Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Sea Star Identification 6

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 Star ID 1, Sea Star ID 2, Sea Star ID 3, Sea Star ID 4, Seastar ID 5, Seastar ID 7, Seastar ID 8, Seastar ID 9, & CC Star Identification, Linckia Identification, Sandsifting Star ID, & Sea Stars 1, Sea Stars 2, Sea Stars 3, Sea Stars 4, Sea Stars 5, Brittle StarsSeastar 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,

Starfish ID     9/17/13
Hi, I was wondering if you'd be able to ID this starfish for me. It has about 10 legs with an orange centre and is bluey/purpley around the edges.
<I see>
So far the closest thing I've seen close to it is a common sea star but I think it's smoother than that is and may be a species of Asterina, I'm not sure though.
I've attached a couple of pics I got of it.
Thanks, Ryan.
<I too make this out as Asterina sp.. Predaceous on some Cnidarian groups.
Do see/read re the genus on WWM.
Bob Fenner>

Need Help ID'ing These Stars: Gomophia and Possible Fromia spp.   8/7/10
Hello Crew,
<Hello Jeanne, Lynn here today.>
I took the photos of these specimen off Sharm El Sheikh/Na'ama Bay either in Ras Mohammed National Park (Shark and Yolanda) or the Sinai side of Tiran Island (Jackson or Thomas or Woodhouse). Neither are in my two guides from the area and I would like to know what they are.
<The brownish star looks like Gomophia egyptiaca, commonly known as the Egyptian Seastar. See the photo at this link for comparison: http://www.diverosa.com/categories/Starfish&Brittlestars.htm . The closest I can get to the individual with blue dots is Fromia ghardaqana, aka the Ghardaqa Seastar: http://www.diverosa.com/Egypt%20WL/Ghardaqa%20seastar,%20Fromia%20ghardaqana%20.html
Thanks, Jeanne
<You're very welcome. Take care, Lynn Z>
PS. If Bob is leading any dive trips I am very interested in learning about them so that I can sign up!

Starfish, Asterina?   9/16/08 Hi Bob, <Hi, but not Bob, Chris here.> I live in Louisiana and I lost power for about a week due to hurricane Gustav. I have a 29gal FOWL tank that has about 30 pounds of live rock and 1 inch of live sand. A percula clown and a polyp colony were the only things in the tank and they made it through the outage. <Sorry> The tank has been running for about 9 months. When I returned home I noticed 4 to 5 small starfish that I had never seen before. They are all missing at least 2 legs and are white on the bottom with a little brown on the top. I am guessing that they came out because the lights were off for so long. The power has been back on for about two weeks now and I still see them occasionally. <Most likely Asterinas, common in many tanks. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinaidf.htm > I was wondering why they are coming out now and what kind they may be? <Their numbers are most likely increasing due to the die off and increased food sources after the power outage.> Also, could they be harmful to anything else in the tank? <Doubtful.> Thanks very much (Your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist got me into the hobby) Adam <Chris>

