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FAQs about Sea Stars 5

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 1, Sea Stars 2, Sea Stars 3, Sea Stars 4, Brittle StarsSeastar ID 1, Seastar Selection, Seastar Compatibility, Seastar Systems, Seastar Behavior, Seastar Feeding, Seastar Reproduction, Seastar Disease, Asterina Stars, Chocolate Chip Stars, Crown of Thorns Stars, Fromia Stars, Linckia Stars, Linckia Stars 2, Sand-Sifting Stars,

Photos of Starfish Up Close: What Are You Looking At? | Surprising Science    2/11/13
<Worthwhile. Thanks. BobF>

Asterina stars...     1/4/13
I was hoping you could help me. I've noticed a lot of starfish on my glass and baby brittle starfish
<Mmm, not the ones on the glass/shown... these are Asteroids; true stars>
 in the sand. I assume this is a sign of a healthy tank. What can I add to the tank to make sure these guys are getting enough to eat and are these starfish able To grow to full size? Its odd but none of the seem to get very big.
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinaidf.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Unknown Asteroid, ID, care   7/11/12
I just got a new sea star...I am pretty sure it is a Fromia species, but not 100% sure.
<Doesn't appear to me as such. See WWM re Asteroids, their ID...>
 It is about 1.5" in diameter.  Anyways, it has almost been a week and it doesn't respond to any food placed near to it, it doesn't try to eat it.
<Contact your dealer also re ID... You'll need in order to further investigate this animal's needs>
  I tried Mysis shrimp and a small piece of krill, no response.  It does move (slowly and not far) and stays attached to glass or live rock.  Any ideas?
Should i try Microvert near him/her/it? Thanks for your time, Dennis
<.... Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm
and the linked files above.... Need to start w/ the identification of this organism... Send pix of the topside... Bob Fenner>

Looking after Starfish 9/7/2010
Dear Sir/Madam
I am writing to enquire about the keeping of some starfish that a friend and I are looking after.
<Mmm, what/which species?>
We got them from a big tank of stuff that had been taken out of the sea
and our bio teacher said we could look after them.. we have got Seaweed in their bowl (bladder wrack and canal wrack) they seem to be eating it
<... not really likely>
but I really want to make sure that they have everything they need? We reckon that there are two breeds in our tank. We got them near Largs and from what we can tell they are the starfish Asterias rubens and forbesi?
<Oh! Easy enough to "look up" the biology, practical husbandry of these species in Google... See here for example:
If you had any recommendations then it would be really appreciated.. :)
thanks so much,
your faithfully,
Ciara Elwis
<Do keep good notes on your activities, observations. Bob Fenner>
Re: Looking after Starfish    9/8/10

Thanks for your help. We are now pretty sure that they are the two breeds I previously mentioned.. In which case: what should I feed them?
<Frozen (defrosted) bits of seafood "in a bag"... read where you were referred to (below/previously)... BobF>

Re: Estrella Pentaceraster cumingi (Gray 1840) 3/15/10
Thank you very much, I shall review the groundwork that he told me.
Just one more thing, in http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars2.htm , some information about this star, associated with feeding and general features,
I would like to know if there bliografica source where I can review this information.
Pentaceraster cumingi (Gray 1840), the Panamic Cushion Star. Family Oreasteridae. To 13.4 inches in diameter. Mid to Eastern Pacific; Hawaii, Sea of Cortez to Peru and Galapagos. Variably red, orange to greenish blue bodied with large red spines. Feeds on micro-fauna in substrate, benthic algae, seagrass and other echinoderms. Usually found on sandy bottoms from shallow to 180 meters depth. Galapagos pics below.
<Mmm, likely from one of my in-print Galapagos ref.s: http://wetwebmedia.com/galapagos.htm
The Biblio. near the bottom. Bob Fenner>

Starfish problem... no, searching... reading... data of use  08/15/2008 I have an 80 gallon tank with clowns, angels, hermits and a brownish/green starfish. Everything has been great for a year <?> but recently I noticed a possible problem with the starfish. At the end of her legs the tips are white and almost look a little eaten away? She is usually on the glass and I have never seen anyone bit at her. Any suggestions? Thank You, Renee <Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Re: Starfish problem... reading comp. 101    8/16/08 Thank you for the helpful website with pictures but none of those pictures captures the problem I am seeing with my starfish. <Oh?> Only the edges of her legs are pure white. Not her body. I concede this could be the beginning and white patches will spread but I'm hoping to remedy the situation before it gets to that. Thank You, Renee <Can't help you w/o more "real" data re water quality, set-up, maintenance, feeding... Photos... Sorry, but back to my Amazing Kreskin lessons. BobF>

Sea Star acclimation, air exposure or bag water? - 05/24/2008 Hello WWM crew! <Hi Eric.> I have a few questions that I haven't been able to find an answer for on the site. My aquarium description is listed below. I was wondering why public aquariums have tide-pool touch tanks where one can pick up sea stars and observe them, but most sources say that sea stars should never be exposed to air. <Do you know which species, how long some of them live, and how often they have to be replaced?> Are some sea stars more or less tolerant to air? <Yes, the ones from tidal zones can make themselves "air proof".> I even see Blue Linckias at the LFS sticking their arms out of the water occasionally. <Many stars can do that. As long as they can close their system by themselves instead of being surprised before being able to do so, it's not a problem. I have a big star that regularly comes almost entirely out of the water to be fed. That also shows they are not totally dumb and have some kind of memory, they even can remember feeding time and the spots where they are fed.> I was also wondering how to transfer a newly acquired sea star specimen from the bag water to the display or quarantine tank with out exposing it to the air or mixing contaminated bag water with my water. <A little bit of bag water is not a big deal at all in a well running system.> I understand the drip method and incorporate it in my acclimation practices, but in the end I simply pull/net the specimen out of the water and place it in the tank. My concern is even if I drip then poor out, drip then poor out, etc., is it not inevitable for some possibly ich infested, if not worse, water to enter my display? <Undesirable life like free stages of Cryptocaryon parasites (Ich) may also stick to the star or the net… anything in the water will be heavily diluted. Quarantine is the key word here if you want to minimize the chances of introduction of such things into the display.> Is the idea to simply minimize the amount of bag water entering or minimize the time the sea star is out of the water? <The first.> I have a 2 year old burgundy brittle star that is "happy as a clam" (I don't know what that saying means) <The old version of this saying was "as happy as a clam at high water". Of course those filter feeders are more happy at high water compared to low water. The phrase later was abbreviated and does not make much sense anymore.> and would like to try my hands at a Linckia or Fromia species. <Difficult, need old systems. The blue ones do generally better.> Before I do that I'd like to understand how to minimize the risk of killing the starfish during acclimation and avoid introducing "bad" things from the bag water. As a note, I understand brittle stars are easy and Linckias are not the best choices for aquariums, and 99% of them don't last more than a year, but after 10 years of keeping reef animals I feel the need to try. <Do yourself and the animal the favour to study as much as possible from printed literature and the internet. Your questions indicate you are preparing well. There is quite a number of other species sometimes traded under the names you stated, become familiar with characters to tell them apart. Selection of a healthy specimen and an old, well running, but not "too clean" system with detritus is also a must.> My friend has kept a Blue Linckia for over 2 years and I have a leopard wrasse that eats flake food, so I know anything is possible. I love the Fromia stars but rarely see them at any of the 5+ LFS I go to. Last question, I promise, I have a mandarin, a 2" pistol shrimp, a red brittle star, 3 emerald crabs, and a rose anemone that I have concerns compatibility-wise with sea stars. Are these a threat in the form of predation or even possibly as a food competitor? <Depends heavily on the sea star species, the real Linckia and Fromia will only eat specific very small food items (therefore you need an old system with lots of small, sessile organisms, algae, detritus. There are other red stars that are really hungry predators. Your animals will be no threat to a healthy star, only a dying or dead one may be eaten by a hungry pistol, the brittle stars (if your stars are among the scavengers), possibly the crabs.> Thank you so much for your hard work, godly wisdom and dealing with us mortal reef keepers. Sincerely, Eric. <We are all in the same boat and learning.> Tank: 240 gallons 96x24x24; 80 gallon sump (w/20lbs live rock); 40 gallon Refugium (w/15lbs live rock, Chaetomorpha, 2 sexy shrimp, 10,000,000 copepods...jk); 200-250lbs live rock; 4 inch fine sand bed; ASM 4+ Skimmer; ECO-Plus 1/2hp chiller; 2 Phosban filters; Turbo-twist 36W UV; 6 36" T5 2-actinic 4-10K; 6 48" T5 2-actinic 4-10K; Chemistry: ph 8.3; Ammonia 0.0; Nitrite 0.0; Nitrate 0.0; Phosphate 0.0; Calcium 480. <Cheers, Marco.>

