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FAQs about  Brittlestar Feeding

Related Articles: Brittlestars, Sea Stars

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


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>

Starfish help, Ophiuroid stkg./sel.  1/22/12
Hello Bob and Crew,
Hello.  I am new to saltwater and your website but I have only heard good things about it and I can see why.
I have a 30 gallon tank that I am 99% sure is done cycling, my ammonia and nitrite are about 0. I have 3 blue-green Chromis, 5 turbo or Astrea snails(I can't tell the difference), 5 blue-legged hermits crabs, 30lbs LR and 30 lbs LS.  I wanted to add either a brittle or serpent star to clean my sand.
<Neither will clean your sand.>

Can I accommodate one?  If yes what species in particular would be best for me?
<Generally the Ophioderma serpent stars do fairly well and are not as likely to eat your fish as the green Ophiarachna commonly seen in the trade.  Still in such a new tank I would be hesitant as they need a stable environment.  They won't clean your sand, nothing besides you really will, but they are interesting and long live, mine is probably 10+ years old now.>
Re: Starfish help, Oph
iuroid sel., nutr..  1/23/11
Okay thanks for you speedy reply.
But I thought they were detritivores?
<Not really, prefer larger, meatier fair in general.>
Wouldn't they aerate the sand bed and eat the waste and stuff in it?
<Some like a sand sifting star will basically sterilize your sandbed before starving to death in all but the largest tank, but your typical serpent or brittle star need to be fed like anything else, don't do anything to the sandbed but sit on top, and if not fed can be a threat to your fish.>

Brittle Stars/Feeding/Fatso  - 03/22/06 Hello, <Hello Brian.> I've got add question. I had a cube of frozen food in a small bowl and was filling it with warm water from the aquarium like I always do. However, the cube fell out and it got pushed down and after being picked at by a tang, was caught by my brittle star. It ate the entire frozen cube and now bulges in the center. Should I be worried?  <Nope, good scavenger in this regard. Probably won't be hungry for a few days.  James (Salty Dog)> Brian

Several Questions and Book Recommendations (8/4/04)   Hello all, I have a few questions to ask you all, and I hope not to trouble you too much with them. <No problem. Steve Allen here tonight.> I have a 72 gal tank w/ 4 misc. Juv damsels,<Good luck with these meanies.> 2 bar gobies, a coral beauty, yellow rope sponge, 2 spider crabs, some flame scallops and a huge brittle star (~2" disk and 5" arms). <What kind of brittle star? Many max out at this size, but the green ones (Ophiarachna incrassata) can get even bigger and eat fish.> small hedge plants, 2 other small plants, and some misc. invert life that came with my live rock.  My questions are:  Is my tank over populated by any means? <It does not sound like it, but be careful about adding anything else.>  Will the brittle star bother the sponge, etc? <Not likely.> I was told it would eat my scallops and hasn't touched them. <The brittle probably won't mess with them until after they starve to death, which the vast majority do in aquariums.> Will it eat any other crustaceans? <If it is not a green, it should be safe, as most brittle stars eat detritus, but no guarantees.> I feed it Tetra sinking tablets (almost look like multi colored aspirin and it seems to like them, as it will come across the tank for them. <Is this a food meant for marine aquariums? I am not familiar with it. I'd say small pieces of marine meat (shrimp, squid, etc) would be better.>   Can you recommend any good highly detailed books on keeping saltwater tanks? I find the general hobbyist books to be too vague and cover too small a range of species. <Perhaps the "narrowness" is because there aren't all that many species that are actually appropriate for 99% of marine aquarists to be keeping. The loss rate in this hobby is heartbreaking. Do you have Bob Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist"? Great book. For a really detailed and comprehensive read, I'd suggest the 4-voulume set "The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium" by Svein Fossa and Alf Jacob Nilsen. Expect to pay at least $75 per volume. They have no coverage of fishes. For this, I'd suggest the comprehensive series "Reef Fishes" by Scott Michael. Volumes 1 and 2 are currently available. Volume 3 should be out this fall. Price is about $45-50 per volume. Two more are coming, but I'm not certain when. These have excellent coverage of fishes.> Thanks for your help. <I hope this is helpful.>

