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FAQs about Asterina (tiny, white...) Sea Stars, Identification

Related Articles: Asterina Stars, An Introduction to the Echinoderms: The Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers and More... By James W. Fatherree, M.Sc.

Related FAQs: Asterinas 1, Asterinas 2, & Asterina Behavior, Asterina Compatibility, Asterina Selection, Asterina Systems, Asterina Feeding, Asterina Disease, Asterina Reproduction, & Sea Stars 1, Sea Stars 2, Sea Stars 3, Sea Stars 4, Sea Stars 5, Seastar Selection, Seastar Compatibility, Seastar Systems, Seastar Behavior, Seastar Feeding, Seastar Reproduction, Seastar Disease, Chocolate Chip Stars, Crown of Thorns Stars, Fromia Stars, Linckia Stars, Linckia Stars 2, Sand-Sifting Stars,

Itty-Bitty Starfish ID...is it a 'good guy"?       12/2/16
My son noticed this starfish in our 29 gallon holding tank and I remembered seeing something about some small whitish starfish eating corals... Should I flush him or put him back and be grateful?
<Up to you... appears to be an Asterina sp.... worth the possible, potential damage?>
Right now he's in a Ziploc floating in the refugium just to be safe. Just
in case it matters, in the holding tank I have small frags from a few Zoas, green fuzzy mushrooms, a couple GSP, a daisy polyp, and a couple leathers.
<Mmm; I'd likely keep it if there not too many. Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Starfish ID     9/17/13
Hi, I was wondering if you'd be able to ID this starfish for me. It has about 10 legs with an orange centre and is bluey/purpley around the edges.
<I see>
So far the closest thing I've seen close to it is a common sea star but I think it's smoother than that is and may be a species of Asterina, I'm not sure though.
I've attached a couple of pics I got of it.
Thanks, Ryan.
<I too make this out as Asterina sp.. Predaceous on some Cnidarian groups.
Do see/read re the genus on WWM.
Bob Fenner>

Names: Salmacis spp. Urchin and Likely Asterina Stars -- 10/4/10
<Hello, Lynn here today.>
Please advise what the name of the urchin and small sea stars are.
<The urchin looks like something in the genus Salmacis, possibly S. bicolor (family Temnopleuridae). As for the stars, all but the bluish individual look like Asterinids (family Asterinidae). I can't see the bluish one's shape/surface texture well enough to determine whether it's another Asterinid or something else entirely (like a cushion star, family Oreasteridae). Either way, I wouldn't trust any of these stars around corals. For more information on sea stars, please see the following link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm
Urchins: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/urchins.htm >
<You're welcome. Take care, Lynn Z>

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 of hitchhiker.
<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: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinaidf.htm
Thank you!
<You're very welcome!
<Take care, LynnZ>

Re: Starfish ID: Asterina -- 3/3/10
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 proven otherwise.>
The little guy/gal will stay for now unless I see it bothering my corals.
<Sounds good>
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 much!>
Keep up the good work!
<Will do>
Cheers, Mike.
<Take care, LynnZ>

