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FAQs about Sea Squirts 1

Related Articles: Sea Squirts/Tunicates/Ascidians

Related FAQs:  Ascidians 1, Ascidians 2, Ascidian ID, Ascidian Behavior, Ascidian Compatibility, Ascidian Selection, Ascidian Systems, Ascidian Feeding, Ascidian Disease, Ascidian Reproduction,           

Ascidians, Sea Squirts, Tunicates 10/8/04 Do you know of place I can purchase sea squirts or tunicates? Gary <your local aquarium store can order them from their livestock suppliers... but they are in short supply for very good reason. They have an absolutely dismal rate of survival in captivity. They are noxious... even poisonous to other life in the aquarium in some species (sequestering toxins in their tunic). They have a naturally short lifespan (months for some... rarely more than one year). And their feeding habits are unknown or near impossible to satisfy in captivity (nanoplankton, bacteria, etc). If interested in more info, please do consider our heavily illustrated coverage of this group in "Reef Invertebrates" (2003) and be sure to follow the many references on them in the bibliography. With kind regards, Anthony>

Do you know of place I can purchase sea squirts or tunicates? Garie >>Sometimes you find them online, but they tend to ship poorly. You can often get lucky and find them at your LFS when the get a new shipment in. Sorry I can't be more helpful!<< >>Rich<<

New tank + picture ID OK--I'll try it again at this address. R/Janet <Got it!> New tank + picture Hi--here's a picture with the red thing--you can see two "mouths" on it, one in the middle and one on one end. The thing flexes, but doesn't move, per se. The mouths open and stay open for awhile, then close tightly. The green thing is above it. We' ve had a bunch of those pop out. Any ideas what these are? <Yep... good clues. Very likely an ascidian, sea squirt. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ascidians.htm> I know it's a little blurry, but it's hard to photograph through glass. Yesterday I found what looked like to be a small mucus sac up on a rock. When I came back, one of the brown crabs was eating at it. Any idea what that might have been? <Perhaps just a bit of algae... amazing what pops up in these systems, eh?> If this is a sea cucumber, can you tell if it's a non-poisonous kind? The hermit crab is sort of aggressive and I've seen him nipping at it. After reading the articles on your site about sea cucumbers, I'm thinking I may not want one! <Most hermits will nibble on most anything...> Another question--the hermit crab ate the clam. The clam was slightly open, and certainly appeared alive (he was opening and closing his shell periodically). The crab got his legs in there and pretty much cleaned out the clam shell. My husband thinks this means the clam was already dead and there must be a problem with the water. <Maybe... I'd not take bets for sure on either side> We also saw a dead brown crab today (maybe the one that at the mucus sac?). We have corals growing and the fish are fine, so except for the water being a little warm (we've gotten the temp down from 82F to 80F), I think it's OK. The water looks good and the algae problem is gone. I've tested for the usual suspects, and nitrates and nitrites are 0, ammonia might be a trace (those color kits are sometimes tough to read), and pH is 8.3. Are there any other things I should test for, and will hermit crabs eat live clams? I'd like to buy a few blue-green Chromis today, but he's worried that something is wrong. <Not all... or better put, there are species that are a much better gamble than others. See WetWebMedia.com here for suggestions or NMA Reef Invertebrates.> Our clowns (the false Percula kind) are fine and I am wondering if they might be breeding, based on the behavior I see in my fresh tanks. They hide together and mostly only one comes out and swims. The other just comes out slightly from the hiding place. Both appear healthy and are swimming fine. Do clowns breed in tanks, or do you need a special set-up? <Does happen... see WWM...> Another crab question--this crab changes shells several times a day. Have you ever heard of that? He never stops eating, either. <Typical> How would we know if we have mantis shrimp in the tank? Would they have eaten the fish by now? <... WWM> Thanks in advance for your help. I do appreciate it. R/Janet <Be chatting... and reading. Bob Fenner>