What kind of sea star? - 05/21/2008 My question regards identifying a sea star my husband recently purchased. We live in Bahrain and the one fish store here hardly knows what their inventory is called. I have searched the internet putting in all the attributes in an effort to identify it but with no luck. It most resembles the Chocolate Chip sea star but it is the wrong coloration. <Is a relative, same family: Oreasteridae.> If I could get an identification then I can research how best to take care of him (I know that is best to do before the purchase is made but that will be applied next time). <Looks like Pentaceraster mammillatus from the Red Sea and Eastern Africa or possibly P. tuberculatus. They are often confused, but I believe your star is the first of these two species based on the look and number of lighter tips.> Please let me know if there are any special requirements for this particular sea star if possible. <Also look for similar species like the Chocolate Chip Star, care is basically the same. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars2.htm  (and linked FAQs) and scroll down to "Not So Spiffy Choices". Some individuals remain peaceful, some eat corals and other invertebrates. This will also depend on how much food is available/re-growing in the tank. I had model citizens in one tank that started to radically extinguish corals in the next, although being fed the same food and having the same corals, even the same water available. Back in the old tank the star was peaceful again. Kind of a gamble with corals.> Thank you for your assistance, I have enjoyed your site since finding it and I have been reading up on his other fish since so I can help him with his tank. Best Regards, April. <I'm glad you like the site and wish you good luck with your sea star. Cheers, Marco.>

Starfish question... Sci. fair ideas   -02/20/08 Hello, Could you please help us with finding some information about doing a science fair experiment with starfish for a high school student. Thank you. <Will help where we can... What is the nature of the experiment, et al.? Bob Fenner>

Re: Starfish question  -02/20/08 Thank you, This is where we are stumped so to speak. Do you have any ideas ? <!?> Perhaps on the biology end or environmental aspect ? <Heeeee! All sorts... is there a particular issue in and about the area these animals occur? Perhaps something to do with water quality changes, pollutants? Is the young person involved interested in some aspect (possibly) re their future career? E.g. reproduction/development... involved? Perhaps substrate preference, light... study?> I can not find a hypothesis to question. <... What?> What could learning about the starfish help the future scientists ?? Thank you, Linda. <Mmm, a cursory trip to a college library... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Bob Fenner>

Dog Ate Starfish - 7/9/07 <Hello> My dog ate a dried starfish that was sprayed with a clear spray to preserve. Is this toxic or harmful to the dog? <I would call your vet regarding this. Hope he/she is okay! -Lynn>

Non-hobbyist starfish questions   2/4/07   I know nothing about starfish. <We have mucho posted on our site re:>   I have this dehydrated starfish and I was wondering if you could clarify something for me. <Ok.>   I've always heard of people having salt water aquariums and throwing dehydrated starfish in the tank for decorations. <Right.>   I've also heard that these "decorations" come back to life and eat the other inhabitants of the tank. <No......> Is it true that you can revive a dehydrated starfish?   <No......> And if so, what would you have to do to revive one? <You can't.> I've never had a starfish.  How do you care for a starfish? <Search WWM re, there are MANY different species with varying care.>   And I had just one more question.  When you do dehydrate a starfish, in what ways does it change, as far as color, size and texture? <Dry's out, loses color....not a very Ummm popular practice around here.>   Thank you, <Anytime.>   Sam <Adam J.>

Astropecten articulatus ... a Seastar by the seashore  10/26/06 Hey, My three year old and I found a sea star (Astropecten articulatus) washed up on the beach in Florida in July and it was still alive.  We put the star in a sand bucket in ocean water  and brought it home. We then  bought a 10 gallon tank at the local pet store and named it Patrick. It was very active and seem to be doing well. It would come out to eat every time we feed it.  Then I decided that since Patrick was now a member of the family I would buy him a bigger tank. I bought a 30 gallon tank and let it mature for a month there is 15lbs of live rock, 3 snails and a new addition, a fire shrimp named Sparkles.  When I moved the pets from the 10 to the 30 tank, my PH dropped to 7.8 but all other levels continued to be  acceptable. The temp. is about 76 degrees and the salinity is high, now in his new home Patrick is listless. <Mmm, many marine invertebrates take weeks and more to adjust...> He sifts thru the sand but he never comes out of the sand when I feed the brine shrimp. <Is a molluscivore...> He is still firm to the touch and has no blemishes. But I never see him unless I hunt him in the sand. <Is about what they do, where they do it...> I also need to mention the 10 tank had coral rocks in the bottom and now I have 2 inches of sand in the bottom of 30 tank. Could he just be so glad to have sand that He stays buried. <Ah, yes. Good way to put this> I need any information you can give me about how to take care of my star. You mention about extra feeding in one of your articles. Please tell me how and what to feed him extra. <Mmm... would be better to have deeper sand... and more total size of the system...> Everyone I ask tells me that I am doing all I need to do to feed him but I have read that these stars starve to death in captivity. <Yes, very common>   I wanted to add to my tank also, but all additions must be safe for Patrick. My daughter insists on one fish, maybe a sea horse would satisfy her. <Err... most not easily kept... perhaps a hardy species of Damselfish... even a tank-bred/reared "Nemo"...>   What kind of sponges can I put in with him, <These also are likely to prove very problematical... easily dying, polluting the tank> hopefully in the yellow category. We need a Sponge Bob to go with Patrick. Thank you for any help you can give me. P.S. I enjoyed your book on invertebrates. <Thank you. Bob Fenner> Eliza

Seastars... how do they take the environmental wear and tear?   6/11/06 Hi, I would like to know how can sea stars survive the extreme conditions of being exposed to wind, hot sun, pounding waves and tides? <<Paola:  Sea Stars evolved to live in that environment.  Their feet stick to the rocks and their bodies preserve enough moisture to survive between the tides.  There are many other creatures that also inhabit the intertidal zone.  Best of luck,  Roy>>

