always had a hand in things, I've only recently gotten creative control. One of the first things I did was introduce a pair of Pink & Green Sea Cucumbers (Cucumaria sp., I believe). I'm well aware of the potential danger they pose, but I've loved Holothuroidea since childhood and I simply couldn't resist the chance to finally have some of my own. So far, they seem to be doing quite well. I did a fair amount of research before and after acquiring the pair and have every reason to believe they are quite happy. That is, accept for the following. Amongst others, the tank contains a Butterfly Tang that's been with us for quite some time. My father was very fond of this fish (despite the obvious) and I would hate to see anything happen to him, so I became a little worried when he took a chomp out of one of the cucumbers. Fortunately, nothing catastrophic happened. Having read your Cukes guide I assumed it was an isolated incident: "Only the very hungriest and naive fish will (re-)try chomping on a Sea Cucumber." However, he seems to have developed a taste for them! << Very odd. >> Whenever they expose their tentacles to filter for too long, he'll take a bite out of one! << Oh I gotcha ya'.  Yah I can see that happening. I wouldn't worry much about it, and would hope the Cuke learns. >> It goes without saying this has me quite concerned. I mean, sooner or later won't one of them simply get feed up and napalm the whole jungle? << Well that would be terrible, but honestly I've never known anyone who had that happen. >> Baring that, won't the Butterfly get sick? <
< I don't believe so.  Here is why.  If it is indeed toxic, logic would say he'll stop eating them.  I think that may just happen. >> I feed him plenty, so I doubt he's doing it out of hunger. In any event, what do you suggest? << Nothing really.  I think you leave them be and see what happens.  I don't know if there is anything you can do. >> I've been keeping the cucumbers alive by supplying them with plenty of liquid plankton whenever the Butterfly is busy feeding on his usual frozen favorites far from the Cukes corner. << Great idea. >> Speaking of which, is it possible to over feed them in this way?  << No, and live phyto is always good for the rest of the system as well. >> Not that I could ever distract Madam Butterfly long enough to do so, but I could happily watch them stuff themselves all day. Anyway, I sure could use some advice. I really don't want to get ride of either party, but is there anything else I can do? Thanks for your time. << Just let them work it out. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Dried sea cucumbers? Dear Sir: << Blundell here. >> Do you sell dry red sea cucumbers? << I can't imagine we do. >> I want  it but don't know where to buy . << I have no idea where you can buy one, and I'm interested in why anyone would want one.  I'd be cautious as such an item may not be the most conscientious purchase.... similar to dried seahorses. >> Any idea? Regards, Michael <<  Blundell  >>

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.> Possible sea cucumber? I just returned from the Bahamas where I did a little snorkeling.  I saw something on the ocean floor (actually I saw 2 of them) that looked like a gel-type snake.  It was whitish or sand colored and coiled up like a snake might be. <No marine snakes in the tropical West Atlantic>   It was at least as big around as my wrist and looked like it was 4 - 6 ft long.  The person I was with got freaked out that it was a snake and wanted to go back to the boat so I didn't get a chance to watch it for long.  On the way back I saw another one that was smaller, but also coiled up on the ocean floor.  I asked the boat captain (yacht, not dive) if he had ever seen anything like that and he hadn't.  I have snorkeled quite a few places and never seen anything like that and have been searching the internet today trying to determine what it was.  Any ideas? Thank you, Mona Cabler <Very likely was/were sea cucumbers. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacukes.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Possible sea cucumber? Thank you for your prompt reply.  I did look through the site before I sent the question and saw that there were sea cucumbers around the Bahamas.  I did not find any pictures that looked like what I saw, but a sea cucumber seemed like the most likely answer I have found.  They were long and bigger than I knew sea cucumbers got and of course, now I wish I would have stayed & watched for a while instead of accompanying the other person back to the boat.  Any suggestions of books or websites that might have more pictures? <Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach's Guides are the best here. You can find them on Amazon et al. Bob Fenner> Thanks again,  Mona Cabler 