Colored sea squirt dead or alive? 4/13/04 If you could, I need some help please. I have a 125gal saltwater aquarium. It has been set up for almost 2years. The nitrates are 2.5, nitrites 0, pH. 8.4, Alk. 3.6, Ammonia .25, Phosphates .5 and Calcium is 400. <all good> I have a Naso tang, a yellow tang, a tomato clown, fancy red serpent sea star, tiger sand sifting star, about 10 little crabs and a whole bunch of snails (mainly baby snails because they keep reproducing). I recently added a blue Linckia star, a possum wrasse , a derasa clam and a colored sea squirt. Everything is fine except for my sea squirt. It looks as though the black part (exhaust/intake) is falling off. Does this mean he is dead or dying? Has one of my other animals harmed him? PLEASE HELP. Thank You.   <although they can/do slough their tunic (naturally and under stress, but survivable), they also have a very short natural lifespans... months to just a couple of years. Do be careful when it dies, they are highly noxious. Be prepared with a water change and close attention to water quality for some days afterwards. Anthony>

Please no! The Blue Lollipop Stalked Ascidian 4/5/04 Hello, thanks again for this fantastic resource. <thanks kindly :)> I just bought this The Blue Lollipop Stalked Ascidian from my LFS a week ago.  It had been doing great!   <ughhh! please, no. This animal is not "doing great". Its simply still alive and yet still doomed to starve to death in weeks/months. They really should not be collected or sold perhaps. Not until we are able to understand their needs and keep them alive. Many ascidians are bacteriovores. We do not have enough or enough of the right kind of foods to keep these animals alive. Yours will die soon, alas> Last night, one of my Astrea snails was climbing on the stalks for about an hour and a half. It did not do any visible damage on the stalks, it didn't look like it was eating them.   <and I assure you it was not... the tunics of ascidians are very toxic, by and large> Immediately afterwards, the heads at the end of the stalks, got a mucous covering over them. <this is the sloughing of a stressed animal. It can/will regrow a new "head"/zooids... but it is using limited reserves to do so. Still starving to death.> This morning, more of the heads now have this covering. <a common occurrence> I was wandering what your input is on this, were they stressed and will recover, or is it not looking good? <please do read more about this animal in our wetwebmedia.com archives or in our Reef Invertebrates book. It was not a wise or conscientious decision my friend. Please do live and learn here. Do not buy an animal that you do not know how to care for (what it eats/needs, etc)> This is a beautiful animal, I would hate to lose it plus it was expensive! <this will be a hard lesson for you and especially the ascidian> Thanks! Steven O. Garcia <to better days, Anthony>

Re: Oxycorynia/Neptheis lollipop "coral" (Ascidian/Sea Squirts 4/6/04)  Very, very disturbing news. I always take a look at your site before I buy anything! There was no information on the blue lollipop, so I took a chance.  <you are on the right path... do research before you buy. But no site can be wholly comprehensive and regardless, buy nothing that you do not know how to feed/care for. Your chance taken in this case not only cost the life of this animal, but others that will be collected/killed in transit to fill your merchant's re-order of this sold specimen. A dreadful cycle. Not to berate you at all my friend... most of us have done this at some point. But it does cost animals lives. And it is an error that should not be repeated.>  Looks like this might be the first post. Hopefully this will deter anyone else from buying these beautiful animals!  thanks again, Steven Garcia  <this creature is also shipped as blue lollipop "coral" and is usually cited as an Oxycorynia or Neptheis species. Steve Tyree gives better coverage to this group than any other hobby reference I know of at:  http://www.dynamicecomorphology.com/publishsquirtseries.htm   best regards, Anthony>

