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FAQs about Sea Stars 1

Related Articles: Sea Stars, Brittle StarsAsterina Stars, An Introduction to the Echinoderms:  The Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers and More... By James W. Fatherree, M.Sc.

Related FAQs: Sea Stars 2, Sea Stars 3, Sea Stars 4, Sea Stars 5, Brittle Stars, Seastar ID 1, Seastar Selection, Seastar Compatibility, Seastar Systems, Seastar Behavior, Seastar Feeding, Seastar Reproduction, Seastar DiseaseAsterina Stars, Chocolate Chip Stars, Crown of Thorns Stars, Fromia Stars, Linckia Stars, Linckia Stars 2, Sand-Sifting Stars,

At right, a Gomophia egyptica in the Red Sea

Green Brittle Star, Ophiarachna, a fish eater

 Chocolate Chip, Protoreastor nodosus

Protoreastor lincki

Roman Sand Stars Hi again, Thank you for answering my lighting question so promptly. I am glad that I am doing the right thing. I have 7 sand stars to work the sand but I have noticed that for some reason there is 2 or 3 of them on top of one another, like a dog pile, there that way for a while then they move on. why do they do that??? are they mating??? or are the fighting??? none of them seem to have any damage on them at all. do you know why they do that? <I do not know what they are doing and I am not concerned about it either. What does concern me is their presence at all. These burrowing starfish tend to sift through the sand to eat the smaller creatures found there. I think 7 will quickly strip your sand bed of life and then starve. I would not use any more than one and I might not use the one either. -Steven Pro>

Do chocolate chip starfish sleep? I recently purchased a chocolate chip starfish (Protoreastor nodosus), and I was just wondering if they sleep. It just sits there sometimes, and I was wondering if it was just sleeping, or is it sitting there still doing nothing. I'm new to this stuff, I have never had a salt water tank. Just to tell you its a young starfish, so if it does sleep, I would like to know about how many hours a day this Protoreastor nodosus sleeps. -thanks- <Don't know about sleep, but echinoderms do exhibit periods of inactivity... some are cyclical (like eight hours on, eight off), diurnal (move about principally by day or night), others more random. Bob Fenner>

Starfish? Hi Mr. Fenner, Very quick question today. In my refugium (with Miracle Mud, and Caulerpa ) I spotted a tiny starfish that is about 1/4" in size. I did not place him there. He is a very pale beige, you could almost say white. My main tank is a reef style tank. I will be putting a Fromia, and maybe hopefully a Linckia later on. The tank is 100G. in size. My question is that I would like to transfer this little starfish hitchhiker into my main tank, (it's just so cool that I got the little guy just like that). <Yes> I'm thinking he is quite possibly a sand sifting starfish, or it might be wiser to keep him quarantined till he grows bigger to try, and i.d. him in case he is not reef safe. Have you heard of starfishes hitchhiking in on things. The only possibility would be on the Caulerpa because everything else was new in the refugium, and the mud was in it's plastic packaging. Thanks in advance, Greg N. <Small Seastars do sometimes "just pop-up" seemingly from nowhere. Bob Fenner>

Starfish letter, use Bob, I haven't written you in while. I have a 75 gallon reef system which I recently "resurrected" after selling all my livestock and moving to Colorado. <Ah, good to get re-settled in> Anyway, I recently restocked my tank (with a FFExpress) order. All three of the starfish in the Reef Relief bundle have died (actually the Orange Knobby so losing it's battle right now. Here's a copy of the letter I sent them. Let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas. <Okay> To whom it may concern;  <I'd say/state "it concerns"> This is in regards to order number 77876, for Scot Davis. All three of the starfish in the "Reef relief: bundle have died now. The Hawaiian brittle star dies <died> on day #6, the Red Banded brittle died on day 9 and the Orange Knobby is dying now. All of them have kind of "rotted" away. A white, ich looking stuff is on the body on their "arms" fall off one by one. Everything else in the tank is doing great, including the Koran Angel. And the water tests out to normal parameters. Any ideas? Is there anything I can do for the Orange Knobby to keep is alive? Thank you for your time and consideration! Sincerely, Scot Davis Mancos, CO <Good letter (except for the one change in tense). Straightforward, to the point. Not much can relate to you re these species of Seastars suitability and needs in captivity that's not already posted on the WWM site... would have chosen other species, waited for a few months before introducing... Bob Fenner>