Cuke moving Hey everyone. I have a question concerning my "pink" sea Cuke Pentaca anceps. It lives in a 90 gal reef with mostly LPS corals, mixed inverts and half a dozen small to medium fish. I noticed someone else posted a similar problem. It has attached near the top of the tank in front of one of the filter outputs. This is a problem because I cannot change any water without exposing it to the air. << Unfortunately you do not have a sump huh?  If so, you wouldn't have to worry about the tank water height. >> Any suggestions on moving it without causing undue irritation? I was going to try slowly prying it of with a credit card....Worried about it releasing toxins though. << I don't think that is a bad idea.  The other idea is to aim a powerhead at it for a while, so that it doesn't like where it is at and moves down on its own. >> It "Cuke nuked" the bag that I brought it home in, with some kind of milky fluid, to such a degree that you couldn't see the animal. Thanks for your time, Simon     << Not much else I can suggest. >> <<  Adam Blundell  >> Simon Luffman

Cucumber Problems (5/23/04) Hey guys, thanks in advance for enlightening me on yet another subject, I speak for many by saying we'd be hurting without the WWM Crew! <Steve Allen tonight. Glad to be playing a small part.> Anyway, I have a 75 with a 29 DSB sump, about 8 fishies, some soft corals and polyps Mac algae and thousands of other little critters. Water parameters are perfect due to the DSB with high flow support (about 13x per hour). Everybody is doing great except for this one cucumber I have. He is one of the more "safe" Cukes (i.e. not a sea apple cucumber), pink and green with pointy feet, a side of many pod feet, and a crown of tentacles that he cleans off in his mouth. <Pentacta anceps> I've had this guy for well over a year and he has had a very nasty habit of climbing to the top of the glass of the tank (I have two other Cukes, and they seem to find plenty to feed on away from the top - one even split into two separate organisms!). <Yellow ones (Colochirus robustus) most likely. Smaller and seem easier to keep, IME. I bought two last fall and now I have six. Truly amazing to see them twist up and split.> But this guy likes to hang out at the top of the glass. <Better circulation, perhaps? Once they find a suitable spot, they don't move much. One of mine has been in the same spot for four months.> This is a serious problem for me because these guys are very hard to move <Easy to tear their tube feet off--they stick to the glass like glue.> and I have to do regular weekly water changes. He always positions himself so that he is out of the water during the water change. At first, I would use a metal scraper to slowly work him from the glass and deposit him elsewhere (far elsewhere), but he would just go back to the same area. Eventually I left him there because I felt that being out of the water for a few minutes might be less stressful than scraping him off where invariably some of the pod feet break off (I swear I was really careful and tried my best not to hurt him). <Understood> He didn't seem to mind and things went like this for the better part of the year. However, over the last week or so, he has been getting soggy, and I am afraid that he might be dying. <Sounds bad> He is still hanging on to the glass by a part of his body. <If only part of it is holding on and the rest is droopy, it's a goner.> I don't want to kill the poor guy (I already feel responsible for his current state), but I also don't want him to croak and poison the tank as I have read even the "safe" Cukes are not really that safe when they die. <If you have a very large tank, a small one like this will not likely cause harm, especially if you use chemical filtration (carbon/PolyFilter) and are doing water changes, but there is always a risk. I wouldn't bet my reef on it.> At the same time, they do have regenerative prowess and I am an optimist. <Cucumbers are probably not as regenerative as Seastars. Any echinoderm that starts to melt (for want of a better word) is almost certainly doomed.> Should I leave him be? <Since you only have 75 gallons, the safer course is to remove it sooner rather than later.> Should I euthanize? <Hmm, I am really not aware of how to euthanize an echinoderm. I suppose the freezer is a faster death than drying out. Remember, though, that echinoderms do not have brains. It is very unlikely that they experience pain or distress like fish do.> I feel like any kind of moving will mean his demise, which is why I didn't put him in QT. Thanks everyone and sorry for bothering you with my problems. <No bother.> No more Cukes for me. <Stick with the little yellow ones. I suspect your Pentacta either has not gotten enough nutrition or has been harmed by the exposure to air. This can certainly be damaging. On the other hand, there are may echinoderms that live in tidepools and are frequently exposed to air.> 

