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FAQs about  Brittle/Basketstar Disease/Health 2

Related Articles: Brittlestars, Sea Stars

Related FAQs: Brittlestar Disease 1, Green Brittlestars, Brittlestars 1, Brittlestars 2, Brittlestars 3, Brittlestar ID, Brittlestar Behavior, Brittlestar Compatibility, Brittlestar Selection, Brittlestar Systems, Brittlestar Feeding, Brittlestar Reproduction, Seastar Selection, Seastar Compatibility, Seastar Systems, Seastar Feeding, Seastar Reproduction, Seastar Disease


Many fish species will test, eat Ophiuroids.

Brittle Starfish Attacked by Giant Hermit       3/31/18
My large (14 inch plus) brittle starfish was brutally attacked by my giant red hermit crab
<Oh, yes; large ones especially are opportunistic omnivores. Will consume most anything they can get their claws on>
last night and during the incident lost the best part of three legs and the ends of two legs, he had also gained a substantial cut from the top of his body round and down to underneath, it has not touched his mouth but his orange insides are on view, he is still moving around this morning and waving for food but I’m worried he won’t survive for long, is there anything I can do to help or should I let nature take its course?
<Mmm; some benefit from moving the animal to a sump, area where others can't get to it, and overdosing (2-3 X) a useful iodide-ate supplement/solution. Am a fan of SeaChem's line here>
I have removed the crab from the tank and I intend to take him bk to the local fish shop as he has over grown my tank anyway. There are also 3 long pieces of the star fishes legs in the tank, should I remove them or will they grow into other stars lol.
<These I'd remove. Just keep the central disc part>
Thanks for your help
Kind regards
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Brittle Starfish Attacked by Giant Hermit     4/1/18
Hi Bob,
Thank you for your quick response, it was much appreciated.
<... please people (it's not just you Kitty), ONLY send files in hundreds of Kbytes... We/WWM doesn't have storage space sufficient for megs. THIS is clearly stated on where you find to write us.>
I’ve had another look at the brittle and it seems that the hermit had actually ripped a whole leg off, I can’t find any bits of leg with a part of the disk still attached just a few bits of leg floating around, I’ll remove them as suggested thank you.
<Good; their death, decomposition could prove deleterious to your other livestock>
As he has had a leg removed and part of his body along with it do you think there is any possibility of him surviving?
<Some; these are remarkably resilient creatures (Ophiuroids)>
I’m concerned about moving him to the sump, There seems to be silt etc on the sump floor, will this irritate him?
<No; it will not>
If he does recover, do you think his cut will heal up and will he just be one leg down or will could he have an opening wound forever or could his leg grow back?
<All may, can grow back>
Sorry to bombard you with these questions but I’ve not seen anything like this before and my LFS wasn’t that helpful!!
<PLEASE read on WWM re Brittlestar health. BobF>
I have attached the pictures properly this time!!
Thank you again
Re: Brittle Starfish Attacked by Giant Hermit     4/1/18

Hope your able to open these ok?
<Ah yes; thank you>

Re: pH adjustments; now Ophiuroid nutr.       12/5/16
one more brief ?.
I have had a giant ( arm span 12-14") gold/green brittle star doing well for years in the sump ( after too many new fish in DT kept disappearing).
In the last 1-2 weeks he has lost most of the length of his arms which are now only stubs. He has been fed part of a uncooked cocktail shrimp every 4-7 days for years and was doing great.
<Mmm; needs more nutritionally.
I'd get a bag of "mixed, frozen seafood", defrost a "piece", soak in a product like SeaChem's Vitality for a few minutes and offer this at the same interval>
All my measured tank parameters ( spg, dKH, Ca, nitrates are d/w with no other changes in system and other tank inhab.s - fish, corals are doing fine. Any ideas??
<Can, will recover in time. Bob Fenner>

Another Ophiuroid hlth., beh. question      9/6/12
We just bought a serpent starfish last night. We are new to Saltwater tanks. We did not do the drip acclimation process as I knew nothing about it so that may be the problem. When I released it into the tank, it wandered across the tank. When we checked on it this morning it was in the same position it was in last night so we gave it a nudge with the fish net and it is stiff as a rock. Is this normal? Or is it dead?
<Mmm, I wouldn't give up just yet... watch it for another day...>
I have tried to research it and some websites say they get stiff as a defense mechanism but to stay in the same exact position for so many hours? Help!
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/britstardisfaq2.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Red growth on brittle star?     9/6/12
I bought a brittle star two days ago. I noticed yesterday that he had a red spot between two of his legs. Today, the spot seems larger and there is also another on the other side of his body. I couldn't find any information about this. What's going on?
<Appears to be breaks in the integument, revealing parts of its/mainly the vascular system... could be caused by trauma, issues w/ water quality, other...>
Parasite? A wound/infection? Expelling waste? What should I do with the other creatures (snails, shrimps, crabs, Cuke) that I have in quarantine with him, which I don't think will survive long in quarantine without a live tank to scavenge from?
<The other non-fert.s are likely not in danger... I'd leave all in place, unless you have an established sump/refugium to place the Ophiuroid>
He's curled up in the corner now and I don't want to touch him, but hopefully you can get an idea here.
Thank you,
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/britstardisfaq2.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sick starfish    9/29/11
Hey guys,
I hope everyone is doing well.
<Thank you>
I was hoping to get some help. I have had this starfish for a couple years and he¹s done fine the whole time (to my knowledge). Tonight, I noticed that 4 of his 5 legs are damaged (missing a large portion of 3 of the legs!) Please see attached photo. Will this poor guy recover?
<Can... regenerate>
What could be causing this?
<Predation, lack of nutrition, adverse chemical/physical condition/s. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/brittlestardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
Thanks for your help.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Brittle Star Crumbling/Brittle Star Health 8/5/11
<Hello Morgan>
So as the title says i <I> have a Brittle Star that is crumbling. I noticed a few days ago that he was struggling to get off his back and when i <I> came home from work today i <I> looked at him and i <I give up.> noticed that his legs were falling off in small segments, one to two cm at a time.
Since then i have moved him to my "hospital tank" which is a balanced 25 gallon tank that has a few shrimp and hermit crabs in it, the star is in a small covered dish inside that has holes poked into the top so the shrimp can't get to him. I checked my water in my tank and everything was normal except for my nitrites which were very high (approx. 1.0mg/l).
Since then i purchased Prime for a "quick fix" which has brought the levels down to approx. .5 mg/l, and some macro algae for a long term solution.
<Should not have high nitrite levels to begin with unless something is amiss.>
Could this be caused by the high nitrites?
<Certainly. Even low concentrations of 0.5mg/l over extended periods can cause long term damage to most marine animals. Nitrite binds the oxygen carrying hemoglobin in blood, and fish can suffocate even if the oxygen level in the tank is good.>
Any help would be appreciated, thank you in advance.
<You're welcome, and please cap "I's" in future queries. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Sudden Cloudy water! Worried for whole setup : \ Now Brittlestar hlth.    1/21/11
Thanks again Bob. More problems keep on coming, our brittle star is now wasting away.
<Pretty common. Please see WWM re Ophiuroid feeding:
:( We have had him close to 2 years if not more, and I'm hoping you can shed some light on him. Last night, before I hit the sack, I was checking things out and noticed that he was out of his hole in a rock.
Been his home for about 6-8months. He was circling the rock, I watched him climb around it a few times and caught pictures of him as well. I mentioned to my husband that he had white dimples where his legs meet his body.
Today, while checking on everything in the tank. I see him again, he has his legs all curled up to him and he has bigger white spots! So big that I swear I can see inside his body.
<And health: http://wetwebmedia.com/brittlestardisfaqs.htm>
My heart is breaking for all of my tank inhabitants that something is wrong and I just don't know what it is.
Please help,
<Please learn to/use the indices and search tool on WWM. Your animals may perish while you're waiting for a response. BobF> 

My Poor Brittle Starfish  11/13/10
My brittle starfish is the hero of my tank and has been with me for nearly a year now.
He was fine this morning but when I arrived home today there was a large yellow hole in his body, I'm not sure if a crab attacked him or he ripped himself open on a rock.
There is nothing new in the tank so I'm surprised if someone else attached him, any ideas, could he die from this?
<Oh yes>
I have attached a picture so that you can see what I mean.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/brittlestardisfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

