FAQs about Sea Star Identification
Related Articles: Sea
Stars, Brittle Stars, Asterina Stars, An Introduction to the
Echinoderms: The Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers and
More... By James W. Fatherree, M.Sc.
Related FAQs: Sea
Star ID 1, Sea Star ID 2,
Sea Star ID 3, Sea Star ID 4, Seastar ID 5, Seastar ID 6, Seastar ID 7, Seastar ID 9, & CC Star Identification,
ID, & Sea
Stars 1, Sea Stars 2, Sea Stars 3, Sea
Stars 4, Sea Stars 5, Brittle Stars, Seastar Selection, Seastar Compatibility, Seastar Systems, Seastar Behavior, Seastar Feeding, Seastar Reproduction, Seastar Disease, Asterina
Stars, Chocolate Chip Stars,
Crown of Thorns Stars,
Linckia Stars, Linckia Stars 2, Sand-Sifting Stars,
Starfish Identification 04/18/10
I purchased this starfish at the LFS today he said it came from
the Gulf of Mexico. Any help on the species would be great. He is
smaller than my hand and as seen in the photo a crÃ¨me
color with orangish/pinkish suckers.
Sorry here is the picture :-)
<Likely a Echinaster spinulosus. Read here:
and the linked files above.
Sea Star Help, IDs 3/8/2010
Well again I come to you after searching the site and not finding
My wife has an obsession with sea stars of all sorts, which has
lead to many a isolation tank being setup because of non reef
safe stars being brought home and dumped into the tank ("But
the guy told me they were reef safe".."
Well then why is it eating my mushroom polyps?") heh.
Anyway, before adding her newest, and most wonderful stars into
the tank, she at least dropped them into the sump for temp
acclimation, so we had time to identify them before we release
them into the tank. They look to me as if they are a member of
the Tosia family,
<Mmm, the genus of the family Goniasteridae? Maybe the second,
orange one... the first is almost certainly an Asteriniid. Please
which would be reef safe as I have found nothing stating they
munch on corals. They were sold to me as Sheriff Badges,
<"Get on your horse and ride!">
though when looking up that common name nothing looked very close
to these. The closest common name I have found was Biscuit Sea
Star, which lead me to the Tosia family which looked the closest
to the actual stars. If you would be so kind as to help me out
here, I would hate to have to setup another tank for these guys.
I told her to stick with Linckias..hehe. Thanks crew!!
p.s. Sorry for the bad images, they are still in the bags, as I
don't want to release them just yet.
<Perhaps some other images (in the tank) later. Cheers, Bob
Re: Sea Star Help, IDs
As requested here are some different images, hopefully
better. These guys are tough to capture. They crawled deep
into the live rock, and I had a heck of a time trying to
catch them (had to turn the lights off and tempt them with
tasty morsels). They currently reside in the refugium but
only until I can get a more positive ID. The fuge is
actually rather hidden, and if they are deemed
"unworthy" for the main reef tank, they will end
back up at the LFS. I really don't think putting them
in with my calico box crab would be a good idea, nor the
trigger/puffer tank, or the murex snail tank, or
the....well, you get the idea ;). Thanks again for all the
<Thank you Justin. My guesses as to species for these
Asteroids stand as before. Cheers, BobF>
Starfish ID: Asterina -- 3/2/10
<Hello Mike, Lynn here tonight.>
Sorry to bother you folks again but I'm new to the saltwater
world and want to take no chances of having a dangerous species
<I can certainly understand that.>
Attached is a picture of a starfish that was spotted tonight.
<I see it, thanks.>
After looking through about 15-20 pages on your website I decided
to just go ahead and ask because once again there were too many
pics for me to be able to get an exact match as to what my
species might be. I assume its some sort of Asterina Starfish but
would love confirmation.
<Yep, it looks like an Asterina spp. to me as well (family
Asterinidae). Unfortunately, there's no way I can ID it to
species level though. There are just too many to choose from and
the differences can be slight, requiring close examination. You
can't simply differentiate based on color because it can
vary, even within a given species. For instance, Asterina folium,
a small (max size ~1' across) species from Bermuda, Florida
and the Caribbean, varies in color from mostly white to yellow,
orange, or red, as well as blue or blue-green. I'd say that
little star pretty much has the spectrum covered!>
My LFS gets their live rock off the coast of Florida so I assume
it hitchhiked from there or possibly on a purchased coral. The
pictures are attached.
<Thanks. I'm guessing that you'd like to know if this
star poses any sort of threat to future livestock, namely corals?
If so, the answer is yes, unfortunately it's possible.
