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FAQs about Sea Cucumbers 1

Related Articles: Sea Cucumber, Marine Scavengers, Sand Sifters

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

A relatively "reef safe" small species of Sea Cucumber

Chopped cucumber Gents: Try as I might to do the right things by my tank, I had an unfortunate accident. One of my "turd" cucumbers got its oral end/head into a powerhead and lost about 3/8 inch of the oral end. I quickly unplugged and retrieved the rest of the body. I have moved it to a quarantine tank. Is there a chance it will regenerate, or should I euthanize? <I would take a wait and see attitude for now since it is in a quarantine tank. Be sure to perform a few extra water changes in the main tank to rid yourself of any possible toxins from the cucumber. The use of Chemi-Pure and PolyFilter would be recommended, too.> Thanks for a hopefully speedy reply. Stan <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

A weird slug- type thing in my aquarium. Hi, I recently got a beautiful 30 lb box of live rock from gulf-view.com .A couple of nights ago, we saw (what appeared to be a leg of a black, spiny starfish) coming out of a hole in one of the rocks. After a couple of minutes we got a better look at it and it was the size of a slug that you would find outside, but it was black with spots or raised spines, tentacles) that were a cream color on it. <they were cerata if it was a sea slug/shell-less snail> Well, after that he was nowhere to be found. Last night, we see a crevice in another rock with something odd in it also. It has purple tentacles that resemble the "tree" in a sea apple cucumber ( how it looks like there are little branches on it). It has about ten little tentacles that were arranged around a small black space, and it a weird pattern, it would pull one tentacle inside, and push another one out, constantly. It was really like nothing I have ever seen.  <indeed... that most definitely was a sea cucumber> Today, I see that in the same space that it was in, now looks like a small tip of the slug-type thing I mentioned also. What could it be? Confused Kristie <a picture if possible...jpeg and sized smaller for web viewing. Else the description is too general to help you, alas>

Re: A weird slug- type thing in my aquarium. I apologize for being confusing, but the sea apple you described is coming from where the slug crawled into the hole. When it is not active, you can see the tip of the slugs head/tail. When it is active, it looks like a sea apple. <alas... without a photo at least, we are just guessing. I can tell you that "the tip of the head/tail" of the perceived slug could not possibly look like a sea apple. The tentacles of a sea cucumber/apple are feathery with "pinnules" and move independently like fingers into a mouth. The cerata of a slug simply move like wheat in the wind or look like tassels. These are wonderful mysteries and discoveries as an aquarist and great to share and learn about in a local aquarium society. If interested...look into the existence of a local club or start your own <wink>. All very exciting :)>

Re: A weird slug- type thing in my aquarium. The slug was actually what had the tentacles on it and was making all the movement, so was it still a cerata? it seems that the "tree" comes out of the tip of the "slug's" body. <no, my friend. Cerata are the tassels on the back of a sea slug. What you described as tentacles feeding a mouth (pulling into the center) was simply a sea cucumber (like a miniature sea apple). Kindly, Anthony>

Poisonous Invert questions Hi, Thanks for the wealth of info on your site! I have learned so much while researching for my first marine tank. I plan on setting up a live rock/small fish/basic invert system. (No corals of anemones) I love sea cucumbers, but everything I have read about keeping them has discouraged me from getting one. Are there any species available in the aquarium trade that wouldn't pose any threat to my whole system with poison? I've heard some real horror stories about certain kinds! I'd sure like one, but don't want to worry about poison/toxins. <honestly a hard question to answer fairly... poisonous animals don't go about the everyday randomly squirting toxins around (unless we are talking about gaseous Homo sapiens co-workers that drink too much beer). So even the toxic sea cucumbers in this case are of little risk if you plan the tank sensibly... protect pump intakes, guard from aggressive or inappropriate tank mates, maintain good water quality, etc.). And so, without triggers or attempts to pass them through the intake strainer of a power head you have little to worry about. Indeed, they are somewhat more of a risk with consideration for random unforeseen acts (3 day power outage, failure of heater/chiller... although this can be shored by extra heater, cheap alarms (even inexpensive ones like x-10 modules that can call you if the alarm is tripped), etc. So how much of a risk with toxins are you willing to take to keep mandarins, Soapfish, boxfish, sea cucumbers and more? Long story short... the "safer" sea cucumbers are the less colorful ones. Specifically... sea apples are more toxic. And by the way... not all sea cucumbers are sea apples but all sea apples are sea cucumbers. Hmmmmm? Yes, do pursue the less colorful species and research their husbandry as well...some are detritivores that need very fine sand, some are filter feeders (tough to keep usually)> Lastly, I would love to include a pencil urchin in my tank, but have recently come into info that they too can release poison into your system. How likely is this, and how much potential threat could they cause to a small tank, say around 40 gallons or so?  <I have not read that common pencil urchins have any significant toxin if at all. They are known to be extremely safe even if killed or dead in aquaria regarding some so-called toxin. Keep in mind though, that this is one of the few Urchins that is not largely herbivorous! They need meaty fare to survive> Would it be wise of me to avoid an urchin due to it's poisonous abilities? I would prefer to avoid any worries with poisons in my system. <you may need to avoid most or all sea cucumbers then. The poisonous urchins by the way that I am aware are not slate/pencil species> My apologies if I overlooked this info on your site, and thanks a bunch for your time! Jeff Rogers <best regards, Anthony>

