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FAQs about Chocolate Chip Sea Star Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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

Related FAQs: Seastar Feeding, Chocolate Chip Stars 1, Chocolate Chip Stars 2, CC Star Identification, CC Star Behavior, CC Star Compatibility, CC Star Selection, CC Star Systems, CC Star Disease/Health, CC Star 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 Reproduction, Seastar Disease Asterina Stars, Crown of Thorns Stars, Fromia Stars, Linckia Stars, Linckia Stars 2, Sand-Sifting Stars,

Re: Chocolate chip starfish, fdg.       12/23/15
I have read quite a bit on the site...so basically I shouldn't feed him the seaweed?
<Don't think it will eat this>
And are live clams okay to give,
<Opened; yes>
I know scallops and shrimp are on the list, but I just would like to offer an array of food items like he would kinda get in the wild. After all I have been through with this guy, I'll go to the end of the earth to provide him with whatever he needs.
<... B>

vacation feeding a starfish 6/17/2011
I bought a chocolate chip starfish 4 weeks ago and it seems to be doing great. Doesn't leave the glass or rockwork but moves around a lot and is a great eater. I have been feeding it shrimp every 2 days. It is housed in a 50 gallon tank that has been up and running 6 -7 months now. There are 4 green Chromis (about 2") , snails, and crabs. Good amount of green and red algae to keep everyone fed and happy. I check the temp and water parameters weekly and everything is good there. My question is what to do with the starfish while I am on vacation. I will be gone for about 8 days. The fish are covered with a feeder that feeds that twice a day but currently the only food the starfish eats is what I give it. I can leave some shrimp throughout the tank for the starfish to find and eat but I am sure that will be gone in a few days. How long will it be ok until it has to eat? Will it go for algae and debris until I am home?
I don't have anyone to come and feed it so I want to make sure he is as good as possible before I leave.
<<Laura I would not leave an overabundance of large pieces of raw shrimp or fish flesh in the aquarium, they will likely rot before the animal has a chance to consume them all and will cause organic water quality issues, which will not only harm your echinoderm but the other tank inhabitants as well. If possible you could add some of the 'carnivorous fish' sinking pellets and wafers (often found in the freshwater fish food section, look for those that contain fish meal as a main ingredient) to your automatic feeder or perhaps freeze dried krill as it's too large for your Chromis to consume and would likely find it's way to the bottom of the tank. If neither of those options are viable simply don't feed the animal for this time period, they often go much longer without eating when collected, and held in collection tanks, and then wholesaler tanks before making to your local pet stores. This being a predatory starfish it is quick enough to catch your mollusks (snails) so you may have a few less of those if it gets very hungry in your absence. The gist of it is underfeeding your pets on vacation is in many cases a better option than overfeeding them, and I wouldn't stress about it too much. Have fun and please be safe on your trip.>>
Thank you
<<Adam J.>>

Choco Chip Star Feeding Behavior 4/16/10
Hi there again, hope you doing well.
<Ramping up...>
Well very quickly, in a recent question about my fish compatibility I provide information about my Choco Chip Starfish...
MY INFO " - 1 Choco Chip Starfish (hasn't eaten any fishes yet, I feed her daily with dried Mysis shrimp, she goes to the top every time I feed the other fishes) medium size." YOUR PRIVIDED INFO
"<You may want to try feeding other, meaty foods as well. have a read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstarfdgfaqs.htm >"
This being stated, I went to see some eating info for my star, but one of the articles concerned me, One user said "The stars have been almost exclusively on the glass since we bought them 2 months ago", your site answered was "<... again... unnatural. A bad sign...>"
So my 1st question its this, I have only one CCS, but she's almost always on the glass, In the mornings when I'm about to go to work she's there (sometimes I see her moving up from the bottom of the glass to the top, when I am about to feed the fish, as she knew its time to eat...other times she's already there), and at nights when I return from
work (its about to feed my fishes again, she acts the same if it isn't already there she crawls up, but from the bottom of the glass, not the sand (not really sure if she has been in the bottom.). When I first bought her I will see her in the sand from time to time. I don't know if she moves from the glass at nights 10pm-7am. And I have seen her in
different spots but attached to the glass. Is this normal behavior, she doesn't have any broken legs, white spots, fallen chips.
<Is not "good" behavior... This species is found on the sand, bottom in the wild... Climbing up the glass is indicative of summat being off... chemically, physically, biologically>
And my second question its, I feed the star 2 times a day, is this a lot, and if not should I feed her every 2 days, or once meal per day?
<Can be fed more frequently, but once every two/three days should be sufficient>
P.S. I'm adding a video of the process 1.- when she goes up 2.- when I feed my CCS (I never touch her little specimen/hairs), 3.- When she's eating it (it may not show clear but she has her muscle/stomach out with the shrimp), to make it smaller I had to cut the video. (I feed shrimp many times because with the water flow they'll move away.
Thank you
Ingrid Leija
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Choco Chip Star Feeding Behavior 4/16/10
Than you for you quick response but I fed her 2 times every day, is it ok
And its normal she's on the glass very time I see her.
<The video shows what appears to be a healthy individual... I would broaden the assortment of meaty foods... e.g. Silversides. BobF>