Tunicate Slime (4/4/04)  Hello, thanks again for this fantastic resource. <A pleasure to participate.> I just bought this The Blue Lollipop Stalked Ascidian from my LFS a week ago. It had been doing great! Last night, one of my Astrea snails was climbing on the stalks for about an hour and a half. It did not do any visible damage on the stalks, it didn't look like it was eating them. Immediately afterwards, the heads at the end of the stalks, got a mucous covering over them. This morning, more of the heads now have this covering. I was wandering what your input is on this, were they stressed and will recover, or is it not looking good? This is a beautiful animal, I would hate to lose it plus it was expensive!  Thanks! Steven O. Garcia (Ascidians are actually very difficult to keep alive in aquariums and have a short lifespan (months). The ones that come free on live rock are much hardier than the ones you buy. It could be that the snail just irritated it and it will recover. Then again, survival in aquariums is uncommon. I'd suggest you read the chapter on ascidians in "Reef Invertebrates" by Anthony Calfo & Robert Fenner. It will tell you how best to care for them. Hope this helps. Steve Allen.>

Ascidian ID Hello, <Hi there> I have attached a photo of something which I think is a sea squirt that came on a piece of cured live rock. <Does look like one to me as well> I do not know if you can tell from the photo but any help of identifying this critter will be great. What should I be concerned with if it is a sea squirt, this is a fish only tank with some live rock. Thanks for the help Drew <Completely innocuous. You can read about these animals on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Please help ID this hitchhiker: Ascidians 11/17/03 http://ebay.webyhost.com/IMG_0179.JPG Thank you, James <it is an ascidian colony, James. Some "colonial" tunicates (AKA Sea squirts. Anthony>

Tunicate Or Extraterrestrial? All Hail the Crew: <Scott F. here with you today!> I was hoping you guys could help ID something that is growing in my tank. I have attached a picture.  As you may be able to see, it is translucent with a white stripe around the bottom opening.  There is also another opening at the front.  There appears to be an outer lining surrounding an inner body. Thanks for the great site! Rich <Nice photo, Rich. I think that you have a tunicate of some sort here, possibly a Rhopalaea species. Or- it could be some sort of alien creature of some sort...LOL. In actuality, tunicates are harmless, interesting animals that are all part of the diversity of your tank. Enjoy it! Regards, Scott F.>

Sea Squirts Hi Bob - I was wondering if there was any truth to this quote a friend of mine sent.  Do some sea squirts actually eat their brain once they've attached themselves to the rock?  If you have web links to the info that would be great. Thanks John <Interesting thought... Don't know re their brains, but much of the body of metamorphosing ascidians does indeed change in unfolding into a sedentary life form from a free-swimming "tadpole" younger phase. Bob Fenner> > Hey John, is there any way you could find out something for me about the "juvenile sea squirt". I have this quote: > From Consciousness Explained by Daniel C. Dennett (Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1991): > The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds it's spot and takes root,  it doesn't need its brain any more so it eats it. It's rather like getting tenure. > In a footnote, Dennett writes: > The analogy between the sea squirt and the associate professor was first  pointed out, I think, by the neuroscientist Rodolfo Llin?. > K.

Clear Growths 7/22/03 How are you doing?... <cheers> first let me say that since I have entered the world of marine aquariums your website has been a lifesaver....I have searched through your articles for info on this particular question without any luck...perhaps I am not using the right search terms.....I have a 55 gallon aquarium, Magnum 350 Canister, Duel Bio-Wheel, and Aqua-C Maxi Jet 1200 Remora skimmer, 70/30 mix (lbs) of live sand/crushed coral, 35 lbs of live rock (getting more, love it), about 40 blue-legged crabs, a few Astraea snails, and two black-tailed Dascyllus damselfish..... all chem levels (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) are nil ....ph 8.-8.1.....My tank is now three 1/2 months old, since my tank has cycled I have noticed a burgeoning of life, especially in the last month, it is amazing, little things here and there. Most of the questions I have had about this developing of life I have been able to find here or in books. Only recently I have noticed a clear "growth" on my live rock which brings me FINALLY to my question....What is it?....it is small enough that I am not able to get a clear picture of it with my digital camera so I include a rough, rough sketch of what it looks like to appear to me (imagine this image several times smaller)...I hope it is of some use....I assume that these growths are normal (if not good) as my tank is maturing, however, as a teacher (and life time learner) I am always wanting to know as much as I can.... I appreciate you time and hope to hear from you soon...Thank You.....Daniel <a good sketch... it appears to be a tunicate (AKA sea squirt/Ascidian). The opening at the top of each tube is the exhalent opening. Do use these terms to search our website for pics that might look familiar in form. No worries about a perfect match... too many to name/illustrate all <G>. Anthony>

