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FAQs about Sea Star Disease/Pests/Injuries/Health 4

FAQs on Starfish Disease: Seastar Disease 1, Seastar Disease 2, Seastar Disease 3, Star Disease 5, & Asterina Disease, CC Star Disease/Health, Fromia Disease, Linckia Disease, Sandsifting Star Disease,
FAQs on Starfish Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environment, Nutrition, Genetic (poor species selection for captive use), Pathogenic Disease (Infectious, Parasitic), Predator/Pest, Trauma, Treatments

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

Starfish with hole in leg   12/5/07 Hello Crew, I have a very small Fromia starfish that had a hole in it's leg a while ago. That was my fault because when I moved house I let the temperature jump from 25 degrees C to 28 and the spg rose from 1.023 - 1.025, but the hole healed nicely. A week after that it got another hole (pictured) where a lump use to be. After a while all the skin was stripped away and it's been healing for a while but as you can see in the second photo it still hasn't regenerated completely and now three of the legs have extra bits of skin sticking out and today I found a hole where the leg joins the body. The water parameters have been fixed and stable for a while and it started moving again about 3 weeks ago when the first pictured hole was starting to heal. It's a very small starfish. The body is about 1cm in diameter and the only companion is a juvenile blue stripe clownfish around 1.5cm long in a small 15 gallon aquarium. Spg 1.023 <Should be higher... 1.025-1.026... and steady> , pH 8.3, ammonia and nitrite 0. I will soon be upgrading to a much larger tank and currently have a quarantine tank set up. If you have any idea what's wrong with it and if I should treat it with something I would really appreciate any help. Unfortunately my time on the internet is running out so I can't research it as much as I'd like to. Thank you Katie <This window/opening may be from an internal parasite erupting to the outside, or perhaps consequent to a mechanical injury. There is nothing specific to "do" in terms of treatment, other than provide consistent, optimized environmental conditions and nutrition... and hope. Bob Fenner>

Re: starfish dying/ disintegrating? 12/5/07 Hello. Sorry to bother you again <Not a bother> but my starfish has gotten much worse since yesterday morning as you'll see in the photo. <I do see this> Just a couple of questions. Should I remove the damaged legs, which is two and a half, and treat it with an anti-parasitic medication or is it too far gone? <Likely this latter> I've been told when they're dying they pollute the tank so it's best to put them in a bag and into the freezer. It's more of a humane way to kill it, instead of letting it disintegrate. Is what happening to it now disintegration because the body isn't damaged only the legs? <Cannot say> If it's not painful to remove the damaged legs I'd like to give it a shot since they can rejuvenate. <Will not effect this change, unfortunately> I'm having trouble just watching it instead of doing something. Thank you for your help. Attached is a photo of what it looked like yesterday and today. Katie <There is naught else to do my friend. You can/could euthanize this specimen in the manner you state... If your system is large/enough, filtration adequate, actual little pollution will be generated by its demise here. Bob Fenner> Katie Paulsen

Is my star fish okay? -11/18/07 Hi everyone! I am new to owning an aquarium and had a 14 gallon for about a month and a couple of weeks. Today I just bought my first star fish and acclimated it for about 2 hours. At the place I got him from, he was called a little pink Fromia. He has an orange body with pink spots all over and is maybe about 2 inches in diameter. I got my water tested and it was perfect. After I put the him in the water he has just been sitting there and his tube feet are not out, but his stomach is (I think its his stomach anyway...). He is sitting there like a rock. Is he okay? <Hmmm... tough to say for sure. It could just be acclimating. If it's not moving by tomorrow morning (Sunday), you could gently turn it over to see if it tries to move at all. If it doesn't move, I'd be concerned. If it squirms at all, turn it back over and just wait for it to get used to your tank. Please see here too: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fromiastarfaqs.htm > Thanks, Heather <Best, Sara M.>

Re: Is my star fish okay?-11/18/07 Thanks so much Sara. You all are VERY helpful. I think he may be dead. He looks like this but his body is orange with pink spots. Do you know what his scientific name is? Again, THANK YOU!! -Heather <I'm sorry, but we would need a picture to help you ID it if you're unsure of what it is. If you have a camera, please send us a photo. -Sara M.>