Tiger Tail cucumber and Crushed Coral: nope 5/10/04 I understand tiger-tail cucumbers tend to pass substrate through their system.   <this how they eat/survive my friend... and do know that these cucumbers have an adult size over 6' when stretched  out. They really only belong in enormous tanks with very old, deep, fine sand.> I have a substrate of approx 70/30 sand/cc (respectively).  Do you think the CC would present a problem for the cucumber, tearing its innards and what not?   <or worse... the animal would simply starve to death for being kept on such an unnatural substrate> Also, out of morbid curiosity, what do you believe would happen to my rust-colored flatworms when they are consequentially passed through its gut? <the same thing that happens to me after I eat fast Mexican food> Thanks for your constant help to the community. <best regards, Anthony>

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.>

Cucumber Troubles (3/24/04) I have had a pink and green cucumber about 3 inches, I think it is a Pentaca anceps <yes, fascinating creatures>, in my tank for over a month now completely oblivious to its potential for toxic emissions. <Though all cucumbers have some toxic potentials, Pentacta anceps has a good reputation as relatively safe.>  I just noticed a small spot about the size of a nickel that looks a little like a fungus. <Uh, oh> I have though about moving it to my hospital tank but there is still some residual copper in there so I have been hesitant. <Smart. Any copper could be lethal.> Is the spot something to really worry about? If so is there any way to treat it without moving it to the hospital tank and if I should move it, how dangerous is the copper in that tank to the cucumbers continued health (hopefully).  <The spot could be bacterial or fungal infection or simply degeneration. There is generally little to be done successfully if this is the case. Removing it to a copper-free QT and trying a broad-spectrum antibiotic may work. You will need to feed it carefully. The other option is to leave it in your tank and keep the water in pristine condition. If the spot is spreading or the cucumber appears to be going downhill, then remove it sooner rather than later for the safety of your tank. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

A Cucumber In Trouble (3/17/04) Hi, <Greetings. Steve Allen here tonight.> I have a 75g SW tank with live rock and clean up crew only.  It has been set up for 8 months (no fish yet, taking my time) <Impressive patience.> I have a Tiger Tail Cuke that looks different than usual.  Tank parameters are normal, Ammonia 0, nitrate 0, Ph 8.1. Sal 1.0235 . I am in the process of raising the temp in the tank, eventually to 78) I have kept it at 74 and I have raised it up to 75 over the course of 1 day. The Cuke is shriveled up to about a 2" length (normally 4-6"s) Additionally, it appears to be "shedding its' skin". I read on the site about eviscerating and I am wondering if this is what I am seeing. Do Cukes lose their outer flesh, is this healthy? <No and no> Or am I looking at his guts? <Hard to say without a picture. If so, you should be able to see it originating from the end.> If so, will the eviscerated material kill the hermits, brittle stars or snails? <Always a bit of a risk, but this species does not have the bad reputation of some others.> I hate to toss him out in haste, but... <If he does not look better soon, I'd say pull him out.> thanks, Brian <Hope this helps.>

Safe handling I would like to know how to safely handle the sea cucumber Actinopyga agassizii. Thanks Jonathan <Best with gloves, though can be handled bare-handed... just wash your hands immediately afterward, and underwater, as in simply lifting the specimen and placing it into a submersed bag/container (not lifting it into the air). Bob Fenner> Sea cucumber Can a sea Cuke spin a cocoon? <Of a sort, yes>   I have what appears to be a cocoon towards the top of my saltwater tank by the filtration vents.  What the heck is it?  Last night I saw one of the Cukes (same one?) with a milkish like film squirt from it, the fish were quite interested in it.  Is this related to the cocoon?   I have another Cuke that has two small clear to milky white bubbles on it, that wasn't there yesterday.  This milky white bubble stuff is what the cocoon looks like.  NONE of my sea Cukes are poisonous!!   :)      Amy <I do hope that your sea cucumbers are indeed non-toxic. Just the same I would gingerly vacuum out/remove this "cocoon". Bob Fenner>\