Unknown Starfish ID? 6/1/09
WWM crew,
I got a couple small frags of Anthelia from a local reef store yesterday, and this morning when repositioning one of the rocks they're attached to I found an interesting little hitchhiking sea star I was hoping you could help me identify. I've attached a picture (sorry it's not too clear, best I could manage).
<Looks very clear to me.>
The star is about 0.4 inches across, has 7 arms, all fairly symmetrical, the top of the starfish is red/brown in the center, purple down the top of the arms, and white along the edges and underneath. I have a small
number of Asterina stars in my tank, but they look quite a bit different to me than this little creature.
I've got it quarantined in a little floating Tupperware container with a shell to cling to for the moment. I've very interested whether its likely to be harmful (I do have a few types of small polyps, some pulsing xenia, a frogspawn, etc.) or beneficial; and whether it's a 'baby' or full-size for it's species.
<What you have is an Asterina Starfish. They are very prolific breeders and soon, there will be many of them. Some species are known to eat corals, so do observe, and if this occurs, remove the starfish. Other than that, they are harmless.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Unknown Starfish ID? 6/1/09
Asterina is a pretty big genius,
<They are not that smart.>
which includes a few hundred species, guess I shouldn't be surprised my 'Asterina-like' star is another species of Asterina. I know that some of these small Asterinas can be harmful to corals, particularly the 'vampire' and blue varieties. Are purple & red Asterinas known to typically be of the beneficial variety, or simply unknown?
<I really do not know for sure, but in my experience, I'd say more are coral predators than not. You would have to Google as I would and we just do not have the time to do this. I suggest reading our FAQ's on Asterina ID
here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinaidf.htm , and you might want to take a gander here. http://www.garf.org/Star/starfish.html >
Thanks again,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Sea Star ID 1/31/09 Hi! <Hello> I'm a biologist working on asexual sea stars <Interesting.> and I'm curious about the little tan/white hitchhikers so common in aquaria. Specifically, I am trying to track down where they are coming from as I am convinced that they are an undescribed species. I have been working with these animals for 5 years and am fairly certain they belong to the genus Aquilonastra (its a new genus- 2004), but having gone through the diagnostic characters for all the species yet described, nothing matches. I also suspect that there are several undescribed species in aquaria around the world from examining photographs on-line. New species from the wild are being described every year. Obviously they are hitchhikers on live rock, but my question is where is that live rock coming from? The Philippines? Fiji? Tahiti? My local retail supplier cannot say and will not give me his wholesale supplier's contact information. <By your short description, my first guess would be Asterina stars. I can tell you what I know about them if that is indeed what you are tracking down. Class: Asteroidea Order: Spinulosida Asterina starfish, commonly known as Fiji starfish are generally dime sized or smaller with a large body, irregular arm length, and an irregular number of arms. They tend to hide among corals and in the crevices of the live rock during the day. This type of starfish has been known to eat coralline algae and some corals; specifically Acropora, xenia, green star polyps, Zoanthids, and several types of soft leather corals. These starfish divide across the main body with two or three legs of varying lengths and multiply rapidly. Fiji is one area where they are found, Bob may input other areas. Take a look at the photos in this link for comparison. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm > Any help would be most appreciated! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Sea Star ID 1/31/09 Thank you James! <You're welcome.> I got interested in them as I had a reef tank and got curious. I am now in the process of publishing several papers on the factors that control their reproduction. <Interesting. Do keep us posted.> I never had any problems with them eating corals- not even the coralline algae and they seemed to eat only the diatoms and green algae on the coral substrate and glass walls of the aquarium. <I'm sure not all species eat corals.> There are about a dozen described species of asexual Asterina stars from the Indo-Pacific, but none described from East of Palau/New Guinea. So I'm thinking there are likely many more species out there. <Yes.> If some of these animals are known from Fiji, I would very much like to get my hands on some but they have to be from a known location. The animals that I have been using came from the university aquaria and the local reef tank supplier. I would like to be able to compare the two stars to see if they are the same. Then at least I'll know where they come from! But I would need to be able to talk with a supplier- and maybe their supplier- to get this information. Might anyone you know be able to help? <I'm sure Bob has many contacts, he may input/help here.> I really do appreciate the information you have already shared. Thank you! <You're welcome, and do share your progress with us. James (Salty Dog)>

What do you think it is? Asterina star -- 10/20/08 Hi <Hi, Dee> I have had my tank for only about 8 months. While in the process of removing an aggressive fish, I noticed what appears to be a baby starfish. I have attached pics. I have one Chocolate Chip Starfish but I have only had him/her for about two weeks. I'm confused as to what it might be. Let me know what you think. <It looks like a fairly common hitchhiker known as an Asterina star (Family Asterinidae). The species we most commonly see as hitchhikers are generally harmless/beneficial, stay fairly small (under 1/2'), and reproduce asexually by means of fission/splitting. Although there are occasional reports of these stars damaging corals, they're usually associated with high density, out of control, population situations. Again, for the most part these are harmless, so until/unless you see evidence otherwise, I'd enjoy the little star! Please see the following link (as well as the associated links at the top of the page) for more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm > Thank you Dee <You're very welcome, -Lynn>