Help... Star(fish) Trekkin' Across the Universe...its Worse Than That He's Dead Jim  7/29/07 <Hi Joe, Mich here.> My red starfish I got yesterday hasn't moved <Mmm, not good.> so I put a bag on my hand and lifted him up in the water never taking him out. <Good.> He is still bright red but has a brown substance coming from his mouth. <Mmm, not good.> I put him on his back and nothing I think he's dead <Me too.> but don't want to take him out and flush if he isn't <No, that wouldn't be good either.> any help would be great thanks. <Seastars will usually upright themselves relatively quickly when placed on their back, if there is no movement he is likely dead I'm afraid.> PS I acclimated him for 2 hours by adding a cup of my water to the stores water every 5 to 10 min. Also let him just sit in bag for 20 to let the water temp be the same. <Generally the slower the acclimation period the better... drip acclimation is more gradual.> Thanks as always JOE <Welcome as always, Mich>

One more Q... dead Star indications...   7/25/07 Hi again thanks for the info on my blood shrimp. I am a little worried about a Red Bali Starfish. How con you tell if it is dead? It is still stuck to me live rock but doesn't move at all like my chocolate chip star fish. Is that normal? Is it true you don't have to feed a Bali starfish? Thanks again you guys are great! Joe <Please... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Growth on the back of my star fish... "she not slimmie, she move around the tank, she eats,"   7/7/07 My red general star fish was attached to a off white feathery like worm that came out of my new live rock.? <What?> I tried to pull the worm off my star fish but it was inside as well. <I'm trying to decipher what you've written here... You saw some sort of whitish growth on your star? It might have been part of this animal...> My star fish is doing fine I think, however one day a growth was on it back so I remove it, it was like hanging and hard so I removed it. Now there a half inch growth yellowish, red around some side. <Huh?> The growth is lodge in between the peck <?> around the center of the back of the star fish. The same place where the worm went inside. <Likely more of the star...> As I look to the side it look like eggs and than when I look down on it could be pus. What should I do? <Read, understand, act...> I do not have another tank to put the star fish in <This would be best... to move it to (hopefully) better conditions... but it is likely doomed> and I'm worried about the other fishes <Say what?> in the tank. Two clowns, and one shrimp. The star fish color is fine, she not slimmie, she move around the tank, she eats, <Sounds like a new wave-oh music refrain> This growth was not on her two days ago, now it big and look like it what to pop. I've being going thought this with her for about two and a half week now. Since the worm went inside her, I though I killed the worm when I pulled it off. Does anyone know what I should do. Sheila Reed <Read, and quick; here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Help. sick chocolate chip starfish. Using WWM    6/13/07 Hello. I've had my CCS for a little over than a month, and he has always been good. But the past week for some reason the nitrates in the tank have gone up to around 20ppm. <See WWM re...> I've done many water changes, god rid of all the algae on the side of the glass, and off the sand on the bottom, and still the nitrate is high. i <I> have one damsel also and he doesn't bother the starfish at all. Today i noticed that near the stomach of the star fish, that his skin was falling off, and i could see these white bump like things, where the skin no longer was. and the little tentacles around that area were dead like. I've looked all around the website and i cannot figure out what is wrong. please help! Olivia T <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm The linked files above. BobF>

Sand-sifting Starfish... dying   5/12/07 Hey <Hello!  Mich here.> Have a problem... <OK.> Got a sand sifting star fish from the LFS about two weeks ago.   <Mmm, these typically don't do well in captivity, often dying from starvation.> He has a hole in his back now!?   <Uh-oh, not good!> Whitish greenish stuff is coming out of it!   <Yikes!> He has been acting normal until this morning, still alive but not very active.  What is wrong with him? <Sounds like he's dying.> Is there anything I can do? <It is likely too late.  I'm sorry.  Mich>
Re: Sand-sifting Starfish... Dying... Make That Dead.   5/13/07
Well thanks for the reply, he died sometime after midnight. <I'm sorry for your loss.> He continued to move around the tank like everything was fine and that hole just kept getting bigger.  In less then 24 hours he went from being fine to basically a decomposed ball.  Why do they die this way?   <I'm not sure, but it is typically the way it happens.  Possibly because the tissue in the center is softer than the legs.>   Is there some biological advantage? <Hmm, an interesting question.  Generally there is no biological advantage to death.  Although, in this case, there would be more likelihood of reproduction if each leg had a small part of the central disc, which in nature, might allow for regeneration.  So one intact Seastar could theoretically, produce more than one Seastar, if physically divided.  Perhaps, a part of the reason that physical deterioration often starts at the central disc, as each leg would need a part of the central disc to regenerate.> I did a 20 <gallon> water change about 4 hours before this started, so I'm pretty sure I killed him some how by doing that.   <I don't think a water change alone would cause his death.  There were likely many contributing factors, perhaps the biggest being stress from being shipped/relocated several times over a short timeframe.  Do not blame yourself.> I did check the salinity before adding the new water... <The salinity needs to be matched closely, and Seastars are sensitive to changes in salinity, but it is unlikely this was the sole reason for his death.  Again I'm sorry for your loss.  Mich>

