Why Does a Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber Split and is it Normal?

A month or two after we purchased our Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber, it appeared that the sea cucumber split in two, each half taking up residence at opposite ends of the tank. This was a surprise to us as we were told when we purchased him that this was a possibility, but not likely to happen.

I have found forums of other aquarists who have had a Tiger Tail for years and have never had it split, and some aquarists who’s Tiger Tail have split multiple times.

The reason for this seems to be more reproductive rather than defensive. I was concerned that the Tiger Tail had split due to some stress, but now that it has been several months and we still have both halves, and have had no issues with them, then the split must have been for another reason.

I never see them fully out in the open to know how big or small they are, only seeing their mouths protruding from their hiding spaces sifting sand. Both eat often and I find piles of sand castings regularly.

I’m hoping they do not split again as I’m not sure our 75 gallon tank could accommodate more, and trying to remove a Tiger Tail would not be an easy feat. The concern at that point would be to have one die due to lack of food and the toxins it releases kill the tanks other inhabitants.

At this point, there is not much we can do. It has been about 8 months since they have split, and have had no issues with them. If I by chance ever see one out in the open to nab, I will remove him, but so far they have proven to be very recluse.

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Injured Blue-Green Chromis

In April 2012 we purchased 3 Blue-Green Chromis. It seems that Chromis are always at odds with each other, always picking and chasing each other. Six months after we purchased them, one of them simply stopped showing up at feeding time and we never did find out what became of him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was just picked off or injured by the other two.

Now, our largest of the two Chromis has picked on the smaller one to the point that he has an injured mouth. It gets stuck out at times and he has a difficult time eating. We have resorted to feeding him with a turkey baster in his secluded spot away from the other fish where he rarely comes out of hiding.

Despite his injury, most days he does very well eating, and we have found that dropping pellets from the baster directly on top of his head works best. He reminds me of a seal in a circus because on the days his mouth is stuck open, he will bounce the pellets off the top of his head, and them position himself under them allowing the food to fall into his open mouth. However, some days he is so distracted by keeping an eye on the larger Chromis, he barely eats.

Despite our efforts to feed him each day at least 10 to 15 pellets of food, he is very skinny. We don’t usually get a chance to feed him more than that before the larger Chromis figures out what we are doing and bully’s the smaller one back into hiding.

We have tried in vain to catch the larger Chromis, even rigging a line and hook, but he is very clever. We tried catching him with a net repeatedly, but have resorted to simply chasing him off as best we can while feeding the injured Chromis. I feel it is only a matter of time until he dies, but meanwhile, a turkey baster and a little patience is all we have.

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Pistol Shrimp & Watchman Goby Pair

The newest additions to our tank are a Pistol Shrimp and a Watchman Goby. These two animals are usually purchased as a pair because they work and live together, and have a very unique relationship.

The Pistol Shrimp is blind, and needs the Goby to alert him if there is any danger nearby. The Watchman Goby is not a good burrower, so thus needs the shrimp to give him a home to stay in. Together, they live in the same burrow and are in constant communication with each other. The shrimp will often scavenge for bits of shell or rock to improve the burrow, and the Goby always accompanies him, keeping watch.

From our observations, the Goby is almost always at the mouth of the burrow watching, while the shrimp constantly bulldozes claw-fulls of sand out of their burrow and tunnels. If there is any apparent danger nearby, the Goby flicks his tail, alerting the shrimp to go back into the burrow. When the shrimp decided to go exploring, the Goby is right there with him, and the shrimp always has an antennae touching the Goby, so he always knows where he is. If they are several inches from their home and they get spooked, the speed in which they can move back to home base is astonishing.

The shrimp has two claws; one is small, and the other much larger. The larger claw has the ability to snap at a speed so fast it creates what is known as a cavitation bubble. This bubble causes acoustic pressure, which creates a snapping sound clearly audible outside of the aquarium, and can kill small fish. I have read that the bubble can reach 60 miles per hour and over 200 decibels. We had some reservation at first of adding this pair to our tank, hearing some rumours about the cavitation bubble causing aquariums to crack. Our LFS assures us that that is not the case.

In the wild, the shrimp snaps as a way to communicate, as well as to hunt. We do hear this snap noise sometimes, but I doubt it is a result of any hunting; our shrimp and Goby eat pellets as well as mysis shrimp every day. They stay to themselves and are not very social, so I think this snapping is more a way to communicate to each other.

Below you can watch the way the Goby communicates with the shrimp, and how the shrimp’s antennae is always touching the Goby.

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Aquarium Cooling Fan Failure

Over a Holiday weekend recently, our aquarium cooling fan stopped working. We discovered this because our Apex Aquacontroller alerted us to increased temperatures in the tank. With most shops not open, or on shorter hours, and an hour drive to our favorite pet store, we had to improvise. Our aquarium fan was a 4 inch Coralvue Smart Fan, that would variate the speed of the fan based on the air surrounding the fan’s temperature sensor. While we didn’t have a back-up on hand, we did discover that the cooling fan in my desktop computer was also 4 inches.