Poor Skimmer Design Woes/Fromia Sea Star - 05/24/06 Hello, <<Hi Josh!>> I am pretty new to the marine environment. <<Much reading/researching ahead of you then>> Right now I have a nice 20 gallon tank set up and everything is doing fine.  My ammonia level is at zero and everything else checks out too.  Today I just installed my Sea Clone 100 protein skimmer, and I tried adjusting the venturi valve and I get massive amounts of tiny bubbles.  I read their tech documents and they mention that some de-chlorinators are gel like and also serve as a protective slime coating for fish and that to run the skimmer for 1 day or up to 3 weeks with the venturi valve off. <<Mmm, defeats the purpose of having the skimmer doesn't it?>> The de-chlorinator I use is TetraAqua AquaSafe Water Conditioner. I am wondering if anyone has had experience with this product and how long it should be until the AquaSafe is broke down enough that when I adjust the air intake I don't have any micro bubbles flowing into the tank. <<Though it is true that some water conditioners will cause a skimmer to "foam" excessively, "micro-bubbles" entering your tank does not sound like this is the problem.  It seems to me this is more an issue with trying to tune a poorly designed skimmer.  You will likely need to contrive some sort of bubble trap...or better yet...get a better skimmer>> Normally I would not mind but I am afraid of too much oxygen in the take may harm or kill my starfish. <<Too much oxygen is not an issue...but excessive micro-bubbles can be problematic to some organisms>> I am not sure of the type of star it is.  It's red with black tips; I think it's a Red & Black Sea Star (Fromia milleporella). <<Hmm...these are "all red" in my experience.  Perhaps a geographic variant...or a different specie altogether>> The guy at the fish store told me this star does not so well with salinity changes, too much air and other stuff. <<Mmm, can be said of many things>> Also any advice on feeding this star and caring for it would be great. <<Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fromiastarfaqs.htm >> The fish store told me to feed it some zucchini.  It will go to it and lay on it but after removing the zucchini after 30 minutes there is no evidence that the star is feeding on it.  I also purchased some frozen food the recommended Formula One.  Any suggestions on these topics would be much appreciated. <<The Fromia sp. sea stars are generally considered detritivores but will benefit greatly from supplemental feedings of marine based "meaty" foods (shrimp, krill, mussel, clam, etc.).   Thank You Josh <<Regards, EricR>>

No starfish help... lack of useful info.   2/1/06 Hello! Please help! I have a white sand starfish who looks very very awful. I noticed him laying upside down on the sand. At first I thought maybe he was a baby, but thought it very unlikely. We have two of these starfish, don't see them too often. The bigger one seems fine whenever we see it. The small one looked like it had gone through a street brawl. Wounds on most of his legs. This one now only has 4 stumps and the last leg is 1/2 there or less). What is happening!? <Who knows?> I flipped him back over, he started climbing the wall and is now laying on his back again, no doubt due to no legs to turn himself over with. I can see a couple of leg pieces laying on the sand. I have two tomato clowns, two yellow tangs, mandarin goby, six line wrasse and bicolor Dottyback (can't remember how to spell scientific name, sorry. We are having a major problem with some hair algae (really slimy and covering the sand like a rug). One bright red, the other a rust color. Is there something that is eating away at the starfish? <... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marind5_5.htm scroll down to the Echinoderms area... read re asteroids... Bob Fenner>

I went to California and all I got/killed is this foul-smelling asteroid   1/13/06 Hey! I was in California a few weeks ago and we were hunting for shells in tide pools and there were a ton of starfish, all looked dead, just floating in between the rocks. A lot of them were deformed, but there was one that I found that was a bright red color and a great size. It was not moving and just floating in the water so, I thought it was dead and I am not an expert but I think it is. Anyways, I was wondering how do I get it to dry up? It is starting to bleed black in the inside of its legs and now I am worried it may not have been dead after all and if it is not dead what do I do, because I do not want to kill it. Any suggestions would be great, thanks!      Amelia <Is a stinky mess... the best is to put this poor animal on your roof... hope for warm/er, dry weather... let a few months go by. Bob Fenner> Starfish injury?  10/19/05 Hello! I have a question about my Orange Ridge Sea Star (Echinaster spinulosus). One of his legs seem to have s scar. His orange "skin   you can call it looks like it was burned or something from him. He isn't curling up or anything like he is dying but Am concerned in   whether or not this is serious or not. I believe that Starfish regenerate to solve a lot of their issues, but I of-course wanted to   know what all of you think. Thanks so much again! -Jon <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Phataria pyramidata <Daily pic> Photo 7/26/05 Hello, Crew! Thanks for the great site, service, and daily pic, from which this question stems.  In my never-ending quest to hope to know what to do in as many situations as possible, I wanted to ask you about the Phataria pyramidata specimen that appeared in the 7/25/2005 daily FAQ (URL: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PIX%20of%20the%20Day/Phataria%20pyramidata%20GAL.jpg).   There appears to be some sort of scar or lesion on its central disc; can you tell whether that's just an old, healed battle scar or trouble in the works?  (I.e., if a prospective buy had a similar marking, would it be best to leave it at the store?) <Actually, I think (see other Googled images) is part of the water-vascular system... the madreporite> Thanks for imparting part of your knowledge and experience... Scott Baker <Thank you for your interest, sharing. Bob Fenner> Starfish Eggs? (4/29/05) Hi, I have a red starfish, I think it's a Fromia milleporella. I've had it a few months and it is doing great. This morning I noticed that it had a few small red balls sitting on top of it. <Weird.> I checked back and found LOTS of red balls on and around it. I have checked everywhere to see if it could be laying eggs, but with no luck finding information.  <I doubt these are eggs as most starfish reproduce by free-spawning their eggs out into the water. Here's an interesting picture: http://www.cosmos.ne.jp/~breach/hot-spawn.html > I would not expect them to adhere.> I feel kind of funny writing to you because for all I know it could just be relieving itself and I've never noticed it.  <I'm sure it's not poop.>  Anyway, I was able to carefully get the starfish and eggs (?) into a protected area just in case.  <If they are eggs, they have not been fertilized, and thus cannot develop.>  I took a couple of photos, but don't know how to make them smaller.  <Most photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements and Microsoft Digital Image Suite have tools for quickly reducing file size and attaching images to an e-mail.> <<Note: Irfanview is another excellent program created for Windows that is downloaded for free.>> Can have my husband help me tonight with that if you want to see them.  <Love to! Keep file size 300K or less.>  What do you think??  <Hard to say without taking a look at a good picture. Does the starfish show any sign of deterioration?>  Thanks, Kim  <Hope this helps some. Please do send the pix. Steve Allen.> 

Seastars getting about Dear researchers, <Okay> When a sea star washes up on the shore it can't crawl back, why? Your curious friend, Erin Montoya <Mmm, well, these animals have a means of locomoting via their "tube feet" which all taken together can exert tremendous force... some seastars can pry bivalve mollusks like mussels apart! But when they're exposed to air there is no water for them pump through their water-vascular network that provides the torpor for pressurizing their tube-feet... they're literally "out of water/gas". Bob Fenner>

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 

Linckia grabbin' air - 12/2/04 Hi, <Hey, man!>     We have a purple starfish, I believe Linckia. Fish store owner claims he has had great luck with them when acclimated properly (which we did). <There is a lot to acclimating these starfish.>  I read they should not be exposed to air. <Well, they should not get air bubbles trapped near their mouths> Each morning he goes close to the top of the SW tank and his rays go partially out of the water, <Normal activity> I gently moved him (without touching him with my hand) and then he went another direction. He's done this two mornings in a row. <Normal behavior>  I'm afraid I'll hurt him but also afraid the air will. <The air will not. This would be a great opportunity to feed him some small mysids or frozen krill>   We have a 125 gallon.  About 80 pounds of live rock and you've helped us before. (Thanks!) <What we do> The tank has been going for over a year.  I've searched articles but couldn't find a similar question.  Thanks. M. DeNeff <Thanks for participating. ~Paul>