Orange Knobby Cuke Hi Bob, Quick question. Can you tell me the species name for the "Orange Knobby Cuke?" Looking for particulars on this Cuke but can't come up with the species name. Also, what is your opinion of using Cukes for clean up in a reef system? I'm extremely reluctant because I've read tons of frightening articles about them "eviscerating" and wiping out an entire tank of fish. Do you keep them? What's your call on this one? Tanks, Peggy <Please have a read here: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/seacukes.htm and the linked files beyond. Bob Fenner>

Interesting but Deadly Critters? Hello Bob/Gentlemen, <I'm not sure if I resemble that remark, but thanks kindly anyways...Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a few questions regarding a package of invertebrates that I am interested in adding to my 90 gallon reef tank. The package includes: - 2x - tropical abalones <most heinously excellent creatures...very good algae scavenger> - 2x - Mithrax crabs <OK> - 1x - impatiens cucumbers (Holothuria impatiens) - 1x - tiger tail cucumber (Holothuria hilla) - 1x - pink and black cucumber (Holothuria edulis) <hello cucumberville!> - 1x - red Fromia star (Fromia sp.) <very good...Fromia are much better captives than Linckia species> I searched through your website for related articles and FAQ as well as other publications, and the consensus is the lethal potential of cucumbers "eviscerating" and then wiping out the entire tank.  <ya... that is troubling> While I certainly do not want that to happen, I noticed you (Bob) cited in one of your FAQ that the species of cucumbers mentioned above have a lesser potential of eviscerating. <have you never been a victim of Murphy's law? Hehe...> Having said that, should I go ahead and purchase the cucumbers or eliminate the them from my selection?  <if you do not have a distinct passion or need for sea cucumbers, please don't bother to take the risk. There are plenty of other detritivores out there. For simply diatom reduction and sand sifting...consider a goatfish, they are great and very underrated > Secondly, with regard to the red Fromia star and Mithrax crab, what is the likelihood of them bothering/eating my corals? <low risk...worth it if you like. Although the Mithrax are not the most diligent members of any janitorial crew> Lastly, will the above mentioned livestock cohabitate with my existing livestock? Tank Conditions: - Inhabitants include: yellow tang, purple tang, male flame wrasse, 2x - female flame wrasse, an assortment of soft and hard corals, black brittle stars, cleaner shrimps, snails, and hermit crabs. - Water parameters: Spg - 1.026, carbon hardness - 10dKH, calcium - 420 ppm, ammonia - 0ppm, nitrite - 0ppm, nitrates - < 2.5ppm, phosphate - < .03ppm, magnesium - 1350ppm, temperature - constant at 78 degree, and pH - 8.2 (this may be attributable to my calcium reactor, the CO2 could be suppressing the pH value). - Filtration: 120 pounds of live rock, and a hybrid 30 gallon ecosystem/ETS skimmer sump. <compatibility is likely to be fine...but the pH is indeed a bit low. A very beneficial and convenient correction for this is a second media reactor for the effluent of your calc reactor. Tempers the pH and maintains extraordinary alkalinity> My reef has been running well for the past two years; I wanted to add the above invertebrates for interest and maintenance values. I want to thank you in advance for your time and effort. Your website is a great value/tool to all hobbyist to learn and share! <thank you very kindly.. and for what it's worth, a second skimmer and/or better water flow would negate the maintenance needs of such a minor crew of detritivores. Anthony Calfo> Best, Dan