Re: My Poor Brittle Starfish  11/14/10
Thanks for the direction Bob, he looks worse today so I think my little hero is a 'goner'.
Thanks, Keelin.
<Unfortunately, I concur. BobF>

Red Serpent Star/Disease Treatment 8/26/10

I have a 20g long with 13 lbs of live rock, 20 lbs of crushed oyster,
<A poor substrate to use, does little to aid in long term buffering, and tends to trap detritus.>
and 20 lbs of live sand. My tank has been set up for 4 weeks. Ph 8.2, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0, temp 80.5
I recently purchased (last Friday) a Red Serpent Star, Yellow Striped Goby, and two Peppermint Shrimp. The goby was not doing well (had white things hanging from fins and mouth, acted lethargic) so I purchased two skunk cleaner shrimp
hoping that a cleaning was what he needed and PraziPro through the advise of my petstore. I shut off the protein skimmer and removed the carbon from my filter during treatment today is day three and the goby dies this morning.
Now too <to> my question, last night my serpent star came out from hiding under the live rock climbed up my heater and onto the protein skimmer and is hiding and hanging out up there. Is this normal? I thought that they didn't like to come out during the day. Should I be concerned?
<Yes, I would not use Praziquantel with invertebrates present. This medication is sometimes used to remove some species of invertebrate pests, especially worms, and I do not believe you consider your Red Serpent Star a pest.
Is not worth chancing.>
When can I put the carbon back in my filter?
<Immediately! And do ensure you use a good grade of carbon, better yet a Poly Filter
along with a 30% water change.>
Should I continue the PraziPro treatment?
<No, parasitical treatments are best administered in a QT tank.>
Thank you for your help,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Brittle Star and general tank distress. 4/27/10
Hello. I have had my saltwater tank for about 1 year. But, I haven't finished it off, so it's still pretty basic. I have a 55gal tank, about 20 lbs of live rock, 3 damsels, 1 big hermit crab,
<Very predaceous>
a few smaller hermit crabs, a bunch of snails, and a brittle star. Everything in my tank has been fine.
I check the water balance regularly.
<Real data please>
I haven't done a water change in about 6 months because every time I checked the levels were great.
<Mmm, there are many aspects, elements of water quality for which there are no tests... best to do regular/serial water change outs to avoid too much accumulation of some, syndromes of too little of other aspects. Please read
here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/water.htm
and the linked files above>
However, I checked the other day and my nitrates and nitrites were elevated (my test kit doesn't give me numbers - only okay, ideal, stress, etc.). I proceeded to do a partial water change, making sure to keep salinity stable. At
first, everything was OK. All of the levels were back at good or tolerable, the nitrites and nitrates were still a little high. But, I didn't want to stress my tank any further. So, I added 2 more capfuls of Prime (what the LFS gave
me to dechlorinate and it says that it will lower the nitrates/trites).
<But not the causes...>
I went to bed after making sure all was good. But, in the morning my whole tank was in distress! My water was super cloudy, my little fish were gasping for air and in obvious duress. I tested my water and my pH was very acidic and the Nitrates/trites were very high! Strongly, my starfish was the only one who seemed to be ok, it was out and about in the tank eating while everyone else was dying. I removed about 15% of the water added fresh
saltwater and baking soda until I achieved the proper pH. We used airline tubing to blow extra O2 into the water. And, we finally got everything balanced out. We lost one damsel later on, she was fine for awhile and then started gasping again and died. The tank has remained cloudy for the last 2 days and today my starfish was out and has a huge chunk of meat missing. I can see his skeleton. I found out from reading your site that I should have a refugium,
<Helps in many ways but not absolutely necessary>
which I do not have because when I bought my system they told me I didn't need one. So, where I move my little lady to?
<Mmm, unfortunately not much you can do for this animal but keep the system stable and hope>
Is there anything I can do for her? How can I fix my tank?
<Read... re maintenance of such systems on WWM>
And, why did it go crazy like that?
<A "cascade event", brought on by metabolite accumulation, your addition of the Prime product>
I read that I can add iodine to the tank, can I buy that at a LFS?
Please, advise. Thank you very much!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Mortuus est

Injured Serpent Star / Arm still alive? -- 01/03/10
My tank has been up and running for three years. During that time I moved about a year ago and have never suffered a livestock loss. Today I notice what I thought was a huge worm crawling across my sand bed. Upon closer inspection it was a brittle star arm, just out for a walk without its usual owner. So I dug around in the tank and found the rest of the serpent star, hiding under a rock. He has what looks like a very grievous wound down to what appears to be a "bone" in the central disc.
<Part of the vascular canal system>
It almost appears as if his arm was ripped off his body.
<Or perhaps ecdysed/shed>
There's never been an issue in the tank, and I'm not sure why after 3 years his health would suddenly decline like this. My first question is what are the chances for his recovery?
After I released him back into the tank he moved back under the rock rapidly, so the loss of the arm hasn't effected his locomotion, however is does look hideous. And my 2nd question is, What should I do with the arm that has gone walkabout. Do I take it out before it "dies" or is it on it's way to making a new starfish?
<A small possibility of this last... and not much chance, potential for "pollution" by leaving it in place (which is what I'd do). Ophiuroids do lose arms from various causes... and can/do have remarkable "powers" of regeneration. Yours may well recover. I might administer a bit more iodine/ide/ate supplement every week for a month or so here. And I'd give a read with the word/string:
"Ophiuroid Brittlestar arm loss"
Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
and read the cached views.
Bob Fenner> 

Broken brittle starfish -- 11/22/09
NEED HELP ASAP!!! We were beginning to do the routine cleaning and my oldest son didn't see the little guy (Brittle starfish) as we were cleaning walls - he was hiding in crevice between glass wall and live rock.
Unfortunately, my son nipped him good with the scrub brush and appears to have severed an entire leg off from the body disc area. The dismembered leg crawled off and the remaining part stayed lying under the rocks. I have read various stories on you site about the regenerative properties (some quite remarkable).
I don't know how long I should watch or if this is a case of no return or if he will heal. How do I know all hope is lost without contaminating my tank?
<Actually, very little possibility of trouble here>
All levels are good. We stopped the cleaning process for now.
Desperately Needing Help,
<Perhaps feeling desperate, but no need. All will likely be well in time.
No treatment necessary; just your ongoing good care. Bob Fenner>

Brittle star bleaching out -- 10/28/2009
Our 125 gal. tank is three years old. Our red brittle star ( Grim Reaper) was one of the first to join our tank and was quite tiny when it arrived ( 1 1/2 inches across) It grew by leaps and bounds , kept its red color and was spectacular until the last 6 months or so when it has begun to not only shrink in size but bleach out on its body.
<Mmm, conditions, foods/feeding are not to its liking>
The arms are now green, but the center body is white with just a few bits of orange. I didn't find much in your Q and A concerning bleaching out. He is still active, eats heartily, but looks as if he is on death's door. What should we try?
<The best, short/er term might be to move this animal to another, established setting. Likely "something" is either deficient (e.g. chemically) or too high in concentration here... Without some sorts of testing that may be beyond our scope... it may be very difficult to discern a root cause...>
Our temp. is stable, ranging from 79-80, ph is 8.3, nitrates and nitrates are very close to zero ( unmeasurable). we have 6 tomato clowns (i know- too many), 1 six line, 1 lawnmower blenny, 1 sea
urchin. We feed the brittle star silver fish weekly, the tank Mysis shrimp a few times a week and have a timed feeder for flaked food ( 2x a day). Water changes occur 1/month (10% ).
thanks for your advice,
GR Spiel man
<A/the general SOP response is to "change some water", "use chemical filtrant/s"... Perhaps a type of granular activated carbon... What other livestock is present? Does any of it show adverse symptoms? Are you applying treatments? Supplements? How are they administered? Let's chat further here. Bob Fenner>

