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FAQs about Sand-Sifting Sea Star Systems

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 Systems, Sandsifting Stars 1, Sandsifting Stars 2, & FAQs on: Sandsifting Star ID, Sandsifting Star Behavior, Sandsifting Star Compatibility, Sandsifting Star Selection, 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 Behavior, Seastar Feeding, Seastar Reproduction, Seastar Disease Asterina Stars, Chocolate Chip Stars, Crown of Thorns Stars, Fromia Stars, Linckia Stars, Linckia Stars 2,

Need aged/cultured space (about six square feet of bottom per individual) and food... will consume MANY beneficial infaunal organisms. Will ten times decimate refugiums

Please help with my Starfish      1/17/16
<Kim; why have you send us 8.5 megs of pix?>

I am new to keeping a marine tank and need some help. My tank is 100 liters so about 22 gallons,
<Too small for keeping such Stars. Have you read on WWM re Archaster? DO SO:
and the linked files above>
I have had it set up for just under 2 months
<.... too soon for stocking this....>

and have 2 tangerine clowns, a blood shrimp, a Royal grammar, 5 turbo snails, and a coral beauty angelfish.
<Too small for this Centropyge>

My coral beauty look like it has a spot on it's head well not a spot more like a cut as it does nip at the rock (couldn't snap a photo as he is too quick) is this common no other fish have any marks?
I also added a sand sifting star fish yesterday. When I added him it was fine had a move about then butties itself, this morning it's had a move about and I can see all the flesh of one leg has gone, a few hours later it's leg has all gone green?
<Dissolving; dying... dead?>
Did I do something wrong? What do I do?
<Yes; you haven't studied enough... Remove it>

Should I take it out? I am completely panicking thinking I must have done something wrong and that it will effect my other fish. I have attached so photos so that you can see.
I hope you can help or give me some advice I have search everywhere online but there's no actual advice on what to do.
Thanks Kim
<Patience... a virtue here.... less buying, more reading. Bob Fenner>

Re: Please help with my Starfish      1/18/16
Thank for the response all be it slightly abrupt. I sent the photos so you could see what I was talking about in case my description was not goo enough
<We (our mail server) has a limit.... stated where you found how to write us. No need, desire to send more than a few hundred Kbytes>
. And in regards to the reading I have read several books in regarding to keeping a tank and what to add and when, however the adding of the star fish was taken at recommendation of the local marine shop where I have bought my tank/fish etc
<No such word. Etc. is a contraction for et cetera res... "and other things">
But again thank you for your response.
<Read those books. Bob Fenner>

Sand-sifting Star transport  4/25/11
Good morning friends!
<Yawn!~ Howdy Chris>
I hope all have had a wonderful weekend.
<Is it... this Monday!?>
My question today is regarding my sand-sifting star. Having been classically mis-led at the LFS into buying him for my 65g reef tank, I wanted to place him in a good home, rather than just return him to the store where he would likely be sold into another too-small home. I have found him a home in another keeper's 120g reef tank, where he will be able to happily munch pods to his heart's desire (or whatever organ makes a star feel and love). So when he next pops out, I'm going to quarantine him, and coordinate a drop-off.
So, what considerations are there for the little guy to happily make the 30-60 minute trip?
<A large enough bag (a quart or so), a cup or two of water... for this animal and duration, no "pure" oxygen necessary or recommended; just air will do. Some sort of thermal insulation if you're in a cold area...>
How hardy are stars in terms of moving?
Is an LFS sized bag full of water sufficient?
<Not full... about a quarter>
Should I put him in a solid container (like a zip-loc/Tupperware type thing)?
<A polyethylene bag is better>
I have a battery-powered air pump and stone, is that needed or will he be okay?
<Not needed>
Would he benefit from a bit of sand from my tank in whatever he gets put in?
<Not really>
I know not to expose him to air moving him from the tank to the transport container, anything else I should bear in mind?
Many thanks,
<As many welcomes. Bob Fenner>

Falling Spines/Teeth on Sea Star 11/7/10
Hello Crew, Thank you for sharing your knowledge some of we saltwater beginners.
<A pleasure to share, serve>
I am extremely green to the saltwater world. 2 weeks ago I purchased a Sand Sifting Sea Star. My tank is a 50 gal. octagonal shaped. I do not have sand or live rock yet.
<Mmmm, these animals live on interstitial fauna in the substrate>
At this time I basic rock at the bottom. This Star shares a tank with 2 clown fish, 3 tiny damsels, 1 peppermint shrimp & 1 Lawnmower Blenny. They look pretty content no excitement or trying to hide going on. I noticed the Sea Star is losing the spines/teeth that run/outline around it's legs.
<Dying, decomposing>
Yesterday it did this: crawled up the glass to the top and dropped to the bottom of the tank landing on it's back. It did this 3x to the best of my knowledge. Is dropping like that and losing it's spines/teeth a bad thing? what does it mean? please advise. Thank you for helping. Melissa
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sndsftstrdis.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Falling Spines/Teeth on Sea Star

Thank you so much for your input. The owner at the fish store suggested I purchase this type of Star, and I had told him exactly what my tank setup was.
<This persistence in crediting/blaming others continues to strike me as "a waste of time">
Being green, of course I'm going to believe him.
At this time I drop 2 small cubes of defrosted brine for the SSStar.
<... inappropriate>
I do this when the tank is dark so that most of the brine will make it to the bottom before the other fish get to it. Would it be best to use a different feeding method and add another type of food for the Star?
<... "live sand"...>
I did read on your site about burying food next to the Star? I feel like I was sold ocean front property in Arizona... Thanks again, Melissa
<... Welcome. B>

Sand Sifting Starfish and Crushed Coral -- 10/28/2009
Can a sand sifter star fish live in gravel?