Re: What do you think it is? Asterina star -- 10/20/08 Thank you and thank you for the site. <It's our/my pleasure, Dee. Take care, -Lynn>

Sand-sifting Starfish'¦ Reproduction'¦ Doubtful'¦ Likely Asterinas 3/12/08 Dear WWM: <Hi Suzanne, Mich here.> First of all, thank you soooo much for the wealth of information that you provide. It has been invaluable to me. <To me too! Is how I learned as well.> My son-in-law got me started on saltwater fish and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. <Congrats! Welcome to the club!> I had a 30-gallon tank (have since graduated to 75 gal.) and in it I had a Sand-sifting Starfish among other things. The Star was about 3.5 inches in diameter and was so much fun as I watched him disappear in the sand and climb the sides of the aquarium. <And decimated your sand bed?> After about 8 months he started to look thin. <Starfish generally starve to death in captivity, sand sifting included.> I gave him to my son-in-law and it did better for several months and then wasted away and died. <Starved.> Not long after that he started noticing these tiny white specks in his tank - hundreds of them. As they grew, we realized that they were Starfish! Some had five arms, others had three or four (fish probably were munching on them). Now they are about 3/8 inch in diameter and it looks like someone poured a can of Campbell's Chicken and Stars soup in the tank! <Just as likely to be Campbell's as baby sand sifting stars.> When the tank is dark they are all over the front and sides of the glass. It is incredible. What is more incredible is that there was only ONE Starfish to start with. How in the world did that Starfish reproduce?? <It didn't.> I read all that you had on Starfish on your site and it talks about mating. There was no mate to mate with. <I would be shocked if it wasn't an entirely different species, likely Asterina by the sounds of it.> I took six home and put in my tank. When and if they get bigger I will give the surviving ones to our LFS and keep only one for my tank. <Mmm, do they look like this? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinaidf.htm > What are your thoughts on this phenomenon? <I don't think it's a phenomenon.> What is my son-in-law to do with all those starfish. <Mmm, Harlequin shrimp? Just kidding. I don't recommend to anyone who is not seriously committed to keeping these beautiful shrimp that only eat live starfish. Please don't go buy one to combat your starfish issue.> There are certainly not enough nutrients in his sand bed for all of them. <Might be for Asterinas, they are generally self limiting.> Should he wait and see how big they get assuming they may not survive for very long of get them out of the tank now? That will be no small chore!! <Lets determine what is actually in the tank before crossing this bridge.> Sincerely Suzanne <Any chance of getting a picture? Cheers, Mich>

Sand-sifting Starfish'¦ Reproduction'¦ Doubtful'¦ Likely Asterinas'¦ Is Asterina 3/13/08 Dear Mich: <Hi Suzanne!> Thanks for your response. <Welcome!> I have four pictures for you. <Excellent! Thanks for capturing some images.> I would have liked to have gotten you a view when he (she? it?) was on the glass, but I haven't seem them on the glass in my tank in about a week. <No worries.> In fact I though they might have died. <Not necessarily a bad thing per se. Some folks report some species of Asterina to be predatory on Zoanthids> It looks exactly like a miniature sand-sifter to me and he moves very sloooow like one. I can see why you would question that. What do you think from the picture? I wasn't familiar with Asterinas. <You have Asterina stars.> Thanks,
<Welcome! Mich>

