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CUC stealing food from corals!


Gill-Crazy

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I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but my clean up crew comes out of the woodwork when it's feeding time. I have a mix of several varieties of hermits as well as nessarias, ceriths and mexican turbos. All totaled probably 15 or 20. The turbos and the ceriths don't bother anything, but the nasserias and the hermits are the culprits. When I start to feed they move quickly over to the corals where I'm spot feeding and try to pull brine shrimp out off the corals. THey're not a clean up crew they're a bunch of leeches. I'm having to physically move them all to the back of the tank, then spot feed a couple of corals and that's about the time they're rounding the corner and headed back.

 

They didn't do this the first few weeks I had them, but over time they are learning it seems. Is it best to take them back to the LFS and swap them out for some new ones? The only problem with this is that the new ones will eventually learn too and then back to the fish store to swap them out again. Or does anyone have other techniques or tips that would help?

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Free lunch v. work ... seems like a no brainer to me.

 

I only feed a couple of pellets to my goby and if 1 or 2 goes un-eaten then the nassarius snails get a treat otherwise they have to work for their dinner.

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This is why I *HATE* Nass. snails. Banned them from all of my tanks. Went with a tiger/fighting conch for sand turn over. Same deal regarding Urchins. Urchins don't eat coral food. Ditch them and replace with an urchin a conch and one or two hermits

 

Tuxedo urchin if you tank is less than 60 gallons by the way.

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Urchins don't steal from coral, they just eat all your coralline.

 

There's a number of ways to handle this, all of which are mentioned frequently..

 

-Target feed an area away from the coral first to distract them

-Use a bottle or cup to cover the coral while it eats

 

Do some searching, you should be able to find a lot of info on it.

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Flying_Hellfish

Mine come out of the sand when it is feeding time too. I just smack them a couple of times with the turkey baster if they try to take shrimp from my corals and they move along. lol

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Urchins don't steal from coral, they just eat all your coralline.

 

Not always and not always by choice. Its usually because they are hungry and that's all there is. Once the algae is under control in the tank (a urchin is worth about 3-4 turbo snails in my experience) you will need to target feed the urchin with Nori about once a week or so. 1" sheet will do the trick.

 

For more and accurate information on urchin's do a search for my Urchin FAQ

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When I search for your urchin FAQ, all I get is pages of you telling people to search for your urchin FAQ :lol:

 

Should probably put it in your sig so I can find it :P

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When I search for your urchin FAQ, all I get is pages of you telling people to search for your urchin FAQ :lol:

 

Should probably put it in your sig so I can find it :P

 

I had that problem too, but I found this...

 

Funny... I can't find it either. So here it is:

 

 

Sea Urchins

 

Scientific Information:

 

Phylum: Echinodermata

Class: Echinoidea

Order: Multiple. See below

 

Common Names:

Pin Cushion, Tuxedo, Long Spine(v), Short Spine, Pencil(sn), Flower(vv), Fire(vv), Sand Dollar(sn)

 

v = venomous

vv = very venomous

sn = special needs

 

Origin:

Pin Cushion - Caribbean

Tuxedo - Indo-Pacific

Long Spine - Indo-Pacific

Short Spine - Indo-Pacific

Pencil - Indo-Pacific

 

Introduction:

This article is divided into four sections. General Information, Reef Safe Urchins, Special Needs Urchins, and Urchins to avoid. General Information contains general notes on husbandry while the other sections deal with specific species broken out by type of urchin and contains specific details on tank size, diet requirements, special needs, and the like.

 

General Information:

There are about eight different kinds of urchin, including the sand dollar, sold in the trade. Their habitats range from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. Most urchins are reef safe with the notable exception of the Pencil Urchin which is carnivorous and will eat corals as well as fish and the very pretty but very venomous flower and fire urchins.

 

Urchins tend to be some of the more unusual and potentially entertaining additions to a cleanup crew and actually cut down substantially on the required number and diversity of said crew. In general one urchin can handle the job of several glass cleaning snails and several rock cleaning snails and hermits. They are no harder than other invertebrates, like crabs and hermits, to keep and do a good job relative to their size of keeping control of algae. While urchins tend to be nocturnal, many will come out during daylight hours.

