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Discussion Starter #1
So about two months ago, I had noticed my tigertail cucumber acting oddly (previous thread: http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/showthread.php?t=111936)

Basically, he started out being very reclusive, only coming out at night and sifting the sand only in a radius close enough to the rocks for him to stay lodged in. Over time, as he grew, he spent more and more time being out visible during "daylight" and also seemed to be going out farther and farther from the rocks. Eventually he was starting to climb all over the rocks, and even up the glass and back walls of the aquarium. His behavior seemed to me like it was increasing in its desperation to find food. Then over the course of the last week or two, it seemed to be getting lethargic and not moving around as much. Finally, it died.

Fortunately, I've been keeping an eye on him and removed him after he was obviously dead with no ill side effects. There was really no signs of trauma or outwards appearance of disease. I can't help but think he starved to death. I only had the one cuke in my 150 gallon display with a 6" DSB. Anyone else think this scenario is feasible?

I'd like to get another cuke as I think they're fascinating and he truly did a great job of cleaning the sand, but I would feel bad if I put another one through the misery of starvation. While his behavior leads me to think it was starvation, I have a hard time believing the sand could be that clean. What do you guys think?

In case the question of my bioload comes up:
FISH:
4 green chromis
1 blue chromis
1 fairly large foxfaced rabbitfish
1 fairly small hippo tang (maybe 3")
1 ocellaris clownfish

INVERTS:
2 scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp
1 blood shrimp
1 peppermint shrimp
maybe 2 dozen xenia
1 large "delicate" anemone (heteractis malu) - 6" dia?
1 huge RBTA - maybe 10" dia?
1 very large tigertail cuke
1 fromia starfish

CORALS:
pocillopora
yellow colony polyps
kenya tree forest (anyone want some?)
variety of zoas
pipe organ coral
galaxea
 

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My 02

Cucs tend to expell their intestines as a defence mechanism when startled ... sometimes they grow back .. sometimes not. If the CUC expelled its intestines during capture then its a real crap shoot whether it will survive in the long run.
 

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How big was the cucumber when you bought it, and how big was it when it died? If there is insufficient food, the cuke will seem to wither away and drastically shrink in size. Your substrate and size tank for one cucumber is more than sufficient, especially with all the input that must occur to feed the number of fishes you have. I don't think it starved to death, more likely some other issue, although I do not have what I would consider a viable alternative explanation. Most sea cucumbers have fairly large stores of body tissue they can live off of for 6 to 8 months when brought in from the wild, but their body size will be reduced pretty dramatically during this time: any chance that you have some “then” and “now” pix?

One question: what size substrate does this system have? > 5mm Gravel? 3mm sized substrate? sugar fine? something else? BB?
 

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Seems like a small bioload to me. Agree with Tom on the withering though. Why so few fish?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I added the cuke June 21, 2007. So it was pretty much 8 months old. I don't have the pictures from when it was new as it was pretty reclusive and only seen at night (hard to photograph). I do have some more recent pictures when he was out in the "daylight" hours. These are approximately 2 months old. That size was his "normal" state and he could stretch longer and skinnier. You can see in the photo he's not under any rocks or squeezed through any cracks of any type. For the first long while I had him, he was always partially under some rock and squeezed through some crevice. He was the size of a large caterpillar when I got him in June - maybe 4-5".

My substrate is mostly sugar fine aragonite sand (270 lbs) and there is a little Caribsea sea-flor grade (80 lbs) which is supposed to be 1.0-1.7 mm. I didn't mix it well when I put it in as I wrongly assumed that it would mix itself. The top layer is predominantly the Sea-Flor grade.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Seems like a small bioload to me. Agree with Tom on the withering though. Why so few fish?

I intended the bio-load to be somewhat light as I desire to provide a low stress environment. As it is, I am sometimes sad because I see my foxface "pace" which makes me think maybe the tank is too small for him. Reminds me of the sad zoos that provide too small of an area for their animals and you watch them pace back and forth. But the foxface coloration is very good, so I hope that means he's content.
 

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I don't mean to change the subject... but I have a 6 ft 180 gallon tank, with both a foxface,maybe 5-6 inches, and a cucumber... my foxface seems quite happy in my tank... do you have lots of caves and places he can swim in and out of, or just a rock wall so that all he can do is swim back and forth? also, I am tagging along about your cuc behavior, because even though my cuc has grown quite a bit since adding him, I did see him up on the glass today and am wondering if he is getting enough to eat.... for the record, I am a HORRIBLE overfeeder, ......lol

also, I am of the mindset that a "low stress" environment includes making sure the anilmals are well-fed so that they can relax and not always have to constantly be hungry and searching for food...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I feed nori 6 days a week. Some of those days I dip the nori in selcon. I have intentions to feed 7, but typically there's one day in there somewhere I get busy and don't get a chance. I feed 3 times a week a mix of flake, pellet, baby brine and a homemade slurry of chopped up fish, shrimp, scallops, squid and clams with selcon.

I try not to overfeed, and I try to schedule my water changes to be shortly after a feeding to take the excess nutrient out of the water. I also take some additional steps to minimize the phosphate input such as I intend to not have nori sitting in the tank overnight, if it's not eaten at lights out, I remove it. I also run the frozen slurry through a strainer after I thaw it to get the juices (and corresponding phosphates) out before I add it to the tank. I would not expect these things to have anything to do with the cuke diet however. My understanding was their nutrients were primarily found in the "waste" from the other organisms and uneaten food. I wouldn't expect the phosphate portion to impact them.

Jennmac, how long have you had your cuke? Was this the first time you saw him up on the glass? Was it during "daylight"?
 

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I have had the cuc since about Sept and yes, this was the 1st time I saw it on the glass....is this not a good sign...(calling) TOM... can you help us?
 

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The cucumber being upon the glass is not a bad sign, rather possibly a sign that the cuke is getting ready to spawn; not a bad sign at all. As most of these creatures are nocturnal animals, you probably do not witness most of their activity, so do not worry about these behaviors (they do this all night).

If you were feeding as posted, your cuke did not starve. It does not eat the things you fed the tank, but the DOC's, phosphates, and nitrates resulting from these feedings feed the microcoenosis that grows on each sand granule: feeding algae, fungi, bacteria, and protists that live on the surface of the sand granules in their own little micro-world. These cukes ingest the sand and digest the microbiofilms off the sand and poop out nice clean sand, which will go through the same process of colonization again so long as nutrients are available in the water. A 2 ft sq area of sugar-fine sand is enough to feed an aquarium specimen the size of yours, I would suspect something else has killed it, either a rockslide (frequently the cause of cucumber deaths) or possibly old age, you do not know how long this specimen lived in the wild, and it was pretty big. Without knowing much more about this particular specimen, all we can really do is speculate about how it died, but it is unlikely (based on your feeding regimen and the appearance of the specimen recently) that it died of starvation.


Sorry to not be more specific, HTH
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for your input Tom. I think I *will* try another cuke. I was reluctant to do so if I thought the first one starved. Thanks again.
 
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