Pseudocolochirus violaceus, The Australian Sea Apple.


New Zealand Nanoreef
Sea Apple Page
Black Ocellaris Central
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Propagation/Breeding Tank
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Steve's Fish
 A stunning creature with a very bad reputation amongst reef aquarists, they are filter feeders and therefore are not suited well for most aquarium environments where the water column does not contain their dietary requirements. They also are in danger of getting sucked into pumps or powerheads or if extremely stressed can exercise a rather drastic and deadly defence mechanism. The Sea Apple can rupture it's hindgut and expel it's Cuvierian tubules into the water, these tubules along with the accompanying chemicals released will easily pollute an enclosed tank area killing virtually everything. Obviously this is also why it is not a good idea for them to venture into the inlet of a powerhead (much the same result). 

Why did I have one? Well, I was assured by the fish shop that I bought it from that it would feed easily on Brine Shrimp and of course I made the first mistake an aquarist could make, I didn't research until after my purchase. Of course, I am much wiser now and I never make a purchase without knowing exactly what I am buying and whether it will suit my tank environment but once I had this guy I felt a responsibility to make sure he had the best chance of survival long-term.

Tank Conditions.

Temperature  27șC
Specific Gravity 1.027
pH  8.2
Ammonia, Nitrite 0
Nitrate Under 5ppm

Don't Stress Them Out.

I have had a close call with my Sea Apple, during a tank move he shed his oral tentacles but has made a full recovery since. I am taking this to be a positive sign as to his health.


Oral tentacles disappeared over a short period of time leaving only two remaining.  Here you can see the new tentacles growing back, forming like buds on the end of the small stumps left after the previous tentacles were shed.

 Here is a picture of him when his tentacles are fully retracted. He sometimes can spend days at a time like this.

When it's feeding time though he comes out in his full splendor. This photo was taken recently and shows the full recovery his tentacles have made. 

I have heard many variations on this, then I have what I have found to work. When I purchased my Sea Apple I was told he would feed on Brine Shrimp, this I strongly doubt but I certainly have seen evidence of baby Brine making him go from closed to open & feeding within minutes. Most of the reading I have done on the subject indicates that they survive on phytoplankton and therefore due to the lack of it in the average marine aquarium, they will slowly starve to death. I cannot say with certainty that this is not happening to mine but I have had him for 10 months at the writing of this article during which time he has fully regenerated his tentacles (which would require considerable energy). I suspect therefore that he is receiving some form of nutrition from my tank. I feed my tank a fish mix containing a raw marinara mix purchased from a supermarket and then mixed with Nori, Crushed flake, Brine Shrimp & Baby Brine Shrimp. I also have recently begun feeding the tank Rotifers and live Baby Brine.


My Experiences

I have read all the horror stories and I am aware of the risks involved, I find the Sea Apple stunning and I am mesmerised by it's beauty but I must say although I may be biased I am convinced mine is surviving I cannot say it is thriving but if starvation was a possibility I think it would have happened before it had regenerated it's tentacles. I think the main danger exists from the 'Anemone-eaters' powerheads and this may account for the majority of reported failures. Certainly a diverse system would be required for their maintenance, a high-quality SPS tank would certainly be no good with it's squeaky clean water. 

In saying this however I would not recommend anyone go out and purchase one (whilst this may sound a little hypocritical) but I would say this, unless you are prepared to do the research and spend the time adapting the best environment for a Sea Apple then leave them on the reef until we have enough information on how to successfully keep them without danger.

A Sad Ending

Unfortunately in April 2006 I had to move to New Zealand for work reasons, I couldn't find anyone prepared to take the Apple, I tried right up to the end. 2 days before we left the country I froze him and disposed of him (the most humane way I could think of). I was really dissapointed I couldnt find a home for him, he was one of my tank favourites.

Further Reading

There is very little information available on these animals, however I did manage to find a very good article by Rob Toonen, Ph.D as part of a series in Marine Invertebrates for the Advanced Marine Aquarist magazine. It can be found here: Marine Invertebrates - Sea Apples

Reefing The Australian Way
Australian reefing forum, excellent resource.

RTAW site, a searchable wki knowledgebase.



Licensed WA collector, Pete & Leanne run an excellent business with a real focus on sustainable collection and propagation.



Great online source for equipment, supply food cultures.


ATJ's Marine Aquarium Site
Very comprehensive site, reliable source for accurate well-researched information.


Oz Reef

Great resource site with a comprehensive DIY section.


Reef Online

Another recommended online shop for marine products. 


Age Of Aquariums

Very good source for low budget pumps and equipment.


GARF (Coral Propogation)

The ultimate resource for coral propagation, a seemingly endless supply of articles on coral propagation showing step-by-step from fragging to grow-out.

All content & pictures Copyright © Steve Strachan 2006, no pictures or content to be used without the authors permission.

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