Species Name : Lytechinus variegatus
Care Level : Easy
Temperament : Peaceful
Color : Blue, Purple, Red, White
Diet : Herbivore, Omnivore
Reef Compatible : Yes
Water Conditions : 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025
Max. Size : 4.3 inches
Origin : western Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea
Family : Toxopneustidae
Supplements : Calcium, Magnesium, Iodine, Trace Elements
The Pincushion Sea Urchin (Lytechinus variegatus) is a type of pincushion urchin that can usually be found roving shallow sea grass flats and other sandy substrates. As their name indicates, they have the appearance of a pincushion.
The Pincushion Sea Urchin has a globular test (shell) densely covered in spines and can reach a diameter of around 11 centimetres (4.3 in). The majority of the spines are short but there are a few longer primary spines. The spines vary in colour, sometimes being one colour at the base and a different colour at the tip. Their spines are not poisonous but they do shed their spines when molting or stressed. Their spines serve as protection from predators.
Its color can range from red to purple to white and blue. They do not have eyes or ears, but they do have a mouth.Their mouth is located on the underneath side of their body so that they can feed while moving around. They also have an interesting habit of collecting bits of stuff from the aquarium and carrying it around on their backs. In the home aquarium, these urchins are extremely effective herbivores, rapidly consuming nuisance algae.
Mainly active at night, the Variegated Pincushion Sea Urchin generally stays hidden in caves during the day, though it may make a burrow in thick substrate.
To properly house your urchin, provide large amounts of live rock for ample hiding places and sufficient room to forage. Keep in mind, live rock formations need to be stable and able to withstand the movement of the urchin wedging itself in crevices. Maintain ideal water quality as the Variegated Pincushion Sea Urchin will not tolerate high nitrate levels. Poor water quality will cause it to lose its spines.
Pincushion Urchins are peaceful inverts and will not bother other fish, coral or inverts in your tank. Though generally solitary in nature, the Lytechinus variegatus will tolerate others of its own kind.
Like many invertebrates, the Pincushion Sea Urchin is sensitive to high levels of copper-based medications.
It is extremely difficult to breed in an aquarium, with no distinguishing characteristics to help differentiate it from its mate.
Pincushion Urchins are herbivores and need a diet that is rich in green foods. Pincushion Urchins will find most of their food in the tank, but if you would like to supplement their diet, you can simply add nori or marine algae sheets to the tank or feed high quality flake or pellet foods.
Size: 3/4" to 1-1/2"
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