Micro Brittle Stars? Zoa Woes 2/21/08 Hello, <Hi Kent, Mich here.> I have been having a problem with a colony of Zoanthids. I did a fresh water dip to remove any pest. I found what I thought was three (very small) spiders (also several polyps fell off like they had been eaten on). <OK.> But, after searching to ID the creature I believe they may be micro brittle stars or some other type of micro stars. Is it possible to have hundreds of these "micro stars" living in your live rock (you can see their legs sticking out of the live rock)? <Yes.> Is it likely that they would be harmful to my Zoanthids? <No.> If not, maybe it some other pest; <Is possible.> but I found nothing else in the water after the dip. <May not have been on the rock when you did the dip.> I don't remember if they had six legs or five. <Micro brittle stars can have either, more likely to see 6 legged ones if they reproduced by fission.> Do all micro stars have five legs? <No.> If they have six legs, are they likely spiders? <No.> They do not look like any of the Zoanthid Eating Spiders that I found on your site or anywhere on the web. <A good resource here: http://www.zoaid.com/index.php?module=Gallery2&g2_itemId=384  > Thanks, Kent
<Welcome, Mich>

Is this a starfish? 2/17/08 Our saltwater aquarium is now about 7 weeks old, I've added hermit crabs and one star polyp to start. <Mike I here. Good start - I hope it matures to bring you years of enjoyment!> This tiny fellow appeared two days ago, but I can't find out what it is. It s quite mobile and we are amazed at the size and how much it moves around on the glass. Obviously I used a magnifying glass to get this picture. <<Neat technique! RMF>> <Thanks for the picture, although it was quite large. Do try and re-size downward next time. Anyhoo, to the pic, and it appears indeed to be a starfish, of the Asterina variety. Have a read through this section for more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm Hope that helps, Mike I>

Re: Is this a starfish? Asterina ID f' 2/19/08 Hi Mike <Marilee> Wow, that was a quick reply. Thanks so much for the information, I've followed the link and I'm keeping detailed records of everything, with the picture it will be fun to see the changes. Your site was very highly recommended by the store owner in Hanover, Ontario where I purchased my first additions. <Good to hear, I highly recommend this site too!> With all the question and answer you post I'm spending a lot of time reading Thanks for being there, Marilee <Reading, research and respect (for the life we keep), the 3 Rs that will take you far! And thanks for the thanks! Mike I>

Sea Star ID: Likely Asterinid -- 2/2/08 Hi Crew! <Hi there, Kirk!> I found this little hitchhiker on some live rock I recently acquired. <Wow, is that ever a pretty little thing!> I've been looking all over but can't seem to find anything with this coloration (purple center, blue ring and purple legs). <Neither can I, but sea stars can vary quite a bit in color/pattern.> It was sheer luck I even spotted him because he blended right in with the rock and is only 1/4" around right now. Any thoughts on what it might be? Friend or foe? <Hmmm, well I'm not sure. I discussed this little star earlier with a fellow crewmember, Brenda. She mentioned right off the bat that it looked like an Asterina and I agree with her. It looks a lot like Patiria miniata or Patiriella regularis, but they're cooler water, temperate species. As far as it being reef safe, Asterinids can go either way. I'd keep an eye on any corals you have. If he stays off of them, he's safe, at least for now.> (sorry the image is a little fuzzy but I couldn't get the camera to focus very good between the rocks) <Can be frustrating, I know!> I can't even express how much help your site has been, I've been in the hobby for over 10 years and feel like I've learned more in the past 1 since I discovered it. <Thank you so much! I just wish I could have done more to help with this ID!> Thanks for all you do! Kirk Willmann <You're very welcome! Take care. -Lynn>

Re: Sea Star ID: Likely Asterinid -- 2/2/08 <Hi Captain, I mean Kirk!> Ooh! Thanks ladies. <On behalf of Brenda and myself, you're very welcome!> I was thinking it might be a Fromia at first just because all the Asterina images I found showed neutral colored specimens but the body type seems right on the mark. <Aye, sir.> After a bit more searching I came across some brightly colored ones on the web so I think we may have a winner! <Yay, we have warp drive!> I just really hope it behaves itself because I agree, it is quite attractive and I would really like to keep it around. <Most definitely. It's a very pretty little tribble, I mean sea star.> Best regards, Kirk <Heeheee, please forgive me for messing with you. I'm a trekkie at heart and simply don't run across enough Kirks to get calling them 'Captain' out of my system <G>. Take care. One to beam out --Lynn.>