Cucumber Death I don't know if I "dodged a bullet" or not.  <ya... I almost went to see that Britney Spears movie too. Anthony Calfo> I recently bought a very interesting looking sea cucumber that LFS told me was safe.  <you are going to have a very rough road in the hobby if you take everyone's word at face value without being an educated consumer (study a creatures needs/dangers before you buy it for everyone's benefit). At least use a book in the store before purchase for reference> He /she was in the tank (110 Gal Reef) for about four days and seemed to be cruising around the tank sides and live rock. Then yesterday when I came home from work, he/she was laying in a lump seeming life less. I checked my ammonia level immediately and it was 0 ppm. I found what look to be some yellow entrails on one of my fake plants. When I went to net the creature I found more of the yellow entrails sticking out of one end. Is this the evisceration that you mentioned in your article on WWM?  <yes, indeed...can be dangerous. Do a water change, use carbon/chemical media and skim well> Is the cucumber dead?  <not necessarily... they eject innards under duress/fright... but do regenerate them> Its actually too late because I removed it from the tank thinking that it may not have released its poison yet. <if you just discarded this possibly still live animal, lets at least learn from the experience. Had you been armed with knowledge before you bought it, this living creature might not have died in vain. Sorry to be a bummer... but truth be told. For your tank, you made the right decision. But as an aquarist, you should have had it in a quarantine tank from go, or could have removed it to there for a chance to live. May I strongly suggest that you read Bob Fenner's Conscientious Marine Aquarist book? Again, sorry for being the heavy. I truly wish you the best in this beautiful hobby. Kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Sea Cucumber Identification Hey we have emailed a few times. I live near Monterey. We talked about meeting up for a brew or two......or three...... J/K. Not really a drinker. Anyway, you have a picture on you WetWebMedia (two pink and green colored cucumbers together (appear to be at the top of the tank) Anyway, I was duped into buying one about three months ago now. He seems to be doing well. He grew quite a bit the first few months and now he seems to be slimming down a bit. Nothing too dramatic. <This happens> Quite a neat critter but since I value your opinion so highly, I will never buy one or recommend one again unless I get a grant for research. Anyhoo, I was wondering what the hell is this particular Cucumber. I have asked many all who have no idea other than....."Yep, that is a cucumber". or "Not sure what species of cucumber specifically, but I would get rid of it right away". I don't have any fish just 2 starfish and some snails and crabs. Corals and live rock are the order of the day. No special filters or protein skimmers. Basically, a 20 gallon refugium that I change water in almost every 2 weeks. Sometimes earlier. Anyway, Tank just keeps rolling along, but I can't find reference to this guy on any website other than the picture you display in your Cucumber FAQ!!!! I would love to get all the taxonomic specs on this guy. <This is almost certainly a Cucumaria sp., family Cucumariidae, Order Dendrochirota...> Anyway, off to Marine Biology class I go......Thanks for all your help in the past and the present. I will send pictures if you like. One 10 gallon tank I have had for about a year done the same "refugium style". I get lots of compliments on it. So I decided to try the 20 gallon. Working out pretty good. No skimmer or filter other than Caulerpa and live rock/sand. Haven't lost a coral yet!!!!!! (Probably shouldn't brag about that, I might have just doomed myself.....wait...knocking on wood) Anyway, water is steam distilled and salt is added and let to stand for 2 weeks!!!!!! Been working out great. By the by, my wife and I leave for Palau for our second trip in less than a years time to get some more macro diving in. We great luck last time and saw every creature they had to offer (practically). So I am looking forward to meeting Larry Sharron this time (although I have had trouble emailing him lately.) We have mutual friends in Palau and just didn't get a chance to meet up. Do you know him? <Ahh, strangely enough, just read an email forwarded from Larry (to the AMDA)... still out there after fourteen years. Bob Fenner> Take care, Paul Mansur

Pink and Green sea cucumber Dear Mr. Fenner, I recently made the mistake of purchasing a pink and green cucumber (one that matches the picture of the two cucumbers that you have on the bottom of your cucumber page in which you stated more generally works out) before reading your page on cucumbers. Now that I have read it, I am sort of in a panic mode about their capabilities for wiping out an entire tank. How prone are these specific cucumbers to releasing their toxins, <Mmm, a possibility... should they be sufficiently stressed... and the system relatively small... and/or poorly filtered... water quality otherwise impugned...> and what should I look for besides spilling their guts out which are signs that they will soon release their toxins. <Not moving, discoloration, vacuolations (missing areas)... other livestock "acting funny"> Should I just get rid of it right now? <Up to you... see above and WetWebMedia.com FAQs on Cukes... a calculable risk> The place that I bought it at do not accept returns so it would just go to waste. Thank you. I look forward to your reply. <Could be traded with others...> P.S. FFExpress sells this as pink and green cucumbers too, knowing their dangers, why do they not put this cucumber on the restricted list? <Mmm, you'd have to ask them... All life forms have their inherent potential to "cause troubles"... some more overtly than others... Bob Fenner>

