Write-Up Wednesday: Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber, (Holothuria sp.)


The Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber (Holothuria sp.) isn’t going to win the award for the flashiest thing in your tank. With a brown colored body that includes white thorny looking protrusions, the Tiger Tail looks like something you’d find bobbing around a wastewater treatment facility holding tank. Add on the fact that they can elongate their body at will and you’ve got a nocturnal, ugly, creepy-crawly thing that your kids will love.

While they won’t win you a tank-of-the-month award for their looks, their cleaning ability just might. Tiger Tails eat detritus, algae, sand and left over food, leaving behind sparkly white sand that any of the tank personalities will appreciate. Note that I said they eat sand, so those of you with a bare bottom tank, strike Tiger Tails, and any sea cucumber for that matter, off your list.

It’s not surprise that I love sea cucumbers and I’m fully aware that they do come with the risk of poisoning your tank if they get stressed. The stress level required to release poisons is usually quite high as the only time I’ve experienced a sea cucumber poison a tank was when a client’s sea cucumber climbed into his powerhead and got shredded. Some people assert that a dying sea cucumber will poison a tank and I’ve personally had several die over the years and never experienced any poisoning. I have no problem accepting the risk of having a Tiger Tail in my tank as I’ve found them to be quite hardy and mine have never gotten close to a powerhead.

If you’ve got sand in your tank, you’re looking to round out your clean-up crew, and you realize the risk is there (albeit very, very low), add a Tiger Tail Sea Cucumber to your tank. You won’t be disappointed.

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Comments for this article (14)

  • Patrick says:

    I’d love to get a sea cucumber, but I have a deep sand bed.

  • Rhonda Riebow says:

    I love my tiger tail cuke! They “split” into two also. My Sluggo morphed into Beavis and Butthead. I think I only have one now though–I haven’t seen two at once in a long time.

  • Matt says:

    Mark will these do ok in crushed coral?

    I know when I dive here in S FL I have found them in a variety substrates but just wasnt sure if they could have been “passing through” when located in a non sandy area. Thanks

  • dave says:

    i would like to find something that eats ‘spaghetti worms” they do help with clean up on the sand but they are getting out of control. I’ve tried pep shrimp arrow crabs and a few other inverts but no luck, anybody??

  • Steve says:

    Nice write-up, Mark. I might suggest that a nice touch for future posts that reference a particular species of coral, fish or invert might contain a link to a picture that you feel is representative enough to illustrate the item. Thx again!

  • Trish says:

    Mark, will these guys do ok in a tank with a DSB?

  • Trish…I don’t have a problem with them in a DSB as they don’t bury into the sand. They just turn over the top surface.

  • ghbrewer says:

    Another little tidbit about Sea Cucumbers is that they breathe through their anus… I found that to be a little humorous when I heard about it for the first time;)

  • Jason says:

    Hello Mark,
    Can you have more then one sea cucumber per aquarium?

  • Kyle says:

    Jason, yes you can have 2 tank and from my experience it is really cool to have multiple especially some of the more beautiful ones hanging out in the back in packs can look cool and add a fun creature to your aquarium.

  • Bert says:

    Mark, interested in your recommendation how a sea cucumber with it’s unique food requirements would go through a minimum 30-day quarantine period, given most (at least my) QTs are bare bottom. Placing extensive quantity of sand from my DT into a QT for a month I suppose is a possibility, but keeping this guy happy and alive until it gets into the display tank may be a challenge. Your thoughts how to do this? Nothing gets into my DT with exception of the initial CUC without quarantine per your consistent advice.

  • Shery says:

    Hi Mark!

    I also have the second concern as Bert. I just picked up a tiger tail and he’s going through his first night in quarantine. I am concerned that he won’t do well in the bare bottom tank. I have a smaller 10 gallon tank that I could fill with sand to QT him, but I am hesitant to do so because it is my hospital tank and I want it to be available if/when I need it (my husband will pop a vein if I buy another tank, especially since I am already running 3!). Will it be ok in QT without sand? Does it need to be QT’d?

    Thanks for your wisdom!

  • Tracy says:

    So i bought a tiger twil for my 34 gallon red sea with a 4 inch sand bed. Acclimated him, he had yet to return to the bottom of the tank, he crawled up top the too and crawled completely around the tank. ..did some pooping..so i ruled out starvation. .. he Helen detached half his body from the glass into the water. ..what’s going on with him. ..he looks like the creature from tremors

  • Deanna Darling says:

    Our tiger cucumber split in two. Will the two fight?

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