Chocolate Chip Starfish Question, fdg.   07/23/09
Dear Crew,
I have recently purchased a Chocolate Chip Starfish and was told that I needed to buy some frozen or prepackaged meat (shrimp or clam) to feed it, at least until my fish tank began providing it with enough "natural"
nourishment (10 gallon with two Percula Clownfish and a live rock). The only kinds that I could find available in my area were canned and thus contained preservatives (salt and citric acid). Is this still safe to feed my CCS?
<I would not risk it. Is there not a petstore near you? Almost all pet stores sell at least some kind of frozen meaty aquarium food. If not, your other options are fresh food (shrimp/clam), or to order some from an online
aquarium store. But please be careful with feeding these things. Your tank is very small. With two clowns and this starfish, you could easily poison your tank with too much food.>
Sara M.>

Chocolate Chip Starfish, fdg.    5/11/09
Hey guys,
First let me say that I spend a lot of time on your site and can not list the number of disasters your years of experience have provided. I'm relatively new to the hobby and with nearly pathological devotion to
education in the subject *my significant other might disagree on the accuracy of "nearly" pathological* I would like to say that the wealth of information has been crucial. Awhile back I posed an inquiry and got some feedback regarding chocolate chip starfish. The information was helpful and pointed me in the right direction but to date I've been unable to find a definite recommendation for the actual process of feeding chocolate chip starfish. That said, when I saw the article on them in The Conscientious Aquarist I was delighted. I just wanted to mention what had worked for me and see if this was a common thing or if my starfish are just weird.
It was suggested that if possible I should not actually pick them up and set them on food. Unfortunately, I have some rather brave fish and nothing I set near the starfish was actually making it to them. I went
out and bought a concave feeding platform to try and set them in with as little contact as possible and to hopefully deter the fish from stealing their food. This was a bit disastrous as it actually seemed to point the fish in the direction of trying to eat the starfish as well. After several weeks of trying different techniques I started to notice that when I put the frozen (and unthawed) shrimp in the system the starfish would lift their arms up and some of it would make it to them. Eventually, I found that my starfish have made a habit of spending their time near the surface of the tank every once in a while and after I add a bit to the tank they actually crane their bodies, providing a perfect living shelf for me to put the food in. As a result, they're able to eat whatever I then put on their oral surface.
Since I figured this out they've gone from dull and thin to a more lively tan/brown and gotten substantially thicker.
I wrote for two reasons. First, there are so few things I haven't been able to find on your site but this experience was one that I could imagine saving hobbyists concerned who are concerned for the well being of their wards a lot of stress and time. Second, I'm more than a little curious if this is something seen regularly among keepers of chocolate chip starfish or an aberration.
Thanks again, Brenton
<Hello Brenton. Nice feeding method you developed. In my experience they come to the water surface regularly to feed on the biofilms developing at the water/air interface. The picture with the star eating an algae wafer found in the article was made the same way as you feed your star, so your starfish are not weird, but appear to be well trained. Gently lifting the Chocolate Chip Star and putting it onto a piece of food is not dangerous and is done without damage in the long run, so it can be seen as an alterative to those unwilling to wait until their stars come the water surface. The best feeding method in my opinion still is to provide a tank with enough biofilms, benthic life they can feed on, because this resembles the natural food most closely. Thanks for your input, I am sure it might help others. Cheers, Marco.>