The computer fan required a 12 volt power adapter and we found one amongst some random computer junk we had lying around that went to an old HP printer. We soldered it in place and shrink wrapped the solder joints to protect them from water and salt exposure in the aquarium hood.


In the end, we ended up with a very quiet, functioning aquarium fan to get us through until we could purchase a better one. Now that’s what I can improvising!


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Yikes! A zoa eating nudibranch! What Can Be Done?

I took this photo a few days after discovering our first nudibranch. The eye-catching fluorescent green made it easy to spot on the base of our Lobo coral.

Despite how beautiful it is, we believe it to be a Zoanthid-eating Nudibranch and have had some Zoanthids disappear recently, so we dispose of any we find. It has been a more than a week since I took this photo, and thankfully haven’t seen any more.

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We recently discovered a tiny nudibranch crawling on the glass of our aquarium. We put it under the microscope and captured this video. Under the blue T5 lights of the aquarium, this nudibranch is highly colorful, fluorescing bright green. The video does little to show this, but you can see how the lighting reflects off his body.

We have determined that this nudibranch is a Zoanthid-eating nudibranch. This may be one of the reasons some of our Zoanthids have been disappearing lately. They are considered pests for this reason, although it is hard to dispose of them because they are so beautiful.

Nudibranchs are a group of mollusks that have no shell past their larval stage. There are thousands of species that are found at all depths all around the world and range in size and variation. Our little nudibranch, with his fluorescent green color, blends very well with our zoanthids, but not all nudibranchs are as colorful.

There are products that I have read aquarists can use in cases of heavy populations of nudibranchs, one of which is Salifert’s Flatworm Exit. This product is said to be safe for fish and invertebrates, but the dead nudibranchs can be toxic to tank inhabitants, so it is important to remove the dead nudibranchs after. Water changes and use of carbon is also recommended. I would definitely recommend research and precaution on any products being used, as many of them are put directly into the tank.

We will keep our eye out for more of them, especially since our Zoanthids have been disappearing. If we find many more we will have to give Salifert’s Flatworm Exit a try.

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Photographing an Aquarium

We currently use a Cannon PowerShot SD850 IS digital camera to take pictures of our aquarium. It’s a decent enough little camera, but we have been wanting a new one for a while now, one that will take better images through the glass of the aquarium. Currently, the lighting and distortion of the aquarium glass pose a problem at times for the Cannon.

Last week I updated my cell phone to a Droid Razr HD. The camera on this phone can take HD photo’s, and here are the photo’s it has taken:


These photos were taken at different depths into the tank while standing in from of it with daytime lighting. I think it did a great job!

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New Corals

Our newest corals come mostly from the recent coral swap in Lansing, but also from our LFS. We have learned to dip any new corals in a coral dip before putting them in our main tank. You can read about a Xenia eating worm we discovered after dipping our Pulsating Xenia in this previous post. We also place all of our corals on the sand bed for a couple of weeks when we first bring them home. We feel this allows them to adjust to our tank and we can get a feel for what kind of lighting and flow they prefer based on their response on the sandbed.

The first coral we purchased is a Maze coral. From what I read, Maze corals also go by the name of worm, closed brain, or bowl coral. They are large polyp stony corals (LPS) that have bright green maze-like channels (that look great under moon lighting!) in their skeletons. They have sweeper tentacles that come out at night, so we try to keep it away from other corals it can reach to sting. Maze corals require moderate flow and lighting and are a good beginner coral. We feed many of our corals, and this coral responds quickly when introduced to food.

We also purchased a “Lobo”, or also known as Lobophyllia or Brain coral. This coral is also an LPS that is reported as easy to care for. They range in all colors, but ours is mostly orange and pink, with bits of yellow and blue. Lobo’s require moderate to high lighting, and moderate water flow. I have read that they can have sweeper tentacles that come out at night, but I have yet to see one on this coral. We also feed this coral, but he is not as responsive as other corals in our tank.

We purchased a couple of frags with multiple types of Zoanthids ranging in color from neon green, to pink and orange. In my experience, and from talking with other aquarists at the Lansing Coral Swab, you either have luck with Zoanthids, or you don’t. One vendor at the swap said that he can grow Zoanthids in abundance in one of his frag tanks, but none in another. They seem to be very finicky coral, and their requirements depend on the specific kind you have. This new Zoanthid coral seems to enjoy the light, so we placed it high in our tank, where we are currently having luck with most of our other Zoanthids. There is one Zoanthid colony we have, which I believe are Blue Eyed Devils, that have slowly been disappearing or moving over the side of the frag they are glued to. We decided this may be because there is too much lighting for it, so we moved the frag to a more shaded location. We will wait to see if it bounces back, or completely disappears.


One thing I will make sure to do next year at the Coral Swap, is to write down the exact name of the corals we purchase, as well as each vendor. There are so many people, vendors, and coral to look at that by the time I get home I can’t remember who I bought which coral from, or the name they gave them!

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