Re: Sea Star ID: Likely Asterinid -- 2/2/08 <Hey, welcome back to the Bridge, Captain!> You may call me whatever you wish as long as you keep answering my starfish questions! ;-) <Heeheeee! Anytime -- just let me know. You'll notice that I at least waited until the second email to say anything. At that point, I just couldn't hold it back any longer! <G>> I need more power Scotty! <Aye sir, we'll be working on it!> Capt. Kirk <Take care Capt., and have a great Superbowl Sunday! --Lynn>

Starfish Identification: Cushion star? - 12/31/07 Hi Bob and Crew <Hi Claire. I sincerely apologize for the delay in responding!> Got this lovely starfish as a hitchhiker, but don't know what species it is, or if it is coral friendly - any ideas?? <It is indeed a lovely little sea star! Unfortunately, after going through every resource at hand, I'm stumped as to what species it is. It could be a juvenile that looks very different from its mature counterpart, or simply a species that hasn't been photographed/identified in my sources. It does look a bit like a Cushion/Biscuit star, however, so I'd keep an eye on it and your corals.> Thanks Claire <You're very welcome! I just wish I could have been more help! --Lynn> <<Mmm, maybe an Asterina sp.... A. phylactica? http://www.asturnatura.com/photo/photogallery/galerias.php?photo_id=583 RMF>>

Re: Starfish identification -- 1/2/08 <<Mmm, maybe an Asterina sp.... A. phylactica? http://www.asturnatura.com/photo/photogallery/galerias.php?photo_id=583 RMF>> <Thanks, Bob! I spent way too long yesterday looking for that little guy. I finally found something that looked about right, but it was a photo at a dead link. Talk about frustrating! I wasn't happy with the general answer I gave, but thought I'd exhausted all possible sources in the search. Well, I got up this morning with that little star still on my mind, so I cued up Bob Marley, and did a little more digging. This time I found the current link for that photo. I'm not sure if what's shown is the same star, but the similarities are promising. They have the same general coloring, same markings between the arms, and what looks like at least a partial ring on some. It's hard to believe all those are the same species, but I guess they vary quite a bit. Here's the link: http://www.bluering.org.au/chpt17b.htm . What do you think? -Lynn> >Does look like Tosia australis... RMF<

Re: Mystery Starfish A friend of mine has a 55g F/LR/SC tank that is a real pleasure to watch. His tank has a number of different mushroom anemones, Xeniids, Zoanthids and things I've forgotten their names. No hard corals - not enough light. The place is just a little crowded along those line and I haven't mentioned the fish (though the Pseudochromis will eat out of his wife's hand.) Very recently we discovered that he has several "volunteer" starfish, origin and specie unknown. The largest of these has reached about 1 cm across. Attached is a jpg of the fellow slowly crawling across one of the pieces of live rock. As you can see, despite my poor photography, these asteroids have five arms and a rather significant margin. They are almost reminiscent of a "sand dollar", except that the arm spines are raised and pronounced. The obvious questions are, what is the species and should my friend be scavenging these out? Are they, as I suspect, a danger to their more sedentary tank mates? <Asterina sp. Not an uncommon LR "recruit". Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastarf.htm and the related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>
Charlie H.

Little Dingy White/light brown starfish What are the little (1/4 inch) brown starfish that are so abundant in my 180 gal reef tank? <likely you have an Asterina species. Do use this name to do a 'Net search for photos to confirm. They are prolific and actually useful for eating diatoms (algae). Some people culture these to feed the magnificent Harlequin shrimp which can live well and breed in captivity if provided a natural diet of sea star tube feet. As you have noticed, they can reach plague proportions. Some say they can eat coral... this is very rare. Aside form being prolific, they are quite useful. SPS keepers just like to use them as an excuse for why their corals are dying ;) These sea stars are merely scavenging the necrotic tissue of an already dying/infected coral. Best regards, Anthony>