Feeding a chocolate chip starfish, reading    2/22/09 I have two chocolate chip starfish in a 135-gallon tank. Both seem to be doing well, but there isn't a lot of algae in the tank for them to eat, and they nearly always stay on the walls. <?...> I've read about the necessity of hand-feeding them chunks of scallops, shrimp, etc, but can't see how to do that when they're up on the walls. Advice? I'd hate to think I am slowly starving them. Thank you, Sharon <Uhh, they don't eat algae... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstarfdgfaqs.htm and likely the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Feeding a chocolate chip starfish   2/22/09
This is what I'd read before on the web site (I'd read all the references to them I could find): "I did use the Tetra Tabs and stuck them on the glass near the star and he soon found them. You could try putting a small piece of clam or shrimp on the bottom, then place the star over the food. Do the last method if the star is on the bottom, don't pull him off the glass if he is on there, you may damage the locomotion tubes. James (Salty Dog) and this: I have a heavy growth of green and red algae which the star snacks on and I feed him small amount of freeze dried brine shrimp every 2 days or so. Is this enough food to keep him healthy? <I'd say this is not an adequate diet for this creature and this They are carnivorous and voracious--direct feeding with chunks of marine meats (fish, shrimp, squid, shellfish, etc.) will be needed, though they do scavenge." All of that led me to believe they've been eating algae and whatever they find on the floor of the tank -- but as I say, they are nearly always on the glass, near the top or middle of it -- thus I couldn't figure out how to get other food to them. (And I wasn't positive what the reference to Tetra Tabs was.) I'd read all the info on the site about them but still felt confused about how to direct feed them when I don't see them down on the sand. I've tried putting small chunks of food down there, but they've gone uneaten (and thus removed, of course). So ... if you have any other advice, I'd appreciate it. Thanks, Sharon <Thank you for this well-thought out, well-composed response. I think you should investigate the "glass crawling" behavior here... These stars do such "escape-like" movements for reasons that are at times hard to discern... but it is indicative of less-than-satisfactory circumstances in the system (see pix of this species in the wild... it is almost always encountered on sand). I suspect something is amiss water-quality wise... and would move this animal to another system (established) if you have such. Otherwise... do send along data... water quality test results, a list of other livestock and how it appears to be doing, and a brief history of this set-up... Perhaps "something" will jump out in our awareness. Bob Fenner>

Re: Feeding a chocolate chip starfish   2/23/09 I'm out of town right now and thus can't pass along water tests, but when my husband tested last week he said all was fine. The stars have been almost exclusively on the glass since we bought them 2 months ago; <... again... unnatural. A bad sign... Did you read where you were referred?> I wasn't writing initially because I had concerns about their health (they move about a good bit and hadn't shown other signs of distress) -- I'd just wanted to be sure I was doing right by them with food. Now I'm more concerned and will see what to do when I get home (I do not have another system to put them in). The tank also has 2 clowns, 1 yellow tang, 1 cleaner wrasse, <A poor choice for captivity> 1 6-line wrasse, 1 yellow-tail damsel, 4 3-stripe damsels, 1 royal gramma,1 neon velvet damsel, 1 fridmani Dottyback, 1 midas blenny and some tiny hermit crabs. All the other fish are fine, and no one seems to bother the starfish. So, I'll investigate further when I get home; if something else occurs to you meanwhile, please let me know. Thanks much, Sharon <Real good. B>

Chocolate Starfish/Health. fdg.   11/26/08 <Hi Peter> I have read thru the FAQs and have seen some mention of white spots and other problems combined, however, I was not able to find exactly what I was looking for. I have had a 25 gal tank set up since June and have had my CCS since the beginning. Yesterday, I noticed it started to develop white spots all over it and he is still active in the tank. Water change done 3 days ago and all tests where good. I have never feed him anything but what he has found on his own (as per the pet shop owner). Any idea what could cause this and is there any help for him? <Nutrition is more than likely what caused this. The pet shop owner misinformed you of the care needed in maintaining this starfish. This starfish needs to be fed at least once a week. Read here and related FAQ's. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Peter

Starfish Feelers Ripped off   9/22/08 Hello, I am new to the site and love it! <Glad you found us.> I have a question about a chocolate chip starfish. I was trying to feed it and pulled it to hard and some of it's feelers on were ripped off. I feel terrible and was wondering is he is going to be okay or if there is something I should do? <It will heal and be fine, try not to force feed it in the future. Putting the food just underneath the edge of the center should be enough. If it is hungry it will move to the food itself.> Thank you so much! <You're welcome. Jessy>  

Starfish stomach 9/23/08 Hi, Just a quick note to say how informative and helpful your site is! I would like to share a couple of interesting pictures of a chocolate chip starfish eating a peppermint shrimp. The pictures clearly capture the stars ejected stomach . thanks, Renea <Mmm, yes... are predaceous. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Feeding a Chocolate Chip Star (8/6/04) I have a 29 gal tank with only a choc chip sea star (my fish died from ich or velvet and can't put more in for 6 weeks),<sorry to hear> He is about 4 inches from foot to foot. My levels are ammonia 0, ph 8.2, nitrite 0, and nitrate 10. I have a heavy growth of green and red algae which the star snacks on and I feed him small amount of freeze dried brine shrimp every 2 days or so. Is this enough food to keep him healthy? <I'd say this is not an adequate diet for this creature.> I gave him a piece of shrimp from grocery store once and he swelled up for 2 days and scared me to death. <No worries, it merely ingested the chunk whole, just like a snake bulges when it swallow a whole animal. Just feed smaller chunks from now on.> However it was great hand feeding a starfish! <I agree.> (By the way, tank is about 8 weeks old.) <Rather immature yet. Go slow.> Please any help is appreciated as I have grown quite attached to "Cookie" and I didn't have a clue when I got him. (Local pet store has steered me astray last 8 weeks on what I was getting into) <Find a new one. As for the star, I have had great success with chunks of seafood (shrimps, mussels, squid, fish, etc) a few times per week. For your size star, 1/4-1/2 inch should be a good size. Here in UT, Albertson's sells a nice seafood mix that works great. I feed it to all of my predators, echinoderms and fish.> Thanks in advance, Beth <Hope this helps, Steve Allen. BTW, do study the ich articles and FAQs as well as those about quarantine, so you can avoid ich from now on. Buy a good starter book such as "The New Marine Aquarium," by Michael Paletta.>

