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FAQs about  Brittlestar Selection

Related Articles: Brittlestars, Sea Stars

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

A baby Ophiuroid and Stomatella, pic by Mike Giangrasso, from his very healthy refugium.

Question- Serpent Star, stkg./sel.      11/12/12
I just purchased a Red Serpent Star from my LFS. The first one they bagged lost a limb before I left the store so I asked to select another one (in hind sight I should have taken this as a sign) and he looked great, very lively. I brought him home and drip acclimated him (while floating him in my sump) for 2 hours. The next morning I noticed he was missing a limb. In the afternoon he came right out onto the sand bed and I saw that 3 more limbs were beginning to break down (the legs were curled up in little knots).
 In the evening the star crawled out from the rock again with barely any legs left (one was entirely gone) with roughly a quarter of the body of the Serpent Star missing. I am wondering what went wrong here?
<Many, if not most Brittlestar species and specimens are so poorly handled and shipped that they readily (w/in days) succumb as you've experienced here. IF you're still keen to try (another), do seek out a hardy species, and specimen that has been "on-hand" (in the shop) a good week or longer>
 I am very sad as I love these little critters.
Thank you in advance,
<Have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/serpntstrscavsel.htm
and the linked files pertaining to Ophiuroid use in captivity? Bob Fenner> 

Stocking options, sea/ brittle- star choices  3/21/12
<Hello Sandra>
First off, thank you for all the help I have received previously through questions and the overwhelming amount of information on your website.
<You're welcome.>
You guys rock! :D Now, on to my latest question. My husband and I are planning our first saltwater tank.
We already have many freshwater and two brackish setups.
<I enjoy viewing nicely planted freshwater  tanks.  They can be just as appealing as saltwater.>
So, in light of our addiction, the next step is salt. We are in the researching stage and taking it extremely slow. We have decided to get a Cinnamon Clownfish (Amphiprion melanopus) and a Bubbletip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor). My question is, is there any starfish that is relatively hardy that could live with these two?
<With this being your first saltwater venture, I would not start with an anemone until you gain a little more experience and knowledge.  The hardiest Starfish would be the Brittle Starfish and also a very good scavenger.  James (Salty Dog)>

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.>

Star Fish, Comp. 6/15/11
Hi there Mr. Fenner and Crew,
I have written many times.
<Welcome back.>
I have a new question for you today. I have a 180gall salt tank. It has two cleaner shrimp, red mushroom coral, two clown fish, a few snails, male blonde Naso, blue tang, regal angel, coral beauty, Anthias fish male and female, and a sleeper banded goby ( Which I would love to remove cause he keeps sand constantly flowing all over my tank) All my fish I bought small and I am planning on relocating them to a 300 gallon in few years. I wanted to get a star fish and was wondering if there is one that would get along with my crew?
Jim From North Idaho
<Generally the Ophioderma have the best survival rate in captivity. They can be a risk to smaller fish and shrimp, but are usually safe.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm >

Brittle Starfish Discovery -- 05/04/10
<<Hey Mike>>
I have discovered a great deal of very small, what appears to be, white brittle starfish.
<<Neat! I have seen these a few times 'occupying the nooks and crannies of large sponges and the like>>
Since discovering these hitchers, I have found 3 others that are significantly larger and black/brownish brittle starfish. My question is, will they grow? Especially the darker few I found, will they grow?
<<The small whitish stars will likely stay as you found them, the larger darker ones will probably grow some 'all are excellent detritivores and of benefit to your system. Do read here and among the associated links at the top of the page (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm>>
Mike King
<<Happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>

Serpent starfish... from LR, sel.   7/12/09
About a month ago my husband purchased Fiji live rock that has a Zoa, baby snail and tiny serpent starfish as hitch hikers. I only saw the starfish and baby snail come out once and then they crawled into the live rock.....and have not been seen again. Now a week ago I purchased a red live rock and this morning I was looking at the red live rock a what appears to be a baby feather duster....when I noticed three strands sticking out of the rock that resemble the legs of the serpent starfish.
Is it possible for the starfish to live inside the rock? The strands are white with black rings. Hope to hear from you soon.
<It's quite normal for Live Rock to contain lots of tiny Brittlestars; they do indeed hide their bodies inside crevices and merely stick their five arms out into the water current, partly for respiration, and partly to filter feed. Cheers, Neale.>

To Brittle or not to Brittle?  Sel. 3/19/08 Hi! Rogie here. <Hello Rogie, Scott V. here with you.> I've wanted to add a serpent/brittle star in my 90gal tank. <OK, understandable. These can be beneficial and fun to watch!> Currently I have the following residents: pair of B/W clown, six line wrasse, yellow Coris wrasse, fire fish, and a small sand sifting goby. It's a mix tank but mostly SPS. I also have RBTA and GBTA. <Keep an eye with these with the SPS.> I have been doing some readings and the more I read, the more I'm getting confused and hesitant getting the star. The mix reviews and advice making it more difficult. I know that the serpent/brittle star is a good cleaner but I'm afraid one of these days it might eat one of my fish. <The wrong Brittlestar may, stay away from the green brittles, see the link at the end.> I need your honest to goodness insight on which I should really get and which I stay away from. <All posted in the link and related FAQ's. These are much like bristleworms, a few bad boys give the whole lot a bad rap…just choose the correct variety and enjoy.> Thank you in advance and more power. -Rogie <You're welcome, and thank you Rogie, have fun, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm

White Brittle Starfish 5/30/07 I have a 29 gallon tank with fish, soft corals, live rock - Is it possible to have too many small white Brittle Starfish? I'm assuming that there are potentially hundreds. Everywhere I look onto the sub straight they can be seen. <They are not a problem per se, however large numbers of them indicate an overabundance of food. Cut back on feeding and increase water changes and I would guess you will see a reduction in their numbers.> <Chris>

FAMA 2007, Ophiuroid sel.   3/3/07 Hi Bob, Couple of requests/questions for you: <Okay> 3) We just ran the brittle star piece in June. We have a new cover, I think you'll like it. At the end of the article we ran this line: "For available brittle star species, visit www.famamagazine.com." Would you be so kind as to jot down maybe a dozen or so that are available and kept by hobbyists. <There's only a few... and most all are better "named" scientifically by their genus alone:> I'll need the common names, Latin names and the size ranges for each and suggested tank sizes as well. When we get this we'll post it on our site. Thanks tons, Bob. Ophiarachna incrassata, the Green Brittlestar... fish-eater Ophiocoma spp., Spiny Black Brittlestars Ophioderma spp., Short-spined Brittlestars Ophiolepis spp., Serpent Stars Ophiactis spp. Spiny Brittlestars Ophiothrix spp., Needle-spined Brittlestars All should be kept in systems of at least forty gallons... the Green IMO not at all. It either will eat small fishes, or possibly be eaten by larger fishes that it won't be able to catch!> 4) I'm looking forward to hobnobbing with you at IMAC and MACNA. <Ah yes> Thanks, --Clay <Bob Fenner>

Watson's Brittlestar Hi, boys and girls! I was reading one of your articles, (Sea Stars, Class Asteroidea part 2 of 2) and couldn't help but notice Watson's Brittlestar.  This looks like a very cool star that I want to add to my tank.  The problem is that I can not find it for sale anywhere. <Ophiuroids are very rarely sold (with the exception of "the" Green eating machine) by the species> Google searches bring up your article, but no other info about that particular species name.  Do you know of another name for this starfish, and even better, where I may be able to buy one form? Thanks for your help. Gary <You might get lucky calling the larger etailers (Dr.s Foster and Smith, Marine Center...) and asking for someone with expertise in the group... to look through what they have... perhaps they can request (all buy from other transhippers, wholesalers within the U.S. mainland) in turn of their suppliers... Bob Fenner>

Reaching For The Stars... As always, thanks for the info... <That's why we're here. glad to help!> Hmmm, so what was your take on my Brittle Star??  Leave 'em out or keep 'em in?  Although my Auriga Butterflies were most likely the initial culprits of chowing on my star...  I think something still might be nibbling on him a little bit.  My Emerald Crab or Coral Banded Shrimp perhaps? My Clowns??? <Well, hard to say from here. I think that the butterflies may have done the initial damage, as you witnessed. However, once an animal is injured, there are lots of other animals that move in for the easy feeding. Perhaps the crab and shrimp moved in after the initial damage. If not further harassed, these animals (stars) do display amazing regeneration properties. Finally, some butterflies do behave as "cleaners" at times, so perhaps someone else injured the stars, and the butterflies were merely picking bacteria off of the injured digits? Finally, environmental factors cannot be ruled out. DO re-check them.> I like the stars... but don't want to make them someone's $10 lunch. <Agreed- however, if you are not going with the triggers, as discussed previously, I'd leave them in and do some more investigating for a while, as long as their health is not declining further> I read somewhere about adding bristle worms and such to a tank to provide more organisms for fish, shrimp, crabs to feed on...  is this correct??  In a nutshell, what are advantages and disadvantages??? <Bristleworms are efficient sandbed scavengers, and their function in the aquarium is analogous to the role of earthworms in terrestrial gardens. Some reef hobbyists implicate them in damage to corals and sessile inverts, but, in my experience, the risk is minimal in many cases. I have never experienced problems with them. Of course, just because I have never had a problem does not mean that they won't be a problem for you! Do read up on them on the wetwebmedia.com site, and maybe talk to some other hobbyists to get a better picture of the pros and cons of including them in your system.> Last question... what can I do to naturally spice up my tank?  I don't have lighting to support corals or anemones yet... I think.  Is there anything I can grow in my saltwater tank??  How do I get my liverock to grow more algae and grassy looking greens??? <Wow- that's a first! Stop water changes, over feed, undercirculate, and discontinue protein skimming! :) Seriously, if you want to grow some macroalgae, you may want to try Halimeda, a calcareous algae that looks nice, and does not have nearly the potential for problems as say, Caulerpa. You will need reasonably bright light and "reef-level" calcium content in order for them to thrive, however. You could add some feather dusters as well, since they are not dependent on lighting. They do need supplemental feeding, however.> Again, Merry Christmas guys! <And happy holidays to you, too! Best of luck on your plans! Regards, Scott F> Dave 

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