A Rotten Apple? (Sea Apple In Peril?) Hello, <Hi there. Scott F. with you today!> I hope you can help me. I have a sea apple that has slowly deteriorated. I can't seem to find any information on the web on the care for this animal. I've had it two years and I believe my clown and wrasse have chosen to pick on it. It started having little white lines all over his body. I thought these might be scars. The Sea Apple went and hid under a rock somewhere and I couldn't find him. I was cleaning my tank and looking for him and found him all shriveled up and what appeared to be his insides coming out. Isn't this a defense mechanism? <I suppose it could be...Usually, this happens as a response to some sort of stress...> Well, I scooped him up and put him in a zip and am floating him in the tank. I also heard if they die they can poison everything else. So I'm not sure what to do. How do you know if they are dead? <You'll be able to tell quite obviously. A very "deflated" appearance, and off color.> He still has color, but looks real bad. I have another tank with a golden puffer in it, that maybe I can transfer him to. Not sure if puffers eat sea apples. <Well, he might take an exploratory "bite". Personally, I would isolate this animal in it's own tank. The potential for a release of toxic material is great. Err on the side of caution, and make sure that whatever tank he is in has aggressive chemical filtration, with activated carbon and/or PolyFilter running 24/7.> My puffer doesn't even bother the snails. Okay, hope you can help. I don't want to keep the sea apple in a bag too long, but don't want to pollute my tank either. I have a hospital tank but I'm at work now and it will be late this evening before I can do anything. Thank you, glad y'all are here to help. Liz <Well, Liz- I guess the best course of action is to isolate the animal in that extra tank as soon as possible, and maintain good water quality and stable conditions. Hopefully, that could help bring about a recovery for the animal. HTH! Regards, Scott F>

Baby Sea Cucumbers Happy New Year! <To You as well!> I have a couple of 6 inch sea cucumbers (Holothuria spp) in a 20 gallon new fish quarantine tank for a couple of years (and no, I've never had a sea cucumber poison a tank).  Nothing fancy, Bak-Pak skimmer hang-on system and monthly water changes with recycled "used" water from my reef tank (when I do that water change).  About a month ago, my son saw this tiny 1/2 inch sea cucumber on the glass, and we've subsequently found about 20. <You probably don't want this many in your tank. Perhaps you can get someone to take some off of your hands for you as they grow.>  The biggest is now about 1.5 inches.  I've seen some stuff about commercial sea cucumber aquaculture, but haven't been able to find anything about this happening in a hobby aquarium.  Have you heard of this? <Yes. I had 2 Yellow ones that became 4 by splitting. Fascinating to see. Others have been known to reproduce sexually.> BTW, I have no idea why this happened. <The birds and the bees...> The only thing I can think of is that the tank will occasionally heat up into the mid 80's (we live in Miami, and my mother-in-law likes to turn off the AC), and I've seen in the aquaculture literature that raising the temperatures will induce Cukes to spawn. <Perhaps that's it.> Thanks! Kelvin Lee <No worries. Steve Allen>

Sea apples -Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - 11/24/03 Hello I believe I have a Australian Sea Apple, and the other day it was secreting yellow little balls, possibly eggs. <Possible...either way....not good!!!>  But the next day 2 of my fish died. <Craaaaaap. Sorry to hear about that. Yes, well, this is why these are not good in mixed aquaria. Either dedicated tanks or not at all my friend.>  I was curious if it was from eating those balls. <Absolutely, but just being in the tank with this noxious material would be enough to kill everything in the tank! Doesn't even take eating it. Do read about this on our site.> I did a 90% water change <More frequent water changes with about 30-50% daily might help. 90% percent was probably necessary though. Do read up before purchasing any inhabitant you are to take into your charge. Good luck ~Paul>