Re: brittle star bleaching out -- 10/28/2009
We just lost a Chromis two days ago but I don't know how long they are expected to live anyway ( 2 years?)
<Mmm, can be a few more...>
and our brittle star has been in distress for quite a while. Recently we've started supplementing our tank with iron for the corals ( 2-3 TBSP weekly) .
we have 6 thriving soft corals and one hard coral that is doing well since the regular doses of iron ( attribute it to this, anyway). We've been using iodine regularly as a supplement and also use Kalkwasser mix for killing Aiptasia, but have been doing this all along with no problems previously).
<These should be fine.>
Other than upgrading our lighting and skimmer nothing else is different. the new lighting has caused a great bloom of green algae. that, I think, is a completely different problem. My husband and I disagree on the length of time the light should be on ( he says 8 hours minimum for the corals which are thriving nicely, I
say cut back the hours to limit algae growth.) Q: could our very efficient skimmer be depriving the star from nourishment?
<I do think this may be the most/more likely issue here. I would purposely feed the brittle star a couple, three times a week... Something "sinking" placed right near it... meaty.>
Thanks for your time!
GR Spiel man
<Welcome! BobF>

Re: brittle star bleaching out  10/29/09
are silversides nutritious enough?
<As an every now and then item, yes. Not as a sole diet however. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/brittlestarfdgfaqs.htm

Rotting serpent star, Blue Linckia 6/24/09
Hi Guys,
<Josh here today.>
My name is Tony and I have a question.
I have a 92 gallon corner tank with about 60 lbs of live rock. I have a wet dry sump system underneath. The tank has a Fox Face Lo, 5 green Chromis, a tomato clown, and a six line wrasse.
There is also 1 yellow tailed damsel that I can't catch to remove. Some hard corals and green star polyps. Multiple snails and hermit crabs. I also have a Blue Linckia and a sea anemone. I have twin bulbs with 65 watts each for lighting.
<What type of anemone is this, in most cases PC lighting will not suffice.>
The tank has been running for over a year.
I tested the water for Nitrite, nitrates, ammonia and PH and phosphorous.
All were good
<I really need more numbers here, not just "good".>
except the nitrate levels had spiked to 20ppm.
I did a water change and put some (Prime) nitrate reducer and they seem to be coming down.
<I am not familiar with this product, what is the name on the bottle? I would generally stay away from chemical nitrate reducers, and stick to water changes. You really can not go wrong with a water change.>
During this I lost my Blue Linckia
<The Linckia was likely doomed as soon as it was collected and shipped to your LFS. Please search for more information on WWM regarding the Blue Linckia.>
and my serpent star has these large white patches of what appears to be new or rotting flesh at the area where his legs meet his body. He is still very active and enjoys a good piece of frozen shrimp. Any thoughts?
<It does sound like necrosis occurring on the serpent star. Not a good sign. Keep feeding him, watch your nitrates, and avoid the introduction of chemicals to your reef tank.>
Josh Solomon.>
Re rotting serpent star, Blue Linckia 6/25/09

Hello Again,
Josh thank-you for your quick response!.
<Your very welcome.>
To answer your questions my Ph level was 8.4 and the ammonia is at 0 the nitrites are at 0 and like I said the nitrates where at 20ppm. The phosphate was at 2ppm,
<That is a lot of phosphate.>
I have a media bag with Phosguard soaking in the basin of the sump right now to help remove the phosphate.
<Continue water changes, please test your source water for phosphates, it should read zero.>
The nitrate remover i put in the tank was made by Seachem and is labeled (prime).
<Yes, please try to avoid this for use in a reef tank, especially added to the tank itself.>
I cant remember what type of anemone he is I got him for 6 bucks at Petco 3 months ago. He doesn't take to the clown fish at all, which I knew ahead of time.
I forgot to mention that I also have a green emerald crab in the tank.
<It's doubtful the crab is causing the damage to the starfish, but it would surprise me if he took advantage of a dying starfish.>
I did a 15% water change and just checked the nitrates again and they are still at 20ppm.
Could this be a bio ball problem?
<Yes! Bio Balls without some type of filter sponge before them tend to accumulate massive amounts of detritus which will then rot and contribute to the Nitrate problem. If you don't already have one, you should add one to avoid this problem. Then rinse and agitate the bio balls in a bucket of salt water for a minute or two to get rid of as much detritus as possible.
Continue the water changes and check your source water for nitrates and phosphates that may be adding to the problem.>
I will monitor the star fish like you suggested.
Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated...Thank-You........Tony
<All above, your welcome.
Josh Solomon>

Serpent Star Arm Tips Missing: Stars and crabs do not mix well. 6/18/2009
Dear Sirs,
<Hi Denise, just call me Mike, and there are a number of female crew members as well.>
I am a science teacher with a marine touch tank that I have moved home for the summer.
It has been 2 weeks and all was well until today when I noticed that the tip of every arm on the serpent star is missing and their is a cut mark near the base of one arm.
<You can read more about them here:
Last night it was fine.
<A late night snack for someone I would imagine, but some more details about the tank would be helpful: how big, water chemistry, etc.>
The tank has a false percula, a marine hermit crab which has grown considerably this year, 2 turbo snails, a sea urchin, and a host of amphipods.
<A few possibilities here...I will say that an Urchin is a poor choice for a touch tank - some species are venomous. Further, Clownfish can bite, and are capable of drawing blood, especially if they feel their territory is being violated.>
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/urchins.htm and here:
http://www.google.com/custom?hl=en&safe=off&cof=&sitesearch=www.WetWebMedia.com&q=clownfish+bites&btnG=Search  >
I have kept an eye on the tank since moving it home, concerned about shock and wondering about the hermit crab and if it is too large to safely keep in this tank.
<Setting possible environmental causes (water quality) aside, I am inclined to believe the hermit crab is the likely culprit. Crabs, being scavengers, are never to be trusted completely in a tank.
When school resumes, the tank will go back to school and be restocked and I will set up a second tank for this pet crab if needed. Could the hermit crab be the problem, or is something else going on here?
Thank you,
<My pleasure>

Re: Serpent Star Arm Tips Missing: Stars and crabs do not mix well. - Water Quality 6/18/2009

<Hi Denise>
Thank you, The touch tank from Wards Scientific hold 25 gallons and the water is testing out within parameters with close to 0 ammonia, nitrates and nitrites and a pH of about 8.3.
<Ahh. OK, That said, ammonia needs to be zero - anything above zero is toxic. How often are you doing water changes?>
The creatures (except for the clown fish) were all from a touch tank set from Ward's scientific and have been handled without problem since last October, including the sea urchin.
<Fair enough>
The serpent star has handled being picked up hundreds of times (always kept under water) and eaten well. This is the first time he has had any problems and now has 5 short, stubby arms (pieces kept coming off all day).
<Signs that it is starting to break down. You will want to do a big (30%) water change.>
I will move the hermit crab out into it's own home and see if I can keep everything else healthy for the summer. When I moved the tank I drained the water and kept it, returned it to the tank and let the system clear before reintroducing everyone. Nothing like having the science teacher kill everything during the summer. The high school students I teach have never seen an ocean and this tank means a great deal to them. You can probably guess why we have the clown fish.
<Heee... Nemo..>
Thanks again,
<My pleasure, do write back if you need further assistance.>

Red Serpent Star hlth., reading   5/10/09
Hey Gang,
I had a Cyano problem in my 90 so I dosed Chemi-clean.
<Mmm... you've read/not read my/our disinclination re such algicides? Not a good idea>
I had a red serpent star in QT for about a month. I added the star to the 90 along with the Chemi clean. This was about 4 days ago, and now he has all 2-3 inch legs instead of 8 inch legs.
The parameters are literally perfect.
and the QT he came from is about 150 gallons of a variety of diz
sized tanks. The QT also has the same parameters.
So I'm thinking that the blame should be put on either the Chemi clean, or the 1 large hermit crab in the tank that was apparently picking at it in its first 24 hrs in the tank.
<Could be either, both>
The large hermit is about 2 inches across. OR, from something else I did.
What are the main causes for this breaking down of the legs? Why do they break down? Etc?
<Environmental "stress", predation... See WWM re marine chemical algicides, Ophiuroid health. Bob Fenner>