Fromia Star question -- 4/26/07 Dear crew, <Hi Kris, Lynn here.> Thank you for your reply identifying my batik star as a Fromia. However, I'm still not sure what to feed him. I haven't read any clear-cut messages that these stars are meat eaters or algae eaters or just detritus.  I read one description that they feed on the fine algae film covering the tank.  Since it's in a q-tank without any substrate what should I feed him? <I'm not sure which species you have but they're generally omnivorous. They could eat anything including sponges, detritus, film algae, sessile invertebrates, to meaty foods such as bits of clam, shrimp, krill, etc.> Last night I tried small pieces of chopped up fresh shrimp, but there didn't seem to be any interest.  Would pieces of Nori be better?  Help, I don't want him to starve! <If the star was just introduced into QT, it might still be adjusting. I'd continue to offer various meaty foods (as mentioned above), just be sure to remove anything the star doesn't eat. As for the Nori, I'm not sure if it'll eat it but I'd definitely give it a try.> Thanks, Kris <You're welcome and good luck! -Lynn>
Re: Fromia Star question  4/26/07
Thanks for the help, but now I don't hold out much hope. Just took a peek at him and he has that hole in the center I read about. <Truly unfortunate. I'm so sorry to hear that.> Would furan help? BTW I have an anemone in the q-tank too. <Although I've read that Furan can help when you've got a sea star leg that's deteriorating, I'm not aware of it helping this type of deterioration on the disk. When this sort of thing crops up, it seems to advance very quickly. I'm sorry I don't have better news for you. Take care and best wishes --Lynn>

Sea Star Help...but what kind?  4/26/07 Hello, <Hi.> I'll start off with some specs: <Okay.> 29 Gallon FOWLR <A bit cramped for most sea-stars.> 30lbs Live rock My levels are:   Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 10 ppm <Needs to be lower.> S. Gravity: 1.022 <Needs to be higher for invertebrate life...1.024 at least.> pH: 8.2 I purchased a red sea star from LiveAquaria.com the other day and received it yesterday. <What species?> After about an hour of drip acclimating it, I finally  decided it was ready to be put into the tank.   <No quarantine?.. and I prefer to acclimate Seastars longer, they are very sensitive to differences in water quality.> Everything seemed well, but when I woke up this morning it looks as if all its insides have come out. <Not good.> I looked up the articles on starfish but I really didn't know what to search for with this.  It is still alive and moving, but why has everything "fallen" out of it?   <Hard to say without knowing what species this is...> Its only tankmates are a Percula Clown and a Serpent Sea Star which hasn't even come near it as far as I can see, it tends to stay in its cave at the complete opposite side of the tank.  Is this normal? <See above comment^^.> I'm rather new to the hobby and my tank is only about 6 months old,  but it doesn't seem like something that would be normal for anything, to have its guts fall out.   <Good be a reaction to the shift in water quality; I would like to give you a more detailed answer but first shoot me a response with the species (Latin/scientific...if you have it) name. Should be on the LiveAquaria site or on your invoice.> Thank you, Brittani
<Adam J.>

Pisaster disease   4/21/07 Hi,   I have a Pisaster brevispinus in a large temperate system <Yes, a coldwater species> and recently it has developed what look almost like blisters all over its skin.  I am having trouble finding information on what this could be and how to cure it.  I have others in the same system that are doing just fine.  I am attaching a picture - hopefully this will help.  Please email me back with what this could be.  Thank you.      Sincerely,   Allicia S. <Have seen, read of this sort of symptom on Asteroids... tropical and not... but no definitive "cause"/effect, nor cure... I would isolate the affected individual/s... possibly necropsy ones that perish... Maybe a call or email to folks at some of the west coast public aquariums... Fernando Nosratpour at the Birch Aquarium, folks at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, the Monterey... Likely they have seen this in other Pisaster and Patiria species. Bob Fenner>

Red Fromia star has hole in its head! Help!   4/1/07 Hello all, <Hi Luis, Mich here.> Thanks for all the incredible info on your website. I just bought a red Fromia star about 4 days ago. Everything seemed to be fine, but this morning it's there is a hole right in the middle of the starfish, opposite of where it's mouth would be. It looks like something attacked it overnight. <Possibly, but often these stars just don't acclimate well and promptly begin to disintegrate.> I have a skunk cleaner shrimp, a fire shrimp, six Mexican hermit crabs, a wrasse, an ocellaris clown, a psychedelic mandarin, a purple Firefish and a teddy bear crab. When I added the starfish to the tank I also added 2 different sponges to the tank (the teddy bear crab hitch hiked in on one of them). <Oh!  Do watch these sponges, if they decide to die they can take out your whole tank.> Do you think that one of these could have attacked it? <Teddy bear crabs are not reef safe.> The starfish has been hanging out on the glass on the top of the tank, so I don't think it could have been one of the crabs. <May not have been.> Could one of the shrimp have done this? <Also a possibility, but I think is more likely a transport/acclimation issue.> Also, do you think the starfish can live through this? The hole is not pretty, it looks like its tentacles are coming out of the top if it's "head". <Not likely, but is possible.> It is still alive right now, but don't know if I should just take it out of the tank so that it doesn't end up fouling my water. <I would give it a chance but keep a close eye on it.  If it stops moving remove it.> Any insight would be appreciated. <Hope this helps.> Thank you! <Welcome!  -Mich> Luis
Re: Red Fromia star has hole in its head! Help!   4/4/07
Mich, Thanks for the reply. <Welcome!> The star ended up dying. <I'm sorry for your loss.> I believe it to either be an acclimation issue OR the teddy bear crab. <Either are possibilities.> I went back to the shop where I had acquired the star and there was a star from the same batch that disintegrated also. <Unfortunately this is not terribly surprising.> But, to my horror, I caught the teddy bear crab eating my sand-sifting star the next day! It ate a whole arm before I knew what was happening. <Yikes!  I would not recommend the sand-sifting star (Astropecten spp.).  These stars decimate your sand bed removing beneficial organisms and typically starve after a few months in captivity.>   Needless to say I have removed the teddy bear crab from the tank. <Mmm, hopefully to a suitable home and not an untimely demise.> I had searched online about the teddy bear and various sites said it was reef safe and a detritus eater so I thought it was safe, thanks for the info that says otherwise....wish I would have known. <Not every source hold equal value.> Hopefully the star will live and regenerate a new arm. <It may.> Unfortunately, none of my corals are happy since adding the sponges. The tank at the store that one of the sponges was in was being cleaned when I bought it (water was really cloudy). I'm starting to think that I introduced a lot of toxins since I had to introduce that water into my tank. <Yikes!> I am going to do a few water changes daily for the next few days to get any toxins out. <Do watch this carefully.  Dying sponges can really do a lot of damage.> Green mushroom won't open up, gorgonian won't come out and my torch is losing tentacles! <Ho buoy!  Not good!> I'm about to do a water change right now. <Good!> I changed it yesterday and the gorgonian came out for a while. <You may need to do several large changes here!> Wish me luck! <Good luck my friend!> Thanks again for the info, <You are most welcome!  -Mich> Luis