Purple "Linckia" Questions (11/30/04) Hello. <Hi! Steve Allen, echinoderm enthusiast, with you tonight.>  First off I love your web site, I can't tell you how many hours I've sat here reading and gaining tons of info. <Thanks, me too.> OK, that said my current concern is the addition of a purple Linckia starfish <actually, usually Tamaria stria.> (I know these are hard to keep but I have it (thanks to the wife) and want to try to keep it). I have a 40 gal tank with 2" of live sand, live rock, lots of polyps, a finger leather, 3 clams, a plate coral, 2 sponges, some snails, some blue leg hermits, 2 feather dusters, I think that's close to it. As for fish I have a Nemo fish (ha ha), a Flounder, 2 Damsels, and a Mandarin Goby. My water parameters are all good and stable. I change 5 gal a week. Ok that said my question is (knowing my tank is too small and young (6 months) for a Linckia to survive on it's own according to what I've read on your site.) can I spot feed this star or is it doomed? <How long have you had it? Most die in the first few weeks from mishandling prior to sale or failure to acclimate over a sufficiently long period to the new tank. If you can get past this, you're off to a good start.> And if so what can I feed it? <Small bits of organic matter deposited at the base of an arm may be eaten. Here's another good reference: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/may2002/toonen.htm. You may also want to post on the WWM chat forum to see if others have had experience with this species surviving. Googling gets a lot of hits.>  Thanks for your help and all the help I've gotten from reading the posts. <A pleasure. Hope this helps. Keep us posted.> Karl Marine livestock questions Hi Crew,         I just bought a Red Starfish (Fromia milleporella) and a Royal Gramma last Sunday and a Regal (Hippo) Tang yesterday and I would like some advice with the three of them. Firstly the Starfish is acting quite strange it is arching it's self and not moving much when I pick it up and put it on the rock it lies flat with the tips of it's arms curled up and then moves it's self into the same position. I don't know what to do and not sure if it is sick or not. <Fromia stars are amongst the toughest of asteroids for aquarium use, but I would NOT move them about forcibly... yours may be simply "adjusting", but I would do what you can to check water quality> The Royal Gramma has, what looks like, a few scratches on it's side. I bought the fish like this but never noticed it until I put him in the tank. <Might have occurred during catching, bagging from the store> As well the bottom part of the tail fin looks like cut away of bitten off. Will the tail fin grow back and will the scratches go? or do I have to do something to help with this? <Will re-grow, heal in time> Lastly the colour on the Regal Tang looks like it has faded. The blue part is not as bright as I've seen on most Tangs. Is there anything I can do to the colour back into the Tang? Regards Eric <Patience, good nutrition, basic husbandry... will solve all. Bob Fenner>

Starfish Research Project (11/8/04) Thanks for all the great info! <A pleasure to play a small part in the enterprise. Steve Allen with you tonight.> I am doing a research project on starfish regeneration after exposure to UV rays. <Hmm. Is this for school? My kids' district has a strict policy forbidding projects that involve harming animals. What do you propose to do--expose an entire starfish to UV or just part of it? Are you aware of the dangers of UV radiation to you? I can virtually guarantee you that if you expose a starfish to enough UV radiation to cause damage, it will not regenerate because you will have destroyed the DNA it needs to regenerate the damaged parts. What is the purpose of this project? Is it intended to provide some useful scientific knowledge that could lead to some benefit to humanity? If not, I cannot condone pointless projects that harm animals. I would then suggest you consider an alternative, non-injurious project. I will gladly provide some suggestions if you tell me your age, grade and the nature of the assignment.> I have a 30 gallon tank with 2-3 inches of sand and some coquina <?> rock from the beach. It is cycling with shrimp. What kind of starfish would you recommend that would survive in this environment? A local fish store recommended sand sifting sea stars, but your information leads me to believe they wouldn't survive after they cleaned all the food from the sand. <They can be fed by hand, but a Chocolate Chip Star (Protoreastor nodosus) might be easier to feed chunks of meaty marine food.> I was told to feed them bits of shrimp, but was reading your site and don't think that would work anymore either. Are there any types of sea stars that I could keep alive? <As above.> Thanks! Patrick <I implore you to reconsider this project unless it meets some ethical standard of benefit to humanity that justifies harming animals. If it does not, please share the objectives and requirements of the assignment, either with the crew or on our chat forum to get ideas for a great project that does no harm. As we say in medicine, Primum non nocere.>

Dried Starfish (10/21/04) We got some tan or brown starfish from the Atlantic ocean in august and dried them out flat and put them on cardboard after they were dry now they are turning green is there anything I can do to get rid of the green or do I have to throw them away, and can you also tell me what might of happened to do this to them.  I have gotten some before and this has never happened before. thank you <I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you took dead stars from the beach rather than killing live stars by removing them from the water to use as decorations. The green sounds like some kind of rot or mold. I really don't have any great ideas because we deal with live stars here. If you think it's mold or mildew, maybe just spraying it with Lysol or something similar will work. Perhaps you could talk to someone at one of those craft stores I now boycott because they sell dried seastars and dried seahorses. They might have a suggestion. Hope this helps. Steve Allen, echinoderm enthusiast.> Questions about Sandsifter Starfish (9/16/04) This is a picture of my Sandsifter that I have had in my 100 GL aquarium for at least two years. <Nice picture.> I have never seen him/her exhibit this type of posture/behavior.  I have been noticing him in this position (off and on) for about the last three days. Is this something I should be concerned about? Thank you for your input! Donna Albright <This is a posture that many types of stars assume when eating corals and bivalves. As to why your Sandsifter is doing this, I cannot say. As long as it is moving around normally and shows no wounds or blemishes, I doubt there is reason for concern. Steve Allen.>

A Profusion of Stars (9/15/04) Hi Mr. Fenner, <Steve Allen helping out tonight.> I have used your web site for years to help answer many of my aquatic questions. Thank you. <A pleasure to have a role here. Bob and all who have contributed over the years have done us all a great service.> In many of your Q&A you refer to many links for people to follow. As a result, the first thing I did was go to as many issues to see if my question had been covered! - It has, but only in part. From what I've gathered I'm 97% sure there tiny Asterina starfish. <Make that even more so, these pix are clearly a form of Asterina.> This wouldn't be bad except they are eating my coralline algae at aggressive proportions! <Hmm. They generally eat other algae and I have not heard this complaint before.> As many as 35 might get plucked from a 6 inch in diameter live rock. I estimate roughly 250+ in the tank. <That is quite a lot. I wonder what aspect of your tank conditions favors this. Overfeeding? Inadequate detritus removal? Hard to say. Mine has only a few dozen.> They multiply so fast when they break their appendages, and are hard to see on the rock at times. The easiest thing to do would be to toss in a Trigger and let him go at it. Unfortunately, this system is a 5 year old 55gal reef and has an established group of "peaceful" fish, inverts (coral banded, hermits, bristles) and corals (candy canes, mushrooms, bubbles, colt, hammer, cabbage, polyps) What can I do! I have been manually plucking off the starfish with tweezers. The article from your site (colored in green below) is the nearest reference to my question I found. Attached are 3 low-res jpgs of my uninvited guests. <Asterina, to be sure.> You have my permission to use these images and our correspondence (edited) if this will help. Please help!!! Thank you. Clayton <I have to concur with Anthony's opinion on these. There are those who swear these stars will eat corals, but some very respected invertebrate experts in the hobby beg to differ. A Harlequin shrimp will need to be fed manually once it wipes out the Asterina. Someone at GARF was crowing about keeping them alive for 8 months. I am not impressed--18 months and I might start to be. It doesn't sound like you can use the kinds of large aggressive fish that might eat them. That leaves manual plucking with tweezers, which the sites I checked recommend. I'd suggest that if you do try this, you take the time to pluck out every last one that you can get at. Good luck.>