Brittle sea star question   6/23/08 Hi, <Hello!> Two days ago, my husband and I purchased a brittle sea star from our local aquarium place. It went into our newly cycled 55 gallon - 100 pounds of live sand, 65 pounds live rock, 1 maroon clown, 1 regal tang, <Should probably have a bigger tank for this fish> 15 turbo snails, 15 blue leg hermits, 2 skunk cleaner shrimp. Water tests as follows: temp - 78, salinity - 1.023, ph - 8.2, ammonia - 0, nitrite - 0, nitrate - 10, calcium - 375... Tank has been running around a month and a half. The sea star looked great when we bought him, but the night we brought him home I noticed he had what looked like a small circular tear at the top of his central disc which wasn't there before. The next morning, his whole central disc was opened up and all of his "insides" (for lack of a better word) are exposed. Otherwise he seems fine. His legs are intact and he is pretty active. We were not sure if this was normal or not or if we should remove him from the tank...??? <Well, this is definitely not what I would call normative behavior, no. Probably an air bubble, or a response to water change, or simply shedding the damaged cover. Provided you keep pristine water and this star has food to eat the regenerative powers of Echinodermata should become evident!> I was reading online yesterday that sea stars should never be touched or exposed to air. Is this true? <More or less. Risks damage to the water-vascular system> When we bought him the guy from the store took him out of the tank by hand and exposed him to air before bagging him. Could this be the cause of the problem and do you think it will heal? <Might have caused the tear because of the sudden exposure to the forces of gravity.> Thanks so much for any help you might be able to give us. You guys are awesome! I love your site! <Glad to hear it! Keep an eye on him and read re starfish disease and treatment on wetwebmedia.com> Liz <Best wishes for your starfish. Benjamin>

Green brittle star...is it dead? 02/02/2008 I have a had green brittle star for about a week. The middle is the size of a quarter. LFS said it would be a good bottom cleaner. Parameters ok, temp 78. It ate a piece of shrimp from my hand last night. After it ate the shrimp it crawled on top on of a boat decoration and today when I went to check my parameters I bumped the boat and the star fell off in the same position that it was in on the boat. It is rather stiff. I placed it on my live rock as that is where it has preferred to hide. I am watching for movement but I am seeing none. It has never really moved much that I have seen but I do not think that it should be stiff like this should it? Any help would be great. Thanks. <<For all intents and purposes, I would class this as dead.. Yes, they are not a big mover in the aquarium, however, being knocked of a perch like that, I would certainly expect a reaction from it. Sorry confirm your thoughts.>> Jessica <<Thanks for the question. A Nixon>>

Question: Brittle Star Fish Injured   12/5/07 This morning I discovered that my Brittle Starfish had a chunk of his main body (top) missing exposing a red interior. <Bad....> He currently is still moving and hiding in a rock. I'm trying to figure out if I have another tankmate that may have attacked the starfish. We have another brittle starfish, red general starfish, chocolate chip starfish, <The CCS is the best candidate here> black sea cucumber, pencil sea urchin, spiny sea urchin, (3) pajama Cardinalfish, (1) yellow tang, (2) yellowtail blue damsels, and (3) hermit crabs. Is it possible that one of the hermit crabs harmed the starfish? <Yes> Will the starfish be able to survive with this injury or should be remove from the tank? <If you have a sump attached to this system, it would be best to move it there... Otherwise, only a move to a stable, established system is advised. Bob Fenner> Please help...Thanks

Brittle Starfish... Armless  10/29/07 <Greetings Mich here.> I have had a brittle star fish in our 55-gallon tank for about 6 months. One day I looked in our tank and saw that all of the tentacles on the starfish were gone. <Does that make it a brittle circle fish?> ( I think some of our fish ate them off). I thought that the starfish was dead. However, I noticed this morning that it was still alive. <Looking for the Holy Grail? ...I'm not dead yet!> Will my starfish survive without his tentacles and how do I feed him? <Brittle stars ingest and expel food though the central disk so it is possible for this star to survive and regenerate arms if it can get food and not sustain any further damage. I would move to a hospital tank. Is this star capable of any locomotion? If not, my best suggestion is to place the star on top of the food and remove the star from any food that remains after a period of time, perhaps around an hour. I wish you luck my friend. Mich>
Re: Brittle Starfish... Armless 10/30/07
Thank You <Welcome!> Yes this star can still move around, <Locomotion increases the chance of this creature's survival.> and I have placed it on one of my rocks, and it has been moving around it. <I think I would keep it low, on or near the sand bed.> I am hopeful that it will survive. <Me too! Mich>

