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FAQs about Marine Scavenger Stocking/Selection: Serpent Stars

Related FAQs: Marine Scavengers 1, Marine Scavengers 2, Marine Scavengers 3, Sand Sifters, Sea CucumbersShrimp Gobies, Sifter Gobies Marine Algae EatersHermit Crabs, & FAQs on Scavenger: Rationale, CompatibilitySpecimen Selection, Clean Up "Crews"Worms As  Scavengers, Snail Scavengers, Shrimp Scavengers, Hermit Scavengers, Crab Scavengers, Cucumber Scavengers, Sea Urchin Scavengers, Seastar Scavengers, Fish/Groups as Scavengers, Losses/Troubleshooting,

Related Articles: Marine Scavengers Genus Valenciennea GobiesHermit Crabs,  

May well consume other reef life

Starfish help, Ophiuroid stkg./sel.  1/22/12
Hello Bob and Crew,
Hello.  I am new to saltwater and your website but I have only heard good things about it and I can see why.
I have a 30 gallon tank that I am 99% sure is done cycling, my ammonia and nitrite are about 0. I have 3 blue-green Chromis, 5 turbo or Astrea snails(I can't tell the difference), 5 blue-legged hermits crabs, 30lbs LR and 30 lbs LS.  I wanted to add either a brittle or serpent star to clean my sand.
<Neither will clean your sand.>

Can I accommodate one?  If yes what species in particular would be best for me?
<Generally the Ophioderma serpent stars do fairly well and are not as likely to eat your fish as the green Ophiarachna commonly seen in the trade.  Still in such a new tank I would be hesitant as they need a stable environment.  They won't clean your sand, nothing besides you really will, but they are interesting and long live, mine is probably 10+ years old now.>
Re: Starfish help, Oph
iuroid sel., nutr..  1/23/11
Okay thanks for you speedy reply.
But I thought they were detritivores?
<Not really, prefer larger, meatier fair in general.>
Wouldn't they aerate the sand bed and eat the waste and stuff in it?
<Some like a sand sifting star will basically sterilize your sandbed before starving to death in all but the largest tank, but your typical serpent or brittle star need to be fed like anything else, don't do anything to the sandbed but sit on top, and if not fed can be a threat to your fish.>

Where can I buy Amphipholis, Ophiactis  5/6/11
Calfo and Fenner's fabulous book on reef invertebrates praises Amphipholis and Ophiactis sea stars. I want some! But I've searched the Web in vain.
Do you know where I can order some? Thanks!
<Likely your best avenue of search, supply is your local fish stores (LFSs) or ordering through one of the large/r, dependable online suppliers like Dr.s Foster & Smith (.com). They may well have to be "special ordered" through these folks suppliers (wholesalers) in turn... And even these may find they have to contact their collectors. These "things" take time. Bob Fenner>

Sea Stars For Reef Cleaners? 7/9/08 I was on your website for quite some time and could not find an answer to my question. My question is, I would like to add some sea stars to my 46 gallon reef tank. I've seen some sea stars that might be appropriate like serpent sea stars or brittle sea stars (except the green ones). <I would stick with the serpents, less prone to being problematic.> I have 40 lbs of live rock in my tank and a sand bed of about 3-4 inches. I would greatly appreciate some advice of what kind of sea stars and how many would be good to add to my clean up crew up. I currently have a scarlet reef hermit crab, a blue leg hermit, about a dozen Astrea snails, about 5 Nassarius snails and Cerith snails, a coral banded shrimp. I was also wondering if sea stars would eat any snails or other critters (including corals) in the sand or among the live rock, because I see that some of them are carnivores so I was just wondering. Thank you for your advice and time taken to help me out. <I currently keep a Ophioderma ensiferum in the same sized tank and it has done quite well, in fact it attempted to spawn two nights ago. The genius Ophioderma are quite adaptable to aquarium life and a good one to start with. However, as part of a cleanup crew they don't do a whole lot, but are interesting and relatively easy. I would just stick with one for the time being in a 46G tank. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm> <Chris>

The Green Death & Larger Fish, Ophiarachna comp.  1/12/2008 Hi WWMedia Crew! <Andrew> I'm a huge fan of the site, as well as the Bob and Anthony's books. You've helped me a great deal, as I've moved forward with my first tank. <Glad we've been of assistance to you> I'm hoping you can help me again. I'm looking toward the somewhat distant future of my tank and had a question, concerning the green brittle star's appetites. Would larger fish, e.g. lionfish, morays or Marine Bettas be in jeopardy? (These are what I have set up, to date.) <Not nearly as much as smaller, more easily captured fishes> Of course there's the Betta, who I know enjoys caves... once he has reached adult size would he be OK with the green brittle star? <A question of relative size...> The Betta comes first for me--he's got nothing but personality, and I brought him home and intend to care for him anyway. I want to be sure he's safe. I have a 90g tank with around 120 lbs. of live rock, a 20g and a TurboFlotor protein skimmer, if that helps sketch out the logistics. My levels are usually around 77 degrees, 1.023 SG, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, <10 nitrates, pH 8.2. No inverts so far--aside from the ones that showed up on my live rock. I'm sticking mostly with a FOWLR setup. Thanks. I'm truly grateful for all you do... ATH <There are other Ophiuroid/Brittlestar species... I might look into others. Bob Fenner>