Stars and Emeralds Hello I am josh <Hi, MikeD here> I have a 55 gallon reef tank, about three months old. I also have a orange starfish, xenia, button polyps, and branching star polyps. A month after I got live rock I purchased a brittle starfish, it is black with red/orange under and on tip of tentacles and black with bristles on its back. I was just wondering if it would disturb other stuff in my tank like fish or shrimp because I was going to get a pair of cleaner shrimp.<This species ought to be fine, but keep in mind that many to most brittle/serpent stars actually perish because people expect them to just "find" food, something they can't do in an average reef tank. I suggest spot feeding with a bit of meaty food 2-3 times weekly, usually easy to do if you just look for the waving tentacles which are really saying, "FEED ME!"> I have read other articles that the green bristle will but nothing on a brittle star.<This is one of the larger and more predatory species, thus often thought of as a bad actor. Well fed specimens rarely attack fish> Also I just purchased a emerald/Mithrax crab. Will he hurt corals or anything else.<The answer here is YES if it, too isn't fed. Although they can and will eat some forms of algae, all crabs have substantial appetites and if they can't scavenge then they'll become predators. Again, spot feeding a Mithrax crab 3-4 times a week will often assure other tank mates are left alone. As far as corals, the biggest problem is often that a large crab is extremely strong, the "Hercules" of the reef and if a coral or shell is in its way, large specimens often merely move the offending obstruction> I understand when he gets bigger he can but he is the size of a quarter. Also how fast will he grow.<If adequately fed, it should molt every 1-3 months until it reaches about 1/2" across then will often slow to 2-3 times yearly.> Thanks.<You're welcome> 

Feeding a Killer Brittle Star - Reply 4/12/  To Marina and Anthony Calfo, Hi, it's Ryan again. I glad someone was interested in my story, my friends and family weren't quite as excited as I was. I have reviewed the footage and I'm sorry to disappoint but it is not so great. I was (understandably) distracted by the action (the brittle star had the shrimp wrapped up in its arm and the shrimp was vainly snapping at it) and it took me a sec to get the camera, from previous experience night critters run for cover when I turn the camera's light on so I tried to get footage without it on. When I could barely see anything I turned the light on and was not sure if caught the tail end of the conflict or if the light scared the brittle star away but the decent footage I got was limited. On the upside I do have a very dark shot of the brittle star, shrimp in hand and a well lit clear shot of the brittle star's hand partially wrapped around the shrimp. If it is of interest I also have a very clear shot of the shrimp, minus its head. I'm sorry now I didn't just turn the light on to start with but I assumed it probably had been seen before (I think it says on your site that brittle stars sometime take out mantis shrimp) but at the time I was hoping the brittle star would take out the shrimp (thinking it was a mantis shrimp and because of the trouble I had catching it) and didn't want to disturb them. On the other matter of the brittle star and its shrimp 'friend' I have very good footage of them feeding. It seems once the brittle star's arms emerge the shrimp is never far behind, the shrimp will literally walk over the arms to get at food. Also, I was probably a bit confusing before but the worm-like tentacle things actually belong to the shrimp, it will reach out with thin ones to feel around then thicker ones reach out and grab food bringing it back to the shrimps mouth, also only its head and claws are blue-green, its body is a reddish sort of color. Also if it matters I am from Australia, so it is likely Australian LR and critters. With the footage it may take me a little while to sort it out, I think the camera can connect to the computer but apparently it very hard to do, also I'm not sure how to do still shots of existing footage, be assured I sort it out eventually. I will try to borrow a digital camera to get shots of the brittle star and shrimp together to send soon if you guys are interested, oh, and how much should I feed them?  Sorry about the length and thanks for the interest - Ryan  <no worries... all very interesting. As to feeding your starfish, any meaty foods of marine origin will be fine. Chopped fish (small amounts), krill/plankton, etc. Best of luck, Anthony>