Cucumber ID <Paul... Anthony Calfo in your service> Would it be possible to get a positive idea on this jpeg??? <unclear in popular aquarium literature but it does filter feed like Cucumaria sp> I know it is a cucumber but I would love to the specific taxonomic relationship if possible. There is so little known about the this "Cuke" yet available freely in the "reef" trade. Thanks for everything, Bob. <these filter feeding cucumbers are more difficult to keep in captivity than the detritivore feeders. If you didn't buy one yet... I'm inclined to suggest that you don't. Without unique plankton generating refugiums (aliotoms and bacteria from Seagrass refugiums and the like), I believe that you will have to work hard to help this filter feeder realize a long captive lifespan. Anthony>

New and Misadvised Hi Robert, and thank you for tanking the time to read my mail.. <Jason... Anthony Calfo here, answering Bob's mail while he has been away in the far East perfecting his new found love for expressing himself through the performance art of belly-dancing> I am new to the salt water hobby, but I am very excited, and trying very hard not to get discouraged, but lighting my tank is making it very hard.  <hang in there, bud...really no big deal> Right now I have a 75 gallon tank, that has a pink and purple tip anemone, carpet anemone, and a Sebae anemone. <new problem... anemones are very hostile/competitive with each other (allelopathy). The may look fine for some months, but be assured there is silent warfare going on. Mixing different species in the same tank is fatal to one or all in the two-year picture or sooner. Especially with a tiger like the carpet anemone... well documented. You must separate these animals in the near future in my opinion for their optimum survival in captivity> I also have a sea apple cucumber, <Jason... fire whoever told you to put a sea apple in your tank and perhaps insult them (joking) if they were the same counsel who suggested that you mix anemone species too. Sea Apples are VERY difficult to sustain and one of the worst animals for a beginner. It is unethical or at least inappropriate for this animal to have been sold to you. They may exude a toxin under stress (fish nipping, temperature increase, etc.) that can kill most or all other animals in your tank. I'm sorry to say. It sounds to me like you will be less likely to be discouraged in this hobby if you gather more information on your animal selections before you buy them. Kudos to you for trying so now. Keep up the good work... read some good books like the Conscientious Marine Aquarist and stop shopping at stores that regularly give your such shameful advice> star pulps, and brown mushroom's (which are doing well, but are definitely stretching for more light). <hardy and excellent choices> I also have some live rocks that are growing some other anemone like creature's, and some fan like thing's. Overall I think the tanks doing well. my question is with so many light out there what would be the best light's for me, I'm trying to put together a reef tank with both soft and hard corals. <but not mixed with anemones... a surefire disaster> I look at all these web sites and they have all these light's for five or so hundred dollars, there's no way I can afford that.. I'm looking for something around two or so hundred. <might be tough to fit that bill if your long-term goal is a reasonably well-stocked tank with hard and soft corals. You may have to wait on the inverts until you can afford the lights. Then... 400-600 watts of VHO or PC lights split between daylight and blue colors should work well for most beginner type corals> thanks again for your help in advance. any other pointers or info would be greatly appreciated. <very best luck to you... kindly, Anthony> sincerely Jason Schrecengost

Sea Cucumber Slough <Jon.. Anthony Calfo here answering for Bob while he is away in LA interviewing for a controversial new position as a male Victoria's Secret catalog model> one of the many cucumbers I have in my tank is what was said to be a hairy cucumber. it probably is since my LFS guy rarely makes a mistake. anyways, the question is do cucumbers exfoliate their skin?  <sloughing is common particularly after a stress/move> the hairy cucumber appears to be 'shedding' its skin. I currently have a Cyanobacteria problem that is raging throughout my tank but the Cyano bacteria is dark red while the exfoliate is white.  <entirely unrelated> it kind of looks like a colony of bacteria, which is why I mention the Cyano. regardless I took a turkey baster and gave it a few good blasts and removed most of the 'skin' which the mechanical filters promptly sucked up. <with the mildly to wildly toxic nature of various sea cucumbers, it is a bad habit to allow the noxious secretion to degrade in the system (the same applies especially to coral slough)... even if in a filter. No real problem expected, it's just not good husbandry> right now I'm thinking that its growing and doing a kind of molting. all of my cucumbers are fat on Cyano bacteria as of late. thanks. Jon Trowbridge <Rock on, Jon. Anthony>

