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Red Slate Pencil Urchin
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(Heterocentrotus mammillatus) Easy Peaceful 8" Omnivore Substrate & Rocks 30 gallons No 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, sg 1.020-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4 Calcium, Iodine, Strontium, Trace elements, Marnesium Red, Pink Hawaiian Islands Echinometridae Urchins The Red Slate Pencil Urchin or simply the Slate Pencil Urchin, has a reddish-brown body and long, blunt, tapering solid spines. The spines radiate out from the body in all directions at lengths of up to five inches or so. The spines of the Red Slate Pencil Urchin are often described as looking like pencils and were used as writing utensils for slate boards, thus this species is also sometimes referred to as the Red Slate Pencil Urchin. Overall this species is very easy to maintain within the marine aquarium environment and will also benefit the aquarium by grazing on algae on the glass and rocks. Red Slate Pencil Urchins require a fair amount of room to move about the aquarium and a sturdy rock scape to support its size and scraping motion as it move along the reef. The Red Slate Pencil Urchin moves about via its suctorial podia, which provides enough traction to allow it to climb up the glass walls of an aquarium or to move over rocks and sand. Red Slate Pencil Urchins can be destructive and even harmful to corals, but is safe in a fish-only aquarium. Red Slate Pencil Urchins are generally solitary, and in the aquarium environment it is generally best to keep just one of its kind per tank. Being nocturnal, it will usually be less visible during daylight hours and wait for the cover of night to forage for algae. The Red Slate Pencil Urchin prefers low nitrate levels and will not tolerate copper-based medications, if exposed to copper it is not unusual for it to lose a few spines. If this species sheds many of its spines, it is often due to poor water quality. No specific water movement, lighting or other aquarium conditions are required to successfully house this species. The Red Slate Pencil Urchin will do well to have live rock, which will provide a good source for grazing. If there is insufficient algae on the rock or glass of the aquarium for the Red Slate Pencil Urchin to graze, the diet should be supplemented with dried seaweed or similar foods.
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Pencil Urchin
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(Eucidaris tribuloides) Moderate Peaceful 6" Omnivore Substrate & Rocks 30 gallons Yes 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, sg 1.020-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4 None Brown, Tan Caribbean Cidaridae Urchins The Pencil Urchin of the Eucidaris genera has a brown and tan, sometimes mottled body with stubby, thick spines radiating out in all directions. Pencil Urchins are primarily omnivorous scavengers that will generally hide in rock caves or crevices during the day, then move about the live rock or reef during the night looking for algae or meaty foods to eat. This species should be handled carefully and do not try to pry it out of a hole or off of the reef, as you will break its spines before it will let go of its hold. Over time it is common for the spines of the Pencil Urchin to become covered with coralline and other types of algae as this species is stationary for most of the daylight (aquarium light) hours, which allows for algae growth to on its body to occur. This is a peaceful species that makes an excellent aquarium cleaner and provides a different look then the more common snail and crab aquarium cleaners. The Pencil Urchin will spend most of the day in the shelter of the live rock or reef; however, at night it will come out and forage for food, looking particularly for algae covered areas and smaller invertebrates like sea squirts or sponges. It can be destructive to some corals and the rock formations should be sturdy, since the Urchin can dislodge rocks as it moves around the tank, thus this species will not be suitable for all reef aquariums. It requires an aquarium with multiple hiding places and live rock on which it can graze and seek shelter. The Pencil Urchin is very sensitive to high levels of copper-based medications and will not tolerate high levels of nitrates. If water conditions are poor, it will shed its spines. It is extremely difficult to breed in an aquarium and has no distinguishing characteristics to help differentiate it from its mate. Pencil Urchins eat both marine algae and meaty foods that it comes across while scavenging the live rock and substrate of the aquarium. It is important to have a good amount of live rock for the Pencil Urchin to scavenge for food, as live rock provides a place for marine algae, sponge and other smaller invertebrates like sea squirts to live and grow. Pencil Urchins will also accept dried seaweed or meaty foods as a supplement food source.
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Hairy Pincushion Urchin
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(Tripneustes gratilla) Moderate Peaceful 4" Omnivore Substrate & Rocks 30 gallons Yes, With caution 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, sg 1.020-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4 None Red, White, Black, Purple Indo-Pacific Toxopneustidae Urchins Hairy Pincushion Urchins are found throughout the Indo-Pacific, where they typically live in reef flats, lagoons and bays. They will inhabit areas ranging from sand flats with rock rubble, rocky reef flats and seagrass covered areas. The Hairy Pincushion Urchin will cover itself with various objects such as, shells, sponges, small rubble and algae in order to both camouflage itself for protection and shade from the sun. This species is best added to established aquariums with plenty of live rock and enough room for this (approx 4 inch diameter) species to move about the rockwork comfortably. Hairy Pincushion Urchins do well in established aquariums with plenty of live rock and excellent water conditions. This species will scavenge for algae and detritus on the substrate, rock work and glass of the aquarium. This species is an excellent algae eater, including filamentous algae and other forms of undesirable algae. Since it reaches a diameter of about 4 inches, it should have enough room to comfortably move about the rock work, thus will need some large caves and crevices. Also the aqua-scaping should be securely built, so that it does not topple as the Hairy Pincushion Urchin moves about its surface. Excellent water quality, low nitrates and very low to zero copper levels should be maintained to allow for this species to remain healthy and thrive within the home aquarium. Hairy Pincushion Urchins feed primarily on algae and detritus that they scavenge for on both the substrate and live rock. If added to an established aquarium with live rock, there should be plenty of food available. However, if added to a new aquarium or one without live rock, supplemental feedings of dried seaweed or algae may be necessary.
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Black Longspine Urchin
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(Diadema setosum) Easy Peaceful 3" Herbivore All 12 gallons Yes 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, sg 1.020-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4 None Black Indo-Pacific Diadematidae Urchins The Black Longspine Urchin, is also commonly known as the Long-spined Sea Urchin, and has a body which is predominately black with a red eyespot in the center surrounded by bright blue markings. The spines on these urchins are long, thin and completely black, while they may look like a very delicate species, they are in fact very capable of protecting themselves. This fact makes the Black Longspine Urchin an excellent algae controllers for an aquarium housing aggressive fish species, where other traditional cleaning crew species; such as, snails and crabs would quickly become a meal for a hungry predator fish. The Black Longspine Urchin is equally at home in the reef aquarium, as it has a peaceful disposition and will not harm other aquarium inhabitants. Since the Black Longspine Urchin is a nocturnal creature it will generally spend much of the daylight hours in caves or crevices in the live rock, then venturing out more at night to scavenge for algae on the aquarium substrate and glass. Therefore, it is important to provide an aquarium with ample hiding places and room to roam. These urchins are an excellent algae controller for an aggressive aquarium where other invertebrates would be eaten, as when they are approached by a fish, these urchins will sense their presence, and will defend itself by directing its spines towards its offender. While this species is very capable of defending itself, it is not an aggressive species and can live in reef, fish-only or aggressive fish aquariums without problems. Like most marine invertebrates it is very sensitive to high levels of copper-based medications and will not tolerate high nitrate levels. If it begins to shed its spines, this is a sign of very poor water quality. Black Longspine Urchin are true scavengers, that spend their time scouring live rock, aquarium substrate or even the glass walls of the aquarium looking for algae to eat. Black Longspine Urchin are herbivores and therefore are excellent algae eaters, but will not consume leftover meaty foods. This species is an excellent addition to an aquarium with aggressive fish species; such as, triggers, sharks or groupers as they can protect themselves with their spines and still keep the tank clean by eating the algae. Thus, the Black Longspine Urchin unlike other algae eating species like snails and crabs, can solve the problem many aggressive species aquarium owners face of how to get rid of unwanted algae growth without there aggressive fish species eating the cleaning crew. If there is not enough algae growth in the aquarium, their diet may be supplemented with dried seaweed. The Black Longspine Urchin is venomous, with its sting being roughly equivalent to that of a bee sting. Use care when handling or working around this species in the aquarium.
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Banded Longspine Urchin
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(Echinothrix calamaris) Moderate Peaceful 3" Juvenile: Herbavore, Adult: Carnivore All 12 gallons With Caution 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4 None Black, Brown, Tan, White Indo-Pacific Diadematidae Urchins The Banded Longspine Urchin, which is also commonly known within the aquarium trade as either the Longspined Urchin or Hatpin Urchin, has a dark brown central body with alternating brown and white striped spines. These long and sharp spines can sometimes reach lengths of up to 9 inches. The spines are generally thick and hollow, yet very strong, while some of the spines are shorter and less thick in size. This species is found living in Indo-Pacific reefs, where it spends the daylight hours in dark crevices and comes out at night to feed. During the daytime some species of small fish utilize the spines of Banded Longspine Urchin for protection from larger fish species. In the wild it is common to find large aggregations of Banded Longspine Urchins living together in a small area. The Banded Longspine Urchin will spend much of the daylight hours hiding in between rocky crevices. The aquarium should have stable rock work and some shaded areas, with large enough crevices for the Banded Longspine Urchin to comfortable wedge itself into. During the night, the Banded Longspine Urchin will come out to feed, with juveniles foraging the reef for algae and adults preying on invertebrates. It is best to feed this species small bits of meaty foods about an hour after the aquarium lights have been turned off. This species should be kept with care with other invertebrates as it will try to feed on certain species of small invertebrates. Smaller fish, such as the Banggai Cardinal, will often seek shelter among its spines during the day, leaving their protection at night to eat. Like most invertebrate species the Banded Longspine Urchin will not tolerate copper-based medications and needs low nitrate levels. In the wild the Banded Longspine Urchin consumes primarily algae while a juvenile, forging on the reef during nighttime hours. Adults of this species in the wild, become carnivorous and will feed on small invertebrates. In the aquarium, meaty foods can be placed near its spines or even on them, with the spines having the ability to transport the food to its mouth. Adults may be fed meaty foods such as mussel or clam meat 3 to 4 times a week. Use caution when handling the Banded Longspine Urchin, as it is capable of delivering a painful sting similar to that of a wasp.
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