Ascidians in the Great White North 7/19/03 Been trying to find some reference to these, but have not been able to find one. <Hmm... do look into our new Reef Invertebrate Book if you like. Beautiful coverage of the ascidians if I may say so: https://secure.wetwebmedia.com/order_form.jsp http://wetwebfotos.com/store/nma-ri.html > They kinda look like tunicates to me, but I'm not sure. <quite correct my friend!> They are on the back of a powerhead.  I noticed them a couple of days ago and thought they were eggs, but closer inspection revealed "tails" or "tentacles" coming from them.   They do appear to have 2 holes, like siphons. <indeed... sea squirts. and a handsome colony at that. If you have higher res pics of this colony and would be inclined to give permission to use them with credit to you name, I'd love to stick them in a lecture or presentation for example. Do send to readingtrees@yahoo.com if you can/are willing> Help. Thanks, Noel
<with kind regards, Anthony>

Squishy thing ID... Hi folks! I found this really strange looking creature inhabiting a cave in a piece of live rock I just bought today. It's soft and retracts into the cave when touched. It has a clam shaped "mouth" which it opens as it as the entrance to the cave, like you see in the picture here.  But, it doesn't leave the cave.  Nor does it extend anywhere past the entrance. I am at a total loss. Any idea what it is?  I need to ID it so I can find out if it is beneficial or a pest. <I doubt that it's a pest, but I cannot tell what it is from either your description or the picture. Maybe it's some sort of tunicate? See if you can take a better picture that's much larger than this one and I'll give it another shot! -Kevin> Tom

Re: Strange Unidentified hitchhiker Unfortunately, I don't have a digital camera and can't get a better shot.  Oh well, I'll do so research on Tunicates and try to figure it out.<good luck, IanB> Thanks anyways. Tom

Re: strange creature I think it IS a Tunicate.  A Flat Tunicate, I think is the type this is.  It is also light sensitive. I shined a flashlight onto it directly and it closed it's mouth.  It has a really wide maw.  It looks like a flat mollusk with a clam type mouth. No shell at all. <Weird things do tend to show up from time to time on LR, IanB> Tom

Smart tunicates and hairy crabs 3/21/03 Good evening, I hope you guys are doing great and still learning cool things.  I'm the girl with a bi-color blenny, Japanese wrasse, canary blenny, and  new addition of a zebra blenny (both of which are fat and healthy on their special diet of live brine shrimp).  My Nerites are also happy and breeding much faster than rabbits. ;]   I went snorkeling out on Key Biscayne today, it was great.  Its not Bonaire, but nice nonetheless.  Last time I collected some tiny bright orange colonial tunicates (not glass tunicates) on a blade of turtle grass.  Then  I glued them to an under ledge on my rock.   <interesting> Well, I've always thought that they're very interesting creatures?, since they have a spinal column and all. <sort of> But did you know they're pretty smart too?!   <do tell> When I looked at them today there seemed to be less of them (maybe the hermit crabs got munchy), but when I took a really good look later I noticed that they had actually moved!!  In a matter of days half of the colony has moved onto my LR and off of the grass blade.  I had no idea they could do this, especially since they're colonial. Super cool!  Well, that's my bedtime story, just thought I'd share.  ;] <very cool... there are a handful of motile species... and among them, most do not move that quickly. Maybe yours recently ate spicy food> By the way, when I collected some stuff today a very small hairy (most likely decorator) crab hitchhiked with some stuff.  I like to save any creature that accidentally comes with LR or during collection, but I'm afraid that when this crab gets big it won't be reef safe.  Your advise? <unsafe almost certainly in time if not now. Most crabs are opportunistic predators> After a fair bit of research the other day we did decide to save a tiny pistol shrimp (one cm) that came with some frag rock.  He's in our show tank and won't really harm much even when it gets bigger (hopefully not really big) since this is a temporary tank.  Are most pistol shrimp fairly reef safe if the tank is well fed? <agreed> We do flake, plankton, brine shrimp, pellets, etc (mind you not all in the same day) ;]  Nitrates at 0 I swear!  Well good night!   Love, Morgan <its all good... thanks kindly for sharing my friend. Anthony>