Feeding Brittle Stars (1/4/2004) I recently add 2 brownish colored Brittle Stars to my new 55 gallon reef tank.  What and how do I feed them. <Generally no need to feed these critters in a reef tank. They are detritivores. They eat leftover food, fish poop, etc. that the find on the substrate & rock. If you want to have some fun, you can offer small bits of shrimp or other seafood on a prong. Hold it near the Brittlestar or touch it a leg. It'll take it quickly.> I am currently feeding the tanks only other inhabitants (10 hermit crabs and 2 small Percula Clowns) a mixture of frozen foods.  I have some phytoplankton, bought in anticipation of adding corals.  Will this plus the frozen stuffs be enough? <Read more about feeding corals. Most non-refrigerated phytoplankton products only increase nuisance algae without nourishing your corals. Search WWM for info.> Also, I have noticed small colonies on the front and back glass (before I added the Brittle Stars) of very, very small white/clear "things". They have a small circular body and 6-8 little appendages sticking out from all around.  Could these be Stars that came in with my live rock? Or are they Syconoid sponges? <If they're stars, they'll move. Hard to say what you've got without seeing it. Perhaps a hydroid? Check here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hydrozoanfaqs.htm Thanks, Jerry W. - TX <Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

-Food for a brittle star- Hi Crew, This is a quick one.  I have a new brittle star in my tank and I don't know what kind he is, or more importantly what I should be feeding him.  There are no fish in the tank yet so the scraps a minimal to non.  Just LR, snail, copepods, bivalves of sorts, algae and what ever else is on the LR.  Unfortunately I cannot get a picture of this guy since he hides all the time.  I assume he is coming out at night.  I can describe him though if you can help. He is a brittle star...no doubt.  Center disk body with long very spiny legs.  he is dark brown to almost black with a rust colored underside.  his lower spines and underneath him are rusty in color.  He is similar, not the same, as the star in the attached picture.  Colors are very different and the arms on mine seem to be much thinner, but with similar spines. I hope you can offer some feeding advice.  I really don't want this guy to die of malnutrition. <Check out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm . The care for all these guys is incredibly simple. I would toss in any type of meaty seafood (frozen or pellet) several times per week for him to chomp on. They can smell the stuff pretty good so simply drop it near it and watch the fun. Enjoy! -Kevin> Thanks, Louis Rizzo

Green brittle star diet (O. incrassata) 11/18/03 Hi Gang, <howdy> Love your site.   <thanks kindly> I have read that green brittle stars can be fish eaters.   <indeed... they are opportunistic and uncommonly predatory for a brittle star> I was not aware they might eat corals too.   <not likely... more a predator on motile invertebrates like small shrimp... also will eat Tridacnid clams that fall and squirm to right themselves> This evening, while doing a water change I notice that my Xenia, normally waving in the current up front, was missing.  I swear I had just seen it.  Upon further inspection its rock had been pulled from the crevice I had it lodged in.  After some searching I found the rock, with just a tattered fragment of Xenia flesh still attached, in a cave under my green brittle star.   <interesting> I am assuming he (?) ate the Xenia.  Can I expect more of this behaviour?   <their attacks are somewhat random... but honestly they are an unsafe long term species for reef aquaria. Most any other brittle or serpent star is very safe though> A large mushroom which yesterday had nearly worked its way free to begin drifting about has also disappeared.  I cannot find it at all.  Thanks in advance, Scott Bartlett. <remit this star to a fish only tank perhaps... very fine scavenger as you have noticed. Seriously :) Anthony>

Brittle Stars Let me introduce you to my dilemma and hopefully you can shed some light on the situation. I have an established 120 gal FOWLR and has recently started to grow some beautiful red algae and Caulerpa (Don't know where it came from). Like I said, I think it's beautiful and the turbo snails think it's delicious. There in lies my problem. I would like to keep the algae and possibly get rid of the snails if necessary. Would a brittle star and a sand sifting star be the answer to my problem?  <I'm not sure what the problem is here? Do you depend on the snails for microalgae control and hope that the stars will do that without eating the desirable algae? If so... the stars will not eat the microalgae or the desirable macroalgae. I suspect that your snails are Mexican Turban species (large). If so, consider that Atlantic Astraea tectum Turbos are very well behaved (eat bad algae but rarely eat plants> However, there would also be a scooter blenny competing on the bottom.  <the scooter would not compete with any of the above. Brittles are detritivores, Astraea eat diatoms and scooters eat fine zooplankton> Enlighten me! Thank you. <best regards, Anthony> 

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