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FAQs about Sand-Sifting Sea Star Behavior

Related Articles: Sand-Sifting Stars, Asterina Stars, An Introduction to the Echinoderms:  The Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers and More... By James W. Fatherree, M.Sc.

Related FAQs: Seastar Behavior, Sandsifting Stars 1, Sandsifting Stars 2, & FAQs on: Sandsifting Star ID, Sandsifting Star Compatibility, Sandsifting Star Selection, Sandsifting Star Systems, Sandsifting Star Feeding, Sandsifting Star Disease, Sandsifting Star Reproduction, & Sand Sifters for Marine Systems, Sea Stars 1, Sea Stars 2, Sea Stars 3, Sea Stars 4, Sea Stars 5, Seastar Selection, Seastar Scavenger Selection, Brittlestar Selection, Serpent Star Scavengers, Seastar Compatibility, Seastar Systems, Seastar Feeding, Seastar Reproduction, Seastar Disease Asterina Stars, Chocolate Chip Stars, Crown of Thorns Stars, Fromia Stars, Linckia Stars, Linckia Stars 2,


Sand-Shifting 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.>

Sand-sifting starfish Hello; Simple question but I couldn't find the answer.  I added a sand-sifting starfish to my 55gallon tank, which has an aragonite reef sand layer varying from one to three inches deep. For a few days I saw him in different parts of the tank before I'd leave for work. Now, I have not seen him in over a week. Is it typical behavior for a sand-sifting starfish to bury himself in the sand and not emerge for some time? I've considered shifting the sand around to look for him but am concerned about injuring him in the process.  Thanks, you guys are a valuable resource to the hobbyists.  Dave >>>Hello Dave, Keep in mind that these stars sift the sand for food, thereby stripping it of most beneficial fauna that allows your sand bed to function. In the process, they run out of food and typically starve to death in captivity. You need a much larger sandbed than what a 55 gallon offers in order to keep one of these animals alive long term. Even then, you still have the sandbed fauna issue. Go ahead and poke around for him with your finger, you won't hurt him - but keep sand sifting *anything* (fish, stars, whatever) out of your reef tank. Cheers Jim<<<

Sand-sifting starfish - part 2 Thank you for your reply. I will definitely bring him back to the store if I can find him. If I may ask a follow-up question ... is it typical for these starfish to burrow into the sand and stay there for days? What portion of their time do they typically spend on the sand as opposed to in it?  Thanks again! >>>No problem Dave. They spend quite a lot of time under the sand, so what you're witnessing is quite normal. Cheers Jim<<< 

Sand Sifting Star behavior 7/20/05 Hi Bob, been months since I wrote. Been nice to have a tank we can keep clean and enjoy. Sounds fishy, huh? <Watch that, this...>    After cleaning and giving the tank a water change today both starfish ran around as usual while the lights were off.  About an hour later one of my sand stars has perched itself up on it's tippy toes, well star fish style that is.  The body is straight up off the sand bed with the lower tips curled to lay on the sand floor with the very end of it's tips curled up in their usual radar style.  None of the fish seem to care.  Do you have any idea what this little guy is doing? <"Sniffing" the water so to speak most likely. Bob Fenner>   My other star is business as usual half buried in the sand.
Debi Stanley-Viloria

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