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Invertebrates are the animals that do not have a Vertebral Column. They live on both, water and land. We are discussing here Aquatic Invertebrates that can be kept as pets. All these Invertebrates require a temperature of 76-80 degrees Fahrenheit or 24-26 degrees Celsius, a Specific Gravity of 1.024, and a pH of water at 8.30-8.40. Fresh Marine offers a huge range of Invertebrates livestock for your aquariums. This article aims to familiarize you with some broad categories.

Anemones. Anemones are a group of aquatic animals, which are predatory in nature. They inherit their name, Anemones, from a terrestrial flower, as they resemble an Anemone’s floral disc. These Invertebrates are aggressive towards their tank mates. Anemones possess a sac-like body cavity, Coelenteron, where digestion, assimilation, and, respiration occur. The only opening in Anemones’ body is Mouth, which also serves as Anus. Several Tentacles, laced with the stinging cells, Nematocysts, encircle the oral opening. Tentacles are the organs of food acquisition and defense in an Anemone’s body. Overall, these Invertebrates are hardy creatures and their appearance may vary according to the available water and light conditions. Anemones derive their nutrition primarily through photosynthesis, performed by Zooxanthellae, an acellular photosynthetic alga living symbiotically within the Anemones. In addition, Anemones symbiotically host usually Clownfish, by providing shelter to them, and in turn getting food from the fish. Anemones need intensive care by an Expert aquarist and are difficult to maintain.
  • Specimens. Bubble Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor), Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni), Condylactis Anemone (Condylactis gigantean), Reef Haitian Anemone (Condylactis species), Long Tentacle Anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis), Ritteri Anemone (Heteractis magnifica), Sebae Anemone (Heteractis crispa), and Tube Anemone (Ceranthus membranaceus).

  • Crabs. Hailing from the Phylum Arthropod, Class Crustacea, and Order Decapoda, Crabs are another popular category of animals aquarists prefer for their reef aquariums. Crabs are semi-aggressive towards the other tank mates. Owing to territorial disposition in some species, they may be aggressive towards their own types. A mating pair does well in this case. Crabs are hardy creatures with flat body. The Head of a Crab is joined with its Thorax. A tiny Tail protrudes out as a slight extension of the reduced Abdomen, with a hard Exoskeleton, called Carapace, completely covering it under the Thorax. The Crabs have one pair of Chelae (Claws) and four pair of legs. Crabs are Carnivorous and feed upon Plankton, Mollusks, Worms, other Crustaceans, Bacteria, Fungi, and even Detritus. Crabs are easy to maintain and therefore, even the beginners can opt for it.
  • Specimens. Anemone Crab (Neopetrolisthes ohshimai), Decorator Crab (Stenorhynchus species), Arrow Crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis), Decorator Crab (Xenocarcinus species), Emerald Mythrax Crab (Mithrax sculptus), Porcelain Crab (Neopetrolisthes species), Blue Leg Hermit Crab (Phimochirus operculatus), Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crab (Coenobiata species), Hermit Crab - Assorted Crab (Dardanus megistos), Scarlet Hermit Crab (Paguristes cadenati), Marshall Island Electric Blue Hermits, Mexican Red Leg Hermit Crab (Coenobita species), and Sally Lightfoot Crab (Percnon gibbesi).

  • Sea Cucumbers. Sea Cucumbers are another popular pick for Reef Type Marine Aquariums. Belonging to the Phylum Echinodermata and Class Holothuroidea, Sea Cucumbers have a Cucumber shaped body. These Invertebrates are Peaceful in nature and do well with the other peaceful marine invertebrates. Sea Cucumbers are moderately hardy creatures, with an elongated body structure, shaped like a Cucumber and have a leathery Skin made of some Gelatin like tissue. The surface of Sea Cucumbers is spiny and has Warts, called Papillae. Some Sea Cucumbers have an Endoskeleton right below the skin. The Tentacles around the mouth of Sea Cucumbers help them forage for food. Sea Cucumbers have tubular feet, arranged longitudinally on the ventral side of the body. Sea Cucumbers are Omnivorous and feed upon Plankton and Detritus. Sea Cucumbers are extremely difficult to maintain and should be handled only by experienced Reef Aquarists.
  • Specimens. Black Cucumber (Holothuria atra), Cucumber (Red & Black) (Holothuria edulis), Tiger Tail Cucumber (Baseodiscus species), and Sea Apple – Australian (Pseudocolochirus violaceus).

  • Featherdusters. The most popular pick among marine pets, Featherdusters are a type of Reef Compatible Fan Worms that belong to the Phylum Annelida and Class Polychaeta. Featherdusters are actually the crown of the worm, which dwells in a Tube. These Invertebrates are hardy creatures. They have Cilia equipped feathery Crown, which is used as both, an organ to feed and breathe. The Crown, usually measuring around 4”-5” in length and 10” in diameter, consists of a series of feather-shaped rays called Radioles, which usually have two semi-circular arrangements to result in a Funnel shaped structure. Featherdusters may shed their Crown occasionally. The Worm is segmented, and lives in a soft Polysaccharide Tube or hard Calcareous Tube. If uncomfortable, Featherdusters may leave their existing Tube to form a new one in the next few hours. Featherdusters are Omnivorous and feed especially on Bacteria, Detritus, Phytoplankton, and Microorganisms. Featherdusters are moderately difficult to maintain and require an expert’s handling.
  • Specimens. Coco Worm (Pink) (Sabellastarte magnifica), Xmas Tree Worm Rock (Spirobranchus species), Feather Duster – Hawaiian (Sabella species), and Yellow & White Feather Duster (Sabella species).

  • Lobsters. Lobsters are Bilaterally Symmetrical Arthropods with their exoskeleton usually buried under rocky, muddy, or sandy areas. Living for more than 100 years, these non-poisonous creatures are also eaten by human beings, apart from gracing aquariums. Lobsters are aggressive towards other aquarium inhabitants, while being Territorial with their own species. They are Reef Compatible and therefore, keep only one Lobster or a mating pair of it per aquarium. Occurring in different attractive colors such as Purple, Orange, and Red, Lobsters have a spotted body. They do not have a clear vision, so the Lobsters use their long Antennae as Sensors and small Claws for their self-defense & feeding. Lobsters are Omnivorous, Nocturnal, & Benthic Feeders. They eat live food such as, Fish, Mollusks, Worms, Other Plants, Detritus, & Crustaceans. Lobsters are non-poisonous in nature and are therefore, easy to maintain.
  • Specimens. Purple & Orange Lobster (Enoplomentopus debelius), Red Lobster (Enoplometopus species), and Spiny Blue Lobster (Panulirus versicolor).

  • Nudibranch. Nudibranch, also known as Sea Slug, is soft-bodied shell less Marine Opisthobranch Gastropod Mollusks. Nudibranchs occur in attractive colors and striking forms. Nudibranchs are Marine Snails, which have no Shells even at maturity. These are non-aggressive towards the other aquarium inhabitants and should not be kept with any aggressive type of fish. They are Reef Compatible. Nudibranchs are Marine Snails without a shell. Owing to similar looks, it is difficult to differentiate between a male and a female Nudibranch. Their body color depends upon that of algae they consume. Their Gills are found on the sides or along the side covered by a Flap. Being Omnivorous in their eating habit, Nudibranchs feed upon Algae of different colors, Sea Weeds, and Invertebrates such as, Sponges, Soft Corals, Anemones, Sea Pens, Portuguese Man-Of-Wars, Bryozoans, Ascidians, and Hydroids. Some species of Nudibranchs are poisonous in nature and therefore, should be maintained with caution. Only Expert Aquarists should handle them.
  • Specimens. Lettuce Nudibranch (Tridachea crispata), Sea Hare (Aplysia punctata), and Velvet Sea Slug (Chelidonura varians).

  • Shrimp. Shrimps are Decapods (ten-legged) Omnivore Crustaceans found on the floor of oceans and lakes. These invertebrates, belonging to the Infraorder Caridea, have slender, hard, and almost transparent body covering. Undoubtedly, some Shrimps are attractive enough to form an interesting addition to an aquarium. Most Shrimps are a significant source of food for other marine life and for humans as well. Shrimps are generally peaceful in disposition. Most are Reef Compatible but make better additions to Fish Only Aquariums. Keep Shrimps in pairs or small groups. Shrimps are Hardy and can vary in size from being just an inch long to a maximum of nine inches. They occur in beautiful bright colors, and have three body segments with five pairs of walking legs and another five pairs for swimming. Shrimps are Omnivores and feed on Meaty bits, Phytoplankton, Zooplankton, and other junk, Detritus, that gets accumulated in the aquarium. Shrimps require low maintenance and are easy to keep even by the Beginners.
  • Specimens. Camel Shrimp (Rhynchocinetes uritai), Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis), Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius), Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni), Saron Shrimp (Saron marmoratus), Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus), Glass Anemone Shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis), Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera picta), Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus species), Sexy Shrimp (Thor amboinensis), and Randall's Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli).

  • Snails & Shelled Animals. Snails & Shelled Animals are Invertebrates belonging to the Phylum Mollusca and Class Gastropoda. Most of these Invertebrates are Herbivores but some Marine ones are Omnivores. Most Snails & Shelled Animals are non-poisonous and non-aggressive, while also being Reef Compatible. Do not keep them with aggressive feeders such as, Crabs, Rock Lobsters, Starfish, Wobbegong Sharks, Octopus, Fish, Snails, and Stingrays. Snails & Shelled Animals are very Hardy. The Anterior end of their body is called Head, while the large, posterior one is called Foot, used for forming the vacuum hold on the substrate. The body is surrounded by a large and fleshy Mantle, which secretes Calcareous Shell. Snails & Shelled Animals are moderately easy to maintain.
  • Specimens. Abalone (Haliotis species), Astraea Snail (Astrea species), Bumble Bee Snail Tiny (Pusiostoma mendicaria), Cerith Snail (Cerithidae genus), Knobby Black Cowrie (Cypraea talpa), Tiger Cowrie (Cypraea tigris), Margarita Snail (Margarites pupillus), Nassarius Snail (Nassarius species), Tonga Fighting Conch (Nassarius species), Tonga Nassarius Snails (Nassarius species), Nerite Snail (Nerita species), Red Foot Algae Snail (Norrisia norrisi), Trochus Snail (Banded) (Trochus species), Turbo Snail Mexican (Turbo fluctuosa), Queen Conch (Strombus gigas), and Zebra Turbo Snail (Zebra Turbo).

  • Sponges. Sponges are the simplest kind of multi cellular animals, belonging to the Phylum Porifera, meaning pore bearing. The entire body of Sponges is a system of pores, which permit a continuous flow of water through their bodies. Sponges are rather plant like in appearance and often resemble Corals in forms and colors. Their vivacious colors and Coral like appearance augment the visual effects of an aquarium. Sponges can assume different shapes such as, Tubular, Conical, Cup-Shaped, Fan-Like, etc. Sponges come in assorted sizes, ranging from a few millimeters to over two meters in height. Sponges feed on small organisms such as, Bacteria, Plankton, and minute particles of Organic Matter, which they filter from the water that flows through their bodies. Some species of Sponges also produce their own food by Photosynthesis.
  • Specimens. Clump Red Ball Sponge and Orange Frilly.

  • Sea Stars. Sea Stars, commonly referred to as Star Fish, are Carnivorous Echinoderm, belonging to the class Asteroidea. Shaped like a star, these Radially Symmetrical beings have five arms extending out from a Central Disk. Sea Stars are Aggressive to Semi-Aggressive in nature, with most of their species being Reef Compatible. Sea Stars are beautiful & hardy, and have a distinct Star shape & Radial Symmetry, due to which they get their name, “Star Fish.” The Mouth is located centrally, on the underside of the center part of the body, called the Central Disk, and the Anus is located on top. Five or more arms radiate out from the Central Disk, which can regenerate if they are damaged. Each of these Arms contains Tube Feet, which aid the Sea Stars in locomotion and in capturing food. Sea Stars are Omnivorous and feed on Phytoplankton, especially Algae, Detritus, the meaty bits of seafood, and hunts for preys such as, Corals, Sponges, Tube Worms, Crustaceans, Star Fish, Sea Anemones, Clams, Urchins, Oysters, small & dull Fish, and other small Marine Sessile Invertebrates. Usually Expert Aquarists should handle Sea Stars.
  • Specimens. African Red-Knob Sea Star (Protoreaster lincki), Chocolate Chip Sea Star (Protoreastor nodosus), Blue Linckia Sea Star (Linckia laevigata), Burgundy Linckia Sea Star (Linkia species), Marble Sea Star (Fromia species), Brittle Sea Star (Ophiothrix purpurea), Bubble Tip Brittle Fancy Sea Star (Ophiarachna species), Banded Serpent Sea Star (Ophiocoma species), Sand Sifting Sea Star (Astropecten polycanthus), and Feather Sea Star (Himerometra species).

  • Sea Urchins. Sea Urchins are small, spherical, and hard shelled sea animals, which belong to the class Echinoidea. The body of a Sea Urchin is covered with Spines, which help them to move along rocky seabeds and help in keeping the predators at bay, as they are mildly poisonous. These invertebrates are Omnivores and feed on Algae, dead Fish, Sponges, etc. Along with being aquatic pets, Sea Urchins are consumed as food too. Sea Urchins are peaceful and non- aggressive towards other marine aquarium invertebrates. They are Reef Compatible. Sea Urchins have no visible eyes or legs. Instead, they move around using their Tube Feet and Spines. The outer solid structure is called a “Test” and is further divided into five different segments. Each of these segments consists of Calcareous Plates, which carry the Spines. The Spines are connected to the body by Ball Joints. The Mouth is located on the underside of the body, while the Anus and the Genital Pores are located on the aboral side. Usually Expert Aquarists are required as they are moderately difficult to maintain because of their venomous nature. Sea Urchins are quite brittle and may break easily.
  • Specimens. Longspine Black Urchin (Diadema savignyi), Pencil Urchin Assorted Color Urchin (Eucidaris species), and Pincushion Tuxedo Urchin (Mespilia globules).

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