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FAQs about Chocolate Chip Sea Stars 1

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

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

Nestle is new to the tank Bob: What is the ideal water temp. for CCS? <Mid to upper seventies F. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Star Problem? (6/14/05) I purchased 2 ccs fish 6/13. <Chocolate Chip Starfish per your e-mail subject line. I would not know that by the term "ccs fish."> The smaller one is all over the aquarium, but the larger one is just sitting there. His chips seem to fold up in the middle until I pick him up then everything seems to go back to normal looking. Is he just stressed out to the new aquarium or should I look for something else wrong? <Impossible to say for sure. Did you acclimate slowly over several hours, as starfish require? Starfish aren't always active, and may sit in one place for a while. Try to feed it and see what happens. Keep a close eye on it. BTW, these are voracious eaters that are not reef-safe and need to be in a fairly big tank long-term. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Question about starfish vs. hermit crab Bob, I have searched your site and have not found exactly the answers I need, so thus the need to bother you again with another email. First, thanks to your advice and site........ my second try at a FOWLR tank is doing wonderful except for my chocolate chip starfish. <Sigh... very often a problematical aquarium species> I noticed a couple of weeks ago one arm looked a bit "ragged" as if someone had bit him. I watched carefully and did not notice anyone picking on him and he was still eating well and moving around like normal. Then tonight I saw Crabby, our red-legged hermit crab, reach out and take a pinch out of our starfish. Chip moved up and out of the way quickly, but now he has two small ragged areas from his assault from Crabby. These are not big spots, but from what I have read on your site star fish can develop infections easily once they are injured. <Yes, this is so> So here are the questions..........can these two learn to live together. <Not likely> I really count on Crabby for cleaning purposes. Anything smaller and our Hawkfish devours it, is he hungry or just curious? <Perhaps a bit of both> Is there anything extra I can do for our star-fish to prevent infection besides keeping the water at pristine levels? <More live rock, hiding places... put it in a sump, other system> How will I know if it gets infected? What signs should I be looking for? <Very likely it will just be dead, but sometimes, with close observation, one can see vacuolations (missing, dimpled areas), fungal/bacterial growth markings, slowing-down, cessation of movement... Bob Fenner> Thanks for you help Shannon

Pin Cushion Urchin partially eaten by Chocolate Chip Starfish I recently introduced a purple pin cushion Urchin (I think it is a Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) into my system. <I hope not... this is a cool/cold water species> Last night I came home to find my chocolate chip star treating him like a happy meal. There is a 1/2 inch section on the Urchin where his needles have fallen off or been digested. I have removed the star fish from the system and placed him where he can do no harm. The Urchin is understandably stressed and has not moved much (but it is still alive). My question is does this guy have any hope of survival and what can I do to enhance his odds of visiting the big reef in the sky? <Mmm, really just keeping the system, water quality optimized and stable, providing foods...> Thanks in advance and this web-site has been and continues to be invaluable. -Rob Glentzer <Rob, do try to ascertain the species here... Ask your source for its identity, look over WWM re... CCS are "not detritivores"... Bob Fenner>

Can Chocolate Chip Starfish be cannibals? Yep Thank you for everything you do for us hobbyists. Many of our aquatic friends would never have made it if it wasn't for your advice. My question today is in regards to my Chocolate Chip Star Fish. I have a 44 gallon tank that's been set up for about a year. Up until yesterday I had 2 chocolate chip starfish, 2 percula clownfish, and a cleaner shrimp. My wife and I fondly call our Stars, Chip and X.  X being a 4 legged starfish. I cannot find Chip anywhere. I have looked everywhere I know and cannot find him. Both starfish were of about equal size and I have had them for a little over a year. I noticed last night that X was sitting on top of what looked to be white coral sand, but I don't have any coral sand, just live sand. The Substrate is nowhere near the size of these pieces. Could it be Chips exoskeleton? <Yes> Could X be a cannibal?  <Possibly> I guess I'm trying to figure out if it's safe for my other habitants to keep X in the tank. All my levels are perfect, and Chip looked healthy the other day. Please write back, thanks  Shawn Johnson <You can search on the Net re this Asteroid's propensity for eating other sessile invertebrates... Does happen. Bob Fenner> 

Sore on Chocolate Chip Star (5/15/05) Hey crew, quick question. My CC star looks like it has a sore on one of its limbs. It looks like skin is missing b/c it is white where the sore is, almost like bone.  <Yes, the non-bony interior of stars is whitish-brown/gray. Of course, echinoderms have no bone.>  What could be causing the problem and are there any ways I can get heal it?  <Do you have any nippers in there? One suspicion is a bite from something. Another possibility is an infection or some deterioration in water quality. Stars need very stable pH, SG, and temp. Ammonia and nitrite at any level can be a problem and excessive nitrates are also a no-no. I'd check all of these.  If you have a fish nipping at it, one or the other has to go. If not, the best treatment is to maintain pristine and stable water conditions and hope for the best. Your water change regimen requires that you carefully match the pH, SG and temp of the change water to the tank to avoid harm to this and any other sensitive inverts.>  I have a 29 G tank and I am doing 25% water changes weekly. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks again and as always good luck with your fish and endeavors. Aaron  <You're welcome and thanks to you too, Steve Allen.> 

Chocolate chip star  problem Hi again, Sherry here. My problem is a chocolate chip starfish. I hope you can see from the pics what I am talking about. <No pix attached>  The reddened circular areas around the center disk of chips and then around each chip. What is this? <Necrosis> He did not look like this 3 days ago. Last ate three days ago when he stole the Porc. puffer's king crab leg in shell piece. I use the same clip for both and the star covered the clip in no time. It looked really cool because he inverted his stomach inside the shell ends of the crab leg. I didn't give it any thought though and after he finished, he went to hide under a rock ledge. I had a scheduled water change planned for today (my nitrates had been up a little...50ppm) and when I did a head count I noticed these spots around his chips. Could the crab legs have done this? His meal 3 days prior was a tiny purple octopus. I cant remember if I did on this occasion but sometimes I add garlic juice from soft gels to the puffers food. His [star's] normal diet is shrimp, mussel, squid, clam, octopus, krill and silversides. He has been in tank....130gal. for over a year and has always been healthy and active. water test out fine except for the nitrates being a little high. I had planned on moving the star once my puffer got a little bigger although he leaves it alone. The star has no white areas, feet still moving, stiff as a board...not soft any where. Looked on the site and can't find anything similar. Have you ever seen this before? I moved him to a bucket with aged SW, heater, and airstone. Wasn't sure if he was sick and didn't want anything to affect fish. 1 9" Foxface Rabbitfish 2 4" three stripe humbugs 1 lg. hermit crab 6-9 bumble bee snails 1 lg. turbo snail 1 5.5" Porc. puffer 1    pink damsel 1   Blue/yellow tail damsel 3 3" Chromis Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanx in advance. <Please read on WWM re this species, other seastar disease... Bob Fenner>

Update on chocolate chip starfish I just wanted to drop you an email on my chocolate chip starfish. I emailed you a while ago regarding him. You assumed I added livestock before the tank was cycled, but I didn't (just wanted you to know that :) Anyway, I started feeding him tubeworms and we did a small water change, he is all better. His spot is gone, his chips haven't grown back though (not sure if they will) but he is very healthy looking now. He eats well and I'm just very happy to see that I've saved him :) Thanks for the information on your site, I get cross-eyed from reading so much :) Thanks a lot!! Deana <Great news! Thank you for the update. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip - Not Even a Cookie Hola!!! <<Hola, como esta?>> Thanks for all your hard work. Your site offers great advice to help me with every aspect of my tank. I have a CCS that is not doing well. My 20-gallon tank is just over 6 months old, and Choco has been living there for just under 3 months. He shares his habitat with a bi-color blenny, yellow wrasse, tomato clown, and everything that lives on and in the 25 lbs. of live rock in my tank. <<Ok.>> Every time I have had a tank emergency, Choco has carried through like a little trooper. However, he now seems to be wasting away. Over the past week, he has started to act sick. He has started holding himself up against the glass with two of his arms distended away from his body. Being a fairly active sea star, Choco moves about the tank quite a lot, but when he stops he curls his arms up over his belly. When I try to feed him some shrimp, I put it under his stomach, but he just creeps away from it as fast as he can (to the great joy of the clown, wrasse and blenny who have a shrimp-a-palooza until I pull the chunk out of the tank). Choco has not been willing to eat for a week, and he used to eat a lump of shrimp every 2-3 days. <<That is odd. I see below that you've measured some parameters, but not all. What are your nitrite/nitrate readings? High levels will cause the feeding response to diminish, often significantly. Also, do you see ANY necrotic tissue? AT ALL? If so, it's time to act quickly, remove the star to a separate container (heated/filtered - bucket will do) and try treating with Spectrogram.>> The water conditions in my tank are very stable (pH is 8.3, salinity is 25, ammonia 0). All the other fish are doing well and excited at the prospect of moving into a 55 gallon tank next month. <<The other fishes aren't a good gauge by which to measure the parameters for any starfish, including the CCS. It's actually the other way around - starfishes tend to be the "canary in the coalmine". Assuming there have been no large shifts in pH or salinity, I can only guess at this point that nitrite/nitrate are an issue. Otherwise, the possibility of certain metals being built up exists, but have no way to test for at home. Large water changes are my usual action of choice in situations like this. Be sure it's aged, matched for pH/salinity.>> Please help me save Choco and get him to start eating again. Thanks, Seth <<At this point that's about the best advice I can give you, Seth. Do some water changes (do test those other parameters, ammonia's only one, and not the only one that's toxic). Have that Spectrogram on hand anyway, it's good stuff. Marina>> 