 

The best Urchin for Nano tanks are the Tuxedo's as they remain relatively small while still providing entertainment and high cleaning to relative size value. Watching them work is interesting especially when they are on the glass and their mouth can be seen in operation. They will eat all kinds of algae including diatoms, green hair, etc and there is anecdotal evidence of them eating cyno as well.

 

There are three downsides to having an urchin in the tank. If the urchin selected is a Pinchushion or Tuxedo and there are small loose bits of rock, small bits of coral or frags, or hermits and snails in the tank the Urchin may take them for a free ride around the tank on its back. The reason for this is that this subspecies uses shells and loose strata as tactile and visual camouflage from their natural predators. Urchins are also very strong for their size and can inadvertently topple corals and/or rocks as they move about the tank. The caution used when putting a turbo snail into a tank would be the same for an urchin. Make sure the rocks and corals are stable and not easy to move. Finally, urchins eat all kinds of algae including coraline.

 

Predators:

Urchins are not recommended in a tank that contains any:

 

starfish

triggers

some types of larger wrasse

puffers

anglers

squirrels

snappers

sharks

rays

porkfish

parrot fish

harlequins

 

as urchins are a natural prey of these animals.

 

Diet:

Most Urchins are either herbivores or omnivores with the notable exception of the Pencil Urchin which is carnivorous. Urchins will eat all forms of micro-algae from all surfaces including rock work, glass, and substrate.

 

If algae is not prolific in the tank it is best to supplementally feed urchins with some form of sea weed such as Nori. A 2"x2" sheet about once every week or so should be sufficient.

 

Feeding can be handled in one of two ways. First, hang it on the glass or rock where they will find it. Second, hand feed them. If hand feeding the urchin will do something called an "urchin kiss" where their spines will gently grasp the tip of your finger as their sensory tentacles explore if you are worth eating. Press the sea weed gently on the spine or place it in the urchin's path and allow it to roll up on it.

 

Acclimation Process:

Gradual. If the delta between the salinity level they are used to and your tank is too high they can get salinity shock. An example acclimation method would be to place the urchin in a bucket or container with the water it came with, a heater, and a very small power head. Over a 30 to 40 minute period remove 4 oz of old water and replace it with 4 oz of water from your tank repeating every 7-10 minutes for about 30-40 minutes. (Note this assumes you have more than 12 oz of original water and that the original water is not fouled or contaminated. Drip method would be best if you do not have at least 12 oz of original water)

 

Things to watch out for:

If an urchin's spines fall off they are most likely dying and there isn't much that can be done to save them. While it is possible to attempt rehabilitation via a hospital tank coupled with offering allot of food like nori usually by the time the spines are falling off it is too late and humane euthanization such as via freezing is more appropriate. It is important to remove the urchin from the tank as soon as spine loss is observed as delay could cause the urchin to expire in a location difficult to access or see which would cause a spike in the tank.

 

As with all invertebrates copper based medications are fatal to urchins.

 

Urchins are also sensitive to rapid shifts in salinity and can get salinity shock which can be fatal.

 

Urchins do not tolerate high nitrates. If there are high nitrates in the tank an urchin will shed its spines.

 

Wound treatment from an urchin stick:

Spine sticks from urchins can be quite painful and in the case of flowerpot or fire urchins or with people who have allergies fatal. Prompt treatment is important to reduce pain and swelling as well as the risk of infection.

 

If stuck by a flame or flowerpot urchin, if you have a allergy, or feel unwell or concerned seek appropriate treatment immediately from a medical professional.

 

If stuck by an urchin spine remove the spines as quickly as possible. You will not get all of the spine and this will hurt but it is important to remove them quickly to minimize pain. Do not dig out the spine as this can do more damage and cause higher risk than leaving it in and allowing it to work its way out. Next soak the affected area with vinegar followed by a hot water soak at the highest temperature you can stand followed again by a vinegar soak. This should minimize the pain and swelling/stiffness associated with an urchin stick.

 

Reef Safe Urchins:

 

Common Name: Long Spine(v)

Scientific Name: Diadema

Max size: 8+ Inches

Tank size: 50 gallon+

Food: All kinds of algae

Reef safe: Yes if well fed

Notes:

Spines are venomous and getting stuck hurts allot so handle with care

The spines can puncture some corals

Very good for controlling filamentous algae including hair algae

 

Common Name: Short Spine/Rock

Scientific Name: Echinometra

Max size: 3 Inches

Tank size: 30 gallon+

Food: All kinds of algae

Reef safe: Yes if well fed

Notes:

Very good at controlling hair algae

 

Common Name: Tuxedo (blue or black)

Scientific Name: Mespillia Globulus

Max size: 2 Inches

Tank size: 15 gallon+ (with feeding)

Food: All kinds of algae

Reef safe: Yes if well fed

Notes:

Will pick up debris/shells/rocks/etc as camouflage. If it isn't then it may be sick or dying

May need supplemental feeding with nori if in 30+ gallon tank and will need supplemental feeding if in smaller tank

 

Common Name: Pin Chushion

Scientific Name: Lytechinus Vaniegatus

Max size: 8 Inches

Tank size: 30 gallon+ when small 75 gallon+ when over 5 Inches

Reef safe: Yes

Food: All kinds of algae

Notes:

Will pick up debris/shells/rocks/etc as camouflage. If it isn't then it may be sick or dying

May need supplemental feeding with nori

 

Special Needs Urchins

(need special conditions or will eat your coral and fish)

 

Common Name: Sand Dollar

Scientific Name: Clypeaster, Encope, Mellita

Max size: 6 Inches

Tank size: 30 gallon+

Food: All kinds of algae, bacteria, and diatoms

Reef safe: Yes

Notes:

Needs a deep sandbed 4"+

may suffocate in fine sand/mud

Verify origin before purchase as cold water species will die in reef temp tanks

This is a hard to keep species so be aware of that before purchase

 

Common Name: Pencil

Scientific Name: Eucidaris Tribuloides & Heterocentrotus Mammillatus

Max size: 6 Inches for ET & 13 Inches for HM

Tank size: 100 gallon+

Food: Omnivorous but trends towards carnivorous

Reef safe: No

Notes:

Will eat sessile(corals) animals and will try to catch mobile ones as well

Good for a species specific tank with lots of room

 

Urchins to avoid unless you know what you are getting into and are comfortable with the risks:

 

Common Name: Flower (vv)

Scientific Name: Toxopneustes

Max size: 6 Inches

Tank size: 100 gallon+

Food: All kinds of algae but needs occasional meat feedings

Reef safe: yes if well fed

 

Notes:

CAUTION! HIGHLY VENOMOUS AND POSSIBLY DEADLY!

May need supplemental feeding with nori

 

Common Name: Fire (vv)

Scientific Name: Asthenosoma

Max size: 6 Inches

Tank size: 100 gallon+

Food: All kinds of algae

Reef safe: Yes if well fed

Notes:

CAUTION! HIGHLY VENOMOUS AND POSSIBLY DEADLY!

May need supplemental feeding with nori

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danthenewreefman
Mine come out of the sand when it is feeding time too. I just smack them a couple of times with the turkey baster if they try to take shrimp from my corals and they move along. lol

 

this is the best method. works with fish and anything else. sounds mean, but I know I'm not hurting them.

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i definitely target feed, first the fish get some food, whatever falls to the ground is fair game for the crab and the shrimp. then i target the crab and shrimp and make sure theyre occupied (this usually keeps my nass. snails busy too). once everything else is too busy trying to stuff themselves before something else steals it I feed the corals. works like a charm, only very rarely do i get a runaway who seems more interested in whats in the corals rather than whats on the floor right in front of him (go figure).

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Thanks for the cup idea I will give it a try. The affected corals sit on the sand bed which makes them easy pickings for the scavengers. Plus I have a few slow eaters. Maybe I should get them on a frag rack instead.

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Thanks for the cup idea I will give it a try. The affected corals sit on the sand bed which makes them easy pickings for the scavengers. Plus I have a few slow eaters. Maybe I should get them on a frag rack instead.

 

not sure if it was said yet but it is called the "bell method" just cut the bottom off of a water bottle and it makes a bell shape, put it around the piece of coral you want to feed and shoot some mysis in the part you drink from. for bigger coral pieces you can use 2 or 3 liter bottles.

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