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FAQs about Sand-Sifting Sea Star Reproduction

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: Sandsifting Stars 1, Sandsifting Stars 2, & FAQs on: Sandsifting Star ID, Sandsifting Star Behavior, Sandsifting Star Compatibility, Sandsifting Star Selection, Sandsifting Star Systems, Sandsifting Star Feeding, Sandsifting Star Disease, & 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 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 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>

Mating Stars? (7/28/04) Hi there: <Hi. Steve Allen here.> I took this picture a few min.s ago (photo attached), these two have been this way for about two days now. Just wondering if they are indeed mating, and if there are any precautions we need to take to keep the little ones safe. <Could be, but hard to be certain. Echinoderms spawn into the water. No copulation involved. If they do reproduce, there is nothing you can do in a reef tank setting to protect the eggs or baby starfish. It is almost impossible for them to survive and grow to adulthood in there. Too many other things available to eat them. That's why they produce millions eggs in the wild--only a few survive. In the confines of a tank, they are even less likely to survive.> We have shrimp, crabs, snails, a yellow tang, two clown fish and a fish that looks like Dory from Finding Nemo. <Paracanthurus hepatus> It's my husband's tank, so I don't know all the fishes proper names :-) Thanks for any help or tips you might have and feel free to use the picture if you'd like. <Nice picture. Hard to say what they're really doing. As far as actually breeding starfish, you might want to do some searching on the internet for info if anyone is doing this successfully.> Thanks, Lecia Zinna

Archaster Babies?....Or Asterina? (11/1/04) Believe it or not, MORE Archaster craziness! Anthony, you are a patient man for answering all my questions. Bless you indeed! :) <I will pass this on. Steve Allen responding since Anthony is out.> To add to the insanity, one of the Archaster's had BABIES. I've got a few, literally, the size of an eraser head. I tried to take a picture, but it was incredibly difficult as it was far back in the tank, glass distortion, very small, etc. So everything around it looks HUGE. Here's the pic: I'm not really sure how many I have as only two were visible, now only one. Hopefully some of these guys will survive and won't suffer from predators so I can pass them on. :) <Looked at the picture. Sorry to rain on the parade, but I doubt that this is a baby Archaster. Looks more like an Asterina to me. These common hitchhiker mini stars seldom exceed 1 cm in diameter. Look at some pix on our site and elsewhere to compare and be more certain.>

A Star Is Born...Well- Several Stars! Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> My name is Nanci and I have 2 sand sifting star fish which have successfully reproduced.  I saw the first babies about 1 1/2 weeks ago. <Very cool!> I have no idea how many are in the tank, due to the fact they are so small (1/8' -- ¼' in diameter) and are the same color as the sand. They seem to be at various stages of growth.  Some are still oval in shape while others have already started growing their arms.  Does this indicate they have reproduced more than once or just different growth rates? <Hard to say. Probably different growth rates in different individuals...> The 'parents' are about 4'-5' in diameter.  What is the time line for growth? <Growth rates vary by species, but I imagine that you'd be looking at several months at the least.> Do I need to add anything to my tank to help these little ones survive?  Should I move them to another tank, and if so, at what stage?   <I'd leave everything as is- and I'd let them remain in the same tank> My 55 gallon tank is pretty self sufficient at this time, it's only been running for about 9 months.  I have 1 Kauderni Cardinalfish, 1 White-Tailed Damsel, 1 Orange-Spotted Watchman goby, 1 Kole Tang, 1 Ocellaris Clown, 1 Fridmani Pseudochromis, 1 Blue Damsel, 1 Condylactis anemone (nuisance, but cool), Finger Leather, Button Polyps, Xenias, Yellow Polyps, Green Polyps, hermit crabs, Turbo snails, Bumblebee Snails and 1 Blood Red Fire Shrimp.  Will any of these harm the babies?  Will the babies harm any of these? <Depending upon the species that you have, there will probably be little danger to the corals. If the adults are leaving 'em alone- chances are that the babies will, too!> The babies do climb the live rock, unlike the parents.  Any and all advice would be helpful. I haven't been able to find any info on the net. Thanks a lot and have a great night! Nanci <Nancy- if we could get a good picture, we could make a reasonable attempt at an ID, and give you some more definitive answers. Best of luck with your little stars! Regards, Scott F>

Amorous Starfish?--No Way to Know What They're "Thinking" (5/5/05) First of all: Thanks for an awesome site!  <You're welcome. It's pleasure to be a small part of it, Steve Allen.>  I've been looking through related subjects and searched the web, but still haven't been able to find the answer to this one:  I added 2 stars (4" & 3") to my 180 g tank 3 months ago. Both look to be doing really well, but the smaller is always (and I mean always) on top of the bigger one.  <Kinky>  If I remove it and place it somewhere else on the sand bed, it immediately returns.  <Obsessive>  I've heard before that this occurs in the wild when currents are too strong or during tide....another theory is that they're "affectionate" (I seriously doubt that...I mean - 3 months!).  <I could think of some humor here, but I'll pass. There's a Levitra commercial on my TV right now.>  It's no biggie, but I'm getting more and more curious as to why this happens.....oh - and how the one on top ever gets food.  TIA, Mikkel Boisen  <I honestly have no idea. Starfish have no brains, so their behaviors are strictly governed by primitive nervous systems. Maybe it has found a free ride agreeable. If it's been there for 3 months and is not wasting away, it must be eating something when you're not looking. If they both seem healthy, I chalk it up to the individual behavioral oddities of nature and leave it be.>

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