Pincushion Urchin - Lost a Bunch of Spines

Guppajoe

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Hi All I did a major overall recently to my AIO 14 Gallon Nuvo Penninsula. Replaced Protein Skimmer, Return Pump and Powerhead. I also did a little reworking of the rock work and scrubbed some hair algae I've been battling (the flow through my overflow was not pushing the water through my Chemipure Blue, rather around it). None of my fish, corals or other inverts were affected by the change, however, I noticed today that my pincushion urchin was losing a bunch of its purple spins on the top of its body. It's still moving around and the purple spines on the bottom are mostly intact. Am I at the point of needing to remove it in order to avoid it causing a nitrate spike when it randomly kicks the bucket.
2019-06-12 (1).jpg
2019-06-12.jpg
 
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hdsoftail1065

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Loosing spines is usually not a good sign. I have a couple but I'm not an expert. We can get some eyes on it. Your tank looks pretty clean it could be starving. What are your parameters? #reefsquad
 
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Guppajoe

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Parameters are:
Temp 77
Cal 412
Alk 9.4
Nitrate 11 ppm
Phosphate .4
Salinity 1.024

I'm working on the phosphates by dosing redseamax algae management. There are a bunch of patches of green hair algae for it to feed on but I can offer it a nori sheet tomorrow.
 
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Ron Reefman

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Urchins are not the easiest critter to keep, especially in a small tank. I would think it should be OK eating the algae you have in the tank. And you have to remember, all animals die eventually, this guy may be quite old? And I have no idea how long an urchin's normal life span even is? But dropping spines is a bad sign. I hope we are all wrong and this is just it's re-acclimation to the reset of the tank. Good luck.
 
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Guppajoe

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Not sure how old he is I've had it for about 7 months. I'm picking up nori today to try spot feeding incase the GHA isn't enough for it.
 
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Guppajoe

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Not sure how old it is. I picked it up about 7 months ago when I had a massive GHA outbreak and it's been munching on that ever since. I plan to pick up Nori to spot feed tonight encase the GHA that's left isn't enough.
 

w2inc

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I had one drop its spines. I cleaned up the water and they grew back. I read that some aquariums use them as an early warning signal for water quality. Sounded good at the time but I cant remember where I read it.
 
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chawalte-qcvux5

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How long do urchins tend to live for in captivity?
There is really no set lifespan for inverts in captivity, it depends on conditions. Some research says around 30 years. They can live quite a long time (think turtles) if parameters are kept stable. In the wild they can live anywhere from 5 to well over 100 years is what I am finding everywhere I look.
 

Coralreefer1

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Believe it or not, but Urchins are great indicators as to whether your water parameters are ideal or not. If your water is less than ideal, Urchins will be the first to let you know by either losing their spines, spawn out and rot out or reabsorb their gametes and die which usually fouls the water and can kill healthy livestock in your tank.
Salinity and temperature fluctuations must not happen as Urchins are very picky and sensitive to these issues. Also, tanks must have suitable dissolved O2 in the water column. Lastly, they need to be fed or will starve and die. They consume algae on glass, equipment, rocks, sand and corals. Once that is depleted, algae sheets work well and other suitable vegetable foods like romaine lettuce, algae pellets and so on and so forth.
And yes, Urchins will regrow their spines but in your case, I’m afraid your Urchin is beyond that stage. Plus we are talking losing a few spines that will regenerate like a Sea Star. Plus the will wear down their teeth called Aristotle’s Lantern which are a set of five plates that come together like a beak to scrape off algae. These do wear down from time to time and will regrow them, similar to a shark regrowing sets of teeth.
 

Jim Fox

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In my experience, it is due to high nitrates. Like Coralreefer1 says it's mostly water quality.
 

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