<Hey Magenta! JustinN here!>
I'm am newish to marine tanks and I know this may sound like a stupid question but thought I should do some asking before I do any thing.
<There are no stupid questions, we all start somewhere!>
I have a sand sifter in my tank with sand, but recently saw a tank with what looked like gravel or some sort of crushed coral and really like the look of it, so I was wondering if the sand sifter needs to live in sand or
can he burry himself in the gravel/crushed coral?
Kind Regards,
Magenta Wade
<Assuming that we are talking about a crushed coral of Marine origin, this should be no problem. Your typical aquarium gravel, on the other hand, will more than likely be a problem. If you choose to go with a crushed coral substrate, do be mindful of its ability to hold detritus far better than fine-grain aragonite sand. It will usually require a bit more cleaning to get all the mulm out of the crushed coral during water changes, though the star will help in this regards. Hope this helps! -JustinN>

Snowflake eel; comp; now sand sifting star and cheap live rock -- 03/03/08 Wow thanks for the quick response. <No problem, Jiahua.> Yeah, I thought as much (but I don't think I have seen an adult moray). It was only a spur of the moment thing when I go to my LFS and see new things. And for your concerns referring to my system and star, I got the sand and live rock first and let it sit there for about three months (long enough?), before getting the moray and I have around 2-3 inches of sand for my star. <If it is well populated (worm burrows etc.), it should be okay. Personally I tend to wait almost a year before getting sand sifting sea stars. Also I personally prefer deeper sand beds (DSB) to help with denitrification. Compare: www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm .> Oh yeah, one more thing: No matter where I look, live rock is always $6.99 a pound and I think it's a lot of money especially that I'm only a senior in high school and going to college. This was originally a huge project for school, but it grew into more of a hobby. Do you have any suggestions as to where I can find good deals for live rock? I want my snowflake to have more spaces to hide than just one rock and some PVC. <I've had both, very good and pretty bad experiences with live rock from fellow hobbyists selling their stuff online. It is usually at least half the price, sometimes cheaper. However, it is without a doubt preferable to see the rock and select the best pieces. For high quality live rock the price you noted above is reasonable in trade. Don't put too much live rock into a running system at once to avoid a mini cycle. Dead reef rock is much cheaper than live rock and provides the same cover, but it won't provide as much biological filtration. I'd prefer live rock and add new pieces whenever money allows.> -Thank you, Jiahua <Have fun. Marco.>

Sand sifting star and nano tank -11/17/2007 These are probably really stupid questions and I fear this one may make your "funkiest query of the day!" <Just hope Bob is too busy... ;-)><<As usual. RMF>> Please refer to me the archives if I missed something in searching. You guys/gals have answered lots of questions for us over the last four months as we have upgraded our 90 to a 240. We are STILL in process of doing the upgrade and I have yet another question. We have a sand sifting star in the 90 with a DSB. <Ugh> We have only just over an inch of sand in the 240 gallon and then a DSB in the fuge. Despite their great reputation for starving and decimating the sandbed, s/he has actually grown over the past year and seems to be ok. <Unfortunately, many marine animals can take a very long time to starve to death. If yours is growing, then I suppose it's not starving... yet. However, I suspect your sand bed has suffered dearly. And once it can no longer maintain the star fish (an inevitability), it will slowly die.> Does the star stand a chance in the 240 without a DSB assuming the tank has several months to establish fauna in the sandbed before the star makes the switch from the 90? <Sure, it would probably live longer. But again, you're just delaying the inevitable. And what of your poor sand bed?!"> Okay, on to the stupid part...my husband is the reefer and I merely stare at the pretty fish and read your FAQs, but I am trying to do an informed Christmas present. (Hope he isn't reading the FAQs today!) I want to get him a nano tank for a shrimp/goby combo. Due to the instability in this volume, I was hoping he could just plumb it in line with his main tank <good idea> since he already has lines going everywhere under the floor because the sump and fuge are in a different room from the main tank. Plus, he loves such DIY projects. Is this reasonable? <I don't see why not. In fact, I frequently recommend this to people who want to keep a nano tank and already have a more "regular sized" system.> If so, would one of the 24 gallon Nano Cubes be an option, or is it impossible to modify their set up? <I've never had a nano-cube, but from what I hear, I don't think they're so easy to set up this way (because of the hood mostly I think). How would you get the plumbing in/under the hood?> Surely you can at least add a sump and/or fuge to the setup??? <Of course you can.> Is there a different brand you would recommend over the Nano Cube? <Again, I'm sorry I've never personally had one of these. But if it were me, I'd simply go buy a small glass tank and proceed as if it were just another remote sump or refugium (as you put it). However, I'd do a little more of your own research on the Cube. It might work just as well, I honestly couldn't tell you for sure. I'd only wonder about how you'd get around the top of it.> Thanks for any information and I apologize if I missed answers in the archives. Your time is always appreciated! Michele <De nada, Sara M.>