How Many Chocolate Chip Stars? & "Rant" on Aquarium Suitability of Starfish In General 4/15/05 Hello!  <Hi. Steve Allen with you tonight.> I love the website - it's been very helpful in the research I have been doing before I order my echinoderm.  <I do love those echinoderms. It's great that you are responsible enough to learn first and buy later. Thousands of animals would survive if everyone would do this.>  Now, on to my question: I have a 55-gallon tank set up and aged, and am interested in the Chocolate Chip Sea Star. <Protoreastor nodosus. Attractive and generally hardy.>  I was wondering if three specimens would be suitable for the tank size, or if I should only order one or two sea stars. Any information you could give me would be appreciated. Thanks again! Ashley <Well Ashley, I'd recommend only one. These are actually voracious eaters. More than one will be quite the bioload. They easily grow to 6 inches in diameter. Mine seems to be exceeding that after nearly two years (started out at about 4 inches). They can be difficult to keep alive due to nutritional issues. I hand feed mine a variety of chunks of marine fish, shellfish, and crustaceans fortified with Selcon and vitamins.  They are not reef safe--they will eat all sessile invertebrates and any mobile ones they can sneak up on and capture. Remember to acclimate over several hours. (Some starfish species, such as Linckia laevigata, need to be drip acclimated over 6-8 hours. All starfish require excellent and stable water conditions. All are very sensitive to fluctuations in pH, oxygen or salinity for example. They will also be harmed by excessive nitrate. Read as much as you can about them before buying. I've tried a lot of starfish over the past few years, and I've decided that most of them are best left in the sea. I would not recommend other species that you may come across in your research and shopping. Truth be told, the Chocolate Chips don't have such a great survival record themselves. Here's my short take on some of the others: The African Red-Knobbed Star (Protoreastor lincki) gets much bigger than the Chocolate Chip. I suspect they're harder to nourish too. I've had one just as long as my nodosus. I've fed it the same way, yet it has not grown at all. It does look healthy, but it won't grow.  The vast majority of Blue Linckia (Linckia laevigata) die either before anyone gets a chance to buy them or shortly after purchase. Most other Linckia species suffer the same fate. The Sand-Sifting Star (Archaster typicus) will "sterilize" all but the largest sandbeds by eating all of the organisms, including the beneficial ones.  For a reef-safe star, the rather small (3" or less) Fromia species are more hardy than the Linckias and are worth considering. However, Dr. Ron Shimek states that they often starve eventually after several months. My own personal experience corroborates this. I'd love to try a Double Sea Star (Iconaster longimanus), but they have a poor record as well. Same goes for Tamaria species.  There are a lot of other species that occasionally turn up in stores and on the net (such as Mithrodia, Pentaceraster, and Nardoa). I would not recommend these to anyone other than an expert aquarist willing to set up a large tank specifically meant to support the star. There are a number of oddball seastars that turn up at some stores, many of which you cannot even determine the species of. All are not reef safe and most get very large or have unknown needs.> 

Chocolate chip starfish Hello!! I've been reading through the information you have on the site and I've learned a lot. I am currently having a problem with my ccs and I know that it has been addressed on here, but I haven't really gotten the answer. I have a 75g tank with ten lbs of live rock. I plan on adding more live rock eventually. <Good... will help> I have the CCS, fire shrimp, coral banded shrimp, horseshoe crab and an emerald green crab along with one damsel. I added the inverts on the 24th of march, the damsel has been in there for a while. ON the 28th my tank spiked up with nitrites at .25 and nitrates at .10. <... you put the livestock in an uncycled system? Not smart> Tested the following two days and a 10% water change, everything went down besides the nitrates. They have stayed at 10, everything else is reading at 0, ph has been a steady 8.2 but did go down to 8.0 on the 28th as well. <Good... and good notes> Since then been back to the 8.2. SG is .22/.24 and the salinity has been between 30 and 32. <Mmm, take care to not let these vary this much... pre-mix, store new water, top off with just fresh often...> Temp is ranging from 78 to 80. Sorry to be so long winded. Anyway, everything else in my tank is doing fine, ( with the exception of my horseshoe crab that is in hiding right now). My CCS started twisting up his legs. He normally is at the top, with the two legs curled back, but the others legs started twisting up. He lost 2 chips and has some white stuff on him. He is looking more pink on the underside too. <Good observations, descriptions... this animal is in trouble...> He hasn't been moving much, but is still moving. I was target feeding him frozen brine every day, then switched to every other day.  <... don't live on Artemia...> He wouldn't eat at all yesterday and just now he has his stomach out eating...  <Mmm, not likely eating.... dying> ...but that doesn't even look like it was looking, but that could be because he is up at the top with the legs bent over, where he use to cover the food with all of his feet. I'm not sure what is going on with him, or why it happened. My water seems like it is where it should be and nobody is picking on him that I can tell. Is there anything I can do for him? I don't have a quarantine tank set up yet but will do it if I have to. (How small can I go with that?) Any suggestions. Thank you in advance. Deana <Please (re)read this part of our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/chocchipfaqs.htm and the linked files above... prepare to remove this animal... Bob Fenner> 

Re: chocolate chip starfish Thank you for the response. My tank had already been cycled. I was told that I would get small spikes after adding new livestock. <Mmm, generally not... if the system is not over-crowded, over-fed... adequately filtered, circulated, aerated...> I have kept a notebook (obviously) since I had started testing the water. We had live rock and damsels to cycle the tank. I will go back and reread and hope for the best. Deana <Do please read re these seastars... they are just not very suitable for the vast majority of marine aquariums... likely ninety some plus percent "just die" within a few weeks of acquisition. Bob Fenner> 

Cobwebbed Chocolate Chip >Hello, I have never submitted a question before; just read everyone else's, but now I have one myself.  >>Hello, Marina today. >I have a 55 gal. system that has been running for 2 years. It is incredibly stable and only houses a bicolor blenny and a yellow tang. Both fish have been in this set-up for 1.5 years.  I am conservative when it comes to my tank and that is why I have only had the blenny and the tang for so long.  >>I am going to assume that you are aware that eventually the tang will outgrow this tank. >However, the other night, I decided it was time to add some life. I went to the fish store and bought a chocolate chip star and some more snails and hermit crabs to add to my cleaning crew.  The star looks great. In fact, I added him to my tank and he has been quite active since then. He seems to prefer staying attached to the glass, but moves all over the place. (I will add that I only have owned him for about 24 hrs).  My point of concern is this: the star seems to have what I can only describe as a "cobweb" coming off of him. I touched some of this substance and it disintegrates upon touch. It looks like bubbles held together by a thin strand. The star has some of this hanging on to one of his legs and whenever he moves to a different spot on the glass, you can see the outline of his body on the glass made from this substance.  >>Sounds like a sloughing of sorts, may be caused by poor or inadequate acclimation. Invertebrates in general are sensitive to pH and salinity changes, starfishes tend to be even more so. >I did a search on this topic on the chat forum on wet web and found other people having similar issues, but no one had responded with an explanation. I am not sure whether I need to worry or not since the star seems to be doing fine.  >>I would watch very closely, and have a quarantine/hospital on hand (really should have q/t'd this animal in the first place, but what is done is done), as well as Spectrogram. You MUST ensure that all parameters are MATCHED (not "matched closely"). >When I finally released him after acclimatizing him last night, he moved rather quickly along the floor of the aquarium. As I mentioned before, he has been actively moving all over the glass in my aquarium. One further question, assuming everything could be ok with my new inhabitant and he continues to stay on the glass, what is the best way to feed him? I have read that if the star is laying on the substrate that you can lift it, lay the food down, and then place the star on top, but what about if the star prefers the glass?  >>Cripes, I wonder how the folks who wrote such things think starfishes eat in the wild? Just put the food down near the animal, and if the fishes go to eat it, give a little more. >The reason I ask is because he seemed to favor the glass at the fish store as well. Please let me know what you think. I have been skittish about adding anything to my living room ocean since everyone has done so well and I don't want to upset the balance now! >>I wouldn't want to, either.  PART TWO: >I wanted to follow up with what I observed on my chocolate chip starfish this morning. The star has continued to be very active. We fed him last night and he responded very nicely to the food; consuming it all. He continued his travel on the glass through the night and was in a new spot this morning.  >>Typical. >I noticed that he has 2 "chips" that are falling off and now I am incredibly concerned.  >>Good reason to be concerned. This is a bad sign, and it's time to work proactively. Get him out, into hospital, and start with PERFECT water quality and that Spectrogram I just mentioned. >I mentioned in my last email about the "cobweb" like material that he leaves on the glass and that also clings to his body. I'm not sure what do at this point. I've only owned this guy for a day and a half, but I don't want further issues. While I am encouraged by his moving about and acceptance of food, I wonder how "well" he may be. Thank you so much, Katie >>Katie, for a single starfish, even a bucket with a heater will do. Get him out of the tank and into hospital. The Spectrogram is the only/best means of treatment I know, and I've seen it used with amazing success with other starfishes (mostly Fromia spp.). Marina 