Serpent Seastar is turning white! 10/16/07 Hi WWM, <Tuggs> So we are having some freak outs with our tank right now. Nothing seems to be going right. Our Marble Starfish is on its death bed I haven't had the heart to look at her. We were going to move her to my brother in laws tank to see if it would help her survive but all that is left are three little stubs. We have accepted that she will soon be gone, even though she is fighting so hard to keep going. When we came home this evening our Valentini Puffer was missing! (You helped us floss his teeth over the summer.) My fiancé© found him on the floor, he jumped out =(. (We still don't know how because our water level isn't that high.) <Amazing for such a roundish animal...> Our concern right now is on our Red Serpent Star or Monster (he is huge!) as we call him. When we got him about 7 months ago he was a beautiful bright red color. As he grew his disc began to lose color. And now he is almost all white! I read another post similar but their serpent start had fluffy/fuzzy white stuff. Ours isn't like that. It's just fading away! What is going on? <Perhaps something amiss water quality and/or nutrition-wise> All the tests came out normal. Our pH was down to 7.8 <... not good> when the Marble Starfish lost her first arm but we immediately treated it and it is back at 8.3. Any idea what is going on and how we can fix it? And if there is nothing we can do we are ready to accept that as well. Thank you for all the hard work you put in and all the helpful advice. The Tugg Family <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/britstardisfaq2.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Brittle Star... hlth., no useful info. or reading   9//15/07 Hello, <Hi there> I have had my green brittle star for about 1 1/2yrs and I just noticed he has this white film covering his disc. What is this? Is he dying? What can I do to help? Any advice will be helpful! Thanks! Gilma <... might be "nothing"... could be physical... precipitation... sort of like "scale" on a swimming pool or spa... No info. re your water quality tests, feeding, tankmates... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Auto-Legless brittle stars    7/16/07 Hello, I recently bought 15 blunt-spined brittle stars from an aquarium. <Are we talking about Ophiocoma echinata? Where did you get them?> I've had them for five days. They have been doing well the first day except for three of the brittle stars. After the weekend, I came over to check on them and half of the brittle stars were severely damaged. <Do you mean half of all of them or half of the ones that weren't doing well?> They autotomized all their arms and only their central discs remain. <Yikes! Are you sure they autotomized? Is it at all possible that they just died and then got torn apart after they were dead? Are any of the legs still moving?> In the tanks, I can see trails of bits and pieces of their arms everywhere on the sand. <These stars can autotomizes at any segment but I've never heard of them autotomizing at so many segments all at once though. That is quite dreadful.> It is quite sad. I don't understand why these brittle stars are behaving so strangely. I feed them daily and check the salinity of the water twice a week. I also do some chemical water tests. <How big is the tank? What are you using as a filter? What are your salinity, temp, etc? Is there anything else in the tank? Which tests did you do? Sorry for all the questions, but it's difficult to say what might be happening without knowing a lot more about the system.> The self-mutilated brittle stars have a clear membrane-like substance surrounding their central discs. Are they dead or will they still regenerate? <Theoretically, the disks can regenerate legs if the stars are still alive. However, I don't know if they could survive with no legs at all. Regeneration requires a lot of energy (more energy than just normal growth). And I don't even know how they'd be able to move without any legs.> Why are these brittle stars behaving this way? <I have a few suspicions, but I would have to know more about your tank. If you added all these stars at once to a relatively small, new tank, you could have ammonia in the water. If it's just 3 of the stars dying this way, and it's a small tank, it might be that the other stars are attacking those 3 for some reason. And again, is it possible they just died and fell apart?> By the way, I am using these brittle stars in an experiment but haven't done quite anything to stress them because I was afraid they would die. <Yes, something is really wrong. The only thing I can think of that would cause a brittle star completely autotomize like that would have to be a serious toxin or a massive attack by other animals. What kind of water are you using? Is there any way copper could have gotten into the tank?> Thank you very much, <No problem. But I do hope you write back with more information so we might be able to help you more. Best, Sara M.> Lea
Re: Auto-Legless brittle stars
   7/17/07 Hello again, Thank you so much for replying quickly. I assumed the brittle stars that I bought were Ophiocoma echinata because they look similar to the pictures online. The store that I bought it from didn't know what the species name was, but they said they got it from the Atlantic. I attached some pictures of these brittle stars for you. I hope you can identify them better than me. <For some reason the pictures didn't come through with this email. Huh.> I'm sorry that I didn't explain in detail what had happened earlier. Seven out of 18 brittle stars basically self-mutilated themselves. Three of them started autotomizing the first day that I got them. The other four probably were damaged over the weekend. When the brittle stars autotomized their arms, they autotomized it by segments. However, some of them cast off almost their entire arm, which surprised me very much. The longer autotomized arms moved for a short amount of time, but the small segmented autotomized arm did not move. I also attached a picture of this incident. <Ok, I'm just wondering if this is true autotomization or if the legs might be necrotizing. Usually, autotomized legs move (wiggle around) for a long time after they're detached.> The tank that I have is 15 feet tall. <Seriously?! Did you mean 15 inches or 1.5 feet maybe?> I have 14 tanks that are all connected together (a closed circuit water system. There are seven on top and seven on the bottom. I keep my brittle stars on the bottom. In the tanks, I have a thin layer of sand. I did a water test today. I am using salt water. I use deionized water and mix ocean salt with it. I don't think any copper went in the tanks. Here are my results: salinity - 1.021 pH - 8.2-8.4 nitrate - 0 nitrite - 0 calcium - 17 drops ammonia - 0.5 (probably because of the dead brittle star bodies) <Hmm...I suspect this might be the problem.> temp- room temperature When I first got the 15 brittle stars, I put them in one tank. The next morning, I saw pieces of the arms in the sand so I separated the brittle stars to prevent them from hurting each other. I don't know if I made it worse. Do brittle stars survive better if they are together in a group? If so, why do they? <Separating them was a good idea.> Thank you so much for answering my questions. You have helped me a lot. I apologize for not introducing myself properly. I am a senior in high school and am currently doing research on these brittle stars. I am very interested in the relationship between regeneration and autotomy in these brittle stars. Their behavior is sometimes unpredictable though. <Nice to meet you. :) Do you know how to use Google scholar? If you're up for a challenge, there are quite a few hard core research papers on autotomy and regeneration in starfish.> I am trying to quantify their behavior but I don't know the best way to go about it. Brittle stars are known for their fast movement compared to other echinoderms. However, I don't know how to equally quantify their locomotion. They aren't like mice in a maze. They go in unpredictable pathways (i.e.. up the side of the tank, in a corner, etc) <Well, this might be tricky. I know of one way you could do it theoretically, but it would be way too much work and expense for one person. But um, there might be another way too. They might not go through a maze, but they can sniff out food. You might be able to race them in a big enough tank if you starved them for a few days and watched to see which star got to the food first. But that would only be a relative measurement, and a rather crude one at that. Honestly, I don't know of any practical way it could be done properly. It is an interesting question though.> I also have trouble quantify how much they eat. I feed them flakes and fish pellets, but so far they haven't been eating them very much. What type of food do they most enjoy? I'm sorry for asking you many questions. I try to look up things online, but haven't found very useful information. <You're not alone. This is one reason it's difficult to do experiments with animals in aquariums. All you can really do is make sure you feed each star fish the same amount. Granted, some will eat more than others, but there's not much you can do about that. You have to think about what you can and can't measure. You can measure their weight, their size, and maybe their color to some extent...> I thought it would be a better idea to ask a researcher instead. What type of research have you done with brittle stars? They truly are interesting creatures :) <Yes, you should definitely ask a researcher if you know one to ask. At the very least, a researcher should be able to help you design the experiment. I haven't done any research with brittle stars. I have done research with piglets and rats. It's a little easier with terrestrial animals, but not much. Good Luck :-), Sara> Best regards, Lea

Dipping Stars   7/16/07 Hi crew, first time question. Tomorrow I will add a Ruby Brittlestar to my tank. Bob Fenner's book tells me to use a freshwater dip with Meth Blue. <Mmm, no... no FW dips for invertebrates by and large... only fishes> Should I acclimate my star firstly to my system water, then the dip, or should I dip right out of the bag? Thanks, Ray C. <Please read here re acclimation of echinoderms: http://wetwebmedia.com/marind5_5.htm Scroll down... and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm should be dripped... Bob Fenner>

Brittle star fish   4/19/07 Hey guys, <Hey Carrie> I upgraded my coral tank the other day, removing all coral and putting it in a larger tank.  I took all the rock and put it in buckets for the move into the other room.  My brittle star fish was hiding in one of these rocks. Therefore he was exposed to air TWICE during the move.  Is he doomed? <Not necessarily.  While exposure to air is not good for them, being in the wet rock the whole time would help somewhat, and what is more important is that the pH and salinity of the two tanks were similar.  The shock of different water chemistry would have more impact than a few minutes exposed to air inside a rock.> He's been hiding since the whole incident, I can see his arms under a big rock just as normal and they seem intact but I can't see the rest of his body. <If the arms are moving normally, pulling in food, coming out more in the dark, he is probably fine.  If they are not moving, you have a problem, and should try to remove him (which probably means move the whole rock to a small tank for observation.  If he is moving his arms and just being shy while he adjusts to the new surroundings, patience'¦> Should I be really worried about him? <Not if he is moving and eating.  I brought home a new piece of live rock from the LFS the other day, in a Styrofoam box out of water for almost 2 hours before I got it into quarantine.  I didn't have a sample of the LFS water, but suspect my salinity is much higher based on previous fish acclimation.  So dumped the live rock in the QT, and voila a few days later discovered a perfectly healthy brittle star living in it! You should be fine!> Thanks so much, Carrie <You are welcome. Alex>

Starfish... Ophiuroid... hlth.   4/17/04 <Hello Jared, Mich with you again.> How's it going? <Fine, yourself?> I have a 75 gal. FOWLR. A bought a brittle starfish 5 days ago and now he is looking really, really bad. <I'm sorry to hear this.>   All my water parameters are good. Temp 80, 1.021, pH 8.2, everything else is zero.  I had the water checked by my LFS the day I bought it and they said everything was good.  I also bought 3 turbo snails at the same time that are doing great so far. I did a drip acclimation for 1 1/2 hours. The starfish's disk is all split open and my two cleaner shrimp are constantly picking at it. <Likely removing necrotic tissue.> <<This Brittlestar is gone... RMF>> I know my LFS had just gotten the starfish in the day before so hopefully they will take it back. If not, is all hope lost? <I wouldn't say lost, but it is certainly not looking good.  I would keep a very close eye it.  Remove it if it is no longer moving>   Thanks for your help. <Welcome!  -Mich> -Jared

Hole in brittle-star...more info please?   4/1/07 Hello! <Hi.> I looked under brittle stars and couldn't find any info on this, but I have had a black brittle starfish for well over a year now and he has always looked a little scarred. <?> For a long time I had not seen his oral disc, but just his legs. <They are rather reclusive.> Tonight, he came out under the dimmer lighting and he has a hole in him.  This brittle star is fairly large, but this hole in him is huge!  I can easily see through it and can even see his mouth moving.  I am worried about this star.  Is there anything I can do?  Will this affect my red brittle star or my orange Linckia? <Hmm...are there any other denizens in the tank that could be possible predators on this animal. Furthermore what is the water chemistry like and how are you ensuring it get's food? As far as affecting the other Star's if it's a water quality or predator relation issue...then it's a possibility but I can't tell that based on the info provided.> Is there a disease that may affect my corals?   <Well I can't say for sure what it is from what you have told me.> Does this come about with certain water conditions? <High nutrient levels, improper diet....yes.> I don't have any real aggressive fish that could've done this to him. <Large invertebrates/crustaceans?> I look forward to hearing from you. -Allen <Adam J.>