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>

Did I Just Doom My Linckias? Hiya Bob. I may have gone and done something stupid, albeit unintentionally. I acquired my first Linckias (2 blue and 3 maroon) yesterday, and after acclimation, picked them up from their bags and transferred them into the aquarium, thus exposing them to air. The acclimation procedures did not indicate that keeping them submersed at all times was necessary, I just happened to read on another website that it is; did I just doom them to certain death? (ps...I read your entire FAQ's and articles on Seastars but found nothing to address my concerns.) Sadly, Sherri J. <This is likely no problem... some benthic invertebrates do have trouble with trapped air (notably Sea Urchins/echinoids)... let me assure you, after collecting, shipping thousands of Linckia laevigata and lifting them into the air aplenty... this is not a major cause of loss or diminished vitality. Bob Fenner>

Little critters Hi Bob Today I went to change the little Chemi pure bags in my tank and discovered a bunch (50 or so) of these tiny little white starfish. What strain are they?  <Strain? Impossible to tell from where I'm sitting... take a look through Baensch Marine Atlas v.3 maybe... about the most complete collection of images, information on aquarium species of Seastars> are they coral munchers? or are they ok to have in there? They are very very bright white, as their color is so bright , I thought that they are probably night time dwellers, I think). As always great thanks, and have a good day! <Hmm, maybe take a look/see at the Seastar article and FAQs stored on the www.WetWebMedia.com site... a friend (Tom Walsh) had a common small star I took pictures of that I've seen other people keep with impunity... Maybe your species is the same... Bob Fenner>

Little critters Hi Bob I looked all over your site a still can't find anything about the tiny little white starfish I have been finding in my reef tank. <Hmm, maybe those pix didn't make it there quite yet...> These little critters are under both Chemipure bags that I have in my tank. I only have one brittle star in the tank. It has been in there for about 4 years now. I don't see how it can reproduce with just the one star. The little ones that I'm finding are a bright white in color, and look like a regular brittle stars. Do you have any idea of what kind they are? <Not anymore than your description... but very likely they're not a problem> All of them are about a quarter of an inch to a half inch in size. They all have five little legs, and are completely bright white. If you can be of any assistance please let me know. As always, thanks. and take care. <Starfishes span many reproductive types... some store their young within their bodies... or these could have come in on live rock, sand... Once again, not to worry. Bob Fenner>

Blue starfish Bob, First, many thanks on your informative faq's. It has been a great help.  <Ah, just as planned!> Secondly, a question about my blue starfish (Linckia laevigata). I got it two days ago, after acclimating it into the tank, it was quite active the first day, moving around the sand and rocks, pretty much all over the place.. but the second day, it was on this rock all the time, not moving at all. Visibly it appears to be alright, not much different from day 1. is this normal? <Not a-normal... have seen this species in the wild and in captivity not seem to more for days, weeks, only to resume activity... as long as it has no apparent discolorations, vacuolations, I wouldn't worry, and I definitely wouldn't handle/move the specimen unnecessarily. Bob Fenner> The tank is a 55 gal, finished cycling live rock, with some snails and crabs in it, but no fish. I didn't clean the live rock too meticulously so there were some die-offs during cycling... that should provide ample food for the starfish and critters, no?  <Perhaps> thanks for your help! -Alex

Researching Starfish Dear Bob, My name is Caroline Williams and I am currently an undergraduate studying BSc Zoology (Hons) at The University of Nottingham. I am doing an intercalated year out at The Oceanarium, St Davids, Wales. The Oceanarium for a number of years has been a centre for chemoattractant research in fish, Crustacea and Mollusks. During this year, I will be undertaking a research project studying starfish predation. We have recently discovered chemicals that Echinoderms are attracted to, and simple experiments performed here so far have shown that starfish are easily trapped using methods involving these chemicals. We are now investigating possible applications of this knowledge. I am looking for people around the world who are also researching this area, or know of current methods used to inhibit starfish predation. I would like to find out to what extent starfish predation is threatening Aquaculture populations, and I wish to find out where the results of my research would be of value. So far, I have found that these chemicals would be valuable in a number of very different areas. I have had a lot of response from people on the East coast of USA and Canada, where starfish predate heavily on shellfish beds there. In Australia and the Indo-Pacific, the Crown of Thorns starfish has, for a long time, been a major problem on the coral reefs. At the moment, I'm trying to organize a visit to test the chemicals on COTS to see if they have the same effect. Also the Northern Pacific Sea Star threatens Aquaculture populations in Japan and Tasmania (all round the Pacific in fact). A very different application would be in sea urchin farming, as we have found that the chemicals not only attract Spiny Starfish (Marthasterias glacialis) and Common Starfish (Asterias rubens) but also the Edible Sea Urchin (Echinus esculentus). I would be very grateful of any assistance, and can be contacted at the following address: Caroline Williams, Researcher. The Oceanarium, 42, New Street, St Davids, Pembrokeshire, UK SA62 6SS Tel: 0044 0437 720453 Email: Caroline@sealife.demon.co.uk <I will gladly assist you in whatever ways I may, but don't know specifically what you are seeking here. My bent in the aquatic sciences is almost exclusively ornamental (pet-fish), and very little of the field deals with echinoderm attractants or their specific predations (in culture or no). Will send your msg. along to possible parties that may further assist you (perhaps in the gathering of specimens, anecdotal information, further introductions...?), and post this on my www.wetwebmedia.com site for others perusal/offering of help. Bob Fenner>