"What's Wrong With Your Cucumber... It Looks Funny"- 8/23/03 I bought a pink and black sea Cuke 8/20/03 that's just a few days ago. I acclimated it to my water for about 3 hours. <please do QT all livestock... especially such potentially toxic creatures as cucumbers... in a separate tank for several weeks first> Then I put it in the tank. I notice that it did not crawl away or anything. <not sure without a pic... but you may have a filter-feeding species, which can stay in the same place for years as many Cucmarids do (like sea apples)> I had one before and I acclimated it the same way and it rolled over on its stomach and crawled away. granted it was a prickly Cuke not a red and black one. This thing just flattens and expands, but it doesn't crawl AT ALL. <hmmm... may have tossed its innards under duress from recent shipping stress on import> It move a few inches in my tank but nothing impressive. I'm wondering should I remove it or should I wait. <at this point be patient and very observant (removal promptly on it death if so)> It really  doesn't look normal. it's twisted and it's mouth don't seem to touch the sand all the time. Matter of fact it doesn't eat at all. I could see it's mouth to side. It just lies there and inflate a little and deflate, maybe it my scoot down a little, but as far as movement it doesn't do much. Is this normal? <hard to say... do give it more time. And look for feeding tentacles. What do you plan to feed it? Do you even know what this species is and what it eats? (detritivore or planktivore). Alas, too many are bought by the ill-prepared> .. is it regeneration organs or something. I bought it in tact. <perhaps... could have happened days/weeks ago further back in the chain of custody on import. Best of luck. Anthony>

Sea Cucumber To whom:  I have an orange and white cucumber I believe it is the species: Holothuria hilla.  I noticed this week it had been split in half, each end looks fine, no damage, or leakage.  Both halves are moving and looking normal. Is this normal? I heard these guys can regenerate their stomachs but what about this??? Please help, is the rest of my tank at risk?? all the levels are good.  Anissa <hmm...this is curious. In general, echinoderms are amazing regenerators. If behaviors look normal, it (they) should be ok. keep a close eye on it for necrosis around the edge of separation.  best, Chris>

What is this?!!!! Cucumber? >Hi Crew, >>Greetings Jocelyn.  Marina here this morning. >My name is Jocelyn. I am taking care of my husband's saltwater reef tank for him while he is deployed. I was watching the tank one night with its lights off to see if I could spot any nocturnal behavior. I had my face inches from the glass when this "thing" slid out of an opening in the reef. It's shaped somewhat like a worm, smooth surface and "fleshy" like a worm. It appears to be a gray color with a lighter bottom-side. It also had a couple of small rings around it. Its "mouth" looks a lot like that of an elephant's trunk. I couldn't see any tentacles, fibers or teeth inside. Just looked like a smooth opening. It appears to have the ability to stretch way out in length and also swell to about a little smaller than the radius of a pencil. When I flicked on the light, it quickly shriveled in size and retracted into the reef. Its mouth looks like it's vacuuming the reef. It doesn't crawl or slither. It acts more like one end of it is attached to the reef and the mouth end stretches out to wherever it wants to feed.  Any clue what this might be? We've had the tank for over a year and NEVER seen this before!!! I've been all over Google and can't find anything. Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated. >>Well, it does sound something like what I've seen in Puerto Rico, the common name there for them is "Los Mojones" (means "The Turds" in Spanish), however, they are much less flexible in their activity.  It could be a sea cucumber of some sort, is my guess.  It is more than likely a detritus eater, and I would expect it to not be harmful at all to the system.  If anyone else on the crew sees this, or another hobbyist who's seen it before, maybe we'll get lucky and they'll chime in.  Best wishes to you and your husband, and safe return home (I'm sure you miss him like the dickens).  Marina

What is this?!!!! Cucumber? >Thank you for your help Marina. >>Quite welcome, Jocelyn. >I can't wait to tell my husband there's a "Turd" in his aquarium. Ha ha ha. I'll continue to watch for it and Its activities. Thanks Again!! >>Oh my God!  LOL!!!  He should love that, and so should his company, eh?  Maybe a streaming video would be in order?  All my best, Jocelyn.  Marina