Echinoderm Quarantine (9/8/04) Greetings crew. <Steve Allen today.> Can't find what I need in the FAQ archive. I am planning to get a starfish for my minireef.  After extensively researching my choices, I am leaning towards a Fromia sp. of starfish (waiting for a pretty red or orange one to come in). <Best choice. Most Linckias die.> I am wondering if I should set up my QT differently than I do for my fish and corals? <Bare bottom is fine. Echinoderms are happiest at normal seawater salinity (SG around 1.024).> Is there anything special that I should do for keeping a starfish for 4-6 weeks? <4 is fine. You will need to feed it things like frozen Mysis.> I currently have a 10-gal with heater, 20w of PC, powerhead <Consider leaving this out. Definitely use a screen to keep the starfish room getting stuck in the intake.> and a whisper 30 filter. Plenty of PVC <not really needed for the star, but no harm.> and a fake Caulerpa plant as well. <Again, not needed.> Anything else I should have on hand just in case of problems? <Not that I can think of. The key factor is slooooow acclimation (use drip--read article on WWM). This will also be the case when moving to the display. Stars tolerate only very gradual changes in SG and pH especially. Temp and other factors are important as well.> Just wondering before I get my new reef family member. <Smart to learn first and buy after. Good luck.> Thanks again for all your help. AA pleasure.> -Ray

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

Sand-Sifting Star Issues (8/17/04) Hello Crew, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.>   I have a question, Is it normal for a sand sifter Starfish To climb the tank and glass. <I would not consider it abnormal, but it may mean that it's not finding enough food in the sand. These voracious eaters can rid a sandbed of all life other than bacteria, though yours ought to be big enough to keep up.> I have 140 Gal, 1 year old. 150 lbs of rock, and I see copepods like you see ants on a hill. They are all over. <Are they on the sand too?> Every so often he climbs the tank. I also will see little white bugs on the glass. <Could be he senses them and is going after them. Or maybe he just wants to see the world. ;)> Also are you supposed to try to feed it shrimp? LFS said to put it on a piece of shrimp, tried it once and he ran away from it and does not eat it. <Stars often do not like being handled and will run away as soon as you let go. However, I hand feed all of my big stars. (I have no Archaster, however.) Sometimes they eat and sometimes they don't. A couple of them seem to have specific tastes. Perhaps it would take mussels or squid or something else. Perhaps it is getting enough already--many folks do not hand feed Archaster typicus. I would not worry about its wanderings as long as it appears healthy and is not wasting away.>   Also , I have a Bubble tip Anemone, I feed it shrimp with Secor (Sometimes with Secor) but every 3 days he eats, was doing good. for 5 days now he has been hiding behind a rock with the clowns, it is like he is hiding from the light. <Not a good thing. They generally like lots of light--need it to survive/thrive.>  Have not changed any lighting or anything in the tank Readings are all normal, He will not eat but I still see he is alive. <Hard to say what the trouble is here. I have not kept anemones because of my personal opinion that they should be left in the sea because too many die in tanks. I would recommend you read the anemone articles and FAQs on WWM, check for articles at www.reefkeeping.com and look for the article on BTAs published a few months back in Aquarium Fish Magazine at your local library. If you do not find these helpful, submit a new query about the BTA only and I will see to it that it gets routed to someone with more experience. Your query came to me because I'm into echinoderms.> Than you for your help <I hope this does help.>

Starfish Project (3/8/04) Dear Mr. Robert: <Steve Allen covering echinoderms tonight.> I, Aanchal Jain am 12 years old. I go to an International Community School, Zurich Switzerland. I am in 7 th grade. In our science class, I have been studying about the sea star, for nearly 5 months. <Wow. Soon you will be an expert.> I have done two projects on it. <I share your fascination with these creatures.>   From doing the two projects about the sea star I have learned a lot. I know what a sea star eats, how it eats, its digestive system, what nutrients it eats and needs, some of its amazing talents, where it lives and about their mating season. The first project I made was a brochure, telling all the above things very briefly. In my second project I studied about what a Seastar eats, how it eats, its digestive system and what nutrients it needs, in more detail.   Even after the 2 projects I still have too many open questions about the sea star. I would really appreciate it if you could spare some time and help me understand more about the sea star. Here are some of my queries: Why is a sea star a star shape? What advantage/disadvantage does it have being a star shape? I would like to know this because from all the animals I know, the sea star has the strangest shape. <Well, there's some pretty odd-looking creatures out there. Starfish have a radial symmetry (shared with most other echinoderms) that is actually rather simple yet elegant. They are also bilaterally symmetrical. There is no certainty as to why they have this shape. It may make their bodies stronger and it also makes the quite flexible and mobile.>   Please mail me any interesting URLs, so I can explore myself, or any documents. <There is an outstanding chapter on echinoderm biology in  volume 4 of The Modern Coral Reed Aquarium by Svein A Fossa and Alf Jacob Nielsen that should really help you. It was originally published in German as Korallenriff-Aquarium. I'm not sure which volume, but the English is more up to date. Here are a few links to start from: http://www.aquarium.net/0797/0797_2.shtml http://www.oceanicresearch.org/echinoderm.html http://www.mesa.edu.au/friends/seashores/sea_stars.html http://home.att.net/~ophiuroid/home.html http://www.starfish.ch/Home.html Hope this helps!>

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 

Sea star help Thank you very much. We were concerned and thought we had gone to a good source. Our summers are spent putting sea stars back in the ocean. We feel awful.  Sarah <Please, it was not my intent.  I only mean to give both aquarists & the animals involved the most successful experience possible.  I applaud your efforts to research the best possible home for your stars, and apologize that it's not in your home.  Cheers! Ryan>