Strange Growths Thanks for your reply. I'm still having a little trouble identifying this species. I looked at the tunicates using the links provided, but it doesn't seem to fit. A better way to describe these might be almost looking like maggots. They are solitary but are growing all over my filter bodies and media. They're pretty gross looking since they are the same color and shape as maggots. I'd like to get rid of them but they seem to be coming back once removed. Thanks for any further help you can give. Tim <I would try to id them by answering the questions on Dr. Shimek's page, http://www.rshimek.com/animal_identifications1.htm. Once they are probably identified, I can help you figure out why they are so prolific. -Steven Pro>

Re: strange growths No luck with that. The question section on that page pertains to creatures found in sand beds. I followed some of the other links for identifying and wasn't able to find anything. I looked at them more closely and notice they have a filamentous top around the opening and are spongy in appearance (rough, porous) and even feel sponge-like (soft and squishy). <With this additional clue, I have a good idea of what you have, having seen it before myself. I believe it to be a tunicate, but I cannot find a picture of the one I am thinking of.> Sorry to keep bothering you and I appreciate your help. Do you have any other suggestions/ideas? <Sorry. I did flip through several of my books, but did not find what I was looking for. Anyway, they are not dangerous, more likely beneficial in removing dissolved organics.> Thanks again, Tim <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Sea Squirt Info. Search Hello all and how is everyone? I have acquired a sea squirt and after trying to find on your web site could not find the particular one that I have. It's common name is Herdman's Sea Squirt it's scientific name is Herdmania momus. If you could direct me in the right direction or give me any information you may have on this animal I would greatly appreciate it. thanks for all your help you guys are great Dela <Mmmm, I suggest you place the scientific name in as many of the internet search engines that you can stand... this is what we'd have to do. I have never had a brush with this non-indigenous (though extant) species in the U.S. Bob Fenner>

Tunicates/Sea Squirts and the Salifert Phosphate Test Kit Bob, Once again I need your knowledge regarding a couple of questions for my 100 gallon saltwater tank: (1) I noticed at my LFS that they had some of the large yellow and blue tunicates available (like the ones pictured in your excellent book, Conscientious.. p. 336). I am interested in adding these to my tank, but was not sure what their requirements are, i.e. light, current, compatibility, etc. My lighting is 4 x 96W 48 inch Power Compacts; two 10,000k super daylights and two 9600 actinics. These are on for 12 hr/10,000K and 14hr./Actinics. Fish are yellow tang, four cardinals, lawnmower goby, one damsel and one Pseudochromis. I also have several hard and soft corals, as well as two Tridacna derasa and one T. squamosa.  <Please see/read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ascidians.htm> (2) Do you know of anyway to verify that the reagents in the Salifert's Phosphate test kit are still good?  <Yes... by making a solution of known or some given concentration having phosphates (you can even use a bit of "Coca Cola" tm for the phosphoric acid contained therein to give you a yes/no answer> I tested my tanks water and the reading was 0.0, but I also tested my tap water and my outside ponds water and these results were also around 0 ppm.  <They may actually be zero> This has me concerned that the test kit reagents are no longer viable. As I ordered it from my LFS, they did not know the age of the kit as they had none on their shelf and ordered this one for me. If you know of any solution that would act a good control or standard, please let me know. I would not be concerned about the phosphate level, but I have had some algae in the last 4 months grow on a couple of my live rocks and areas of the sand bed and I have to clean the green algae off the front glass twice a week (which the Tang loves to eat as I clean it off!). My protein skimmer, Aqua C 150, requires cleaning every 4 days. Nitrates when tested measure 0.0 ppm, pH is 8.3, and alk 3.43. I have a Korallin calcium reactor that now uses CaribSea ARM for the media and the effluent is alk 45 dKH/540 ppm CA; I was using SuperCalc Gold before switching to ARM two weeks ago, as I was concerned about phosphate from the Super Calc Gold might be the causing the algae growth. <Maybe> Thank you again for your advice in the past. Other then these two questions my tank has done very well, with water very clear and all life growing and active, due to the information you have supplied on your website. <Ahh, a pleasure to be of service. Bob Fenner> Regards, Kevin