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

Girlfriend is at it again - new additions 6/20/03 First of all you guys ROCK!!! Stop blushing it's embarrassing. <I'm not blushing... that's a gin blossom. Thanks for the kudos at any rate <G>> I need to quit my job because every time I come home there is a new addition to the tank. <spontaneous creation is so cool...> This time it was a pink thorny cucumber. I think that is what it is. Anyways as she was putting it in the tank she dropped it. >Ahhh... girlfriend likes to shop. Good luck... and buy stock in Snickers> As I watched it fall 2 feet I went and got me a beer to watch the fun. Well once it landed (on the feather duster) it started to emit a ton of tan colored balls. <Oh, yeah... the old ball-ejecting dropped when from a height maneuver...> I was done half my beer by the time it was finished. I ran to the computer to get on WWM to find out if I was going to jail for murder. <depends on the nature of the balls> As lucky as I am I could find nothing solid on here about what I have and what it did. I was a little disappointed mind you. So far no ill effects are seen and it has been a week. I even saw some fish eat the balls. <no comment> They are still alive. So is the cucumber ( I think). He is sitting on top of my pink and lavender polyps which are at the top of my tank near a powerhead. I guess the question is what exactly did it emit? <could have been gametes ejected under duress. We cannot say they were fecal pellets (cast) as with detritivore Holothuroids... this filter-feeder of yours simply is unlikely to excrete that much solid waste at once> And did I just get lucky that he did not kill the whole tank? <perhaps a little... but Holothurin toxicity is overrated IMO. The production of the toxin requires great emotional energies... and they are not dispensed easily. Your Pentacta anceps cucumber however is a hardy species that reproduces readily in captivity (fission) and is longer lived compared to many others in this group> Did I mention that you guys ROCK!!!? BTW I have a 220 tank. Kenny <best regards, my friend. 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>

Where Did That Cucumber Go? Good Afternoon, Crew <Hi there! Scott F. your Crew member today> Just a quick question for you. I have a 46 gal bowfront with a few happy fish and 60 lbs of live rock. From a very reliable source it was recommended that I purchase a tiger tale cucumber to help keep the sand sifted and clean. I purchased a real beauty and added to my system last week. Have not seen him since. Do they stay hidden all the time? Do they ever come out for air? <Well, these are rather secretive creatures, and they tend to remain hidden behind rocks or underneath the substrate, so it's normal to barely see them. About the only thing that will betray their presence is usually the "droppings" that they leave, which are generally like little clumps of sand...> Just would like to know your opinion on these strange creatures as I am getting conflicting reports on their behavior. Thanks for your time. Randy S <Well, Randy, as mentioned above, these creatures tend to be secretive. They do help sift through the upper sand layers, which can be a big help in some systems. Keep a close eye out for this guy, and I'll bet you'll see him from time to time!>

Sea cucumber evisceration Hi, I've just finished reading through your excellent sea cucumber web-pages and wondered if anyone has ever filmed sea cucumber evisceration?  How fast does it happen? <Have seen some footage of this. Can "happen" in less than a second, or several seconds> Is it something that could be filmed happening naturally, do you think? (i.e. without having to provoke the poor old sea cucumber!). <Mmm, likely provoked. An "expensive" (biologically) thing to do... often results in loss of "parts" (respiratory apparatus, gonads...), calling for energy, time for replacement.> With many thanks for your help. Penny Allen <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

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>

Re: Id please? Hi Crew! <Cheers!> I just purchased some more LR and this creature was a hitching a ride on it. I'm assuming it's a cucumber. <correct... a Holothuroid sea cucumber> Can you ID it? <not from this photo my friend. Have you seen it distend filter feeding appendages in to the water column to suggest that it could be a Cucumarid? Or instead bury them like a Holothurids?> Are these safe to be in a tank? <the later more than the former. Most all are fairly safe if protected from pump intakes like we do with anemones> From what little I've read in the past about Cukes is that one should be very careful/leery about housing one. <barely> Is that true? <overrated IMO> or they just stir the sand? <we need a better ID first> Thanks a million! Justaguy <best regards, Anthony>