Brittlestar looking odd  3/23/07 Hey Crew, <Hello Marshall.  Brandon here tonight.> I have a Brittlestar, specifically the Ophioderma ensiferum.   <Interesting creatures.> This morning I observed that his central disc was misshapen, enlarged, and had a couple of protruding bumps.  My first thought was that he had consumed something relatively large, but all the inhabitants of the tank are present with the exception of the peppermint shrimp which I didn't see, though he could easily have simply been somewhere unobservable.    <Possibly.  I don't think that the Star would have eaten it, but then again.  Stranger things have happened.> Assuming he hasn't eaten the peppermint shrimp, are there any other explanations for his appearance other than he consumed something?   <Could be developing gonads, could be a tumor, could just be moving things around internally.  It could have eaten something else that you didn't realize was there.> Would he possibly swallow something other than an organism, i.e. a rock or a shell?   <Not likely.  These creatures are pretty 'intelligent' about what they eat.  They have chemoreceptors about their body that tells them what is food/friend/foe etc.> I apologize for the poor quality of the picture, but you can see the bumps, and his disc has roughly twice as thick as it otherwise is normally. <I would just keep an eye on it, and watch for improvement.> Thanks for the help you guys.
<You are welcome.  Brandon.>

Serpent Star in Poor Health 2/16/07 Hi, I need help! <Hi> I have a 40 gallon tank which, (until a week ago) had 3 damsels, a clown fish, a chocolate chip star and a serpent star. The serpent star fish I've only had for about 2 weeks. After getting him, and before adding him to the tank, I checked the water and saw the nitrites/ammonia were a little high.  <Not good, usually a sign of more problems.> I added something called "ammonia clear" to the water. I was told it was safe while the fish were in the tank, also that 2 times the dose was okay if the ammonia was really high. I added 3 tablets (a little less than the normal dose). I acclimated the star fish over 4 hours then added him to the tank. <Never a good idea add anything to the tank when the water chemistry is not right.>  Two days later I woke up to EVERYTHING (but the serpent star) DEAD! I was told he wouldn't hurt anything, and reassured the ammonia clear was safe. (I'm convinced it wasn't).  <More likely the deaths were a result of whatever was causing the poor water quality.> Today I woke up to what I believe is a dying serpent star. He is missing 2 legs (detached perfectly from his body). Also, he is getting this white "slime"(?) from under his body. Oddly enough he's moving just fine, and is still active. Is there ANYTHING at this point I can do to save my tank, without emptying the whole thing and starting over? <Yes, improve water quality, the symptoms you are seeing are normally caused by ammonia.> I'm waiting to add anymore fish, mainly because I'm afraid of killing them. <No more fish until you get this straightened out.> Please Help! Thank you, Casie. <Chris>
Re: Serpent Star in Poor Health Part II 2/16/07
Thank you. The starfish didn't make it even another hour after I wrote you. <Sorry to hear.>  I just find it odd how everyone was fine that night, and the next morning upside down. I changed out 10 gallons of water. Everything is checking out fine except the nitrites. <At night the Oxygen level falls naturally, along with pH.  The nitrite and ammonia increase the effects of these changes on the fish.  Basically the fish were most likely unable to remove adequate O2 from the water and suffocated.>  Any advise as to how I could lower them? <Need more biological filtration, lower bioload, and/or less food.>  The tank is empty now so I guess now would be a good time to add chemicals if I had to.  <Would not, just let it run and recycle itself.> I'm not using ammonia clear anymore. <Really should never need it as long as the tank has adequate filtration.>  Even if it was just a fluke. I've never had any problem with my tanks before. Thank you again! <Good luck in the future.> <Chris>

Is my brittle star dead?  Concerning behavior.   2/3/07 Guys, your site is excellent congratulations. <Hola Reynaldo!  Muchos gracias!> I'm rather new to salt water aquariums but have a lot of experience on freshwater ones. <Muy bien!> However it has not been easy. <Si.  Often challenging.> I like others, have started with a small 20 gallon tank, and have two damselfish: a blue and a three stripe. However in my local aquarium, down in Mexico, I bought a brittle star (dark brown) which I thought of to be cool. I was told it would eat detritus and that's it. <Will eat detritus and other meaty foods if offered.> Just a couple of days after, I noticed it to be 'stiff'. Then turned it on its belly. <I think you means it's back, correct?> It did not try to turn around but slowly started to flatten down. the mini-tentacles under the tentacles themselves are moving, but I had to turn the star around again to its upright position. No arms have fallen and no decomposition seems to be taking place. <This is very good.> Does this stiffness indicate imminent death? <No, but I would watch carefully.  His behavior is concerning.  Usually brittle stars and other Ophiuroids will upright themselves relatively quickly.> Thank you in advance!! <De nada mi amigo!> Reynaldo Suazo Toluca, Mexico <Salude!  -Mich>

Serpent Starfish Regeneration My serpent star, which I have had for over a year, seemed to disintegrate within a few days with the exception of the five arms. The round body is completely gone. The arms seem to still be alive as they are moving slowly  within the tank. Will these arms regenerate without the body? <Small, but possibly, yes> If so, is there anything I should be doing for them? Light or dark tank? Food? Thanks for your  help. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/brittlestardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sea star (Choc. Chip) Health... Ophiuroid comp.    10/3/06 Hi there, I was wondering if you could help me out. a few days ago I bought a brittle star and he's doing great he's about 8-10 inches from leg to leg and his body is about an inch in diameter. my question is is there a great chance that he will eat any of my fish. <Mmm...> I know that large green brittle stars eat fish and I'm hoping that this guy won't be quite so dangerous. my fish are pretty small 2 yellow damsels, a blue damsel, and a blue mandarin. I've attached a picture he's brown with white spots. <Think this is a relative safe species in terms of fish predation>    also this is completely unrelated but happened just days after purchasing my brittle star. my chocolate chip star, which has surprisingly been reef safe for about a year, had one of it's legs eaten by my tongue coral. about half his leg has been stripped to his skeleton and I'm wondering how long it might take for his leg to heal, if it doesn't get infected, and is there anything I can do to help him along. thanks. <... Though it's highly unlikely this Star will recover... If possible, I'd place it in a separate system for observation, and to avoid pollution in its probable demise. Bob Fenner>

Serpent Star Woes/System Cycling - 11/13/06 OK, in the process of moving a 150gal from CT to RI. (yeah....fun) <<Mmm, indeed>> So I got a new 150gal, made all the salt water and let it clear up for a few days.  Then, I added about 2" of live sand and let that clear up for a day.  Then, added about 40lbs of live rock to get it started.  Water was clear, tested OK, so I started the move. First thing, about 100lbs of live rock from the old tank.  All was peachy.  Next day, another 50lbs of rock from the old tank, and some animals....(maroon clown, marine catfish, pajama cardinal, domino, coral banded shrimp, purple lobster, 2 huge serpent stars) <<An "interesting" mix...do keep an eye on the catfish and the lobster as they are/will be real threats to the other tank inhabitants...and the domino will also turn out to be a real "terror of the tank" as it grows/matures>> 2 days go by, all are eating, all seems good.  Next day, both serpent stars (actually, one is a big green one with spiny legs. Looks like a cross between a serpent and a brittle) are rapidly deteriorating. <<Uh-oh>> Actually falling apart. <<Ack!>> What did I do wrong? <<Hmm...my guess would be the tank is experiencing an ammonia spike/nitrogen cycle as a result of the move.  Makes sense to me that the Ophiuroids would be the first affected>> Everything else seems to be fine. <<For the moment, maybe>> Do I move the rest of the animals? <<I would.  And test the new setup (ammonia/nitrite/nitrate), leaving it to complete the nitrogen cycle if need be.  It is very likely moving of the old rock caused some die-off within, this, along with the fact you added some new rock...I'm not surprised the bacteria couldn't keep up>> Please help. <<Hope I have>> Thanks in advance, you guys are very wise. <<Kind words, thank you...we do our best>> -Pat <<Regards, EricR>>
Re: Serpent Star Woes/System Cycling - 11/14/06
Thanks for the insight. <<Happy to share>> It seems to be under control today (see our prior correspondence below). <<Yes>> The milky-cloudiness that came on with the re-cycle is now clearing up nicely and the Serpent stars (so far) seem to have been the only casualties. <<I hope you did a water change...>> I still have the following to move from the old tank....50 (or so) lbs of additional live rock, 4 more dominoes (had them for years. Very large), <<Yikes!  Real terrors>> 1 more purple lobster, <<Ah yes...living on the edge>> 1 flame angel, to very large gobies (don't know what they're called, but they are constantly moving huge piles of sand and undermining the rock pile), <<Do consider placing the rock on the "bottom" of the tank>> fire shrimp and about 40 or so blue leg hermit crabs (all of these animals have been in this system for years) <<Wow...>> Given the nature of this week's issues, my next question is this...Do you think I'm over the hump, and safe to move the remainder? <<What do your test kits tell you?>> Or should I wait a week? <<Probably wouldn't hurt>> Or move a few animals at a time over the next week or two? <<Also a good strategy...after another week/when the water tests tell you it is safe>> Also, now that the majority of the live rock has been removed from the old system (No filtration. Just live rock, circulation & a skimmer) won't that system be in danger of crashing soon? <<Feed lightly and the live rock will likely provide adequate bio-filtration>> Thanks again for your wisdom & insight! <<Is my pleasure>> Your friend from RI, -Pat <<Regards, EricR from SC...though currently visiting with Bob in HI>>

