Species group: Sea Cucumbers
Other common names: Black Cucumber, Lollyfish
Scientific name: Holothuria atra
The fact such a delicate, bizarre creature as the Black Sea Cucumber is being kept by aquarists is an indication of the amazing advances that are occurring in our hobby. However, due to their unique requirements, Sea Cucumber care must not be taken on without careful thought.
The Black Sea Cucumber’s huge range includes the Indo-Pacific region, Red Sea, Eastern Pacific Ocean, and coastal waters throughout Southeast Asia. Highly adaptable, it dwells along shallow reefs and in lagoons and sea grass beds.
Appearance / health:
The uniquely-tubular body is black in color and reaches 20-60 cm (8-24 in) in length; mobile tentacles surround the mouth.
The Black Sea Cucumber is extremely sensitive to ammonia and nitrate levels in the water. It sifts sand for tiny food particles, and is very prone to malnourishment and starvation. Filter intakes must be modified so as to prevent Sea Cucumbers from being pulled in and injured.
Behavior / temperament:
The Black Sea Cucumber’s tank-mates must be chosen with great care, as stressed individuals will expel their internal organs (which they can regenerate!) and release powerful toxins that will kill most marine creatures. This may happen upon death of the Sea Cucumber as well.
Black Sea Cucumbers will only thrive if provided pristine water quality. A live sand substrate, which they will sift through when feeding, is essential.
The following water quality parameters should be maintained in order to assure long-term health: Temperature: 23.8-28 C (75-82 F); Salinity: 1.023-1.025; pH: 8.1-8.4; Alkalinity 8-12 dKH;
In addition to the micro-organisms, algae and organic detritus provided by live sand, Black Sea Cucumbers require frequent feedings of marine flakes, pellets and frozen foods (carnivore and herbivore formulas) and bits of clam, shrimp, mussel, and/or marine fish. They may starve if housed with active fish, crabs,, or shrimp, unless the live sand base produces a great deal of food. Trace elements and iodine should be added as directed by the manufacturer.
Reproduction is asexual (via fission) and sexual, but has not been recorded in home aquariums.
Written by Frank Indiviglio