Starfish Identification -- 07/28/08 Hi Crew, <Hello Laurie.> First off, let me say thank you for the time all of you spend writing articles and answering hobbyists e-mails! <Thanks for your kind words.> Many of my questions have been answered by browsing through your site. <Very good.> A couple months ago I purchased a 'chocolate chip' starfish although I am not sure if that is actually what it is. Of all the chocolate chip starfish pictures and animals I have seen, I have not seen one quite like this. The attached photos show the front and back of the starfish I purchased. It does appear to be a meat eater as the it readily accepts chunks of raw muscles and raw/cooked shrimp. <Ah, yes. The entire family (Oreasteridae) are omnivores with carnivore tendencies, mostly eat bivalves in nature, but some also soft corals. It appears to be a Protoreaster, but not one of the two common species (P. nodosus and P. linckii). Its coloration on the picture somewhat resembles Pentaceraster mammilatus and P. tuberculatus, but the shape does not. Compare to http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastarfaq5.htm. I'd ID it so far as Protoreaster sp., but with the animal in front of you, maybe you see more resemblance with one of the Pentaceraster spp. Care for them is the same anyway. All can reach a diameter of 1 foot.> I have another question too, in the background of the photos I am sure that you can see the diatoms that have built up on the glass. Are diatoms indicative of nutrient buildup in the water and an indication that I need to do more water changes? <They are either indicative of a very young system or too much silicon (not silicone) in the water. Should go away by themselves if you use silicon free water for water changes.> Do I just need to wipe off the glass more? <You can do that.> Do I need more water movement? <Should be sufficient, but more can be added if you see too much detritus accumulating.> The aquarium is a 20T with 20 lbs of live rock, a Top Fin Powerhead 30, and a CPR Bak-Pak 2 protein skimmer. I try to do a bi-weekly water change of 3 gallons, but honestly, I do not meet this goal 100% of the time. <Nitrate measurements are a good indicator for water changes.> In habitants of this aquarium include the following: - starfish in the photos - another chocolate chip starfish - 2 blue legged hermit crabs + 3 new hermit crabs added yesterday - a small cleaner shrimp - a pink/blue spotted watchman goby - 2 Astrea snails added yesterday <Snails may be eaten if the starfish can get them.> Thanks you so much for your time, Laurie
<You are welcome. Marco.>

ID please - some sort of star? -- 06/04/08 Hello, <Hi> I found this thing in the tank - it is approximately 1/4" in diameter, perhaps 3/16". I used a macro lens to capture it up close. I do not know what it is - my tank is approximately 3 weeks old and this is the first time I've seen it. The lights were on and had been on for 8+ hours so it apparently isn't afraid of lights. <Nice picture.> Any idea what it is? If I should remove it, how should I pull it out? I assume it is not safe to handle without using tweezers, etc. <It looks like an Asterina star. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm . Some report problems with them, when they occur in large numbers and use Harlequin shrimp http://www.wetwebmedia.com/harlequinshrimp.htm with all the associated problems to get rid of them. However, they behave well and are very beneficial in the majority of reef tanks. I would leave it in there. They can be touched or collected with tweezers or hands.> <You are welcome. Marco.>

Very nice pic! RMF

Star ID Please'¦ Fromia (monteporella or ghardaqana)   3/17/08 Hello Crew, <Hi there Nick, Mich here.> I have a star that I need help in identifying. <OK, lets see what we can do! Is a Fromia from the Red Sea. Looks like a Ghardaqa brittle star (Fromia ghardaqana) or possibly an elegant sea star (Fromia milleporella) http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm According to Nilsen and Fossa, the blue spotted version of the Fromia Milleporella is from the Red Sea, though I wonder if it was incorrectly identified in the "Reef Secrets" book. unfortunately these beautiful creatures, along with most all sea stars do not do well in captivity and usually slowly die from starvation. I would urge to avoid buying any sea stars in the future. Instead consider a red/ruby brittle star (Ophioderma spp.) as seen here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm > I figure I'd ask the pro's. <Heehee! Well I'm not a pro. The only Pro I Know is Steven! Heehee!> I hope all is well. <Tis! Thank you! Wish you well.> Thanks, Nick. <Welcome, Mich> http://s177.photobucket.com/albums/w227/milesqreefer/?action=view&current=117 _1784.jpg  http://s177.photobucket.com/albums/w227/milesqreefer/?action=view&current=117_1784.jpg

Sand-sifting Starfish'¦ Reproduction'¦ Doubtful'¦ Likely Asterinas   3/12/08 Dear WWM: <Hi Suzanne, Mich here.> First of all, thank you soooo much for the wealth of information that you provide. It has been invaluable to me. <To me too! Is how I learned as well.> My son-in-law got me started on saltwater fish and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. <Congrats! Welcome to the club!> I had a 30-gallon tank (have since graduated to 75 gal.) and in it I had a Sand-sifting Starfish among other things. The Star was about 3.5 inches in diameter and was so much fun as I watched him disappear in the sand and climb the sides of the aquarium. <And decimated your sand bed?> After about 8 months he started to look thin. <Starfish generally starve to death in captivity, sand sifting included.> I gave him to my son-in-law and it did better for several months and then wasted away and died. <Starved.> Not long after that he started noticing these tiny white specks in his tank - hundreds of them. As they grew, we realized that they were Starfish! Some had five arms, others had three or four (fish probably were munching on them). Now they are about 3/8 inch in diameter and it looks like someone poured a can of Campbell's Chicken and Stars soup in the tank! <Just as likely to be Campbell's as baby sand sifting stars.> When the tank is dark they are all over the front and sides of the glass. It is incredible. What is more incredible is that there was only ONE Starfish to start with. How in the world did that Starfish reproduce?? <It didn't.> I read all that you had on Starfish on your site and it talks about mating. There was no mate to mate with. <I would be shocked if it wasn't an entirely different species, likely Asterina by the sounds of it.> I took six home and put in my tank. When and if they get bigger I will give the surviving ones to our LFS and keep only one for my tank. <Mmm, do they look like this? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinaidf.htm > What are your thoughts on this phenomenon? <I don't think it's a phenomenon.> What is my son-in-law to do with all those starfish. <Mmm, Harlequin shrimp? Just kidding. I don't recommend to anyone who is not seriously committed to keeping these beautiful shrimp that only eat live starfish. Please don't go buy one to combat your starfish issue.> There are certainly not enough nutrients in his sand bed for all of them. <Might be for Asterinas, they are generally self limiting.> Should he wait and see how big they get assuming they may not survive for very long of get them out of the tank now? That will be no small chore!! <Lets determine what is actually in the tank before crossing this bridge.> Sincerely Suzanne <Any chance of getting a picture? Cheers, Mich>

Sand-sifting Starfish'¦ Reproduction'¦ Doubtful'¦ Likely Asterinas'¦ Is Asterina   3/13/08 Dear Mich: <Hi Suzanne!> Thanks for your response. <Welcome!> I have four pictures for you. <Excellent! Thanks for capturing some images.> I would have liked to have gotten you a view when he (she? it?) was on the glass, but I haven't seem them on the glass in my tank in about a week. <No worries.> In fact I though they might have died. <Not necessarily a bad thing per se. Some folks report some species of Asterina to be predatory on Zoanthids> It looks exactly like a miniature sand-sifter to me and he moves very sloooow like one. I can see why you would question that. What do you think from the picture? I wasn't familiar with Asterinas. <You have Asterina stars.> Thanks,
<Welcome! Mich>

Starfish Identification? 03/11/2008 A friend of mine was diving in the Gulf Of Mexico off Florida's west coast and thought he was doing me a favor by bringing back two starfish for me. I have had them in an isolation tank for a month now trying to look at pictures and figure out just what these are. I searched geographically and can't seem to find anything. Wondering if these are going to last or if they are reef safe. Well actually a scientific name would be all I need to do some research. <<From what I can make out from the pictures, I would say that is a Echinaster spinulosus>> I have spent a month looking on and off and am ready to throw in the towel so figured I would shoot you off some pictures and you can put me out of my research misery. Thanks for any help ! Ralph <<Hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Seastar ID 03/12/2008 Hi Crew, <<G'Morning, Andrew today>> I purchased an unusual looking Seastar for my tank and I cannot seem to find it on the web. I was figuring you can help me ID it. I've enclosed a picture of it. It looks like a chocolate chip star but has blue, yellow and black on its legs with crimson color at the peak of the "chips". Even after five years in the hobby, I saw it and made the impulse purchase before reading about the animal or really asking the vendor. <<Yes, this is a Protoreaster SP. star...Should be treated as the same as a CC star>> For now, I'll treat it as a c.c. star and put it in my macro algae tank instead of my reef tank. I'd appreciate any help you can give me so I can take care of my new pet. Thanks, <<Thanks for the question. A Nixon>>