Re: Stirring my sand Thanks for the reply, and so you don't think I'm that lazy writer that never wants to research on his own, I did read the piece on "Gobies and their Relatives" (Along with just about all the other sections) prior to my writing, but it did not have much information on their sand-stirring abilities. Re: the starfish, I did find reference to it on WWM but not regarding overall size. I just don't want you to think I don't appreciate you taking the time to answer my frequent questions. <No worries, Bri. This Archaster species can get several inches across... but/just start with a small one (3" diameter let's say), and all should be fine... I would not necessarily add any more fish life to this system...> While I have you, one more quickie. Are all Chromis' peaceful? (i.e.: Blue Reef Chromis?) <Most members of the genus are far more to the left of center where aggression in damsels is concerned... in other words, yes, they're relatively easygoing>  Thanks again, Brian  <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Identity of Starfish Hey Bob: I have been asking you for help and advice. And you have given both willingly. Thank you. I thought this time I would share an interesting story and maybe you can help me determine the identity of this starfish. A few months ago I bought a starfish from a LFS and put in into my 55 gallon reef and fish tank. The LFS said it was a red reef starfish, it has six legs, but I cannot find any pictures or reading on this starfish. About 2 weeks after I put the starfish in the tank I noticed 1 of its legs had twisted and started to tear off. Not knowing what to do I left it to it own accord. A few days later the leg was gone and another leg started doing the same thing. A few days later it fell off and another leg started doing the same. Every other leg was falling off this animal at about 1/2 way up the leg. I was furious. I went to testing the water. All was well, except the nitrate was at .10. I started grabbing buckets and salt and parasites medications and rubber gloves preparing to do an emergency water change and to pull the starfish out before he crawled under a rock and cause me to have to pull all my rocks out looking for him big hassle). As I was making up swear words I looked down and seen one of its legs moving close to my bubble coral until it moved out of sight. Surprised I looked at my wife she had also spotted the other leg at the other end of the tank. I calmed down and laughed a little. Not knowing for sure what was going to happen next I put up all my emergency stuff and left him in the tank to see what happens not normally the best idea). The starfish has long since lost the 3rd leg and is now regenerating new ones, you can see the tips very well and each of the three legs are now growing 5 new tips and resembles a starfish rather than a red slug. WAY COOL. More description of the starfish: Red with some dingy red areas blotchy Skinny like a Linckia except legs are rounder and more pointy Six legged when their all there (haha) about 4" across  Thanks again for all the help K.J.  <<What a planet! I'm not leaving! Well, at least not willingly, and not for a while... Yep, strange goings on like this are what keep the hobby more than interesting. Am familiar with such reproductive strategies. May be this is a Pentagonaster duebeni... they're red, blotchy, but have more flattened top to bottom, with rounded edge legs like Fromias... Or, maybe it's a Luidia ciliaris; these often come with six legs... instead of the typical pentaramous/echinoderm array... but it has side-spiked legs that I'd imagine you would've listed... Or perhaps a Mithrodia bradleyi, though these mainly come out of Mexico... Or Echinaster sepositus... but they're coldwater... A commonly offered variety, Protoreastor lincki fits the description... sort of looks like the Choc. Chip Star of the same genus, but red, with red protuberances... as do a few of the little Seastars of the genus Fromia... could be a Hacelia, Leiaster, even a real Linckia... As you can see, there are MANY possibilities... Take a look through Baensch Marine Atlas #3.... and I'll bet you get close. Bob Fenner>>

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