Cobwebbed Chocolate Chip Coming Back? >Marina, I think my chocolate chip star is improving.  >>Katie, that can only be good, yeah? >I did not remove him from the tank yet.  >>Alright, but do have the hospital bucket on the ready, most importantly have the antibiotic on hand. >I just can't help but feel leery about that.  >>No worries. >When I checked him today, I noticed he had continued his trek through the aquarium and the places where the "chips" have fallen off seem to be closing up.  >>And THAT, my friend, is what you want to see! >I want to give him until Sunday (my next day off) to decide what to do with him.  >>The don't "work" on our schedules, watch for further disintegration. If you see more, if you intend to keep this animal long-term, no dilly-dallying around, MOVE, and move immediately. Have everything at the ready. >I have been unable to find Spectrogram in any of the local stores so I hope he'll continue to improve.  >>Me, too. You may have to buy online (ask them to start carrying it, it's good schtuff!). >He doesn't look too bad and I don't see anymore "cobwebs" hanging on him either. I think I will try to feed him tonight and see how he responds to that. It seems to me that if he continues to move around the tank and eats that that could be a positive sign.  >>Mm... could be, but in my experience they may continue to move and consume, all the while dying. If they continue to disintegrate and it hits the central disc then it's a lost cause. I strongly advise NOT waiting until it gets that far. >I did call the place that I bought him from and they admitted that he hadn't been fed very much while in the store. Cross your fingers for me. I've read that they are fairly resilient so hopefully this guy will be ok. If he doesn't seem better by Sunday, I'll put him in the bucket and take him back to the store. They said they'd be willing to take him back.  >>Alright, no worries there. What's actually MOST important here is water quality, and NO shock via pH or salinity changes - I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. >Thanks again, Katie >>You're welcome, and I've got my fingers crossed for you (but not while typing.. tried it, doesn't work). Marina 

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

Re: Chocolate Chip Starfish Thank You for the fast reply. The Domino's are only with me until they grow a little larger. They will soon be going to my cousin's larger 125 gallon system. They were just too tiny to dump in there with his larger fish and have any chance of surviving. <Ah, I see... do keep your eye on them> I had already read through your site many many times, due to a bristle worm problem I had with some new live rock that I added. I also read through the CCS pages before I purchased him I had the lady hold him for a week so I could read up on his care. This site has become one of my favorites on the web. <Glad to find you are using WWM> The hermit looks much like one on your page that is sporting a bright blue shell.. He has dark chocolate and tan colored vertical stripes on his legs. He does not have an abundance of hair on his legs. He has already molted once and switched shells (which I provide him with so he won't pick on my large snail). Quite an active little fellow. He is in my Massage Therapy room at my business and offers hours worth of enjoyment but if he turns out to be a nuisance then he will have to either go back to the LFS or come to the aquarium at home. <This is likely a compatible species> I do apologize for not adding all of the details the first time I wrote. Thank You, Heather <Thank you Heather. Very glad to "chat" with someone as thorough, conscientious as you appear. Bob Fenner>

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

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

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

Chocolate Chip Starfish Hi, I have a CCS and I am not sure what is going on. I have read through the FAQ's and some of them answered my questions but my starfish goes a little beyond those. For one it looks like it is disintegrating on its arms which is the part on the FAQ's that I read but everything else I could not find. If you look at him on the bottom there are holes in his body you can see right through to the other side and he has some very big white spots all over his body. The other problem is in between two of his legs it looks like he is splitting apart. He has a very large split (basically if you took a piece of paper and cut a slit in it at the edge at the bottom) and has some white mucus looking stuff coming out of the split along with white balls dropping from the same place. Can you please help me try to figure what is going on and is there anything I can do to fix him or save him. Also the last time we check the water everything was fine in the way of ph nitrate, nitrite and anything else. Thanks Jackie<I believe your starfish is on his way to starfish heaven.  Most starfish do not last too long in a closed system.  Nutrients is usually the biggest downfall.  Have you every offered it food?> James (Salty Dog)

Sick CCS Hi <Hello> My name is Kai and I have one Chocolate Chip Starfish for about one month and CCS was fine until our tank has ICH. I saw my CCS's skin rot...and I can see the white thing...(is that CCS's bones?) <Likely part of the exoskeleton, yes> What should I do? (I am changing the water because of the ICH but I don't know how to cure the CCS) <If you have an older, established system, move this seastar to it... quickly. If not... Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Thank you very much Kai Chocolate Chip Stars and Shrimps (11/27/04) Hello, first I wanna start out by saying how great this site is. <Thanks. A pleasure to play a small part. Steve Allen with you tonight.> My question is: My husband and I just purchased a Chocolate Chip Star and a Camelback Shrimp. We originally wanted just a basic cleaner shrimp and were sold the Camelback guy after reading up on it. Should we be concerned with it having a Chocolate Chip snack late at night? <Little risk here. The shrimp should not bother the star and the star should not bother the shrimp.> Thanks a bunch A. Bandy, Port Charlotte, FL <Hope this helps.>

Chocolate Chip Questions (11/21/04) Hello, <Steve Allen today.> I just recently (about three days ago) purchased a chocolate chip star fish and for the first few days he was all over the tank but today he didn't move as much and for about the last few hours he seems to get bloated (in the middle) and then it will go away and now he was bloated but it looked like it moved to his arm is getting swollen. Is this normal? Thanks, Brittney <Sounds like it might be eating some sort of chunky food. They will remain still over food for may hours while they evert their stomachs and digest their food. They often pull a chunk of food inside themselves, thus causing a large bulge. This is most likely what is going on, in which case it will start moving and shrink down again as it digests the food. If not, then you will have to consider other possibilities. Let us know.>

Sexual Dimorphism of Chocolate Chip Stars (11/17/04) Difference in male and female chocolate chip sea stars. <I am not aware of any visible external differences between the two. Steve Allen.>

Chocolate Chip Star Problems (11/3/04) Hi, my name is Cathy, and I recently got a chocolate chip star. I have had it for about two weeks, and it looked great when I bought it. But now, its skin is not as hard as it was, and when it is on the glass, it looks like the top legs are too thin, and the bottom ones are too fat. Like it is sagging. It also curls its legs upwards when it is sitting on the bottom of the tank. Now I have noticed that one of its chips has broken off. What could be causing all of these problems? <Hello Cathy, Steve Allen tonight. Did you acclimate the star slowly over a couple of hours? Are your salinity, temp and pH stable at normal seawater values? Stars are very sensitive to fluctuations. They are also sensitive to ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. That said, the loss of one "chip" may not be a problem. Anything in your tank that might have bitten it off? Their skin is not always hard, though will firm up as a reaction to being touched much. It may feel a little soft when first touched. The tube feet that are higher on the glass sometimes stretch out and the lower ones may be shorter and fatter. I have seen this with my own and suspect it is related to gravity-induced sag. Curling the leg tips up is also common. Thus, nothing at all may be amiss if it is moving and eating normally. Does it react to food and eat? The key here is to maintain stable and optimal water conditions. Do feel free to write back with more details. Hope this helps.>

Another Chocolate Chip Star Question (10/21/04) Hello! <Hi. Steve Allen with you tonight.> I hope you can answer a question for me, I have recently bought a chocolate chip starfish which is doing great, but I would like to buy a large Featherduster. I am wondering if the starfish is going to end up with a late night snack? <I would be worried about this. Stars feed by everting their stomachs onto their prey and pre-digesting it outside of their bodies. I'd bet it can get its stomach down into the tube.> Does it matter at all that I feed the starfish well (clams, shrimp) a couple of times a week? <They are opportunistic eating machines--definitely a risky proposition.> Thanks for any info! Barb <Hope this helps.>

Injured Chocolate Chip Star (10/21/04) Hi! <Hello. Steve Allen tonight> I am still very new to saltwater systems but learning more every day, thanks to your great site.  I have had a Chocolate Chip Starfish since almost the beginning of the 75 gallon set-up but have since learned that he will not be reef safe :(  <This is true, but they are cool to have in a proper system.> In any event, I recently purchased a Dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish and was told that they would be compatible.  Two days after putting them together I noticed that my CC Star looked shriveled and one leg was white and deteriorating...he was at the time attached to my powerhead and my husband surmised that he must've gotten his leg "stuck" somehow <Possible, this does happen and can result in injuries that easily become infected.>...24 hours later when I woke up the Lion was aggressively checking him out as the CC star was attached to the front wall of the tank.  All levels in the tank have been perfect, a protein skimmer is running, and all the other fish (copper banded butterfly, velvet damsel, who I realize is not a great choice now, and a Protoreastor lincki sea star, <Another beautiful star--also not reef safe.> also live rock about 50 lbs.) are doing o.k. but the other star is not as active as the choc chip ever was.  Is the lionfish the problem with the CC star and is that the reason that the other star is not as active too? <I doubt the lion is the problem. A Trigger yes, a Lion no. Did you quarantine the lion first? I'd be suspicious of some bacterial pathogen introduced with any water that got in there from his bag. Are your water parameters proper and stable? I would consider removing the star to a quarantine tank and treating with a broad-spectrum antibiotic.> Thanks a lot you guys are the best! Carol <Hope this helps.>

