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Caribbean Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber

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Species group:

Other common names:

Scientific name: Holothuria tomasi

The basics:
Although this is the largest of the Western Atlantic’s Sea Cucumbers, adults are so secretive and well camouflaged that the species was not scientifically described until 1980. Young Caribbean Tiger Tail Sea Cucumbers are common in the pet trade, but adults become far too large for most private aquariums.

The Caribbean Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber’s range extends from the Florida Keys, USA through the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico, where it dwells on and along reefs.

Appearance / health:
The cylindrical body is mottled with brown, tan, and white, and studded with white-tipped thorny projections; mobile tentacles surround the mouth. Adults may reach 2 meters (6 ft, 7 in) in length.

The Caribbean Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber is extremely sensitive to ammonia and nitrate levels in the water. Larger individuals are 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 Caribbean Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber is difficult to house in a community aquarium, 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.

Housing:
Caribbean Tiger Tail Sea Cucumbers will only thrive if provided pristine water quality. A live sand substrate, which they will sift through when feeding, is essential. Small individuals are quite mobile, but adults remain anchored beneath stones, extending the first third of the body out when feeding. They grow too large for most private aquariums, and need huge volumes of live sand if they are to obtain enough food.

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;

Diet:
In addition to the micro-organisms, algae, and organic detritus provided by live sand, Caribbean Tiger Tail 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. Trace elements should be added as directed by the manufacturer.

Breeding:
Reproduction is asexual (via fission) and sexual, but has not been recorded in captivity.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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