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SRGaudio

urchins?

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SRGaudio

Is there somewhere that has an "urchin guide" of sorts, that discussed the pros/cons/husbrandry/differences in each type? There are several different varieties available in the hobby, and i don't know jack diddly about any of them other than what i have read on live aquaria which is lots copy and paste. I don't even necessarily want one, but at least wanna know about em. Thanks!

Edited by SRGaudio

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straydog

Just added a tuxedo urchin to my system it is suppose to be the best choice from what I have read so far so good. I had made a bad choice by getting a pencil urchin to begin with it is going to go in the sump when I get it built.

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HVani

I've had a tuxedo urchin for a few months now and he's great. He does knock things over if they are not glued down. Otherwise he eats a ton of algae and is a valuable part of my CUC. Tuxedo urchins are the smallest urchins available so they are great for nanos. Depending on your tank size I would also look into a Halloween urchin and pin cushion urchin.

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SRGaudio
I've had a tuxedo urchin for a few months now and he's great. He does knock things over if they are not glued down. Otherwise he eats a ton of algae and is a valuable part of my CUC. Tuxedo urchins are the smallest urchins available so they are great for nanos. Depending on your tank size I would also look into a Halloween urchin and pin cushion urchin.

 

and what size tank would you consider those three appropriate in? would any of them be appropriate in a 20 long?

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HVani

A tuxedo or halloween would be good in a 20 gallon IMO. A pincushion gets a bit bigger so I would not get one of those. My tuxedo is in a 25 gallon but he use to be in a 14 gallon. Though I was worried he wasn't getting enough to eat at the time. I never could get mine to take supplemental feedings, though others have had success offering nori.

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anemone fan

Tuxedos get 3"+ in diameter, they are appropriate when they are small, but shouldn't be kept in there past 1.5". You will not see a well-fed (healthy) tuxedo as they are nocturnal. If it is out you have too large of a CUC. They also don't eat all the different species of algae you may want it to get rid of. I would go with a combination of snails for a 20L. It doesn't take many snails to keep a tank clean. I have a 2.5" red tuxedo in my 57 and probably could get away with one more small one maybe. There is a guide somewhere on here for sea urchins. Search within the inverts forum.

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HVani

huh

 

I did a ton of research before getting my urchin and all I have read is a 20 gallon is fine for a tuxedo, even Liveaquaria and they tend to be conservative with tank sizes IMO. They really only get about 2" or so and grow pretty slowly. Mine is about the size of a golf ball. I've also never heard of them being nocturnal and them being out is a bad thing. Mine is out all the time yet appears perfectly happy. His feeding tentacles are out, he wears his hats, has nice color and hasn't lost any spines. Mine eats diatoms, coraline, hair algae, green algae and just about everything else besides bubble algae. Like I said before many have had success with feeding them, I am just not one of them.

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Urchinhead

Sigh. Here you go. The mods should make this a sticky...

 

 

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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castiel

Agree that should be a sticky, just like the mantis and sexy threads. Great info.

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GokesReef
Sigh. Here you go. The mods should make this a sticky...

 

It should be. Because it's a pain to have to search for a permalink to the most recent time you've posted it every time someone needs to be referred to it.

Edited by Xris

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Urchinhead

Yeah. I know. I searched myself for it and couldn't find it. That's why I reposted it.

Edited by Urchinhead

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HVani

That is just the article I was looking for but couldn't find!

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rahorman

I have had a tuxedo in my 34 gal. for 2 years now and the thing is a lawnmower.. someone mentioned something about them being nocturnal, and if you see them when the lights are on they aren't healthy? Well, I see mine all the time and he's always moving around, grazing (I have a lot of algae in my tank right now), going down to the sand bed floor to pick up camo pieces.. In fact I just snagged a smaller, 2nd tuxedo for my tank.. They look cool and they are a great addition to a CUC.

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bookbear

Where might halloween urchins fit into the above categories? To me they look kind of similar to the Tuxedo urchins, so I thought they might be related, but they seem to be a different species that you haven't listed up there. Are they problematic?

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Tamberav
24 minutes ago, bookbear said:

Where might halloween urchins fit into the above categories? To me they look kind of similar to the Tuxedo urchins, so I thought they might be related, but they seem to be a different species that you haven't listed up there. Are they problematic?

They get larger than tuxedo's so depends on tank size but they should not eat corals. They may knock stuff over or steal frags. 

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Tired

I think tuxedo and halloween urchins are pretty closely related. As said above, care is pretty similar. About the most reef-safe urchin you can get, they just tend to steal the occasional small item. Don't put them in a tank with small loose frags. Make sure they have a supply of little shells and things to pick up and wear around- I don't have any evidence, but I suspect it would stress them to not be able to carry things. They do it as camo and possibly as protection from the light. 

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Thrassian Atoll

Might be the oldest thread I have see revived.

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