Chocolate Chip Starfish Disease <Hello! Ryan with you> Got a very weird problem occurring with a chocolate chip star. It started last winter when it was one of very few survivors of a power outage that resulted in a devastating temp drop, killing nearly all of my reef animals. (All of the live rock & hermit crabs lived as well) But it was left with a bright white tip on one of it's limbs. <This is a common stress indicator among seastars.> This white tip, over the last 9 months has eventually proven to be some sort of rot, as this one appendage is now mostly gone, and the nub still tipped in white. The animal other than that, is very much alive, healthy & eating. Any idea what it is? <Have a look: http://wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm> Is it treatable? <Only with improved water quality, diet> and is it dangerous to the other animals in a now replenished system? <Likely no.>  Thanks for your help. <Best of luck! Ryan -Pat

Falling Stars?  Hi,  <Hi there- Scott F. at the keyboard today!>  I have a 55 gallon aquarium that has been running for about three months. It is completely cycled, very little nitrates, no ammonia, nitrites, copper, salinity at 22. It is occupied by Bar gobies, Chromis, Horseshoe crab, and one Damsel. My water is resin filtered. I bought one Chocolate chip star and he seemed fine for about a month. I had a sudden temperature drop from 78 to 70 degrees and he died. I assumed this was the reason.  <Well, it certainly could have contributed...Dramatic environmental shifts are not well-tolerated by these animals>  I bought a second one, and it was only active for a brief period and then stayed in one place. After a few days, it died. I had the water retested and found that the PH had dropped to 8.0 and the Phosphates were high ( I hadn't been checking them before). I have other friends with thriving star fish at 22 salinity, so I didn't consider that to be a problem.  <In and of themselves, these factor are not problematic...But when you experience a sudden shift, it becomes a problem...>  Question: Could the rise of phosphates kill a starfish that quick? or is there some other unknown substance lurking in my water?  <I doubt that the phosphates could do it, but the rapid changes in the environment could...Stability is very important. And, yes, there could be some pathogen or other toxin at work in the tank.>  There is no algae to speak of growing except some diatom which is receding after I treated for phosphates, I feed the fish brine shrimp with Spirulina everyday mostly, the star would have eaten that mostly. Did it simply starve to death? Thank you. Randy  <That would take a rather long time. I think what you're seeing is a reaction to unstable environmental factors, possibly combined with some other problems. My thoughts for future prevention would include careful selection of very healthy animals at the dealer, combined with initial quarantine and environmental stability. Continued use of activated carbon and/or Poly Filter, as well as frequent small water changes, aggressive protein skimming, and continued good feeding practices. In the end, this should do the trick...Keep up good husbandry practices, and I'm sure that your luck will improve! Regards, Scott F>

Lethargic Chocolate Chip Star (1/23/04)    I've read through just about everything I could find on your website about chocolate chip starfishes (and there was a lot) and I am still not certain what is wrong with mine. My starfish has been rather lethargic for about two weeks now. I have a 55gal aquarium with the starfish, a Clarkii clown, 5 small damsels, and a peppermint shrimp. The salinity is 1.023 and the temperature is 78.    I have had the starfish for about 6 months now. He is not missing any limbs or any pieces, he's his normal color, but he won't move. I have tried placing food beside him but he will not go to it to eat, so I have had to put him on top of it. <Does he eat it then?> I know starfish move slow, but this one has only been moving about an inch per day. I have noticed very tiny spots of a red colored algae in the tank recently, is this a sign of a bad water condition that could be affecting my starfish? <Could be that your nitrate level is high enough to be toxic to it. I'd check ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH for sure. A water changes would be a good idea, maybe 20-30%. Just make sure you keep the SG the same. Also, if the pH if out of whack, fix it slowly. Sea stars are very sensitive to changes in SG & pH. That said, it can be very difficult to figure out what's wrong with a sea star. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Chocolate Chips are Falling Off! >I have had a chocolate chip starfish for a few weeks and yesterday I noticed one of its chips fell off.   >>This is not good, it sounds kinda funny, but it is not good. >I had it in a tank with a spotted moray eel, but the eel never bothered it.   >>Eels wouldn't be a concern, but certain shrimps (that WOULD be eaten by the eel), triggers, and puffers are known to munch stars. >Today it is keeping 3 of its legs curled up and it seems to be losing more chips and turning white.   >>Bad signs, my friend.  If it appears the animal is disintegrating, there are only a very few things that can be done for it.  These creatures are among THE most sensitive to water quality, salinity, and acclimation.  I doubt it's an acclimation issue if it's been a few weeks.  Water quality, especially in a tank with an eel is another story entirely.  It is imperative to keep the water as pristine as sea water. >Is it just sick or is it dying?   >>It very well may be dying, especially if it appears to be disintegrating.  If the central disk appears to be falling apart at ALL, I'm afraid there is, for all intents and purposes, little to no hope. >I have already separated it from all my other fish so it doesn't ruin the tank.   >>This was a very wise decision. >If it is sick what can I do to cure it and when can I put it back in my other tank?  Melissa >>Melissa (now I feel as though I'm talking to my sister), water quality issues aside, the only method I know of to help a sick sea star is to try an antibiotic called Spectrogram.  I would treat for a week, using FRESHLY made up water, not tank water.  I would make certain that the water in the tank is perfect and make certain that I have the best test kits I can buy - Salifert and SeaChem are two excellent kits for the money.  (Salifert is often out of stock, Dutch company - SeaChem is in Georgia.)  Many times correcting the water quality is all that is necessary if necrosis is very limited.  Marina

- Need Help ASAP! -  We need your help ASAP! We set up a 20 gallon quarantine tank and it has an Emperor 280 Bio-Wheel Filter and we have an air stone and heater and a couple PVC pipes in it. We are keeping the temperature at 81 degrees. <You do know you can keep that a little cooler - perhaps 78 degrees if possible.> We bought two clown fish and a chocolate chip starfish about two weeks ago and put them in to quarantine. The problem is today we noticed our chocolate chip starfish is on the bottom he is moving a little but not like he was and his arms are all curled upward.  Our nitrites are reading at 3.0 and we can't figure out why they are so high. <Nitrate being the end of the line in the nitrogen cycle, the leading way to eliminate them is via export - water changes.> The ammonia tests are reading 0 and the nitrates are reading 0. Do you think this is why our chocolate chip starfish isn't doing well? <Probably not... does it have anything to eat? I wouldn't bother quarantining a seastar and would go ahead and add this to your tank.> Also, what can we do to bring the nitrites down? We do a 25% water change about twice a week. <Three parts per million of nitrate is not high, and not a danger to much that I can think of. I wouldn't be too concerned.> Help! Also, our starfish has like a white mucus floating on one of his chocolate chips. What do you think that is? <Hmm... not good, get it into the main tank where it can find some food.>  Your help would be greatly appreciated!  Thank You, Bret  <Cheers, J -- > 

- Need Help ASAP! Follow-up - We will go ahead and turn down the temperature on the quarantine tank. We give our starfish shrimp pellets twice a week  and he does sometimes eat them.  He is now looking a lot better after much more frequent (almost continuous) water changes. Our Nitrates are still reading 0  it is our nitrites that are still reading at 3.0 12 hours after a 50% water change. <Yeah... someone on the crew pointed out to me that I responded to your last mail by saying that a nitrate reading of 3.0 is not high. My bad, you said nitrites, and this most certainly is bad news for the seastar. You really need to get that animal out of there and into the main tank - no need to quarantine it.> Since the last response from you we have done a 75% water change yesterday and we just completed another 50% water change.  Once we did the 75% water change the starfish is doing better.  The funny thing is our clownfish seem fine during the high nitrites. <Clownfish are an order of magnitude more hardy than seastars... but still, any tank fresh/salt/quarantine will need to have the nitrogen cycle firmly established, or made insignificant by regular [daily] large water changes, there is no other way. The presence of the nitrites is just he nitrogen cycle becoming established.> We decided to quarantine our starfish for the only reason that our main tank had ich (and our LFS suggested it). <Seastars don't carry Cryptocaryon and would be fine to leave behind as long as you're not treating the main tank with any chemicals.> That was Dec. 11th.  The only thing we have in our main display is live rock (65 lbs.) and hermit crabs.  We had about 9 snails in the tank as well and they died off one by one till the last died around the 22nd of Dec. We were wondering if we could add a little live rock to the quarantine tank to help cycle the tank (and if so how) so we don't have to do 75% water changes every day to keep the nitrites down. <I would not add the live rock to quarantine - better to just work with daily water changes of about 25%, perhaps 50% every other day.> What would you suggest? Thank you very much for all your great and valuable advice. Thank You, Bret <Cheers, J -- >

Inside-Out Sea Star (1/6/2004) Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> First Of all I would like to thank you for all your help. Having said that. I have a Chocolate Sea Star in a 180g fish only tank. The reason I am writing is because it is doing something that I have never seen or heard of before. It sits on the side of the tank and it looks like it is grazing but it looks like its stomach is on the outside, its a mucus- like blob under it then a while later its gone. I have looked through your pages on Sea Stars and can't find anything about this. Thanks for all the help. Tom <Good observation on your part, Tom. In fact, this is how many Asteroids feed. They evert their stomachs over their prey and begin to digest outside their bodies as they pull the partially-digested item back in. Actually rather interesting to observe from the ventral side through glass. I have several sea stars, including a Chocolate Chip and an African Red-knobbed (Protoreastor lincki). I often feed them by placing a chunk of seafood under them on the front glass of my tank. It takes several hours for them to completely ingest the chunk. They seem to like being fed that way. I know they want food when they come to the front wall several time per week.> <Most Asteroid Sea Stars need direct feeding. In their excellent "Reef Invertebrates" book, Bob and Anthony advise placing food close by in their path rather than handling them because that might provoke a fright response. I was not initially aware of this recommendation, so for a long time I have been feeding mine by placing food directly under their mouths and then placing them against the front glass. They attach themselves to the glass and go merrily about eating the food. They are used to this and associate my touch with feeding. BTW, it is very important not to lift them out of the water, which may damage their water vascular system. Personally, I think all echinoderms are truly fascinating creatures--enjoy.>