Compatible Clean-Up Crew - 08/30/06 I have a 30 gallon reef w/: Fish: 1 flame hawk, 1 false Perc Clown, 1 cherub angel Corals: tons of assorted mushrooms, hard (Frogspawn, candy cane), & soft (finger & umbrella leathers) Other: serpent star, live rock All inhabitants have been in the tank for at least 2-3 years (some 8+ years). <<Excellent!>> I have not added any livestock in a few years & it's time to risk rocking the boat & add something new. <<...with caution>> Since my current clean-up crew consists of just the serpent star I was looking at adding a package for general maintenance & to add some variety to the tank, but I know that the flame hawk limits my options. <<A bit, yes>> I'm considering some Astrea snails, <<Little bulldozers>> red hermits <<Opportunistic omnivores...and snail killers>> (I've found that the bigger ones hold up pretty well around the hawk) and possibly one or more of the following: - another serpent star: <<Excellent detritivore>> they are cool, but will another fight with the one I have? <<I have always found Ophiuroids to be quite compatible between both inter- and con-specifics>> - a Coral Banded Shrimp OR 3-4 peppermint shrimp: I know they likely wouldn't get along together, & that the CBS would have a better chance w/the flame hawk, but don't know how aggressive he would be w/other inhabitants. <<Can be very aggressive>> Or should I completely forget about any kind of shrimp w/ this setup? <<Normally, I would recommend Lysmata amboinensis and/or Lysmata debelius as the most beneficial (cleaners) and the least destructive of the commonly available ornamental shrimp.  But the presence of the hawk fish does pose a threat to these shrimp>> - One or 2 emerald crabs:  I think they would fair reasonably well w/the flame hawk, but don't know how aggressive they might be toward other existing/proposed inhabitants. <<Have been known to attack/kill fish>> Any comments on my plans are greatly appreciated - I'd rather be informed that something is a bad idea before anyone gets eaten.  Suggestions of other critters to add in place of anything on the list are also welcome. <<My opinion is to exclude the crabs (all are too opportunistic for my taste) and go with some snails (Cerith and Nassarius species get my vote) and maybe another serpent or brittle starfish.  The Nassarius snails and the starfish are excellent detritivores, the Cerith snails feed upon algae/diatoms without knocking your corals about or falling on their backs and dying/fowling the water>> Thanks, Kim <<Quite welcome.  EricR>>

SCAVENGERS >Hello, >>Hello, Marina here. >I have a 75 gallon saltwater fish only tank with crushed coral for substrate.  Please tell me what type of scavengers would be best to help clean up uneaten food?  Something that is easy to maintain.  Also, how many would you recommend? >>Serpent stars.  You could add three or four easily.  I cannot recommend anything else without knowing what you have for residents (hermits, shrimps, and so on, may be eaten by wrasses, triggers, large angels).  Best of luck!  Marina

Detritus Eater Bob, I have a 13 gallon CPR Micro Reef tank with live rock and live sand. I have a couple of dead spots between and behind the rock where some detritus is collecting. Right now it doesn't appear to be a big problem because the skimmer is doing a good job of keeping nitrate levels down and algae blooms non-existent. Actually, the only algae I have in this tank is coralline and it's thriving. I have done some research on different detritus eaters (hermits, cucumbers, serpent stars), but all of these seem to have risks involved.  <Yes> I have yet to see an article about hermits that doesn't say they kill the snails or eat the coralline. The cucumbers are ok except I have a power head in the tank for water circulation. I don't want the cucumber getting sucked in and having to completely redo my tank. Serpents have been notably given the reputation of eating fish, snails, and shrimp. As a matter of fact I went to the LFS last night and saw a green serpent feasting on a snail in the display tank.  <This species of Ophiarachna is a huge predator...> Is there any alternative you can suggest to help with this problem?  <If this were my tiny reef, I'd add a small submersible pump and leave "it" as it is...> I can't add any fish. I already have my quota there. I saw from FFX that they are saying that tapestry snails eat detritus. Is that true? <Hmm, yes.> Thanks for your help, Chad <You're welcome. Bob Fenner, who knows what creatures dwell in your rock, sand... and would leave this "detritus" work to them... and the increased circulation.>

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