Ailing serpent star   8/23/06      Hey Guys,    First let me thank you for your great site, you have already answered dozens of questions for me. I am relatively new to saltwater aquaria.    I have not been able to find any information on my ailing serpent star at your site or anywhere else including my LFS. The problem is a large lesion on the top of the disc. <Mmm, lots of references to such "vacuolations"... very common symptom of dying Asteroids, Ophiuroids...> It looks like a hole in his "skin". It began the size of a pea three days ago, then a second "hole" appeared yesterday. <Going, going...> Sometime during the night the two holes combined, now covering half his disc. I asked at the store I bought him from when I saw the first hole and was told this is not a rare occurrence with them. <Agreed> Is there any chance for his survival? <Mmm, not much historically> What causes this? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>    The tank is a 55 gallon. I use Mardel test strips for water quality. Nitrates have always been less then 10 ppm. Nitrites at 0. Alkalinity 240-300 ppm and ph 8.2-8.4. Salinity stays at 1.025. Temperature stays between 72-75 degrees f. I do 15-20% water changes at two week intervals. Top off the tank daily.  Tank mates include 2 clowns, yellow tang, coral beauty, emerald crab, sally lightfoot crab, 3 hermit crabs, 2 cleaner shrimp, chocolate chip star, and various snails. I have approximately 35 pounds of live rock. Recently I have started adding iodide to help with the crabs molting. the water I use comes from the fish store purified. They use crystal sea marine mix in their premixed water. Can you give me any information on my serpent star?                 Thank you, Gene

Brittlestar in a not-ready for prime time setting...  - 04/16/06 I have a new 6 gallon tank with a beautiful red brittle star and I am very sad because I don't think he is making it.   <When you say new, how "new" do you mean?  I-just-mixed-the-salt-and-put-him-in new?  Is this tank cycled?  Was it a used tank that could've possibly had copper in it?> He has lost already two legs.  When do I take him out and say okay. :( <Okay...?  As in, he's dead?> He is still moving, so I don't want to kill him comply <?> if there is some chance for him.  Even his detached legs are moving. <If he's moving then he's certainly not dead.  I need more info before I can help.  What are the tank parameters?  How established is the tank?  How long have you had the star?> Please reply, thank you, Jammie <Jammie, we'll try to help more when you can give us more details.  Best of luck,  Jodie>  

Starfish Health/URGENT starfish in serious jeopardy TIME SENSITIVE Hello  <Hello Taryn> I need help!!!!!  just recently my serpent star developed some 'whiteness' in the center top of his disc. that was 2 days ago, since then he has lost legs, disintegrated, and his condition has become horrible.  <I see, bad case of necrosis.> I have had the serpent for approx. 4 months, He's been very healthy, no aggression towards anyone, and nobody bothers him.  He's now not eating, and falling apart. He's still moving, and every so often so are his detached legs.. (eek!) I've read that they can recover, I've also read there's no hope and I should flush him. I cant bear to do it, being he's still alive.. I know he cant feel the pain, but I have a knot in my stomach, and I can't stop thinking about him and wanting to cry. I don't know what to do. I can now see inside his disc, to the 'brown' inside. I really dislike it, I never wanted to know what he looked like internally. How could he recover, if he has no top of his disc to hold food in? Here are my current water parameters ( taken just now). ammonia 0 mg nitrate 0.1 mg ph 8.0 kH 7 dh salt level 0.22 I have a 55 gallon, been established for approx. 6 months, no one ever hurts him, however since  the he started 'falling apart' my lawnmower blenny's been practically feasting on him. I don't know if he's eating him, or trying to help eat what may be eating the serpent? <Nothing is eating him.> I don't know what to think, but I KNOW he's making the hole in the serpent's disc much worse. Also my hermit's are eating his what's left of his legs! help me please. Oh, also, should I remove the lost legs? are they still.. somehow.. alive?! Oh jeez please help.  <Calm down my friend.  What is happening is not that uncommon. Starfish are sensitive to changes in specific gravity, temperature, pH and oxygen levels that are usually encountered during shipping and can succumb to rapid bacterial infections that cause necrosis of the legs and/or whole body. You need to take a hanky with you to the bathroom and flush the poor little guy down.  It is more cruel to let him live like that.> The 1st picture is the serpent 2 days ago The 2nd is the serpent about 1 1/2 hours ago The 3rd is the serpent about 10 minutes ago As you can see, he's losing it fast. This message is urgent, please tell me if I can help my little friend. <Nope.> Thank you so much,  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Taryn

Re: URGENT starfish in serious jeopardy TIME SENSITIVE Thank you for your immediate reply James.. <You're welcome.> Knowing that someone with Much more experience and knowledge believes there's no hope,  makes me feel much more humane about the decision. Thank You, I'll bring the whole box of Kleenex to the bathroom.  <Just don't watch him go down, keep it to a sniffle or two, you will be fine.:) James (Salty Dog)>
Re: URGENT starfish in serious jeopardy TIME SENSITIVE James-  <Taryn> I flushed him, and is was tough..... But I survived. I had one more question for you, if it wasn't too much trouble.. I'm not considering doing this now. but I figured it's a good time to ask since I spoke to you earlier today. If I ever decide to get another star... should I? <Yes, no tear jerking though.>I mean.. I don't know why this happened to him and I DON'T want it to happen again. <Taryn, in this hobby there are no life guarantees.> Is there a different species that thrives better in most aquariums?  <No, the brittles are probably the hardiest.  I'd stay away from Blue/Orange Linckias though.  You're not ready for those.> I already miss him.  <No photos to remember him by besides the death bed photos?>  He was my little pal.. I really like the idea of having one again, but I'm horrified. <Do read/learn about anything you buy before buying, know what you are getting into.> <UV?????>  I don't have very fancy lighting, just 2 UV bulbs (in hoods that formerly held fluorescent lights).. Is there a star that will get along with all my fish like my serpent did?  <Most will get along with fish, again do search/read.> (fish: 3 ocellaris clowns, 1 blue damsel, 1 yellow tail damsel, 1 lawnmower blenny, 1 scooter dragonet, 1 mandarin dragonet, 1 Condy anemone, <Hoping the Condy isn't too close a pal because with your lighting he will be making the next visit to the bathroom.  Do search/read Anemone Systems on our site.>  3 blue legged hermits, 1 turbo snail, 2 emerald crabs.) If you get a chance, please let me know, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.. and again Thanks for all your help earlier today. <You're welcome.  Please do a grammar check in future queries.  We do not need two periods at the end of sentences, and no small "i"s, makes our job easier if we do not have to edit. James (Salty Dog)> Taryn