Teeny Sea Stars I have a question about some teeny starfish I recently acquired-- they are about 4 millimeters across, most are missing limbs and I have been told they only get to the size of a dime and multiply like crazy. I have been trying to find out their species and nature...we have a brand new reef tank, 7 weeks old. Thanks for your help, Lizzi <I would agree with all of the above. Look up Asterina species here in our WetWebMedia.com archives and beyond. Any references you see about them eating coral are mostly bunk in my opinion. Very rare. They are only a nuisance for fast propagation. Great algae eaters and little harm else wise. Best regards, Anthony>

Starfish ID 8/23/05 Hi There: <G'morning> Just a quick question in hopes you can identify (photo attached) what is growing in my tank. We assume that they are baby starfish (there are about 5 that we've seen), but not knowing for sure is driving us crazy. Also, just for your enjoyment, attached is a photo of one of our starfish's arms growing a new starfish. That is sooo cool! Thanks! D. Kelley <Very nice. Thank you for sending it along. Likely a species of Asterina... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Starfish? 30 Jun 2005 I have just recently started a SW tank. I had put in one piece of live rock in a week ago. Today I noticed this grey thing with seven arms (I think). Is this a starfish and do I have to worry about it? what does it eat? Thanks <Hi Julie. Looking at the picture, it appears to be a hitchhiking Asterina starfish. They are generally harmless algae eaters although some do eat corals. Do a search for "Asterina" or see this URL http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm . Good luck on your new setup and keep us posted on the progress. Cheers - Ted> Sorry I forgot to add a pic of the starfish thingy. <Looks like an Asterina starfish. Generally harmless. You may find this URL helpful: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm Cheers - Ted>

Sea star ID Hello, In my reef tank I have found a tiny sea star which I have been looking up in the web but I have seen no pics at all, the more similar pic was one of a Asterina sp but from the bottom. <Very common> Unfortunately I have no pic of it but hopefully with the description it would be fine. The animal has no more than 2cm width, from top is of a blue grayish colour with a red/orange ring around the madreporic plate, it has 5 or 6 legs depending on the reproductive stage, which is very often. And I have tens of it. Any idea which species is? <... some Asterina species fit this description closely... Please see the Google Pix here: http://images.google.com/images?q=asterina&hl=en&lr=&sa=N&tab=wi> By the way I have white tiny sponges that I have seen pics of them in the web any idea about the name? <Nope> Hope you could help me, as soon as I get pics I will send them to you Lots of thanks <Even photos make it hard to discern these groups of animals to much more than family level... even for experts in their fields (of which I am not)... Require microscopic examination, sacrificing (taking apart). Bob Fenner>

Archaster Babies?....Or Asterina? (11/1/04) Believe it or not, MORE Archaster craziness! Anthony, you are a patient man for answering all my questions. Bless you indeed! :) <I will pass this on. Steve Allen responding since Anthony is out.> To add to the insanity, one of the Archasters had BABIES. I've got a few, literally, the size of an eraser head. I tried to take a picture, but it was incredibly difficult as it was far back in the tank, glass distortion, very small, etc. So everything around it looks HUGE. Here's the pic: I'm not really sure how many I have as only two were visible, now only one. Hopefully some of these guys will survive and won't suffer from predators so I can pass them on. :) <Looked at the picture. Sorry to rain on the parade, but I doubt that this is a baby Archaster. Looks more like an Asterina to me. These common hitchhiker mini stars seldom exceed 1 cm in diameter. Look at some pix on our site and elsewhere to compare and be more certain.>