Starfish Identification: Cushion star? - 12/31/07 Hi Bob and Crew <Hi Claire. I sincerely apologize for the delay in responding!> Got this lovely starfish as a hitchhiker, but don't know what species it is, or if it is coral friendly - any ideas?? <It is indeed a lovely little sea star! Unfortunately, after going through every resource at hand, I'm stumped as to what species it is. It could be a juvenile that looks very different from its mature counterpart, or simply a species that hasn't been photographed/identified in my sources. It does look a bit like a Cushion/Biscuit star, however, so I'd keep an eye on it and your corals.> Thanks Claire <You're very welcome! I just wish I could have been more help! --Lynn> <<Mmm, maybe an Asterina sp.... A. phylactica? http://www.asturnatura.com/photo/photogallery/galerias.php?photo_id=583 RMF>>

Re: Starfish identification -- 1/2/08 <<Mmm, maybe an Asterina sp.... A. phylactica? http://www.asturnatura.com/photo/photogallery/galerias.php?photo_id=583 RMF>> <Thanks, Bob! I spent way too long yesterday looking for that little guy. I finally found something that looked about right, but it was a photo at a dead link. Talk about frustrating! I wasn't happy with the general answer I gave, but thought I'd exhausted all possible sources in the search. Well, I got up this morning with that little star still on my mind, so I cued up Bob Marley, and did a little more digging. This time I found the current link for that photo. I'm not sure if what's shown is the same star, but the similarities are promising. They have the same general coloring, same markings between the arms, and what looks like at least a partial ring on some. It's hard to believe all those are the same species, but I guess they vary quite a bit. Here's the link: http://www.bluering.org.au/chpt17b.htm . What do you think? -Lynn> >Does look like Tosia australis... RMF<

Hitchhiking Star ID... Reef Safe? - 12/13/07 <Hi Wes> I found this lil' bugger and nabbed him up so that hopefully I can get an ID. What you see is about all I know! My first guess was Fromia elegans, but looking at the google pics, I'm thinking not. So, I formally submit my guess of Linckia multifora. Ehh? Ehh? Ahhh, lemmie know whatcha think. <I think I'm having a hard time distinguishing the color(s) of those splotches on the dorsal side! However, based on your tentative Id, I'm guessing they're reddish. What you have could indeed be Linckia multifora, or something along the lines of Leiaster coriaceus. Please see the following links for comparison/info: http://www.saltcorner.com/sections/zoo/inverts/echinoderms/starfish/Lcoriaceus.htm, http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/may2002/toonen.htm Unfortunately, I can't answer with any certainty whether this creature will be reef safe, or not. Time, and observation, will tell.> Wes <Take care -Lynn>

Re: Hitchhiking Star ID... Reef Safe? - 12/14/07 <Hi, Wes> One of the reasons I had a hard time deciding on a solid ID was because the spots are most certainly not red or even reddish... They are a dull brown, with a light grayish/brown background. Does that help at all? <Hee - well, sort of! Linckias can vary a great deal in color/pattern. I've looked through every resource at hand and still don't have a match. Along with the 'typical' red mottled individuals, I've seen a photo of a supposed L. multifora that was a bright pink/magenta combo! Check it out: http://www.meerwasser-lexikon.de/eng/76/1736/Linckia/multifora.htm. I've seen others that were more of a solid yellowish brown (no real mottling), one that was a mottled yellow and light brown, and one possible ID that was a mottled blue! I can't find much in the way of photos on Leiaster coriaceus, but one other I did see this morning, barely looked like the one I mentioned yesterday (in color/pattern). Talk about confusing! You could have a species I/we haven't run across in our searching, or simply a color variant of one we have. It's also possible that the star you have used to be a different color, but due to conditions it was in previously, has altered/discolored (maybe diet related as well). Lighting is also a factor for how the color appears (in photos, as well as in the aquarium). Bottom line -- I'm sorry as can be, but I still can't narrow down what species you have.> Still <Me too!>
<Take care -Lynn>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: