Display results as :

Rechercher Advanced Search

Latest topics
» Coral In Stock (Friday, April 25)
SEA CUCUMBERS..TANK NUKERS???? I_icon_minitimeFri Apr 25, 2014 2:27 pm by CanadaCorals

» Coral In Stock (April, 11 2014)
SEA CUCUMBERS..TANK NUKERS???? I_icon_minitimeFri Apr 11, 2014 10:05 pm by CanadaCorals

» Official Canada Corals Introduction
SEA CUCUMBERS..TANK NUKERS???? I_icon_minitimeMon Apr 07, 2014 5:35 pm by CanadaCorals

» Looking for Bubble Tip Anemone
SEA CUCUMBERS..TANK NUKERS???? I_icon_minitimeSun Apr 06, 2014 1:13 pm by Shannon *Admin*

» A big Welcome to our new Sponsor CANADA CORALS!!
SEA CUCUMBERS..TANK NUKERS???? I_icon_minitimeFri Apr 04, 2014 4:14 pm by Shannon *Admin*

» Good News..
SEA CUCUMBERS..TANK NUKERS???? I_icon_minitimeSat Mar 29, 2014 3:26 am by Shannon *Admin*

SEA CUCUMBERS..TANK NUKERS???? I_icon_minitimeSat Mar 29, 2014 3:04 am by Shannon *Admin*

» L.E.D Lighting
SEA CUCUMBERS..TANK NUKERS???? I_icon_minitimeFri Mar 28, 2014 9:55 am by Shannon *Admin*

SEA CUCUMBERS..TANK NUKERS???? I_icon_minitimeFri Mar 28, 2014 9:48 am by Shannon *Admin*

free forum



Go down


Post by Shannon *Admin* on Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:03 am

there are a number of sea cucumber species whose body walls and internal organs contain a toxin known as holothurin that can rapidly deplete your fish population. This is such an effective ichthyotoxin that natives in some parts of the Indo-Pacific will use the macerated bodies of certain sea cucumbers to incapacitate fish.

For example, Frey (1951) wrote how natives of Guam introduced sea cucumber tissue fluids into tide pools to kill the fish they contained. It's interesting to note that in most cases, sea cucumber toxins do not kill other invertebrates in the tank, only fish. However, studies have shown that the toxin actually will kill smaller invertebrates, including worms, cnidarians (i.e., Hydra) and mollusks.

Holothurin can be released into the tank in several different ways. Two of these are defensive strategies, known as evisceration and Cuvierian tubule expulsion. Evisceration, which is the more common of the two strategies, can take two forms, depending on the species of sea cucumber in question. In one form the cloaca ruptures and the respiratory trees, the digestive tract and the gonads are expelled, while in the other form the anterior end of the body ruptures and the tentacles, pharynx and part of the intestine are discharged. This behavior does not kill the sea cucumber, which simply regenerates the organs. In some sea cucumbers these organs contain holothurin.

Expulsion of the Cuvierian tubules is a behavior used by far fewer sea cucumbers. The Cuvierian tubules are long white, pink or red structures that are attached to one, or both, respiratory trees. If the cucumber is attacked by a predator it will expel this sticky, stringy mass of tubules — which can also contain holothurin — out of its anus. In cases where the sea cucumber is attacked by a crab or lobster, they may become entangled in the sticky tubules and slowly die. The tubules, like the organs expelled during evisceration, can then be regenerated.

Another way certain sea cucumbers could be lethal to your fish is if they die in your tank, or if they are damaged by a piece of mechanical equipment (like powerhead impellers), as happened in your situation. If this should happen, the toxin could be released from the body wall or internal organs. Finally, the gametes of some sea cucumbers are toxic and if they are consumed by your fish, the fish will perish.

What will cause a sea cucumber to eviscerate or expel its tubules? Well, as mentioned earlier, if a sea cucumber is attacked by a predator or is damaged by a filter or pump, it may engage in one of these two behaviors. But, it may also do so if it is handled in or out of the water, or if it is exposed to sudden changes in water temperature, pH or oxygen levels. The latter can occur if a pump should fail, if the sea cucumbers are exposed to crowded conditions, if a tank is overfed, or if organisms should die in a smaller tank, a new tank or a tank with inadequate biological filtration.


Barnes, R. D. 1980. Invertebrate Zoology. Saunders College, Philadelphia, PA. Pp. 1089.

Delbeek, J. C. and J. Sprung. 1994. The Reef Aquarium. Ricordea Publ. Coconut Grove, FL. Pp. 544.

Findlay, R. E. Marine toxins and venomous and poisonous marine animals. T.F.H. Publ., Neptune City, NJ. Pp. 176.

Frey, D. G. 1951. The use of sea cucumbers in poisoning fishes. Copeia 1951:175-176.

Kaplan, E. H. 1982. A field guide to coral reefs of the Caribbean and Florida. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA. Pp. 289.

Nigrelli, R. F. and S. Jakowska. 1960. Effects of holothurin, a steroid saponin from the Bahamian sea cucumber (Actinpyga agassizi), on various biological systems. Ann NY Acad Sci 90:884-892.

So what species of sea cucumbers are potential fish killers? According to Nigrelli and Jakowska (1960), at least 60 species of sea cucumber are toxic. One of the most deadly members of this group is the spotted sea cucumber (Bohadschia argus). This species is commonly encountered on coastal reefs and reef flats in the Indo-Pacific, but fortunately, it rarely makes it into the marine aquarium trade. When upset, it expels Cuvier's tubules, which will wipe a tank of fish out in minutes. The toxin is so deadly that on one occasion I saw it kill all the fish in an open system (that is, a pond that had fresh seawater running through it constantly).

Another species known to expel tubules and holothurin is the five-toothed sea cucumber (Actinopyga agassizii), which is found in the Bahamas and parts of the Caribbean. The impatient sea cucumber (Holothuria impatiens), which is almost cicumtropical in distribution, and the golden sea cucumber (H. parvula), which occurs off Bermuda and the West Indies, also expel tubules that may or may not be toxic.

Two of the more popular cucumbers are the Australian sea apple (Pseudocolochirus violaceus) and the tricolor sea apple (Pseudocolochirus tricolor, also known as P. axiologus). They are also toxic. These strikingly beautiful members of the family feed by flailing their colorful tentacles in the water column, which capture small pieces of suspended debris. But, if they are upset by drastic changes in their environment or suffer mechanical damage, a sea apple will eviscerate. The internal organs of this species do contain holothurin and will quickly decimate a tank full of fish. The gametes of the sea apple are also toxic.

Other cucumbers that have been reported to kill fish if injured or stressed include the pink cucumber (Holothuria edulis) and the medusa worms (genus Synapta or Euapta). The latter two genera include a number of species that are very elongate, measuring to more than 3 feet in length, and can range in color from brown or tan to pink.

In the mid-'80s these were very popular with those marine hobbyists who wanted something unusual in their tanks, and they were thought to be of benefit to the home aquarium because they acted as efficient scavengers. Little did we know at that time that these creatures could "nuke" all the fish in your tank when they were shredded by a powerhead or damaged when they were sucked up in the siphon of an external filter.

Fortunately, there are many species of sea cucumbers that are not deadly to fish. These include those species that are regularly collected from the Florida Keys and Gulf coast of Florida. They are used by reef aquarists to stir up live sand in a tank containing this substrate. Most of these belong to the genus Holothuria.
Shannon *Admin*
Shannon *Admin*

Number of posts : 251
Age : 43
Location : Fergus, Ontario
Tank Size- Gallons : 38g Display, 12g Nanocube, 8 Gallon nano, 28g JBJ HQI

29g Biocube - Feb 2/14
Reefer Reputation : 0
Registration date : 2008-11-24

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum