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Spike Up Your Aquarium

Easy-to-care-for sea urchins add a wow factor to the average marine tank.

By Jean-François Hamel and Annie Mercier |

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Whether they are chosen as the main focal point of a setup or used to add a touch of fantasy to its backdrop, sea urchins are among the most resilient and attractive animals available to marine aquarium hobbyists. Venomous or harmless, boasting stumpy or slender spines, and dressed in almost all the colors of the rainbow, these funky critters usually adapt well to captive conditions. In fact, it is the plasticity of sea urchins that makes them key elements in the natural stability of many marine ecosystems, including artificial ones.

They crawl on glass surfaces, roam upside down on rock ledges, and climb over congeners and other obstacles with equal ease. Should they lose grip or be disturbed, they will roll on the bottom until they can right themselves again, using their hundreds of tiny feet, and get back to business. You may wonder what their business is exactly. We’ll shed some light on the habits and life strategies of sea urchins as they apply to the maintenance and care of these fascinating echinoderms.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the December 2010 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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