Loch Ness Monster in my tank! Hi Bob, <Hello> I'm new to reef keeping and have found your site invaluable. I've made mistakes from my own lack of knowledge but I've also run into problems with misinformation from my LFS. I've decided your book goes with me to the store so I can look up any new critter before I bring it home.  <Hmm, wouldn't it be great (or shall I ask, when will it be so?) to have the Worldwide Web available at the shops? With "bookmarked" sites, sources of information, opinions... like bulletin boards, chatrooms, specialty sites... to render, offer such input?> We've had a 46 gal tank with no coral set up for a month. It has 50 lbs of cured Fiji LR + couple pieces of cured Tonga, 40lbs of LS, 20 lbs of crushed coral substrate. I'm using a HOT Red sea Berlin skimmer with a FB 300 Lifeguard Fluidized sand bed filter, a CPR 12" AquaFuge, for circulation 2 AquaClear 301's, and one ZooMed PowerSweep 226. The system is lit with 144 watts. of power compacts. The water conditions are ph 8.1 nitrite .1 nitrate 5 ammonia 0-.1 Phosphates 3 <Three? Hopefully 0.3 ppm... Three is too high... as you likely are aware> Tank is stocked with 4 peppermint shrimp 20 blue legged hermit crabs 1 sandsifting starfish 1. 2" mandarin (He is fat and happy-I take extra special care of feeding him after reading on your site!) 1. 3"-4" Midnight Tomato Clown-am taking him back to LFS-hides all the time and picks on other fish-lesson learned on purchasing too mature of a fish <You are correct> 1. 2 1/2" Yellow tailed damsel 1. Purple tipped bubble anemone-I read you don't prefer this but was told it would help clown-who's scared of it- and was supposed to be easy first anemone. 1. purple Nudibranch We purchased 2 pieces of what was supposed to be Cured Tonga LR. We have two identical, unidentifiable creatures. They're scary! The one we've battled with is approx. 6" long, 3/8 to1/2" in width. We thought it looked like a snail or slug but it's surface is hard. It has no apparent eyes or head or tail. It's grayish, tanish and has small nubs or spikes along its outside edge. It also has black elliptical patches that run down its back in the center. It's twisted around in the LR and it comes out of its hole at night. It is flat like but thick when it's out. It moves slowly almost like the Nudibranch. But when we tried to pull it out with plastic tweezers we discovered that its back is shell-like and hard. It is very strong. My 6'3 and 210 lb. fiancĂ©©? couldn't pull it out or even squeeze it. The tweezers slipped off and left a small scratch on the casing. <Take care not to pull too hard, break this organism... more trouble than leaving it be... Likely some sort of sea cucumber... as its hardness points> Now, you ask, "Why haven't you moved the LR to remove the creature?" Our purple tipped anemone has just attached to the LR. So the questions are... What is it? Is it bad? Can we move the anemone and take LR out? How do we get creature once out of tank without killing everything on LR? <Perhaps try offering different foods toward night time... away from the live rock it's typically associated with... to lure it out for removal.> One more quick question for my reef life line. Are my skimmer, filter, and refugium too much weight hanging on the back of my tank? <Good question. Should be fine... the compression strength of glass, acrylic are tremendous.> Thank you so much for your website. We spend hours reading it. We've found your site informative and entertaining. Your regard for the ethics of the hobby are inspiring. Thank you for this much needed service. <Thank you for your kind words. Life to you. Bob Fenner> Barb and Justin. See attachment for sketch of creature. Tried to photograph and couldn't. Have never seen creature totally out of the LR. << lochness.PCX >> <What a crack-up! Still am sticking with my Holothuroid guess. Be chatting. Bob F>

Critter ID I will try my best to describe it. First off, I have only seen it twice, both at night. It looks kind of like a huge snail, but has no shell. It is mostly flat and tear-drop shaped. About 1 inch to 2 inches long, maybe a little longer. It has antennae and little black dot eyes. It suctions up to the glass with its body and moves around quite quickly. It has a separate head and its little circular mouth sucks up to the glass and moves around like a vacuum cleaner very quickly. It is light-greenish brown in color. Like I said, it doesn't have a shell and is thin, but has kind of a curved back that looks to have darker sand or something on it - not sure. My concern is that it is pretty damn big and moves pretty quick. I would say it might be a snail without a shell, but I don't know, I have never seen one of those. Thanks for the help with the ID. <Mmm, curiouser... a separate head? Moves quickly... as in faster than "the average snail"? There are worm, mollusk groups that this stranger may be part of... rather than my fave guess group- sea Cukes. If it were up to me, I'd take some pix, show them about on the Net. Bob Fenner>