The "Did You Know?" Section - Chocolate Chip Starfish! >HI! >>Hi! >Looking forward to IMAC and hope to have the honor of meeting some of you there. >>Bob and Anthony, as well as one of "The Adams", can't recollect who else will be there, but not me, Marina. >Hey I don't think I've read anything about this. I have a chocolate chip starfish and have noticed that its tube feet are photosensitive! Weird!  >>Me, either, and I haven't noticed it, actually.  >If his little tube feet are all out and I shine a flashlight on them, it retracts them instantly! How can this be or why? >>Well, starfishes do have photoreceptors as I recollect. I would guess that light shining on its toes means someone's out to nibble them. >Also these guys have good memory!! Sounds silly? Check this out. When I feed my fish I stop all the circulation for 2 minutes. After only having been fed twice, when I shut of the circulation (no food in water yet) instantly his little tube feet come on out and go nuts reaching everywhere for food.  >>Dang! >Amazing, just amazing isn't it?  >>Actually, yes, it is. >I mean my dog wouldn't even learn that fast. Now every single time I feed the fish he wishes to be fed as well. Is a small piece of table shrimp every day too much because he really seems to want food always. >>No, not if it's being consumed. >thanks so much for taking the time to share with me/us. >>You're welcome, and thank YOU for sharing. Marina 

Chocolate chip starfish We just got a Chocolate Chip Starfish and I have been reading the info on your site. Some people talk about hand-feeding them. But there is no description of how. Can you tell me?  <I did use the Tetra Tabs and stuck them on the glass near the star and he soon found them. You could try putting a small piece of clam or shrimp on the bottom, then place the star over the food. Do the last method if the star is on the bottom, don't pull him off the glass if he is on there, you may damage the locomotion tubes. James (Salty Dog)>

Hungry Stars (2/21/05) I just had a question as to what to do about my snail population.  I have 4 chocolate chip starfish. <How big is your tank? Over 100G, I hope.> I never had a problem with feeding them. I guess they mostly ate the algae or whatever in the tank. <They cannot survive without being fed.> Lately they have been on a feeding binge. <That is to be expected. These carnivorous stars have big appetites and grow to 8+ inches in diameter.> One starfish ate my anemone right through the bottom of it. I had about 25 turbo snails in the tank and I might have about 5 left. <They'll eat pretty much any sessile (non-motile) or slow-moving animal they can.> They each eat one snail a day. Usually not the small ones but the big ones are eaten. What can I do? <Feed them or take them back. They are not reef-safe, BTW. They love to eat soft corals.> I don't know what to feed them. <Chunks of marine origin meats such as raw fish flesh, shrimp, mussels, squid, scallops or octopus, all of which can be purchased at the seafood counter of the local market. I get mine as a "gumbo mix" at Albertson's for about $3 per lb.> Its not that easy to feed them the frozen krill <Why not?> and even then, I think they prefer the snails. <Even if you feed them, they may eat your snails. I have   no other invertebrates in my carnivorous star tank. I only have fish that leave stars alone and that are left alone by stars.> Please help. <There are two ways to feed them. Use a pair of plastic grabbers (See here for example: http://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewItem.asp?idproduct=HG11012 ) to place meaty food next to or under stars on the bottom. I often grab my stars, put the meat over their mouths and gently press them to the front glass. They will stick to the glass and eat--kind of cool to watch as they evert their stomachs around the food.> Thanks, Jen <Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Feeding a Chocolate Chip Star, Admonishments for No Capitalization/Punctuation >How do I feed my ccs? >>I'm assuming that's a question (have added question mark), and is regarding a chocolate chip star. You can give it just about anything meaty, just place nearby. Daily feeding usually isn't necessary. >Also I do not have sand on the bottom, I have rocks. Will this bother the star? >>Not as much as using no capitalization or punctuation bothers those of us answering questions, spending time just re-typing queries. These are not a sand-sifting star, but are decidedly more predatory. Should not be kept in reef systems. Marina 

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