Re: Asterina 9/6/06 Dear Bob, <Derek> Thanks so much for the info. These little starfish seem to be multiplying fast... I found another just after receiving your reply with the ID suggestion. So I now have a 3 legged, 4 legged, and this 6 legged one (the largest of them so far). I've attached a photo to help ID, and in case it might be useful for your FAQ section; it came out fairly clear, given the small size of the starfish. Is this an Asterina? <Does appear so to me> If so I presume they'll be fine just chewing on the algae in the tank... will they? <Likely so> From the pictures I found on your FAQs I'm sure the lesser limbed ones are Asterina (I've only ever seen the lesser limbed ones from below (as they stick on the front glass) and they match one ID'd in your FAQ). <Do come in a variety of leggi-ness> Also, on another subject... Some signs in my tank of other possible hitchhikers - Clicking noises (single not rapid clicks) mainly after lights out and holes appearing in most of the loose shells on the sand... Mantis Shrimp? Pistol Shrimp? <Possibly> FYI I have a sensibly stocked 150litre tank, 1 Maroon Clown, 1 Splendid Leopard Wrasse (which I'm happy to say will even eat granules now!), 1 Boxer shrimp (Cleaner-Shrimp murderer!), <Ahh, yes> 1 red Starfish, and the usual hermits and snails. BTW, I don't know what the red starfish is, but I got one of its legs in the attached picture so if you've any ideas? <Mmm, no> I don't directly feed it (tried but it refused), it's lived happily in there for a few months; it's very active and seems to just graze algae. I realize one leg isn't much to go on ;) So if it's no use I will get another picture sent another time. Love the site! Many thanks again. Regards,
<Again, very welcome. Bob Fenner>

Methinks its a Limpet (but not sure)... Methinks it's Hard to ID Without Photos! 6/9/07 Greetings to all! <And a hardy hello to you Anthony, Mich here.> I recently bought a decent sized piece of liverock that currently has 12 mushrooms (all purple colored, ranging from dime-sized to half-dollar), and one Ricordea floridae about the size of a silver dollar. The first night I was checking for hitchhikers, and found at least 2 serpent stars (really small), <Likely Mini Serpent stars (Amphipholis) or Striped Micro Brittle stars (Ophiactis) both beneficial scavengers, which will hopefully reproduce in your system.> another starfish (its white with very pale brown markings, 5 legs). <Perhaps an Asterina star.> And what I know is definitely a gastropod of some sort.. <OK.> an ID of the mystery starfish would be greatly appreciated, as well as if it's bad or beneficial to the aquarium. <Umm, how? No pics, minimal descriptions, and I'm still standing here waiting to be beamed up to see your tank there Scottie!> Also, I would like an ID of this snail like creature... I can give a lot better description of him! <Well, give me something to work with!> it has a flat/domed shell on top, but the shell looks more like a clam shell (asymmetrical). It also has a pearlescent shimmer to it. The animal itself is odd though. For one, it seems like its too big for the shell (about twice as big as the shell, or maybe even bigger), and for a snail, it moves FAST! It has 2 long antennae coming out of the front, and what seems to be 6 other, smaller ones running along the side (3 on each side) of the animal. <Sounds like (I almost feel like I'm playing Charades here...) a Stomatella snail to me... a welcome addition to your tank. Reproduces readily in captivity and an excellent member of the clean up crew. A couple of photos on this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailid9.htm > Since I can only find both of these animals at night, I can't get a picture. <Uh huh... sure... because it's dark... that why there's no photos... I think your just trying to challenge me...> But should I pull them out of the aquarium, or are they safe for my current and future inhabitants (I plan on having more mushrooms, polyps, Zoas, and some LPS). <They are likely safe, if not outright beneficial.> I don't think the starfish is Asterina, because all of the Asterina I've ever seen have 7 legs, and half of those legs look as if they've broken off and are regrowing. <I've seen Asterinas with 2 legs, 3 legs, 4 legs... Here's a pic of one I took at IMAC with 8 legs! You can see the 3 old legs and the 5 new. OK, I guess I'm not able to attach it you this email, perhaps it will be posted on the daily FAQ's.> Also, would you have any pics that resemble what I've described, so I can compare? <Anthony... allow me to introduce you to Google Images... http://images.google.com ...Google images...Anthony. There you've met, now become friends! Hee!> Thanks a ton! <Welcome! Mich> Anthony Cagle <Please for future reference it is: "I" not "i">

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