Sand Sifting Starfish Hi Bob Please could you help me, as I feel that I may have been wrongly advised I have a 50gal tank which has been set up for five weeks, (set up with RO water ... been testing... all is well) I recently went to buy something to help with a coating of brown algae on my 3inch sand bed, I was sold a Neon goby and a sand sifting starfish I looked on your website to read all relevant info on sand sifting stars, now I'm worried that my tank is to small and to new to keep it well fed I also have 2 turbo snails, 1 bumble bee snail, 1 shrimp and some live rock, (no fish yet) I run a Prizm skimmer and external Fluval 404   I have had the starfish for a few days .... so far all is well, Please advise Many thanks Sam >>>Greetings Sam, Your tank is indeed MUCH too small to keep a star such as this alive long term. Besides, it doesn't eat detritus, it eats the sand bed fauna that we work so hard to establish. Back to the point, it will slowly starve to death after it has depleted your sand bed of food. You need at least 12 square feet of sand bed to sustain one of these stars. Again, you don't really want one in your sand bed anyway. You need to look to nutrient export to get a  handle on your algae issue. Cheers Jim<<<

Sand-Sifting Starfish (Needs Lots of Space!) - 07/16/05 I was thinking about purchasing a Sand-Sifting Starfish, and I was  wondering if it would harm other star fish? I have a brittle starfish and a  chocolate chip star fish. I also was concerned if it would harm a scooter blenny? <<As a rule no, it won't harm the organisms you mention, but do research/rethink this purchase (start by having a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sndsftstrfaqs.htm).  These creatures can/will deplete the biota in a sand bed very quickly.  This in itself is not good for your tank, but bodes even worse for the starfish.  Unless your tank is large (125g or more) with a mature DSB, this animal will likely starve to death within a year.  Regards, Eric R.>>

Astropecten polycanthus...Not For A 29 Gallon Tank - 11/10/05 I recently purchased a Sand Sifting Star.  I notice the second day that it had lost two of its arms.  I have a 29 gallon tank with one Coral Beauty Angel, live rock and sand.  The water tests fine with the nitrate a little high <<how high is "a little?">> with everything else in the normal good range.... Do you think the angel got it or is the nitrate level? <<Could be the nitrates...doubt it is the angel.  More likely, the starfish was already sick/injured when it was purchased.>> Thanks for you advice Sandy <<Please do be aware, injured or not, Astropecten polycanthus will not survive in your tank...it is much too small.  These animals need much more substrate than your tank can provide in order to find enough food, and even then, will quickly decimate the biota in the sand bed.  Regards, EricR>>

White Sifting Star question Have a 55gal tank with a 10gal (refugium/sump) established for about 1 ½ years with 50lb of live rock and 40lb of live sand  with a snowflake eel,  a harlequin tusk, <This fish needs more room> a cardinal, 1 ocellaris and 1 blue damsel fish. Also some coral/inverts like a crocea clam, frogspawn, green Goniopora, yellow polyps , some xenias, red mushrooms and a speckled leather coral, a couple of hermits and snails for clean up and 2 white sand sifting stars. I think because of the refugium, which has Caulerpa and 4 mangroves plants a good supply of what I think are amphipods have developed (I even discard some when changing the filter pads). The reason for this post is that after reading some pages of the Marine Invertebrates book in which mention that 1 sand star will require 6 square feet to sustain it I wonder  If my 2 stars are slowly dying. <Mmm, evidently not... some systems (like yours apparently) have much more food...> To me they look ok, they move around, burying and emerging form the live sand and even one of them re-grew one of its arms after the harlequin attacked it. I have had them for around  10 to 14 months. What do you recommend, taking out one of them and maybe put it in the fuge or give it to a fellow aquarist or keep both of them. <I would get a larger system period... if you can afford and fit it in... Bob Fenner>
Re: White Sifting Star question
Thanks! I'm in the process of getting a larger one(125gals). <Ah, good> Just to clarify, the book I'm reading is not Marine Invertebrates, is one of your books Reef Invertebrates. <Yes> So far it's great, I'm now in the refugiums chapter of the book, lots of new information to me and been honest, I can't stop reading it! <Outstanding. Thank you for the report. Anthony and I really wanted to "expound" on the virtues of such technology... urge people to investigate, use refugiums... and really "used the excuse" to cover principal marine invertebrate groups as a springboard if you will... to proffer the hundred or so "other pages". Cheers, Bob Fenner>

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