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

Cucumber regeneration and Cleveland club Christmas party Gents: <hey... we work for a living <G>> No question this time, but a follow up to a previous question, prompted by  Anthony's recent appearance as the featured speaker at Cleveland Saltwater Enthusiasts Assn. (C-SEA).  Kudos for an excellent program Dr. C. Ha! Thank you... but I'm no doctor... I don't even play one on TV> About 3 months ago I wrote asking about the prognosis for a Turd cucumber (Please insert appropriate scientific name here) <yes... Cucumarid poop-a-loticus> that was caught in a  powerhead.  The cucumber lost his Cuke-  as about the anterior fourth of him/her was ground up.  I removed what was left from the powerhead inlet and put it into a quarantine tank.  The ground up tissue became necrotic and sloughed off. The open wound healed over, and he/she <they> wandered around the tank with no sign of regeneration and differentiation of the anterior structures for about 6-8 weeks, during which time it lost about half of its body mass.  Then there appeared to be some growth of branched structures over about 2 weeks.  Last week I observed what appear to be tentacles that were moving sand grains.  I placed it back in the main tank, and it continues to handle sand grains and move them towards the mouth.  I have yet to see any production of fecal sand pellets, so I am not sure if it is really recovered, but here's hoping..... Thought someone might find this interesting. <an awesome story! Thanks for sharing. And ever more proof that cucumbers don't wipe out aquariums with toxin at whim. Such events are rare> PS.  The Cleveland Saltwater Enthusiasts Assn. will be holding their annual December meeting/Holiday Party and Raffle extravaganza December 20th at 7:00PM in the Cleveland Zoo Aquatics/Cat/Primate Building. This is an excellent opportunity to met others in the hobby, win some great stuff, and support the club's ability to bring in superb speakers such as Mr. Calfo. AND you get a chance for behind the scenes tours of the Zoo Aquarium.   A BARGAIN AT TWICE THE PRICE....Thanks Gents.  Stan <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Re: Sick Sea Cucumber Hello, <Hi!> As you may recall I wrote earlier regarding my cucumber and its unsightly gashes. It was with difficulty I decided it could not be saved. My question at this point is regarding the live rock that was with the cucumber. Would poison be retained by the rock? <If you haven't noticed any ill effects by now you're probably in the clear> If I rinse the rock and vacuum it, will it be safe for my tank (fish & inverts). <I see no reason why it shouldn't be okay as it is...But if cleaning the rock will make you feel better...> Sincerely, Peg <David Dowless>

Pygmy Cucumber growing ROOTS into Green Star Polyp? Hey there! The title says it all. I went to remove my pygmy cucumber from on top of a part of the star polyp and I noticed that in order to pull him off I had to pull these little 'roots' out of the coral. What's the deal with this? Is it harmful to my star polyps? Thanks again! Ray <if they came off of the cucumber, they were simply tube feet and they will regrow. Else something was growing onto the cucumber. Simple parts here... nothing else it could be from the Cucumarid. Best regards, Anthony>

Damaged Cucumber Hello, I have had a brown sea cucumber for at least 2 years which is about 5 inches in length. Last night I noticed a yellow bulge on top of it. It has never changed colors. I moved the rock it was on to see 2 gashes in its sides about 2 inches long. There was white stuff flowing from the gashes. After consulting my LFS I removed it from my tank. <Good!> Unfortunately, and I know you'll be disappointed, I do not have a quarantine tank. I placed it in a bucket (tank dedicated) with the rock. <Ok, but you really should have that quarantine tank.> This morning a chunk of skin had fallen off. About half of the body looks "okay". The end where its feeders are is sunken and it has a brownish ooze. My LFS is unable to quarantine this for me. I am unsure whether to make shift a QT or euthanize. <I would at least hold it for awhile in the bucket. Add some aeration, heat, and make small daily water changes and see what happens. Mix up a gallon or two, drain that amount from the cucumber bucket, siphon replacement water from the main tank, and add the new salt water to the display.> I was told sea cucumbers normally don't live beyond 2-3 years. What is your opinion? <I would not give up yet.> I would like to give it a chance, but I don't want to take a chance of it harming the rest of my tank. <No, for sure leave it separate.> Sincerely, Peg <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Cucumber Hi  hope everyone is ok. <So far so good> I have a 90 gallon tank that had 2 yellow tangs 3 blue damsels 1 purple Dottyback and 1 maroon clown. I started with 2 bubble tip anemone now I have 7 of them my water quality has been great since I started this tank (after cycling of course). I came home to find all fish dead except the clown. I assume that my pink and green cucumber has died and has poisoned the tank, for I have not seen him since this happened. I got all the dead fish out except for 1 damsel that was in the back, I seen my serpent star and hermit crabs eating him, I have corals growing on my live rock and would hate to disturb them trying to find this cucumber, my question is will the crabs and star eat him or should I take out the rock and find him? <I would remove it.....carefully> I am afraid of doing more harm than good. Also the corals look stressed even after 3 -30% water changes and the anemones turned green but seem to be improving, are they going to die anyway? <Not necessarily> Anyone who puts a cucumber in their tank should think twice before they put a potential time bomb in their tank, I have put too much time and money and have learned my lesson. Thank you in advance, Kevin <I would test the water (ammonia/nitrite/nitrate) to be sure the biological filtration is still functioning and try to find and remove as much of the Cuke as possible. Think about where the currents predominantly carry wastes in your tank and start there first.  Many varieties are extremely toxic in these cases. I would expect stress but success with removal and sufficient water changes. I would keep an eagle eye on those anemones too. Best of luck. Craig>