A Bright New Star...? Bob, <Scott F. here today!> We just started a saltwater aquarium about 2 months ago.  We waited about two weeks and added two clownfish.  They were doing well and then we left on vacation for a week and turned down our skimmer and when we came back from vacation we believe they had ich and other various diseases.  Probably from bad water quality since we turned down the skimmer. <Well, poor water quality is definitely a contributing factor to stress, which can lead to disease...> We then did a 50% water change and bought an UV sterilizer. Our fish died on Dec. 11th and we were looking at getting a chocolate chip starfish.  We have a quarantine tank already set up and we were curious if we kept him in the quarantine tank for a week of so and then introduce him to the main tank do you think the tank has had enough time to get rid of the ich? <I recommend at least a 3 week quarantine for all new animals. It gives time for potential problems to show themselves. As far as the tank "ridding itself of ich"- you really need to let it sit "fallow", without fishes, for about a month or so. This will cause the majority of the parasite population to crash for lack of hosts (i.e.; fishes!). Perform routine maintenance (i.e.; filter media replacement, water changes, etc.) during this time> Will our starfish be susceptible to ich? <Nope> Also, our local pet store tells us that we don't really need to feed our starfish that he will eat things out of our tank.  Is this true? <Well, the Chocolate Chip Starfish (Protoreastor nodosus) is a pretty heavy-duty feeder. Being omnivorous, it can derive nutrition from a variety of sources, and will need to at least have some supplemental feeding to avoid having it munch on your corals and other sessile inverts. I would not call it a "reef safe" animal, but it is an interesting hardy creature if well cared for.> We have hermit crabs and snails in our tank which we have had since the beginning of our tank setup.  The hermit crabs are doing well but within the last two weeks our snails have been dying about one every day. We have checked our salinity and our nitrate, nitrite and ammonia. Everything has been good.  We are not sure why they keep dropping like flies.  Any suggestions? <Could be anything from some sort of chemical contamination in the water (Were you using any medications or copper? That could be the cause right there..) to a parasitic illness of some sort. There is a definite possibility, by the way, that your starfish might further contribute to your declining snail population...> Thank You, Bret Weddle <My pleasure, Bret. Just keep a close eye on things, check and recheck water conditions, and adjust as needed. Go slowly, and I'm sure that your tank can make a happy recovery. Regards, Scott F>

Chocolate Chips (3/8/04) Hi.  <Howdy. Steve Allen tonight.> I have had a chocolate chip starfish <Protoreastor nodosus> for 2 months. Recently, I have noticed that it's "chips" are turning from brown to almost black and I also noticed that it has a "bubble" on its arm. What is causing his "chips" to turn color and what is the bubble? Please let me know. Thank you.  Cori <Well, darkening of the "chips" is probably not a problem if uniform and if it's eating & acting normally. I can't really say much about the "bubble" without seeing it. Can you send a digital picture? I am concerned that this could be an infection or parasite.>

Dropping Chips, or Friends Off at the Pool? Starfish  >I have a chocolate chip starfish. the other day I was looking in the tank & I noticed he had part of a point missing! I'm not really sure how it happened. I don't have any type of fish that would attack it. (I made sure of that when I bought it) my biggest question.. will it live, & if so will the point grow back or will he just have a lil nub?? Angy  >>Angy, starfishes are among the most delicate creatures we can keep in our tanks. Even very small changes in salinity can cause their demise. What you must determine is whether or not the animal appears to be disintegrating. If so, it is dying, and you must make sure you've got the best water quality possible to help it along. If it isn't disintegrating, then chances are it got itself caught somewhere, and just needs time to heal. With good water quality their regenerative abilities are almost as amazing as those of sponges. Marina

Upside-Down Chocolate Chip Star (7/25/04) Every morning my starfish is laying on its back. We give it time to turn over but it does not seem to want to or able to. Is this normal? Does this mean something is wrong with this Chocolate chip starfish? Should we continue to turn him over or leave him alone? Thank you for your help! Sincerely, Robin Hirschi <Well Robin, where does he start out the night before? It is rather common for stars to fall off of the glass, especially in a high-flow tank. However, they can almost always right themselves because they are impressively flexible. I do find that they have a much harder time righting if there is not a nearby rock or glass to grab. Lying flat on its back on sand, it may not be able to right. If it appears intact and healthy and moves normally and eats well, then it is likely OK and it should be fine for you to turn it over as needed. Hope this helps. Steve Allen.>

Chocolate Chip Problem (8/22/04) I have read through your site on sea stars with special attention to the chocolate chip.  Mine had a little black bump on one of the chips that make up his crown last night.  Today when I got home from work  one of the chips on his leg had a white spot like the tip (of the chip, not the leg) was sliced off, very very small piece.  I touched him, he is still very firm, very active, and as always <Good signs>, wanted to climb on me as soon as I put my hand in the tank.  Background info: 29 gal tank w/ coral substrate, tank up since June 13th, water is very stable ph 8.2, temp 79, s.g. 1.022, amm 0, No2 0, No3 around 12.  Currently fallow (except for Cookie) to kill velvet outbreak, last fish died 8/1.  <Be patient and wait 8 weeks to add fish again--the prolonged time will reduce the risk of recurrence.> The only change I have made since then is to add a piece of live rock (cured, no change in any tank numbers, checked daily) 4 days ago.  I have started doing weekly water changes of 3 gal. He eats well, 1/4 in piece or shrimp or scallop (defrosted in tank water) every 2 or 3 days.  I want to act fast since he is still firm. Is there anything I can do  to help him (I am scheduled to change 3 gal   water tomorrow) My QT/Hospital tank is just in start up and still hasn't cycled. <It is tough to say what is the cause of this. The white spot seems more concerning than the black bump as it sounds like more of a deterioration. Since you have no fish in there, you should be able to keep excellent and stable water conditions in the main tank. I'd do that and keep an eye on things. If this seems to progress, then I'd move it to the QT and consider antibiotics there. This is about all you can do.> Thanks, Beth <Hope this helps. Keep us posted. Steve Allen.> Knobby seastar health Hi Bob, I am writing you this short note hoping it gets to you , I have a question on my chocolate chip star fish, over night we have noticed he has a white tip on one of his arms also a small bump on it and also curls it up.....can you give any ideals? maybe on how to treat it?.....need help..... <Unfortunately these stars do often fall prey to cumulative stress (mainly from collection, holding, shipping from the wild)... and subsequent infection. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner> Debbie

Two-fer on Chocolate Chip seastar health Dear Crew Member,     I purchased a chocolate chip, Protoreastor nodosus, about six months ago. After becoming enamored with it, I purchases a partner for it about a month later; it is about twice the former's size and appears to be of a different species.  The former then began to act lethargic and look sickly, then it began its normal constant moving about the tank, and both seem to be enjoying each other's company by "hanging out together" on the glass walls of my 10 gallon tank.  About five days ago, I noticed that the former had lost a chip on one of its legs; now, one can see into its leg - it looks like little rows of cotton balls with a ligament down the middle of them.  What's wrong, and is it curable? Sincerely, Maura Staker <Unfortunately these stars do often fall prey to cumulative stress (mainly from collection, holding, shipping from the wild)... and subsequent infection. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Star! my chocolate chip star fish is still not moving or letting its suction cups out or stomach out but  I just don't know if its dead or not cause I put a heater up to the tank and whenever I pick it up it just seems like its dead cause nothing moves even at night  so do you have a way of telling if its dead or not  its not falling apart or disintegrating. thank you very much < Just give him time if he is not disintegrating there is still hope.  Also make sure your salinity is between 1.022-1.026 as they are sensitive to salinity. Cody>

Chocolate Chip Star Hi, I just bought a chocolate chip star fish.  It was doing fine when I put it in the tank, but I didn't know it needed a heater.  So in the middle of the night I put the heat light close to it and the next day it moved some in the morning, but when I got back from church it wasn't sucking on to any thing and it wasn't moving its suckers at all.  Do you think it's dead, or do you know anything I can do for it?  Please email me back please ASAP Thank you, please hurry. >>Well, not knowing what temperature it got down to, as well as not having other parameters, I'm shooting in the dark here.  But I can tell you this much: the thing to watch for is disintegration.  If the parts of the sea star appear to just be falling apart/disintegrating, then I'm afraid your chocolate chip is doomed.  Otherwise, if that is not the case, then if at all possible get a heater in the tank and try to keep it at 75F minimum.  Assuming it lives and you get it warmed up, you may want to set some food out for it, a piece of shrimp, squid, or krill--but do not just leave it in the tank to decompose. Let us know how it goes, and good luck! Marina