Tunicates Dear sir, How can I acquire some tunicates to introduce into my reef? Any ideas. Mike Ward <Mmm, these can be bought outright from livestock dealers and are a very common component of live rock... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ascidians.htm Bob Fenner>

Upside down Tunicates (and suggestions re WWM recent FAQs availability) Greetings Bob, hope life is treating you well... <Yes my friend. A joy> A question on Tunicates: <Hmm, I'll be... just finished (finally!) putting away the Ascidians I had pictures of from the last trips... and writing, posting and mailing a survey piece on the group: http://wetwebmedia.com/ascidians.htm> I recently replaced the substrate in my 55G reef (wow, what a hassle!) and rearranged all my live rock. I noticed this really cool grouping of tunicates growing in a cavity of a live rock that was out of sight in the original aquascape. Only problem is, now the tunicates are upside down from their original orientation. The "siphon arms" (I have no idea what they're really called) <Siphons of the zooids... no problem with terminology or orientation> look like they're trying to turn upward now. There's not a whole lot of info out there on tunicates.  <And just sent in a review of a book by Steve Tyree that expands on the use of these cryptic organisms: http://wetwebmedia.com/tyreecmatv1.htm> I was wondering if they can live "upside down", or do I need to re-orient that piece of rock back to it's original direction? (and of course, it's on the bottom of the rock pile...) <Would leave them as is if "the rest" of your arrangement is as you desire... they are able to reorient, turn their attachments...> A comment on your site: I read the new FAQs virtually every day. I find a wealth of info in them, even if a question doesn't directly apply to any of my set-ups. I just went on a two week internet-free vacation. I came back today and jumped right back into WWM. I'm wondering what great questions I missed while I was gone. Have you ever considered having a "buffer area" where you might hold the recent FAQs a bit longer than on the current "recent questions" page? <A worthy idea... I generally "leave" about sixty to ninety seconds "worth" (at 28.8 kbps) on this page... moving the rest off to the appropriate FAQs file/s (sometimes more than one as you might surmise)... The idea of a "buffer" intrigues and worries me simultaneously... the concern I have is for "time lost" doing other things... you may know the sites contents are my domain... am finally placing images on the Pond Index today... for instance (treated myself to writing, scanning the Ascidians ala eating your Lima Beans before your dessert)... If I made such a buffer, I'd have to move all another time... Do you think/feel I can/could/should leave more than the 90 second download on the "New FAQs" page?> I realize all the questions I missed are there, filed in their rightful place. But an area where new questions are held longer (two weeks, a month?) <A day or two maximum... the sheer volume of incoming requires that I not post some at all, that other material goes immediately to the respective final FAQs pages...> sure would make it easier on those of us who can't get our daily fix on WWM FAQs... Just a thought.... <A good one... am going to ask Mike and Zo for their input here as well. Thank you for the input. Bob Fenner>

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