Sea Star Fromia disintegrating  3/23/07 Hi, <Hello> I, like many of your readers, have had a Fromia Sea Star for about 1 week and one of his arms is disintegrating starting at the tip.  I feel that it is an acclimating issue. <Mmmm, not likely. Perhaps collateral damage (collection, handling, shipping) and maybe unsuitable environment> I need some guidance regarding a couple of treatment plans I've read on your website.   First of all, I do not have a QT.  One suggestion that I read was to "swab a reef strength dose (of iodine) directly onto the affected portion with the intent to stain it.  Questions: 1) What is a reef strength dose of iodine? <As in "straight out of the bottle"... product/s made for supplementation>   2) How do you swab on the medicine without exposing the starfish to air?   <Can't as far as I'm aware> Second suggestion: On your site I read that to save such a starfish, consider dipping it in a dilute antibiotic bath.  Questions: 1) What antibiotic, 2) How long to dip, 3) Where to dip the animal <Usually Furan Compound/s... e.g. Nitrofuranace... folks use a bit of the system water, dissolve the contents (usually) of a 250 mg. capsule...> Thank you in advance for your help.  You have a great website. <I wish I could be more positive here... This genus does better than most all others, in captive settings... but does require matching, stable, high quality water ("reef") conditions... Plenty of established live rock... Almost all, once they show such deterioration, perish soon thereafter. Bob Fenner>

Need help with my sea star, sand-sifter (Astropecten spp.)   3/3/07 Hello, <Hi Nikki!  Mich here.> I'm really new to the reef tank world, <Welcome to the briny world.  I would like to recommend a book to you titled "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert M. Fenner.  I think it is the best book out there for a new hobbyist and belongs on the shelf of every marine aquarist>  and I notice a couple days ago that my sand sifter had cut off part of one of its "legs".   <Hmm, unlikely he "cut" it off.> I checked it out and everything else seemed fine.   <Everything being???> I just got home tonight, and I notice that it's not missing another part of another "leg". <It's...  ?not? ....missing?  I'm confused.> I don't have a clue what's going on.   <Not sure I do either.> It's also on top of the sand all arch up.   I'm worried that it might be dying, not getting enough food.   <Both possibilities here I'm afraid.  The position is not exactly normal for a sand-sifting star (Astropecten spp.).  These aren't really appropriate creatures for most home aquariums.> Please help.. Thanks for your time.. <I'm not sure what to tell you here.  These stars typically don't fare very well.  I'm not sure how big your tank is but they should be kept in a minimum of 100 gallons, even then the odds of survival aren't very good.  Same story for your Flame scallop (Lima scabra) these don't do well in aquariums unless you can provide a significant quantity of very fine plankton, best if you can culture your own phytoplankton.> Also here are two pictures. <Got'em.> Nikki J <Sorry I don't have more positive info for you.  -Mich>
Re: Need help with my sea star, sand-sifter (Astropecten spp.)   3/3/07 Thank you Mich.   <You're welcome Nikki.> Sorry I was really tired, and then really worried.  I tend to get scatter brained.   <I understand, I have been guilty of all too often.> It didn't have another missing "leg"  It was just buried in a way that looked like it was cut off.   <OK.> I'm thinking that a coral I have might have fallen on him to cut off the arm/leg.   <Possible.> The arching up it's still doing.  I think it might be doing this to get more food?   <Seems unusual to me.> We feed every other day the DT's and the frozen cubes..  I also make sure I put some into the sand, as I am worried that it's not getting enough food.   <Yes, unfortunately the nutritional requirements of these creatures aren't well understood.> The everything being amonia-0 n-rate-0 n-rite -0 hydrometer-31 cal-390 Thank you for your help.  Also might the arching be it trying to feed?   <I don't think so, typically feed by sifting the sand.> Thanks again.
<You're welcome.  -Mich>

Sand Sifting Starfish, "worms" ID Without Photo - 02/09/2007 <Greeting, Mich here.> My starfish has what looks like green worm's coming from it legs. What is this?   <If it's not his tube feet, it is difficult to say without a crystal ball or perhaps a picture.  As you may well know, a picture is worth a thousand words.  If you can send a photo, someone may be able to help.   -Mich>