Chocolate chip star I've had a chocolate chip starfish for about 2 weeks now.  He has been moving and eating fine.  We added a second one a week ago, also eating and moving fine.  This last weekend we lost two of our damsels to some unknown reason.  I did a 20 percent water change and cleaned the inside of the tank to get rid of the algae.  I fed them this morning and the newest one, the smaller one, wouldn't eat.  I was told by my LFS to treat the tank with an antibiotic to try to save the other fish.  He said MelaFix was a pretty good general antibiotic. <... an antibiotic to treat what? Melafix is not an antibiotic... but a liquid preparation of Tea Tree (Melaleuca) leaves... does have anti-bacterial effect... but so does soap, detergents...> As soon as I poured it in, both of the stars lifted their arms and curled them back over themselves and all of the fish started to swim around a lot.  The smaller one has gone back to normal and moved around a little while the bigger one keeps his arms curled up even when it  moves.  The bigger one has gone through dosing of MelaFix before and was fine.  Now the main part of its body looks kinda bloated, thicker than it was a couple of days ago.  I don't think I gave him a piece of shrimp that was too large.  Can you feed these guys two much. <Yes>   I feed them about every three days, usually shrimp.  Also, these stars seem to do the curling thing when the lights go out.  Is this normal?  Any info would be greatly appreciated. <The symptoms mentioned are signs of probable poisoning. I would move the stars and any other invertebrates to a separate system (if you can) or barring this, start a series of large (25% or so) water changes, add activated carbon... to reduce the toxic effect. Please see here re these stars: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the linked FAQs pages... and perhaps use the Google Search feature on our homepage, indices to learn about Melafix. Bob Fenner>

Re: chocolate chip star I was told to treat the fish for possible fungus infection.  All damsels and clowns faces turned a grayish color and the remaining damsel has a big grey patch by his right pectoral fin. <Fungus infections are rare in captive marine settings> I have left the charcoal in the hang on filter (Emperor).  Now both stars have completely curled up and the larger keeps falling off everything and ends up upside-down without righting himself.  Neither will eat. <Did you change water as instructed? Stop medicating?> Good news is, that the fish are becoming more active and eating more.  Shrimp, snails and hermit crabs seem totally unaffected by the Melafix. Although, they do move around a little when it goes into the water.  Will try to pick up a small QT, budget allowing.  Is there anything I should think about treating the starfish with? <Just optimized, stable conditions. Bob Fenner> Re: chocolate chip star Have moved the starfish into a five gallon bucket with a small 60 gph filter with charcoal.  SG is about the same at the tank about 22.  Is there anything that I should do for the fish to keep anymore from dying? <Do slowly (about .001 per day) change your specific gravity to near seawater level (1.025)> What about the grey patch.  And do you know of a place to see a good picture of ich.  Not sure what the damsel has. <I would not be worried re the patch. Please read through our root web: www.WetWebMedia.com for the picture, further information. Bob Fenner>

Starfish I have a chocolate chip star <This is a great starfish for fish only systems. They're too ravenous for a reef tank> which I have had for about six months. <Okay> He has been very active. In the last few weeks he seems to have trouble holding onto the sides of the glass 75 gal. tank. At times falling off. <That's not unusual. I had one for several years and he was never able to really hold to the sides of the tank. He finally got so large I had to trade him in at the LFS> The last week he has not moved. <Doesn't sound good. That's way too long for him to remain in one place. These guys forage for food constantly> His color seems the same and he is flexible. Not stiff. <Not a good sign. Every starfish that I've ever handled felt more or less stiff. They will also try to bend their bodies away from you> The other fish, angels, clowns and one triggerfish seem to be doing ok. <Triggers are likely to prey upon starfish> How do I tell if this animal is dead? <Pick him up and look at the tube feet: They should be wiggling. Then look at its mouth. You should see it trying to close or in some way, it will be making an adjustment...and give it the old nose test.  Sorry, but I don't feel good about this critters' well-being> Thanks, Tim <You're welcome! Chocolate chips are normally very hardy.>

End of the line for Chippy? Bob & Crew: We have a Choc Chip Star for about 4 months now - we've recently had to move him to a hospital tank. It was suggested that he be removed by our LFS because we were treating (lower salinity, up temp) for ick. They said he wouldn't like the change in salinity. <I agree> He been in the hospital tank for about 2 weeks now - yesterday morning - I noticed that the little tips of him were odd looking, almost white. This morning - I see that it almost looks like he is deteriorating. I fear it may be because of a deteriorating water quality in the hospital tank. Is it too late to save him? <It sounds like he has already begun to turn into mush. Yes, too late then.> Will a major water change in there do any good? <It cannot hurt.> thanks! ~Bill <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Chocolate ship starfish I have a new chocolate ship starfish and he sick. Something is eating away at his arms. Any suggestions? My other two seem to be just fine. <Not a good sign... the problem is likely internal and not easily stopped... but there is a chance that "something" is eating it during the night... that you might be able to discover and remove. Please read through the 'Seastar' section and FAQs stored on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for more here. Bob Fenner> Shane Hardin

My starfish My starfish is sick, I think. I hope you can help somehow. I have a 55 gallon, with damsels and 3 crabs. I bought a chocolate starfish to help with cleaning. He worked very well, so I bought another. The second one is doing great, but now the first one looks absolutely terrible! I think two of his legs have totally fallen off. They're still kind of there, but hanging on by these boogery threads. Very mucous looking. He's still eating, and still alive, but half his innards are trailing behind him. He doesn't move a lot. I am almost positive the damsels have been leaving him alone, and the crabs too. I have him separated now to be sure. They have regular water changes every 3 weeks, they are all fed 3 times a day from a good mixture of green lifeline, red lifeline, Mysis shrimp and krill. They only get 8 hours of light a day, and I keep the filtration system clean. And on top of that, everyone else looks great, and is doing fine. I've tested all the levels recently, and they are all within normal levels. Can I give him Zoe? <Yes, a good idea... Soak the foods this animal is eating for about fifteen minutes> Or should I just hope he gets better on his own?  <This species can be hard to keep, hopefully yours will recover. Please do consider other hardier species like Archaster, Fromia... as detailed here on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and read the FAQs section beyond. Do remove the damaged individual if you become aware of it no longer being alive. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Krysty

Re: My starfish Thanks for your response. I guess I waited too long, he didn't make it through the night.  <Not atypical... be satisfied that you did your best> When I gave him to the porcelain gods, I noticed in some of the slimy boogery stuff, I saw some worm looking things. I've noticed these in the tank itself before. They live in the crushed coral, and always seem to be heaviest in the green algae, and they are always heaviest right before I do the water changes. Did my starfish pick up a virus from my tank itself?  <Doubtful. If it had an infectious or parasitic disease, it was likely "imported" with it... and through weakening in transit, acclimation to new surroundings, succumbed> Is there something I can add to the water? I just thought these worm things were bacteria.  <Mmm, nothing I would "just add"... and not bacteria... if they're moving... something/s bigger... likely some type of "bristle worm"... and likely not the direct cause of trouble here> I have found a lot of information on your website and plan to do a lot more reading. Very informative. I hope you don't mind all my trivial questions, my local fish store's employees are less than competent. Thank you again, Krysty <No worries my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Injured Chocolate Chip Starfish Hello, I purchased a chocolate chip starfish two days ago. The starfish is about 2 inches across. Also in my 45 gallon non-reef tank is a Banded Coral Shrimp, of moderate size, and several dwarf hermits. The starfish was fine for the first day, then I noticed a small chunk had been taken out of one of his legs. I'm not sure if whether the hermits or the shrimp should be my prime suspect. I've since isolated the chocolate chip star with a divider, and noticed the small chunk has gotten larger and the wound looks worse. Why is this happening? Is it some type of infection, and should I worry about that affecting the other animals in the tank? How long, with proper water conditions, would it take for the star to grow that leg back? And finally, is there anything I can do??  <I'm suspecting shipping is what caused this wound as there are very touchy shippers.  There is not much you can do for him except keep him isolated and keep your water quality good.  Also make sure your salinity is ok since they are sensitive to low salinity.  Cody> Thanks. a.h.

