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FAQs about Sea Squirts Stocking/Selection 

Related Articles: Sea Squirts/Tunicates/Ascidians

Related FAQs:  Ascidians 1, Ascidians 2, Ascidian ID, Ascidian Behavior, Ascidian Compatibility, Ascidian Systems, Ascidian Feeding, Ascidian Disease, Ascidian Reproduction,           

Tunicates/Ascidians 4/1/2011
Greetings Crew!
<Hello Audrey>
I am preparing to setup a 100-ish gallon refugium for my 120 saltwater tank in order to get some of the beneficial plants and algae that my tang devours! Anyway, I've been reading about tunicates and from what I understand they filter nitrates well and feed on phytoplankton.
<The latter.>
I found two at my LFS. One is fairly small being about 2-3 inches long and brown in color. The other is red-brown and larger around and about 3-4 inches long. I am planning on adding leafy Caulerpa and Hawaiian feather dusters to my refugium along with Chaetomorpha and any other plants and algaes I can get my hands on. I am wondering if the tunicates are a good idea or not. I've read that they are noxious when they die but it seems if they were that dangerous people wouldn't keep them. My LFS is extremely reliable compared to the nightmare stories I've read on here and the owner is really good about picking healthy organisms that he would put in his own system provided its compatible.
<Ascidians have a dismal rate of survival in captivity, rarely more than a year, some only months. And yes, many species are noxious, even poisonous to other life in the aquarium (sequestering toxins in their tunic). Once they die the toxins are soon released and this can be fatal to other life forms in your aquarium.>
I have a nitrate problem which is part of why the refugium is going up.
<Tunicates won't help you, they are filter feeders that require a constant input of microscopic food to survive. There are much better ways to control nitrates. See here and related articles/FAQs found in the header.
Carbon dosing has become quite popular and is an effective means of reducing nitrates but there are risks involved if not followed to the letter. May want to read here.
All that I am reading on here seems kind of two-sided and more on the colonial types of tunicates rather than the individuals. If the tunicates are a good idea will they actually help my nitrate problem or is what I read a myth?
<The amount they would help would be miniscule and not worth buying for that reason alone.>
Thank You for such a wonderful site!!!! I honestly come here before I buy or do anything with my tank!!!!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Tunicates Dear sir, How can I acquire some tunicates to introduce into my reef? Any ideas. Mike Ward <Mmm, these can be bought outright from livestock dealers and are a very common component of live rock... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ascidians.htm Bob Fenner>

Please no! The Blue Lollipop Stalked Ascidian 4/5/04 Hello, thanks again for this fantastic resource. <thanks kindly :)> I just bought this The Blue Lollipop Stalked Ascidian from my LFS a week ago.  It had been doing great!   <Ughhh! please, no. This animal is not "doing great". Its simply still alive and yet still doomed to starve to death in weeks/months. They really should not be collected or sold perhaps. Not until we are able to understand their needs and keep them alive. Many ascidians are bacteriovores. We do not have enough or enough of the right kind of foods to keep these animals alive. Yours will die soon, alas> Last night, one of my Astrea snails was climbing on the stalks for about an hour and a half. It did not do any visible damage on the stalks, it didn't look like it was eating them.   <and I assure you it was not... the tunics of ascidians are very toxic, by and large> Immediately afterwards, the heads at the end of the stalks, got a mucous covering over them. <this is the sloughing of a stressed animal. It can/will regrow a new "head"/zooids... but it is using limited reserves to do so. Still starving to death.> This morning, more of the heads now have this covering. <a common occurrence> I was wandering what your input is on this, were they stressed and will recover, or is it not looking good? <please do read more about this animal in our wetwebmedia.com archives or in our Reef Invertebrates book. It was not a wise or conscientious decision my friend. Please do live and learn here. Do not buy an animal that you do not know how to care for (what it eats/needs, etc)> This is a beautiful animal, I would hate to lose it plus it was expensive! <this will be a hard lesson for you and especially the Ascidian> Thanks! Steven O. Garcia <to better days, Anthony>

Re: Oxycorynia/Neptheis lollipop "coral" (Ascidian/Sea Squirts 4/6/04)  Very, very disturbing news. I always take a look at your site before I buy anything! There was no information on the blue lollipop, so I took a chance.  <you are on the right path... do research before you buy. But no site can be wholly comprehensive and regardless, buy nothing that you do not know how to feed/care for. Your chance taken in this case not only cost the life of this animal, but others that will be collected/killed in transit to fill your merchant's re-order of this sold specimen. A dreadful cycle. Not to berate you at all my friend... most of us have done this at some point. But it does cost animals lives. And it is an error that should not be repeated.>  Looks like this might be the first post. Hopefully this will deter anyone else from buying these beautiful animals!  thanks again, Steven Garcia  <this creature is also shipped as blue lollipop "coral" and is usually cited as an Oxycorynia or Neptheis species. Steve Tyree gives better coverage to this group than any other hobby reference I know of at:  http://www.dynamicecomorphology.com/publishsquirtseries.htm   best regards, Anthony>

Ascidians, Sea Squirts, Tunicates 10/8/04 Do you know of place I can purchase sea squirts or tunicates? Gary <your local aquarium store can order them from their livestock suppliers... but they are in short supply for very good reason. They have an absolutely dismal rate of survival in captivity. They are noxious... even poisonous to other life in the aquarium in some species (sequestering toxins in their tunic). They have a naturally short lifespan (months for some... rarely more than one year). And their feeding habits are unknown or near impossible to satisfy in captivity (nanoplankton, bacteria, etc). If interested in more info, please do consider our heavily illustrated coverage of this group in "Reef Invertebrates" (2003) and be sure to follow the many references on them in the bibliography. With kind regards, Anthony>

Do you know of place I can purchase sea squirts or tunicates? Garie >>Sometimes you find them online, but they tend to ship poorly. You can often get lucky and find them at your LFS when the get a new shipment in. Sorry I can't be more helpful!<< >>Rich<<

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