Re: URGENT starfish in serious jeopardy TIME SENSITIVE Sorry about the grammar. Often times I type in the same manner that I would speak in person. <How do you hear the difference between a small "i" and a capital "I"?:):)>  Thanks for all the advice! About the lighting: 2 'Marine Glo' bulbs, 15W Actinic blue spectrum. The box they came in said ideal for the promotion of photosynthesis, good for inverts.  <Yes, supplemented by other lighting.> I do try to read everything I can about fish before I buy them, I've been reading about my mandarin since I started my tank! Again, Thanks. I'll definitely try to obtain a brittle star in the near future. Have a great day!  <And you too.  James (Salty Dog)>       - Taryn

Serpent Starfish/Health    4/10/06 Hi, <Hello Kristine.> I have a question concerning my Serpent Starfish. Today I noticed 4 out of the 5 legs have pieces broken off and I can see the white flesh. Yesterday he was in perfect condition. Yesterday, my daughter took a picture of the serpent covering the flash and the serpent fell off the live rock. Could the flash have shocked the serpent and caused him to lose his legs, and will he be ok? He is still moving around the tank as normal. <Should have no problems, will grow back providing good water quality is maintained.  Serpent/Brittle Stars have very brittle legs that are easily broken.  In nature, when attacked by predators, this takes place, which gives the starfish a chance to escape, leaving the predator with a tidbit and buying time for the starfish to move on.  Quite possible the flash could have caused this also.> Thanks!  <You're welcome.>    Kristine

Brittle Star/Injury   3/3/06 Greetings! <And to you Charles.> We've had a brittle star for about 9 months now and he has gotten quite large (not a green one). His center disc is easily the size of a half dollar now. We recently moved him from the 20g reef tank to the 55g tank. In the process the back of his center disc got a small pin head size abrasion. It has now opened to the size of a pea or more and has grown over the past 3 or 4 days. We've put him in a small 5g. tank, is there anything else we can do for him? <Damage may have been caused by the method of transferring.  Starfish are sensitive to changes in ph, salinity, exposure to air, etc.  The 55 should have the same water parameters as the 20 before transfer was made. Sounds like it is healing and would just keep an eye on it.> Thanks for the help! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> --Charles

Brittle Star Life or Death  - 3/1/2006 Hey WWM Crew <Mel> I've got a serious situation on my hands.  I removed a Green Brittle Star from the aquarium late last night and placed him in a plastic bag with his aquarium water inserted.  He was in perfect health and I was told by an "reef store expert" that he would be fine overnight.  I put him back in the tank while still in the bag, planning on taking him to the reef shop this morning to pass him along to others.  He's quite large, about 10 - 12 inches across, but shows no signs of life this morning when I removed the bag from the tank.  I've even tried very slight compression to try and stimulate movement. Any thoughts? Mel   <Mmm, may have perished overnight... due to? Lack of oxygen most likely... I would not leave this animal/carcass in your tank. Bob Fenner>

Green Brittle Star, Intestines Hanging Out?  12/21/05 Hi, <Hello Kathy.> I have had a sw tank for about 5 months now with never a problem, but last night I noticed the Brittlestar had a little white area on the top side of his disk, then later it was a little bigger and looked like it had a little salmon colored thing slightly sticking out of it, then this morning the whole has become huge and it definitely looks like his intestines or whatever you call them are exposed and sticking out. <Very bad!> He's still moving around but definitely sitting on top of the rocks in the light which is not like him at all. I am freaked out and don't know what to do. <Not much that can be done.> I have never taken perimeters on the water as I've never had a problem. <This was a huge mistake. Tremendously reckless with the lives of your animals. Consider this a hard lesson learned. You must keep a constant vigil on water quality. Read these http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watrqualmar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm . Learn from this mistake.> Although I do make sure the salinity is consistent and right. <Not the whole ball of wax.> Please tell me what to do?  Do I quarantine him? Please help me! I've attached a pic. <No pic. has come through, but it won't be necessary. I would guarantee this was environmental. You can try to QT, but it would be best to just address your main tank water quality and wait. Moving will add stress. This animal is probably going to die, it heals itself or it doesn't. It will probably get worse (legs falling off). Keep an eye on it, you don't want it to die, foul the already foul water, and wipe out everything else in the tank.> Thanks Kathy <I wish I had better news. Don't beat yourself up though, we all learn something the hard way. - Josh>
Re: Green Brittle Star, Intestines Hanging Out?  12/22/05
Thanks Josh, <My pleasure Kathy.> I was so new when I started this and I inherited the star and a clownfish when I bought the tank, so I did what they told me and it all seemed fine, obviously I should have been testing for other things right? <Oh yes, many things that can/do affect water chemistry and in turn your livestock.> I certainly will now as I don't want anyone else to get sick. From what I've read is the only thing I need to get one of those strip kits that test for ammonia and other stuff? <I prefer reagent types over strips. What you'll want is a general, all around test (covers ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH). As you progress there are many others.> I do have LR and LS in it and a cleaning crew of blue legged hermit crabs and peppermint shrimp that I bought when I set it up in the beginning, months ago since that is what I read I should do and its worked great so far. <I don't understand the Peppermint shrimp. Not known as a general cleaner upper. No snails?> No live coral or anything like that, anything else I should do? <Just study, perform the necessary maintenance, study and study.> Oh, he did lose about 1 1/2" of a leg 2 wks. ago and I never did take it out since it "disappeared", could this have fouled the water at all? <Anything decomposing can/will foul the water. If it was gone it was probably eaten though. You most likely already had a problem and that was your first warning sign.> Thanks so much for all your help, I really do appreciate it.  We all want to do the best we can when caring for living things.  Now I know better. <Glad to help. If your anything like me, the more you learn, the more engrossing this will become.> Thanks again, Kathy <Quite welcome. - Josh>

3 Dead Starfish Sittin' in a Tree, Hold the Info. Please - 11/09/2005 Hey Crew, <Hello Ronnie> I set up my bosses 20 gallon mini reef 6 months ago.  <<You have more than one boss?  Tough job! MH>> 1 clown fish 1 damsel 1 fire shrimp 30lb. live sand lots of live rock. skimmer Eheim filter power compacts mushroom anemones In the last month we have lost 3 starfish???? They were all serpent stars?? What could it be?? <Sorry to say it, but you haven't given us anything to go on here. Would probably like a larger, more mature system. Perhaps improper acclimation. Starvation, poor specimen selection and poor water quality are also possible. Tank param.s ? - Josh> 
3 dead starfish?? Another piece of the puzzle - 11/12/2005
Parameters: .1025 salinity <Specific gravity.> calcium 400, Alk. 10, PH 8.2, temp 78... <Nitrite, nitrate, ammonia?> What should I feed them, if any? <Should have been considered before purchase. Have you made a specific ID of the animal? - Josh> 

Update: Armanddo Stickyfeet: aka green Brittlestar.  9/30/05 <Ah, yes> First, let me thank you for your help. After reading and reworking the one big difference in this tank change was I did not let the water set for 24 hours before adding like I usually do. <Ah ha!> I have a very nice filtration system on the house water, but we had had a few power outages and I don't think it had cycled correctly. Best guess at any rate. Usually I do have water 'at the ready' for tank changes. <Good> My clown fish, and my goby, snail and crabs all still fine. <Very good> Now for Armanddo. Sadly, he lost his arm tips, and is now covered in some kind of stringy stuff. Almost like he's shedding. He finally ate yesterday, and was actually waving his arms a bit, but is now back in 'star at attention' posture. <Good... can recover from horrendous body parts losses> I'm still hanging in there hoping for a full recovery - but the stringy stuff is worrying me. <Not to> New note; I caught some little buggies running to a rock early this a.m. They look like little grey baby shrimp. !?! Could they be torturing my star? <Mmm, not likely... perhaps are helping by feeding on necrotic tissue... akin to the use of insect larvae and leeches in human medicine. Bob Fenner> Thank you again.
Re: Brittlestar (Un)'Stiffening' 10/15/05
I am pleased to report Armanddo Stickyfeet has made a full recovery! This morning when I turned on the light and opened the lid, he stood up on his tippy tippies and took a food off my finger!! <Yay!> His tips are growing back - kind of a creepy process - but exciting and welcomed! Thank you for your support. W. <Thank you for the update. Bob Fenner> 

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