Melting Sea Star (12/27/2003) Hello, I have been on your site several times, this time it is book marked. <glad you find it useful. I read it all the time too. Steve Allen with you tonight.> I have a 65gl reef aquarium currently in best of shapes it has ever been. Inhabitants include 2 brittle starfish, 2 clownfish, 3 anemones <do read every word on WWM about anemones. Very hard to keep alive. Make sure you have enough light>, 3 Chromis, 1 black devil <they earn that name by their behavior.> damsel, 1 blue devil damsel, 1 yellow tang, 1 blenny lawn mower, 1 hermit crab, 8 turbo snails (5 large and 3 small), 1 big feather duster (tube worm) and hundreds of tiny feather dusters on live rock and many other life forms in the live rocks. <cool, I love the stuff that comes on LR. BTW, your tank is full--don't add anything more. Best not to add corals to a tank with anemones.> About 7 days ago, I took off all the live rocks and removed  a 3 spotted damsel and a 3 striped damsel because they fought against each other and all other fish and I believe caused enough stress on the Chromis to the point one of them started breaking out with ICH. <Damsels are mean. Also, you now know you have ich in your tank. Do read all about it on WWM.> After re-arranging the rocks back in the aquarium and changing  about 40% of water, ammonia levels shot up. I changed water 2 times about 25% every alternate day, but ammonia level stayed up. I then bought Hagen Cycle and Waste Control and that seemed to take care of my old tank syndrome and now ammonia is under control and everything looks wonderful. <Good. Just goes to show that any disturbance can mess things up.> ONLY problem is that my starfish has been shy recently and I found him all torn up in several places his arms look like they will drop off sooner or later and two of his arms do not even have tips (very blunt), body torn up in two places, he looks oh.. shocking.. what could have caused this condition? can it be reversed? <Cause likely the ammonia spike or injury when moving rock around or some fish biting him. Not reversible by you. If you maintain pristine water conditions, it may regenerate, but it is far more likely that it will become infected and die.> By the way, the other bristle starfish is a new edition and he does not seem to have any problem 6 days in the aquarium.  If there is any relationship to ICH, my fish had ICH about 3 weeks ago or so and after some medication <Oops. That may be what damaged your brittle star. Never ever put medication in your display tank. Very likely to damage/kill your anemones. Advertising claims aside, there is no such thing as an effective, reef-safe ich medicine.> and removal of the two damsels, now no fish has any ICH (3 days into near perfect water condition) <May only be temporary. Ich tomites now lurk in your tank just waiting to attach to a fish if given the opportunity. Do read every word on WWM about this scourge.> Any suggestions about the tearing starfish? <as above> Regards, Samir

- Communicating with Seastars - An interesting discussion came up between myself and a friend.  We were talking about starfish regenerating themselves and I retold a story of how two men had each part of a starfish that re-grew.  They lived on opposite sides of an island so used the starfish to communicate.  When one man would arrange the legs of the starfish the other starfish would also move into that position.  From that they had a crude way of communicating.  They also had a distress signal and one day one man broke his leg and moved his starfish's arms into their agreed signal. The other man the next day checked his starfish and it's legs were in the distress signal position.  He went to his mates aid and found him with the broken leg.  Is this possible? <As amusing as the idea is, I don't think it's possible. These animals are much too simple... if you rip one in half, chances are good that both halves will eventually form a whole animal, but it takes months and months. The two halves become individuals and wouldn't form a 'link' that would allow changes to one to affect the other. It's still a good story though.> Thank you Lisa <Cheers, J -- >

- Communicating with Seastars - The story came from a TV news story which told it as a true event. <I see a lot of stuff on TV that is supposed to be true, but isn't.> Maybe you could experiment on it sometime. <Uhh... I've split seastars in half and watched them regrow. Perhaps YOU could experiment with it sometime.> Thanks for your quick reply..... <My pleasure.> Lisa <Cheers, J -- >

- This is the End of My Pets and the Tank - All starfishes and worms appears to be dead, and all begins to decay. :( :( :( :( :cry. And so well.. I should tell back the first storyline why this is can happened. I have a 3 gallon tanks (I guess; it was 60 x 30 x 36) and the inhabitants were living with harmony and living happily. The water was so clear, never polluted and nitrates were very low. But... When I want a horned starfish (Protoreastor) I see in the aquaria, I just foolishly selected it and without any guesswork and considers what could be happened. The seller were so clumsy and looked not so smart (did you know how he put the stars in the transport bags?? He took them out from the water and expose them to the air!! <Next time, don't buy them if the store clerk bags them up that way - refuse to pay for them and tell them why; seastars should not be exposed to the air.> and I'd be sure they became stressed) And, when I opened the bag in my home, milky saturation exists replacing the water. I ignoring it, and started to put the stars in my aquaria (sorry, this ones without acclimatization and I just put them into the small tank because of the heavy bag to put floating in aquarium.) and they starts to exudes the rotting secretion to water, and next  day the vision was totally obscured. So, I went to the second aquaria marketplace (with my mother began shouting to me) to buy two gallons of saltwater (hey.. in this country no salt mixes available for this; Bob Fenner maybe had been here, for diving in Bunaken and Bali) and using water changes for this. I change it, and waiting to Monday. Next day, all stars die (they as prominently exuding slime and ossicles were falling apart), worms sheds the crown and die. The only survivors is the semi-terrestrial mangrove Ceriths and they now hanging creeping above water surface. And I am fully aware and sure the water were boosting to high-ammonia, nitrites, nitrates.* sob, sob, waahhh !!!!* Mercifully, my mother did, tolerant this likely unforgivable event and I promised to be more careful in selection and care. So, I planned to restart all of this. I started with Archasters, and some others. Can you give me a recommendation for tankmates for Archasters? <Unless space is a real issue for you, can I convince you to get a slightly larger tank? Three gallons is smaller than small, and as you've now seen things can go badly very fast in a tank of this size. Even so, if you must keep this small system, I really wouldn't put much in it - perhaps one Seastar, one Featherduster, and maybe one shrimp, but that's all. If you put too much life in this tank, you'll have a repeat of this bad experience.> (I would be happy if I can put some other starfish species and Brittlestars) and can I use the old sand (I scared if it was contaminated) for the new setting? <You should be able to use the old sand - just let the tank run for a week or so with nothing else in it.> Thanks a lot!!! Anargha. <Cheers, J -- >

Asteroid Location, Pentaceraster mammillatus Dear Bob Fenner, Recently, my ocean life database had been updated with some species. But, due to classified groups by location (i.e.. IndoPacific Coral reef, Caribbean Lagoon, European Rocky Shores, American Kelp Forest, etc.) I need some help about this. Did you know about a Oreasteriid species, named Pentaceraster mammillatus (this one's popularly used in aquariums, so I think you'd know this) whom normally colored green, blue, yellow, orangish tinge living in where? Did it also lives in coral reefs? (I do knows they living in seagrass beds). <They are not found on or amongst corals but on sand, and seagrass beds> And, my four Archasters seems to be living happily in my aquarium, though my Hypselodoris atromarginata is disappearing (two nudies - after I'm recently go home from my school's Ramadan Camp, and my mother claims her beloved Hypselodoriids vanishes in my aquaria, and then I was shocked; Is that my Sand Sifters eats them all ? ) Thank you for all information and helps - Sincerely, Anargha Setiadi. <I doubt that your Archaster consumed your mothers Nudibranchs... they often "just disappear" (die and quickly dissolve) in captive settings. Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Pentaceraster mammillatus Dear Bob Fenner, Good day to you, I hope you're okay. <Yes. Thank you> Puzzling questions keeps to appearing in my mind. I don't know very much about the starfish Pentaceraster mammillatus. I heard, this species is beautiful and green, blue, or orange/yellow shades in colour; also it was popular choice for aquarists. <Yes, though not generally hardy, long-lived in captivity> Just few weeks ago, I'd see one P. mammillatus in our local aquarium dealer, and the seller says, "more to come." I just want to try keeping them in my aquarium. My aquarium is small, with inhabitants only six Southern Featherduster (Sabellastarte indica), two Millepora Star (Fromia milleporella), and four large Sand Sifters (Archaster typicus), Mangrove Cerith (family Cerithidae) and some hitch-hiking crabs. Actually, I have four Fromias, but because accidental air exposure, two of them die because of falling ossicles (necrosis ?) <Possibly> and final death. I remove these poor souls to garbage can. But, fortunately the last remaining two still healthy and active. And others does so, especially my Sand Sifters always creeping up the aquarium glass spreading its stomach to feed on algal film :). Anyway, I wanting to sell Fromias and Featherdusters, except the sand sifters, because: I afraid if the last Fromias dying again and better left them to more experienced shopkeeper; The Featherdusters I want to sell, well, I just want to having starfish-only aquarium, the most thing I want from child-age :). In my plan, I would layers the rather coarse coral sand with softer sand (for the sand sifters convenience) fresh wet beach sand (to feed my sand sifters, rather riskful of diseases, though) Tufa rocks, plastic seaweeds, four well-sized P. mammillatus or Pentaceraster linckii. And, perhaps for better water quality, I must replace the filter with more bigger ones (of course, these things only can be realized if my mother giving permission; she's rather stingy). And my final question: from where the Pentaceraster mammillatus came? did they occur naturally in Indo-pacific or also in Tropical Atlantic (Caribbean, Cozumel, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, etc.)? Thank you very much!!! I'll waiting for your answers. :) = (: <Pentaceraster mammillatus is from the broader part of the Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea. Please read through the Seastar sections on WWM however... this species, family of asteroids is not easily kept. However, if you have access to the sea, you might want to collect, study species available to you locally. Bob Fenner>