Chocolate Chip Star Problems (4/5/04) Hi, <Howdy, Steve Allen covering echinoderms today.> I have had my chocolate chip starfish for 2 years, and he has always been healthy.  Yesterday I noticed white ragged spots on his legs.  The areas are near the dark "chips" that are furthest from his central body, there are three affected legs - one that looks pretty bad, the other two legs have smaller spots.   Nothing has been altered in the tank, and all other inverts and fish are fine (none are showing spots). <Do you have any nippy fish that might be taking a taste.> He is also still very active and interested in food. I would greatly appreciate it if you could help me I'm quite attached to the little guy! :) Thanks, Beth <This may be a bacterial or fungal infection. I'd be a little concerned about it possibly being contagious. Even if not infected now, these wounds easily become so. Unfortunately, such conditions are usually ultimately fatal. Do consider putting it into a hospital tank with pristine water for observation/treatment. Consider a broad spectrum antibiotic if this seems to be worsening at all. Hope this helps.>

Crumbling Cookie (4/5/04) <For future reference, please capitalize the proper noun "I" and the first word of each sentence and spell-check your e-mail. We post all queries and replies on our site for permanent reference. They need to be readable. Our volunteer staff will have a lot more time to answer queries if we don't have to proofread too.>   About a month ago me and my mom bought a chocolate chip star fish, there is a picture of him like two days after we put him in the tank. The 1st two pictures are him before we saw him getting funny looking, and the last pictures are when we notices something wrong. <Only one picture came through.> His one arm is kinda turning white and crumbling, and you can see in the 2 pictures that I marked off. And also 2 of the chip tips are falling off like you can also see.   I couldn't get picture of these but these got a gray spot on him and that has 2 little black dots inside of it, and he's got little brown polka dots on his bottom side, he still moves around the tank, he doesn't like to  be stuck up against the side though. What is wrong and how can I save him? please Help! Meghan <Well Meghan, I'm sorry to say that it is not very likely that you will be able to save this star. Once they start to "melt," there is little that can be successfully done. The best bet would be to put it into a small, separate hospital tank (see WWM for details) and treat with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Still, I'd be surprised if you can save it. Starfish seldom recover from degeneration/infection. Read more about them on WWM and elsewhere or in "Reef Invertebrates" by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner. Steve Allen.>

Water Quality and chocolate chip star >I am about 6 weeks into my first SW endeavor.  I purchased a water test kit...PH, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite...and I already have a hydrometer...Are there any other things I need to test for on a regular basis? >>This would depend in part on what you plan to keep.  Seeing as how you've already got the chocolate chip stars in there, I see you aren't planning on keeping any corals (soft or hard), though you can keep some other invertebrates with these stars such as shrimps and the like.  The only other kit you *might* need (this isn't imperative) is phosphate, and possibly oxygen.  But really, for a beginner, this would be overkill. >Also...I have 2 small chocolate chip stars that I am attempting to feed clam...these guys are pretty slow, and have a tough time chasing down the food...should I be hand feeding them? >>LOL!!  You mean they can't chase down a clam?  I wouldn't worry too much about it, my friend.  They'll find the food bits, and if you think they really need to be fed, then wait till they're in a convenient place and simply place food very nearby.  If it's being stolen then just place a cup or the like over them until they've covered it, that should be more than sufficient.  Best of luck, Steve!  Marina

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

Adopting a Chocolate Chip Star (2/23/04) I need some help please.  I will be 'adopting' my brother's chocolate chip starfish when he moves.  I only want a small tank (10 gallons) - since it is basically just for the starfish.  I would like to know what else - if anything - I could put in the same tank.  I know he will eat other starfish (already has) and I know starfish can eat anemones and corals.  Is there anything you can suggest?  Thank you. <Unless you can do a bigger tank, you'd best not adopt this star. Better to give it to a marine aquarium store for sale to someone with a proper setup. Starfish require superb water conditions that are difficult to maintain in such a tiny tank, especially if you are a novice. They're also better off with a lot of live rock and live sand to scavenge. I have not heard of chocolate chips eating other stars of equal size, but they will consume just about anything they can get their stomachs around before it can escape. If you can get a bigger (say 30-40G range tank, you could set something up with the star and a shrimp and maybe a fish. You need to read a lot about the equipment and $$$ required for any marine setup. BTW, how do you plan to feed this starfish? Hope this is of some help. Steve Allen.>

Starfish or gone fish Great site thanks for all the info. I just recently bought some cured live rock (10pounds). I have a 30 gallon tank, 50/50 lighting, skimmer, and Fluval filter. My question is, should I get rid of the chocolate chip starfish or will it be ok to keep? <Depends on what you want to grow. Chocolate chip starfish are capable of consuming some desirable life forms.> Secondly what growth should I expect to see on the live rock? <Depends on the initial condition of the liverock, your lighting, feeding, water quality, etc. -Steven Pro>

A Different Chocolate Chip Starfish Question Hi All, My 3 year old son is a starfish nut. I've indulged him with brittles, Linckia and Fromia. My LFS has some very nice chocolate chip starfish with red edges that I was considering for my seahorse tank. I just have a Trachyphyllia and a gorgonian in there (refugees from my angels). Otherwise, there is a ton of a Caulerpa, snails, hermits, sea cucumbers, a coral banded shrimp and, of course, a Brazilian seahorse, 3 pipefish, and 2 mandarins. I can live with feeding the starfish occasional snails and hermits crabs. I can also take the corals into the LFS if necessary. Is anything else at risk from this starfish? My son really wants one of these "bad" starfish ;-) <I have just seen them eat things like mushroom anemones and the like. I would think the most at risk are the Trachyphyllia and Gorgonian. -Steven Pro> Thanks, Marc

Chocolate Chip Starfish Hi Bob- I just purchased two Chocolate chip starfish and I notice on your site that they are considered less desirable. I was wondering if you could elaborate on why. <They are not "reef safe" and are capable of eating desirable inverts.> Also, I am acclimating them to my brackish water tank do you have any recommendations or suggestions. <Yes, do not do it.> Thank you, Ashley <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Pondering corals 8/4/03 Currently I have a 45gal FOWLR system set up with 96W VHO 50/50 actinic blue and 10,000K tubes in it.  I also have 2 medium chocolate chip stars... amongst other things not pertaining to this subject.   <on the contrary... they are quite pertinent to your subject line. They will randomly prey on corals in time. Chocolate chips may work for weeks/months... or merely days. But rest assured they will eat coral in time> Lately I have pondered corals.  Actually I pondered them from the start... but I stumbled onto these stars... and cut back on my original lighting needs for the lack of corals and anemones in the system.   <do know that mixing anemones and corals is never proper. Sessile stinging animals versus motile ones... a recipe for trouble in time> First off, are there any corals available that would tolerate the chocolate chip stars?   <some... large Alcyoniid leathers like Sarcophyton or Lobophytum perhaps. Many more choices likely... but still a risk> If so, at a minimum... what would I have to bump the lightning needs back up to...including my current lightning? <the lighting needs to be doubled to get anywhere near the ballpark for keeping average corals. Else you will be severely limited to deep water polyps which are quite delicious to your predatory sea stars. Do read all about them in our new book "Reef Invertebrates" (Calfo/Fenner) <G>>> Thanks Steve <best regards, Anthony>

Starfish Question >I have a 45 gallon SW setup with among other things...2 Chocolate Chip stars.   I just ordered the Reef Tank Tune-Up from Indo-Pacific.  This package contains: 6 Hawaiian Trochus Grazers, 1 Hawaiian Turbo Grazers, 12 Nerites grazers, 12 Micro hermits, 12 Strombus Grazers.  Should I be concerned with my 2 stars eating any of these critters?  Thanks in advance,  Steve >>I wouldn't trust these sea stars, as they could be considered "opportunistic omnivores", and in no way could be considered reef safe.  Marina

-Puffer checks to see of those are actual chocolate chips...- My dog-faced puffer recently attacked two chocolate chip starfish. They have numerous bite wounds, are lethargic, and not eating. Is there anything I can do for them? <Besides finding another home for the puffer? I would just leave them be, try feeding them in a few days, keep the water parameters in check, and hopefully they'll regenerate the lost body mass. Good luck! -Kevin>

Shooting For A Star  8/1/03 Dear crew,<Phil here to help tonight!> I am wanting to get another chocolate chip starfish.<A favorite of mine...> but I have had trouble with the past 3 that I have had. what all should I know about taking care of a starfish and its water? <I would start reading here.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm    How big is your tank?  How's the water quality?  What's in the tank?  What did you feed your last seastar?  Just a few of the questions I need answered before I can give you a better answer.  Hope this helps and please get back with me so I can better understand your system.  Phil>

Chocolate Chip Starfish I'm thinking about the addition of a Chocolate Chip Starfish to my aquarium. I have read many posts regarding these starfish but I still have a few questions.  Is a 30 gallon tank with 2 clowns large enough?  Is filtration consisting of a power filter and protein skimmer sufficient?  What and how often should they be fed for best health and longevity? Thanks for any help and guidance, Blake <  The tank is large enough when they are small but he will eventually outgrow it.  The filtration should be good enough.  Every other day try slipping a piece of krill or other food in his path and he should be able to find it.  Also consider adding some live rock, I consider it one of the most important if the not most important component of a successful aquarium.  It acts a filter and a natural food source.  Cody>

Water Quality and Chocolate Chip Star <Hello! Ryan back from Southern California and with you today> Thanks very much for getting back to me.  The only reason I thought I was leaving something out of the water testing was because I recently started to see some fine dust on the live sand...and some blotches on the glass... I was told was brown algae (diatoms), and that I should check the phosphates and silicates <And did you?> ...this worries me because I use some aquarium grade silicone on some of the plumbing fittings...could it be leaching? <More likely your source water>  I did filter the water pretty properly.  I promptly stirred up the substrate for the diatoms to be filtered out, scraped the glass clean...and plan a partial water change tomorrow. <OK> The chocolate chip stars were a must have for my girlfriend to justify me spending this much on the setup...so I know I am pretty limited. <Yes, but still plenty of options.>  I was able to hand feed one (pretty cool) when he was at the top of the tank! <A very cool pet- glad you're enjoying him.  As far as the algae, it's unsightly but not detrimental.  If it's not up against the view of your tank, leave it be.  Thanks for keeping us posted!> Steve <Good luck! Ryan>