A little extra help Hello Mr. Fenner! I love your web site! About three hours ago I asked for some help on WetWebFotos and got a few prompt responses. I love that site too!! <Yes. Very kind, involved people, with much to share> I asked about my Sea Apple. I know, I know, bad choice. I know that now! Read all that was written on your web site. If you could read my post (under 911, only post, I'm XBranX) and tell me what you think I would be grateful. It's not necessary though. :) I am writing you to ask if there is some fish/invert./coral that must come with a warning to the retailer?  <None that I know of.> I don't think my LFS knew of the potential danger when they sold it to me. Maybe I am deluding myself. I am just wondering if the livestock they get or that they sell must come with some sort of warning? I hope I explained myself well enough. Thanks for a wonderful site Brandon <Thank you for your kind words. The "nature" of the industry is that there is so much to know, so little time, so few opportunities of effective communication that "what we all know collectively" is enormous compared with the intersection of what most folks in the trade know individually. The "average" (mean) marine hobbyist is in the interest for less than a year... retailers less than two... said but so. Bob Fenner, who hopes the Internet will come to be an important, easy, inexpensive, fast vehicle for solving such ills/shortcomings>

Pseudocolchirus oxiolugus I am looking for any info on the Australian sea apple Pseudocolchirus oxiolugus I have found next to nothing on the animal. Can you help me out? thanks Brian <A risky choice for pet-fish use. Please read re this and related species of Sea Cucumbers on our site: http://WetWebMedia.Com/seacukes.htm And related FAQs page. This species goes under other scientific names btw. Bob Fenner>

Sea Cucumber woes, worries Thanks so much for your help thus far, you are the best. BTW, my leather opened up and he looks better than ever, again you were right on. <Ah, good> EMERGENCY!!! I have a rather large pink Cuke in the take (about 1 inch in diameter and about 8 inches long). He looks "sliced open" and his white (almost cotton looking) insides appear to be "draining out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" What should I do with this guy? <Yikes, pull it out! Place in a tank by itself... it may self-repair (they have amazing powers of regeneration)... but in the main tank may be real trouble> Thanks so much in advance!! Talk to you soon. Rich <Have been out of town. Hope this response is reaching you in time. Bob Fenner>

One Sea Apple and Anemones Dear Mr. Bob, This is my very first time on writing to you. I hope that you can help me. <Me too> I got a Sea Apple and the name is Paracucumaria tricolor and a Sea Anemones. Both of them are very beautiful. About the Sea Anemones I have not have the detail yet. I got my Sea Apple last Saturday, and this morning I found that she was under my life rock. She keeps hiding in-it, and it looks like in the form of Vacuum type. Not as I got it last Saturday. When I bought her. She was very soft and looks very fat. But today I found that she was totally not as same as before. She looks like a Vacuum Sea Apple and was very hard. <This happens... do read over the survey piece on our site on these and other sea cucumbers: http://WetWebMedia.Com/seacukes.htm The one you have is problematical in captivity> So I am worry about is she all-right ? I picked her and put it on the live rock. Hopefully she will be fine. <Probably fine... they do have more/less turgor at times> one thing that I am very very worry because today I visit some website and found that Sea Apple will eat the Anemones. Is this correct??? <Sometimes> What does Sea Apple eat?? And is it very difficult to keep? I read some Marine Fish book mentioned that Sea Apple is very easy to keep she eat almost all kinds of left over food and green algae. Actually I got her is because my tank have lots of Green Algae. <Mainly detritus... found, sopped-up with the feeding apparatus on the front of the animal. Not algae.> Today I read some website and wasn't sure about this. They said that Sea Apple is very hard to feed and will make up the whole tank up if she die. My goodness, after I read this I am worry about this!!! <You should... this happens... If the Sea Apple "becomes upset" or should "die mysteriously" things can go downhill very quickly. As stated, not an animal I recommend for aquariums> Worst thing she will eat Anemones. Is it true that Sea Apple is very hard to keep??? <Harder to keep than many of the smaller, more appropriate Sea Cucumber species aquarists employ. The bottom line is I'd return this animal, trade it in for something less potentially toxic... and study up before purchasing future livestock> I want to know how to keep and feed her??? Pls help. Thanks for your time of reading this. sfo <Be chatting and studying my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: One Sea Apple and Anemones Dear Bob, Thanks for your replied. Actually the website that you recommended to me is the website that I went. <Oh! That's our site> Worst still this morning she totally went into it I can't see any thing. So I will go to my office to have a look after my dinner. Wish me luck..! Anyway if I found that she is still in the vacuum size what I should do??? How can I determine that she is Dead??? <Good question... hard to tell... dissolving, bad reactions of other livestock...> Pls tell me what to do?? <I would remove this animal, return it whence it came. Bob Fenner> Thanks