Falling Stars... Thanks for the previous reply but things aren't turning out fine for those starfishes they looked like they are dying. I found out from a website that starfishes are very sensitive to changes in the water and changes in salinity will cause damage to them. <Agreed> 1 of my starfish had its body degraded and I have no idea why this is happening . I was shocked to see the starfish moving even when its body is slowly breaking down. I noticed that none of my starfishes feed on the scraps of meat that I fed them with neither did they touch the live mollusks that I place in their tank what went wrong?? <A lot of possibilities. First, the species that you have may be detritivores (Opiates species, possibly?), and such foods may be too large for them to ingest, or simply not on their "list" of favored foods. Second, they may have had some difficulty acclimating to your tank after capture...Not due to any error on your part, but simply because they don't take well to changes...Finally, they could have been ill before you purchased them, or collected/shipped improperly, and thus not having a chance to begin with...> I also noted that the starfishes looked quite sick and their arms are tearing off. I did not do anything to the water but I was wondering whether it was the unsuitable water temperature or light intensity that affects them. <Possibly chemical conditions of the water...Maybe even injuries that became infected. Vibrio infections commonly afflict these creatures. Antibiotics administered in a separate aquarium could help, but there are no guarantees here...> Should I take the starfishes out of the water if I suspect it is the water that is causing the starfishes to lose their arms? <Certainly okay to put them into a more acceptable conditions...Do test your water to be certain that conditions are favorable...> Besides that, they seems to be less active compared to the last few days. Jinghui <I'd remove the animals to a separate aquarium for possible treatment, and keep the water conditions very clean. With careful observation and use of antibiotics, it may be possible to save them.. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> 

- Red Starfish - Good morning, Our 65 gallon tank has been running for about 3 months after we had to take it down for some repairs. About a month ago we bought a red starfish and a Sandsifter starfish. The Sandsifter is doing great but the red one is losing pieces of it's legs. About 2 weeks after we brought it home, some blister-like bubbles appeared on the ends of a couple of its legs. Shortly afterwards, these areas fell off. I know that starfish can regrow their legs but then just recently, a lesion appeared near the centre of its body and it left a hole much like the human flesh eating disease would! Now, it looks like this whole leg may fall off leaving him with only 4! Is there anything we can do for this poor creature before he falls apart piece by piece? <Probably not - unfortunately, these creatures are sensitive to changes in water quality, and there may have been issues before you got your hands on it. It is very difficult to reverse such trends.> There have been no other lesions appearing and the tips of his legs have healed and are fine so far. I also know that these creatures require excellent water quality and all of our testing is showing great results. We have had many different creatures over the years but this is our first starfish purchase. Any ideas? <Hmm... not really, is quite likely you will lose this one, but I'd encourage you to try again. Do inspect potential candidates carefully before choosing one to keep. Cheers, J -- >

Seeing Stars...(Starfish) Hi there, <Hey there! Scott F. with you today!> I have 4 starfish here with me and I have no idea what kind of starfish they are. I'm new to this and I've never had any saltwater pets before. <Lots of fun in store for you!> All have 5 legs each, about 2-3cm in diameter and all had the same grayish black appearance. <Possibly Opiates species...If so- they stay small, tend to be prolific, and are quite helpful in reef systems as scavengers...> Next, I was wondering whether they feed on dead shrimps and oysters. <Well, if I am correct in my species guess, it will take a lot of these guys to do that...> One of the starfish compared to the others seems to be hyperactive and it can't seems to stop moving about unlike the rest, is there any reason behind it? <None that I can think of....> Is it advisable for me to actually buy seawater from aquariums to upkeep those starfishes? <Not quite sure what you mean by this, but if you are implying that you intend to do water changes, I'm all for it!> I am intending to put small fishes in the tank together with the starfishes but is it safe?? <Should be fine, depending on the fishes that you intend to keep...Read up on the WWM site for information on compatible animals...> Jinghui
<Good luck! Scott F>

- ID This - Sorry, I just learned that AOL made me zip 'em. <No worries...> Hello- <Oh, hello.> I am new to marine aquarium keeping and I have found a new creature on the live rock that I (or anyone else I know) am unable to identify.  A picture is attached.  It looks similar to a star fish having one extra long leg. <That's exactly what it is, perhaps a Linckia... seastars have an amazing regenerative capability... this star was probably reduced to just a portion of the disk and the one leg, and it's just been slowly growing back the missing parts. Neat acquisition.> It is about 1.5" in length.  The system has been running almost a month.  The live rock was added during the 2nd week.  Everything seems to be going well, in my humble opinion.  I would like to know what this creature is and if it will harm other organisms. <Probably nothing to worry about... some seastars make a habit of eating bi-valves, but others are less predatory. I'd keep it around.> I find your website very informative.  Thanks for all your help.  LH
<Cheers, J -- >

Comet of a Starfish - 8/20/03 I am new to marine aquarium keeping and I have found a new creature on the live rock that I (or anyone else I know) am unable to identify.  A picture is attached.  It looks similar to a star fish having one extra long leg.  It is about 1.5" in length.  The system has been running almost a month.  The live rock was added during the 2nd week.  Everything seems to be going well, in my humble opinion.  I would like to know what this creature is and if it will harm other organisms.  I find your website very informative.  Thanks for all your help.  LH <thanks kindly... and no worries. Your creature is indeed a sea star. In this case an Asteroid species of a genus perhaps like Fromia, Linckia or the like. Probably is reef safe (not eating desirable invertebrates) but watch closely nonetheless. It is a "comet" with is the leg of a sea star which is in the process of growing a new body. Best regards, Anthony>

Starfish Comet II - 8/20/03 That's quite a surprise!  I have lost a red legged hermit.  Could this sea star be to blame?   <not with this sea star species... surely unrelated. A peaceful starfish> Thanks for the timely response, I'm sure I'll have other questions in the future.  LH <our pleasure... best regards, Anthony>

Struggling Starfish - 8/10/3 I have a green brittle star who, just yesterday, lost all his legs. They just started falling off as he moved around the tank. I did read in your FAQs about the salinity and I'm sure that is what happened. I just topped off the tank two days ago. My question now is.....he is just a body now. But he is still alive. In order to give him a chance to regenerate his legs can I leave him in the tank he's in? Or should I set up a separate hospital tank for him. <a sump, refugium or like inline vessel would be best so as to spare the stress of a move.> He's in a 20 gal hex with one blue damsel, one maroon clown, and a Jawfish. Thanks for your help! <they are amazingly regenerative... anything's possible here (including the legs growing new bodies). Do know though that this is one of the few Ophiuroid stars that are predatory... eating fishes and invertebrates in time. Consider for the future. Kindly, Anthony>

