Pincushion Urchin

  • Species Information
  • Scientific Name:Lytechinus variegatus
  • Described:Pincushion Urchin
  • Temperament:Peaceful
  • Maximum Size:4 inches in diameter, excluding spines.

Lytechinus variegatus

A critical component in any cleanup crew, the Pincushion Urchin, Lytechinus variegatus will help control algae growth in any tank. Nocturnal in nature, these urchins will spend the day hiding amongst the rockwork, or possibly burying itself in the substrate. At night, though, they will forage the tank, eating any algae they come across, including hair algae. In the process, they may pick up debris and “shield” themselves with it, including small rocks and shells. A good, solid, sturdy foundation of live rock is recommended, as these urchins will work their way on, in, and around it looking for food. Though they typically ignore corals, make sure any corals are also firmly in place so as to not be knocked over.

Physical Description-The Pincushion Urchin has an oval shaped test (shell) with equal length spines covering the top portion of its body. Colors vary, and include a dull red, purple, green, blue, or white.

Temperament– Peaceful. Will not (intentionally) bother other tank inhabitants.

Size– Most urchins grow to about four inches in diameter, excluding spines.

Diet– These urchins are primarily herbivorous, grazing the tank for algae. Should enough algae not be present (or provided), they are known to graze on coralline algae and sessile invertebrates.

Distribution- Pincushion Urchins are found throughout the Caribbean Sea, Florida Keys, and western Atlantic Ocean.