Re: One Sea Apple and Anemones Dear Mr. Bob, This morning I observed that the Sea Apple is still as same as yesterday. As what you suggest I will send it back to the Fish Shop. Hopefully they want to accept it. <Please refer them to my opinions as posted on our website. Bob Fenner>

Identification question I took the attached photograph in about 15 feet of water off the coast of Dominica. The area would best be described as boulders/large rocks. I was at the end of the roll of film, so I decided to take the shot with a 20 mm lens (as opposed to a close-up shot), co the definition could be better. Any help with an identification would be appreciated - even just a nudge in the right direction. <Hmm, looks like the end of a Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber... Holothuria thomasi... there's a couple of pix of this species on our site: http://WetWebMedia.Com/seacukes.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks Shaun

Cucumbers Hello, I recently purchased a pink and black cucumber and 2 impatiens cucumbers from FFExpress. I then came across an article that cucumbers can expel their guts and kill all the fish in a tank. Does this apply to all kinds of cucumbers? <To a degree yes.> Are the ones I purchased safe?  <Much more so than the few of their kin that are many times their size (the so-called Sea Apples in particular)> I definitely want to keep fish so if there is a chance of them expelling their guts and releasing poison then I might just remove them. Thanks for your help. Cathy <I would leave these in place. If this system is any size (forty or more gallons) and adequately filtered, circulated and the tankmates not likely to "bother" these Cukes there is acceptably small chance of a problem here. Bob Fenner>

Sea Apple I have a sea apple (purple with yellow tube feet). It has been OK the first few months I have had it but over the last two weeks, it has developed a small area of discoloration (paleness) and is not feeding as well and looks smaller. Should I worry? <Maybe... Sea Cucumbers can be trouble... larger ones, the few sold as this species in particular... Please read over the section on these echinoderms posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site> What might be wrong and do you have any suggestions for me as to what I can do for it? <It may be wasting away... perhaps there is something not to its liking in your system... maybe it is succumbing to some sort/s of internal parasitic, infectious complaint/s...> At first I was feeding marine invertebrate smorgasbord liquid) and frozen brine shrimp but I have changed her food to liquid phytoplankton lately as the store I frequent has been sold out of the invert smorgasbord. Am I feeding him/her properly? How often should I feed? <Mainly detritivorous, sorting and sifting out the surface of the substrate for foodstuffs/micro-organisms... don't be too fastidious about vacuuming... keeping the tank "clean"... do keep offering other "bottom" foods.> I have it in a 20 gallon tank with a spotted green mandarin and a brittle star. <This is way too small a system for this species... If this specimen is a four or more inches in length you may be in for a very unpleasant surprise... Do read over the WWM site. Bob Fenner> Any help would be appreciated. What might the discoloration indicate? <Likely "something" wrong...> THANK YOU! Stephanie

Sea Cukes the reef relief packages offered by FFExpress contain sea Cukes, should I opt for something else or are these Cukes safe? also are there any other animals that will eat or remove detritus from sand? thank you. <Most of the very small species of Holothuroid sold for this purpose are relatively safe... and there are many other choices... Please see the "Sand Sifters, FAQs" section on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Cucumber: Good news & Bad news.... Good morning Bob, hope all is well with you. I have been using the method we discussed with setting up my water changes a week before I do them, and that is working out very well!! I can see the difference in my corals, too. Everything seems to be much better off for not using the water conditioner. Thanks for your help with that!! <Ahh, very good.> But now I have another concern. I have either heard or read someplace that Sea Apples can kill off your whole aquarium if they happen to die in there.  <Yes... in point of fact, they don't even have to die...> I have what was sold to me as an "Australian Sea Apple". Everything was fine with this animal until 2 days ago, when it got accidentally burned by my heater. It is a pretty good burn, too. The site has flaked off and is hanging. It's up near where he opens up to extend his tentacles. He got burned once about a year ago, and healed up fine but he managed to do it again to himself. I'm concerned about the rest of my community if he doesn't make it. Is this a valid concern?? <Yes, a valid concern... is this Cucumber large? Red, white and blue? Please read over the section on Sea Cucumbers, and compare the images placed there on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com> I have since purchased a new heater, one that is shrouded to protect the animals, and is controlled with a remote thermostat. <Very good> Thank you for your time!! Pat Marren <Do read over the WWM site and associated FAQs, and keep an eye on your other livestock... especially the fishes... will show dramatic and quick changes in behavior (gasping), swimming erratically (at first, last...)... I would move them (the non Sea Apple livestock) IMMEDIATELY if you observe this... Bob Fenner> 