Pictures needed (Cuke likenesses) Guys, I need pictures (see below) for Rob Toonen's new article at 800x600 pixels and at 72DPI. <<I know Julian has some beautiful pictures of Apodid Cukes in his book, so I suspect that he'll be able to contribute some photos. Bob Fenner also has thumbnails of many of the species that I mentioned in his article that I cited, so he may also be willing to provide those. I guess that any of the legless cucumbers would be an obvious choice to include in the article, but you could always mix it up a little with some of the other species that I mentioned. I know that sea apples are always a popular choice, and there ought to be plenty of pictures of them out there, but I am planning to follow up with an article on sea apples next time. I actually started an aside on sea apples several times in the article and had to cut it all to get the column back down to a reasonable length, so I figured that I'd string those portions together and to cover sea apples for next time. Some of the other animals that I mention (such as Actinopyga agassizii or Bohadschia argus) would also make nice additions, especially if you could find someone with a picture of one of them with their Cuvierian Tubules expelled (like this one: http://www.umh.ac.be/~biomar/Tubes%20de%20Cuvier.jpg).>> Terry Siegel, Editor http://www.advancedaquarist.com/ <I have a few dozen scans... and many more that could be... where do you want them sent Terry? Oh, some are posted on WWM here: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/seacukes.htm 300 dpi TIFFs of 2.3 megs each... stat.> Bob Fenner>

Re: pictures needed Bob, Send them to me at 800x600 pixels at 72 dpi, jpg files. At that size they are easy to email. You will of course be given credit for your pictures used. Thanks, Terry Siegel, Editor http://www.advancedaquarist.com/ <Terry, is it poss. to just send you my present scans (as in on a CD)... am pressed for time (and knowledge of how to convert, re-scan) and we're out of here on a trip on 11/2... Bob F, a burning he will go>

Not just darn Toonen for Cuke Pix! >Hey Bob, > I just wrote an article on Apodid sea cucumbers for AAOM, but Terry Siegel has not been able to find any pictures of a medusa worm to use with the >article.  I know you have some nice thumbnails of synaptid Cukes on your >Gad-Zooks Cukes! page (which I cite in my article), and was wondering if >you would be willing to let AAOM use any of your pictures of a "medusa >worm" for the article? > Thanks! >Rob <Yes... sent all my Holothuroid scans off via USPS yesterday to Terry. Do you want a set too? Have many more slides, digital pix of grp., so do make it known if there's a specific request. Bob F>

Cuke Question Bob, Anthony, et. al., <howdy, my Texan friend> Just read your entire sea cucumber section a day after I was talked into buying a sea cucumber at my LFS. What did I learn?.....to ALWAYS thoroughly research everything before putting into your tank! <Ha!... rather ironic as you soon shall see> Especially when you have a 10-gallon Nano, like me. (Doh!) Other inhabitants are a Candy Cane, Green Star Polyps & assorted mushrooms (three are Ricordea). In short, this little guy's going back to the LFS tomorrow, but thought I'd see if you can ID him before he hits the road (pic attached). See you around, Ross, DFW/Texas <the Cuke you have purchased is Holothuria thomasi, AKA Tiger Tail cucumber. They are known to reach lengths of 4 to 6 feet! You might say that it would be too large for a 10 gallon aquarium. You made the right call :) Best regards, Anthony>

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