Asterina stars can go either way. Some seem to be content to
graze on algae, while others prey on corals. Sometimes they even
start off grazing on algae, then move on to corals. I just
can't give you a concrete answer either way as to how
'safe' this little star might be long-term. Personally, I
tend to see hitchhikers (except for crabs) as innocent until
proven guilty, but it's up to you. For more information,
please see the following links starting at WWM:
<You're very welcome!
<Take care, LynnZ>
|Re: Starfish ID: Asterina --
Thank you Lynn.
<You're very welcome, Mike.>
And that's my thoughts also, innocent until proven guilty!
<Yep, most hitchhikers are beneficial or at least fairly
innocuous, so I like to give them the benefit of the doubt until
The little guy/gal will stay for now unless I see it bothering my
Thanks for the quick reply as usual. You folks are a great asset to
all of us saltwater enthusiasts.
<On behalf of Bob and the rest of the crew, thank you very
Keep up the good work!
<Take care, LynnZ>
Pseudochromis and sea star ID? 2/15/10
Howdy all at WWW!
You guys have been a great help to me over the past 4 or 5 years.
I have found on your archives questions I asked, eons ago. Many
I have two critters I can't ID. You may download these pics
for use on your site if you want, and if you want bigger pics, I
can email them to you. I have browsed both of the ID pages for
these animals and only have a slight clue on the fish... totally
clueless on the sea stars.
The first, I have suspected is a Pseudochromis cyanotaenia, but
mine has a lot more yellow than the ones I've seen online.
He's blue and yellow, with markings you can see in the
<I do think this is the fish. There is some regional
variability in coloring, markings>
He was purchased as a "blue back pseudo". He wants to
fight the royal gramma that is in the tank BESIDE him, which is
hilarious to watch. Both fish go nuts, so I'll have to put a
sheet of paper in between the tanks if they keep it up.
Next is an identical pair of sea stars that are a rescue. I
normally do not keep sea stars, but a friend of mine purchased a
used 120g tank and these came with it (along with a few blue
hermits). My friend had nowhere to put
them and I ended up with them.
I have no idea on the origin and I do not know the original
owner. They could be a temperate specie from the North Carolina
coast, since those sort of things make their way inland here to
Raleigh on the occasion. I have
sent an inquiry to some students at the University in Wilmington
to help ID them if they are native. They appear to be
detritivores but will come out of hiding for some Mysis. Slowly.
But surely. They are only 3/4" across, very small right now.
They have not messed with any soft corals or LPS at this point,
but I can move them to the 29g refugium if needed.
Notice the orange spot. They both have that. Maybe a clue? I
Skin is definitely rough.
<Mmm, can't quite make out details on your pix.
Could/would you try "shooting from above" with the
pumps turned off? Bob Fenner>
Any help is great!!!
Re: Pseudochromis and sea star ID?
My friend over on the coast, who is a marine biology student,
ID'ed the sea star pretty confidently as Asterius
Not reef safe (well, they are when they are this small, lol).
I'll find someone who keeps native stuff and let them have
Thanks for the help with the ID on the P. cyanotaenia. A couple
hobbyists from Nano-reef.com have also agreed with this.
<Thank you Matt. BobF>
Need help on starfish id -- 2/12/10
Hello and thank you for all the valuable info you have given me
through browsing your website. I spend countless hours on it. So,
I bought a red sea star yesterday, and I admit it was an impulse
buy. Had I done my research I wouldn't have gotten it. I
believe it is a Echinaster luzonicus.
Enclosed are pictures, sorry if they are a bit blurry. Am I
correct on it's id? I've researched it a lot, and got
some mixed info.
Some sites say water temp should be from 78 to 84,
and some say it should be no higher than 76.
<No higher than 80F.>
Info on this creature has been somewhat difficult to find.
I've checked on WWM, and can't seem to find too much info
on this particular
species. I really don't want it to die. How can I keep it
<Mmm, search the Net, books...>
The store will take it back, but will not give a refund or
exchange it. I told them they shouldn't be selling these to
people as they don't even know what it is. I thank you for
sharing your knowledge.
<I wish I had more to proffer... Have seen this animal in the
wild, but have no husbandry experience with it. Bob
|Re: Need help on starfish id --
Thank you for your prompt reply. My current water temp is 78. So he
should be ok with that I assume. Should I try feeding him bits of
Hopefully he will be ok if I can get it to eat.
<... Agreed... what little I've seen in ref.s list this as
an omnivorous species. I hope the system is large, well-established
and has plenty of healthy LR. BobF>