Re: Good news & Bad news.... Sea Cuke Bob, the one I have is just like the one first pictured on your web site, the red white & blue one. it is a pretty good sized one, too. Should I panic?? What should I do with it???!!!! Pat Marren <No panic... but I would trade it in... too much potential for a large problem... have seen this species take out many, many systems. Bob Fenner>

Re: Good news & Bad news.... Hmmmmm......do you think in it's injured state that it's liable to poison my tank?? It is moving around like normal and extending it's tentacles to feed. I am really concerned about this whole thing. Do you think he's in pain?? <No pain... these animals are absolutely amazing in their regenerative properties... as you might imagine... what else could they do if some animal wanted to sample them? Swim away?> Hey, how would you like a slightly used sea apple.......free!!!! <Oh no you don't! Thanks for the offer though. Bob Fenner> Pat Marren

Found a strange "worm" thingy Hello! What is it??!! I've search a few of the FAQs and I can't seem to find the answer to my question... I don't want to say "it looks like a worm" because I don't know want to put the wrong picture in your head. (Since many people have different ideas as to what is a worm and what isn't). I'll try describing it. It's about a centimeter and a half long. It is brown on top with a dull yellowish underbelly, and one end is dull yellow. It's about half as thick as a pencil. And has small brown "knobs" on it that have a black dot on the tip. I've also seen a couple small, thin yellow arms on the side/bottom of it. I found something that looks like it here, kind of: http://library.thinkquest.org/J001418/seacuc.html But it doesn't have as many protrusions as that one... I can't tell which end is the head... Any help in the right direction would be great, thanks! Jason Thomas France >> <Hmm, well, it does sound like some sort of Sea Cucumber... and there are a bunch of types it might be... The important bit is that this animal is likely not deleterious... and so, unless it gets really big, or numerous... I would leave it be... and enjoy it! Bob Fenner>

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

Cucumber thank you so much for the info, I really appreciate it and I'm sure the future additions do too! <You're so right> But another question about the cucumber, after acclimation should I put him in quarantine tank or go ahead and place in main tank, I'm kind of worried about catching him later after quarantine and moving into main tank. Really appreciate the help : ) ! Thanks again, Carla. >> <I'd just place it in your main system unless it looks, smells, very poor... Put it directly in your display> Bob Fenner Meds > could you give me an idea of a good broad-spectrum med. for parasites and bacteria, yet is still safe for inverts. this is for quarantine tank. also, is it safe to treat tiger tail cucumber with meds. am expecting shipment soon and would really appreciate your advice. thanks, Carla. > >> > Actually, there are NO safe, effective broad-spectrum (not implying antibiotics only) "medications"... for parasites or bacteria for quarantine... that I would use, encourage others to carte blanche in quarantine or elsewhere... > There are some less-general (though still trouble in ways) therapeutic agents that are at times, worthwhile using... but no way to (in short spaces > here) relate all the possible scenarios in which I'd use them... > Some considerable background on these issues ("medications", "toxic tank syndromes", "disease...") can be found at my site: www.WetWebMedia.com... I would strongly encourage you to read them over. Standard operating procedures for receiving, acclimating, and quarantining your new livestock can be found there... all without the express use of "treatment chemicals". > No to treating the Sea Cucumber with anything but "kid gloves"... you upset this animal and it will poison your system. Bob Fenner

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

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

Sea apple eviscerated... I'm forwarding you my UseNet question because I was told you may have an answer: Anyone know how to best care for a sea apple that has eviscerated it's internal organs. The tank is fine, the water isn't polluted with any chemicals that seem to be stressing the other inhabitants, but the poor apple looks to be in bad shape. the organs are still attached because no one seems to know if I should remove them. Any suggestions would be a great help. Thanks for any help you can provide, Dave P. >> Do move the animal into separate quarters... and don't attempt to remove any of the eviscerated mass... It may be re-inserted... but you don't want it dissolving, breaking up in your main tank.  Bob Fenner

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

Question: First off I would like to say you have a great site, keep up the good work. My question is about a sea apple. I recently bought one and now I think I may have made a mistake. I have talked to may local retailer, and he tells stories about being sued for sea apples poisoning an entire tank. Also, he commented about their eggs killing an entire tank. In the past few weeks I have noticed small white growths all over my live rock, and I am concerned that these are "baby" sea apples. I would appreciate any input you have on this matter.

Bob's Answer: Ryan, I doubt that these are "baby" Sea Apples (they're definitely not). But you should be concerned. Paracucumaria, in particular of all their Order, are bad news. They don't have to reproduce to cause real trouble. Just getting "upset" by being sucked against an intake, burned by a heater, tormented by you or a tank mate... can/does bring about the end of many a pet fish hobbyists avocation.  

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