Seastar Staying Put (3/2/04)   Hello!! It would take me a dictionary size document to tell you all the help you and your website have done for me and my aquatic friends.  I have a 44 gallon saltwater tank, presently its only occupants are a Chocolate Chip Starfish <Nice, reasonably hardy seastar. I have been enjoying mine for more that six months now.> and a false Percula.  I lost a Yellow Tailed Blue tang after a long fight with Ich. (my fault for not recognizing the problem and solution earlier than I did).  Either way, my Chocolate Chip Starfish for the last week has stayed in about the same place for about a week.  Prior to this he was all over the tank! (as I've heard they are prone to do)  Should I be alarmed?  He seems to be eating well and he is moving about, just in about a 4-5 inch radius.  Any help would be appreciated!  Could the Ich have gotten him? <No> From what I've heard they are not susceptible to Ich. <Correct. Echinoderms do not suffer from the same parasitic pathogens as fish.> I had to quarantine the Percula for about a month because he was starting to show signs of Ich.  All of those signs have been gone for a little under a month though. <fingers crossed>  Anyways, thanks for your website!! You've made this hobby an even more enjoyable experience <A pleasure for all involved. I've learned a great deal here too. As for your star, I would not be overly concerned if it moves about some, is eating well, and appears normal. It may just like things where it is, especially if you're hand feeding it in the same spot all the time. They are trainable. I'd suggest a check of all the key water parameters to be sure. Maintaining pristine water conditions is very important. If everything appears fine, then no need for hasty actions yet. Just keep taking good care of your tank and all should remain well.> Shawn

Starfish Stomach Eversion (2/24/04) Sir, <Just Steve tonight> Sorry, the last email I sent I forgot the pic. Anyway, what is this starfish doing? I have 2 other chips in the tank. These 2 hang together all the time. What is that stuff in the middle of it? This "stuff" got a lot bigger than this pic shows. This is wild!! Thanks, Craig Cornett <Your starfish has everted its stomach. This is how they eat. I'd bet it found something on the glass it wanted to eat. They evert their stomachs around the food and do a good portion of their digesting outside of the body before sucking everything back in. I suppose this could also be a response to stress, but if conditions in your tank are good, I would expect this star to pull it's stomach back in and move on within 24 hours.>

Adopting a Chocolate Chip Star (2/23/04) I need some help please.  I will be 'adopting' my brother's chocolate chip starfish when he moves.  I only want a small tank (10 gallons) - since it is basically just for the starfish.  I would like to know what else - if anything - I could put in the same tank.  I know he will eat other starfish (already has) and I know starfish can eat anemones and corals.  Is there anything you can suggest?  Thank you. <Unless you can do a bigger tank, you'd best not adopt this star. Better to give it to a marine aquarium store for sale to someone with a proper setup. Starfish require superb water conditions that are difficult to maintain in such a tiny tank, especially if you are a novice. They're also better off with a lot of live rock and live sand to scavenge. I have not heard of chocolate chips eating other stars of equal size, but they will consume just about anything they can get their stomachs around before it can escape. If you can get a bigger (say 30-40G range tank, you could set something up with the star and a shrimp and maybe a fish. You need to read a lot about the equipment and $$$ required for any marine setup. BTW, how do you plan to feed this starfish? Hope this is of some help. Steve Allen.>

Chocolate Chip Seastar Size (2/1/04)  How big will my chocolate chip starfish get? It is about 3 inches from tip to tip.  <The references I found suggest around 6 inches. Steve Allen.>

Sea Star Question We have just started our first salt water tank and are getting different answers from everyone. We have a 12 gallon nano cube tank with one 3" chocolate chip sea star, one small purple suto.. fish(?), 6 snails, 1 emerald crab and some small blue and red legged crabs. Someone has purchased us a 5" red sea star (I think African something?) We have not added it to tank.  Question?  How many sea stars can the tank hold and how many fish? <Sarah, it's sad to see these animals distributed so freely- they suffer some of the highest mortalities in the trade.  I hate to say it, but it takes a large, established tank to feed just one of these animals.  I would decline the new addition, and hope that it can find a better home, and then start arranging for a similar arrangement with your present starfish.  As for fish, it becomes much more complex.  A 12 gallon nano is a pretty small space, so you certainly want to research your selections before purchase.  Try this forum: http://nano-reef.com/ for some people that share your passion!  Good luck, Ryan> Thank you so much!  Sarah 

Caring for a Chocolate Chip (8/30/04) Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen here.> I just bought my first Starfish (Chocolate Chip).  My tank is newly cycled and the Nitrates were tested at 8. I just wanted to know if there is anything that I would need to know about this little guy so that I do not do anything wrong. <Glad you asked, but better to ask first and buy later. Some important points: 1. They are not reef-safe. 2. They need excellent, stable water conditions. 3. They like a sandy bottom. 4. They grow to about 6" in diameter. 5. They are carnivorous and voracious--direct feeding with chunks of marine meats (fish, shrimp, squid, shellfish, etc.) will be needed, though they do scavenge. 6. Certain nippy fish, such as Triggers, will often bite off the "chips," which can lead to fatal bacterial infections. Check out the seastar articles/FAQs on WWM for more details. Hope this helps.> DEBBRA POLSTON

- Seastar Questions - Greetings one & all! <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I am constantly impressed with your expertise & charm!  We have a 29 gal that includes 2 Choco starfish.  The tank has been running since mid Nov.  This am one of our stars is on the side wall facing out so I can see the feet, etc.  There are some of those stringy thingies that I have read about and the mouth area is covered by this blob-like thing.  It's dark in color and looks like waste. I have no clue. <I'm not sure I do either based on the description.> I just gave it a gentle nudge and now he's moving.  The feet show activity as do the little feeler ones on the tips.  Help?! <I'm not sure you need it - the seastar is likely fine, and just noticed something about their structure. I'm not sure your observation has been a sign of something bad.> Thanks bunches, Heather (a newbie :D)    <Cheers, J -- >

Chocolate Chip Starfish I recently had to move my tank. In doing so we removed some of the water.  Our chocolate Chip Starfish fell off the wall during the process.  Everything was fine at first. Then we notice the crab over by him and the starfish was turning white.  He has gotten himself back up on the wall but he is still white where his black spots were.  Can you tell me what's wrong with him and is there anything I can do for him?  Thank  <Hmm, he may have been stressed, but falling off a wall or any object is normal activity for starfish at times. Was the crab attacking him?  If he is back where he wants to be he should regain his normal coloration.  This could be the normal result of thinking he is under attack and being disrupted. These starfish are quite hardy.  They do need regular feeding of meaty foods like shrimp, (a small piece of regular prawn), etc. and they are very vigorous eaters. They are not reef safe but fine for fish only set-ups.  I hope he is getting better.  Craig>

Chocolate Chip Starfish Hello, <<Hi, Lorenzo Gonzalez standing in for the crew, off to MACNA in Dallas>> I have a 12 gallon reef tank and been wanting to buy a starfish for my tank. I was thinking about getting a Chocolate Chip Starfish (Protoreastor nodosus) but I cannot find any specs on the animal.<< see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm  >> I wanted to know if it is reef safe or not. <<Decidedly NOT>> Is there any other starfish you recommend for my reef tank? <<Members of the Fromia, Linckia, Archaster genera will be more appropriate>>Any help would be helpful. Thank You! << Cheers! Lorenzo >>

Q re: Chocolate Chip Starfish Hi~ I recently got a Chocolate Chip Starfish - have never had any starfish before.  <This is a very hardy starfish although not reef safe> He seems to be doing very well, but I've noticed when he's moving around on the glass, he sometimes leaves behind what looks similar to a hair with bubbles on it, only it's not floating around, it's usually stuck to the glass or the top of him. Do you know what this is? <no idea my friend but does not sound handful at all> Also, can you tell me how starfish reproduce? <asexually by vegetative fission at least. Not sure beyond that (internal brooding of planulae perhaps?> Thanks! ~Jami <best regards>

CHOCOLATE CHIP STAR FISH Hi Mr. Fenner. I would like to thank you for all the help you've giving me.  <You're welcome> My problem is that my emerald green crab is eating my chocolate chip  starfish! What if anything should I do?  YOUR FRIENDS JESSE II. & JESSE III <Yes, separate them! And quick... Mithrax Crabs are generally herbivorous, but will "cross the line" if hungry or the opportunity presents itself (the Star may have already been in trouble)... Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Starfish II Hi Bob. <Not Bob now or previously. Bob is off in Australia and the rest of the WWM crew is picking up the pace.> Thank you for your quick response. Why do you say chocolate chip starfish should not be acclimated to brackish water? <I would not recommend any animal be kept in unnatural conditions. Even though aquariums themselves are unnatural, but...> And, are their any starfish that I can acclimate to brackish water? <Not really. Do you have some reason for wanting to do this? -Steven Pro> Thanks, Ashley

Chocolate Chip Starfish III Steven- Sorry about calling you Bob. <No problem, I just wanted you to be clear who was giving you their opinion.> I know its not the ideal situation but, can the chocolate chip star live in brackish water? <I doubt it. Most inverts do not tolerate temporary lower salinity treatments for parasites, so I do not believe it would handle long term conditions.> Unfortunately we already have one, the people at the store said they could be acclimated. <I would return it and ask them if and when they ever performed this feat. I always question the opinion of someone looking to profit from their advise.> It is a small one, less than two inches across. We have no coral in our brackish tank. If it does live what can we feed it. <Variety of prepared frozen foods.> Thanks for your time. Ashley <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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