Nardoa or Fromia? 08/09/03 <Hey there, hi there, ho there yourself Todd. PF here with you today.> Hey, there, hi there, ho there, As there are about a million various sea stars in the sea, I have been unable to figure out what species this beauty I picked up recently is. Any ideas? <No, unfortunately I don't recognize the species either. In the future Todd, please research the animal before purchase. Trust me, I know it's hard to say no to an interesting animal in the store, but for its and your sake do so in the future.> Either a Fromia or Nardoa of some sort?  In any case, I'm afraid it's not getting the food it needs in my smaller tank with plenty of live rock and sand, but no corals (20 gallon) and would like to move it to my larger tank (50 gallon), but unsure of it's reef-safe-ness (is that a word?).  Any thoughts?  I really don't know what to feed it despite looking over your FAQ's since it seems totally uninterested in the bits of meaty foods I place on it's legs waving in the water from time to time.  And this thing NEVER goes to the bottom to look for food. It has come down from the glass maybe 3 or 4 times in the last 2 months I've had it.  Y'all are the best, and I figured you'd know what to do. Thanks for all the help, direct and indirect.  You remain inspirations. Todd <Well, my guess is it's eating something after dark or slowly starving to death. You might want to see if a local university or college's biology department could help you ID this animal. As for food, something to try may be a live clam, you can get them at the seafood department of many grocery stores, or at a specialist seafood shop. Acclimate it slowly to the water, and temp, use a drip method. I used to do this when I had an O. scyllarus mantis shrimp, they'd live for a few weeks (before the mantis ate them). I'm not aware of any herbivorous stars, but maybe try a small piece of Nori on the off chance that this is what it eats. As I said before, in the future, please research then buy. Best of luck, PF>

-Insuring sand star survival- What can I do to insure the survival of my Sand Star? My tank is only two months old, I have a 80 gal. tank w/ about 45lbs. live rock and about a 3" sand bed. I have two sand sifting gobies <First, remove these guys, they're competing for the same food as the star.>,4 blue-green chromies,1Burgundy clown,2 cleaner shrimp, 1 royal Gramma, 1 bubble tip anemone, 1 hammer coral, 1 fox coral, 1lg. chili coral, Candy cane coral, that is all I have for now. Any suggestions for me. <Sand stars require an abundance of sand to keep going. IMO they have no place in an aquarium with a deep live sand bed since they devour the very critters that keep the sandbed healthy. -Kevin> Thank you, Mark W.

Looking For A Star For Her Tank! I want to get a starfish for my tank.  It should be reef safe and I don't want to worry about it trapping my fish.  I had a brittle star and I believe it got my watchman goby. I was thinking a serpent star. Any suggestions? Karen <Well, Karen- I'd go for some of the small (and I mean small) Phiactis brittle stars. The stay tiny and are excellent scavengers. You can get the from places like Inland Aquatics and Indo-Pacific Sea Farms... Good luck! Regards, Scott F>  

- Mini-star dangerous? - Hello All, First I want to thank all of the WWM crew for their tireless efforts to make the WWM what I consider to be one of the best sources for practical advice on marine aquaria I have come across in the "whole year" I have been involved in the hobby (read that obsessed). <Haha, that's good to hear!> Thank You!!! I have also just received "Reef Invertebrates" By Anthony and Robert, wonderful work and very much appreciated. <Will pass along!> Now for one of many questions, Attached is an amateur photo of the underside of one of several critters I have recently noticed in my 55 Gal. Reef. This animal is approx. 3/8" across and appears to be akin to some sort of starfish when viewed from above. They are somewhat active and I have observed them on my Tridacnid clam shell and some of the LPS coral bases but have not observed any damage done. Any help with ID would be greatly appreciated as I have scoured your site as well as a good part of the net with no success other than continued education. <That's a tiny sea star of the genus Asterina. Most of these critters are simply harmless algae and bacteria feeders, but some have been seen chowing SPS tissue. They are quite common in reef tanks, so don't be alarmed unless you see them cruising over on of your Acros. They reproduce by dropping legs, which explains the odd and highly variable shape!> As of yet I have had some wonderful success with my tank and am involved in propagating LPS and SPS corals, I have 120 lbs LR in a 55G show tank, 1-2" Med aragonite base, overflow to a wet dry with protein skimmer in sump, I have a 10G refugium loaded w/ copepods and all kinds of macro algae which along with the live rock I attribute to the successful existence of 2 fat and happy Dragonets 1 mandarin and 1 psychedelic, <Good to hear of fat and happy dragonets, I hear too much of the other extreme...> I was about 6 months into a FO set up when one of my vendors sold me the contents of his reef tank and thrust me into this wonderful world where I have been scrambling to learn as much as I can trying to keep everything alive with only a minor fatality of SPS along the way. <Sometimes that happens, don't let it get you down. Happy fraggin'! -Kevin> Thanks again for all your work and advice. Best Regards,  Jim

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>

Starfish We brought home a dead starfish and are wondering how to preserve it. Is this possible?? <Best to place this skeleton in the open air like on top of your house roof and let it dry entirely (maybe a couple of weeks), and then possibly coat it with a lacquer-based product to give it a lustrous coating. Bob Fenner>

Sea star ID Astropecten articulatus 6/3/03 Anyone out there have a clue about the species of this Star? <looks like Astropecten articulatus, as best I can tell from the long-view. The so-called "Beaded Sea Star"> I have a small starfish from the Central Florida Atlantic Coast area and I have no idea what type it may be. It's a five pointed star and has light orange to beige coloring on the underside and edges of its legs and purple on top. It's small, maybe 3 inches from leg tip to leg tip. Any ideas where I might find species photos online?    <use the scientific name provided here to do a google.com search... many pics to be seen. Also see page 363 of Humann's "Reef Creatures". This sea star is reef safe but difficult to keep alive for more than a year. Most starve to death slowly. They need enormous and deep sand beds. 4-6 feet square and 6" deep minimum in a mature tank. Quite beautiful to see though!> Thanks ever so, Laura Lea <with kind regards, Anthony>

Wishing upon a Star WetWebCrew, Thanks for your response, Bob, regarding the care of my "inherited" starfish (Tamaria stria ?).  He is still in quarantine (day 4) and I'm concerned about his nutritional needs.  Obviously, there is very little detritus on the floor of the QT.  I did put a 7 lb cured live rock in with him. <Good idea> He has been doing laps around the top of the glass and seems to pause at the heater.   <I'd place a sleeve of PVC pipe around the heater (to prevent burning the Star> I've tried to smash a combination of krill and Mysis in his path but can't get it to stick on the glass for very long.  Any suggestions? <Yes. I would skip further quarantining of this specimen (generally, as asteroids go in captivity a hardy species) and place it in your main/display system. Bob Fenner> Thanks so much for your assistance. Barry

Tamaria stria Thanks so much for your prompt response.  I can't wait to get home and introduce him to his new tank mates.  I feel better already and hope that he will soon. <Ah, good. A friend (Jerry) of the Orange County Marine A.S. has had substantial experience with this species... and really enjoys his. Bob Fenner> Barry

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