Purple Linckia with Hole   1/31/07 Hi Crew!  I purchased a purple Linckia starfish <Mmm, likely Tamaria... another genus altogether... Please check, confirm this> about 2 weeks ago.  I have had great success with an orange one & a blue one, which is nice & thick, after over a year.  I know a year isn't long, in the life of an aquarium but it really is doing great. <Good to hear, read> The purple star doesn't come out much.  The attached pic is the 1st time it came out entirely, since I got it. <Oh! Yes, this is Tamaria stria> I noticed a tiny hole, near the middle of it's body (see attached pic). <I see this> Someone at RC suggested, Thyca crystallina. <Maybe> I looked this up & it looks like a tiny blue shell.  I don't see any shell, just a hole.  Would this parasite bore that deeply? <Oh yes> Is it fatal?  Can I do anything about this?   Thanks, Jeni/Pufferpunk <Oh, hi Jen... can be fatal, directly or as a source of secondary invasion... one can try "exploratory surgery", possibly a predator... but all the common molluscicides are also deleterious to the health of Echinoderms that I'm aware of. If it were me/mine, I'd likely just leave this animal as is... and hope for the best. Bob Fenner>
Re: Purple Linckia with Hole  2/1/07 Hey Bob, Thanks for the ID!  While waiting for your response, I did a bit more research & discovered this may be the starfish's madreporite. <Maybe> My concern now is the vascular apparatus supposed to hang open like this? <Mmm, no> Unfortunately, this star is very shy & stays hidden almost all the time. <Not atypical for the species>   I can't check to see if it's madreporite is still open or not.    <These "stone canals" are almost always "open">   Any news on diving Bonaire in April?   Thanks, Jeni/PP <Mmm, no... 'cept it doesn't appear I'm going to check out the digs, possibility next month... No one to go with then either... B>

Damaged Red Fromia Hi Bob! <Q> Disappointed to report that a red Fromia introduced to 40 gal tank approx 4 weeks ago isn't doing so well. Before buying specimen I did all the right things (selected a health specimen, observed for about 2 weeks, closely examined underside of sea star, etc.).  Used drip acclimation procedure... <Good> Fromia appeared to be doing very well (moving around tank, seemed to be eating). <Hard to tell with this group and most all other invertebrates... re damage before receiving, internal complaints... the time frame for these is quite delayed...> Last Thursday morning (about 2 days after 10% water change) I noticed that the star appeared to be distressed.  It had moved to the top of the tank and "bending" 2 of its legs back so that they were almost parallel with the water surface. <"Trying to get out"> At that point I did 2 things'¦ checked WWM and called LFS.  WWM indicated this was most likely a stress response; LFS said this was 'normal' behaviour (sea star filter feeding by dangling its legs). <?... No... Please... have you ever seen such a thing? In the wild, in captivity? This is not a filter feeding species>   Not being clear on what was happening I decided to wait it out. The next morning the specimen was in BAD shape.  One leg was extremely damaged.  Almost looked like the 'skin' covering the leg had separated from inner tissues. (basically the damaged leg had split in 2 -- orange outer skin sheath and inner white body tissue). <Decomposing... I do hope you removed the specimen> Weird thing, damage was completely restricted to that one leg.  The damaged leg has since completely dissolved into a small nub. (I noticed coral beauty angle picking at dead tissue). <Not atypical behavior> I assumed this problem was caused by a reaction to the water change but now I'm not so sure. <New water needs to be carefully matched... slowly added... done not too in/frequently...> I find it strange that only one leg was affected.  Throughout this ordeal the sea star has maintained its colour and has begun to move around the tank the last few days.    I considered moving specimen into a hospital tank but given what it has already gone through I wasn't sure if this was prudent.  I honestly didn't think the sea star would make it this long. <Me either> I'm frustrated by the fact that I was aware, prior to performing water change, that Fromia are sensitive to WQ changes.  I tried to match pH, temp and sal (in particular) to tank water. <Good> Is the damage to my specimen consistent with WQ 'shock' or could this have been caused by something else. <Either>   I'm fairly certain I've got a mystery crab living in my LR.  The previous owners of the tank had observed a nocturnal crab.  When I purchased the tank and LR, I noticed the body of a crab in a little pocket in the LR.  At the time I assumed that this was the nocturnal crab and that it was dead, Since then, I've been through a couple of molts with my cleaner shrimp and now realize how lifelike their molt can look.  I also noticed a couple of crab molt fragments in the tank that weren't there a few days ago.  The pieces appear to be white with orange dots.  The complete carapace I observed after purchasing the tank was about 2 --3 cm in diameter'¦.  Could this be attacking my sea star? <Yes, could> Any thoughts on what this crab might be (based on my crappy description'¦). <A Decapod...> What are the chances that my star will be ok? <Not too good> Thanks a lot! q <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Another "Good ol" Linckia question ... health, comp.  11/21/06 Hi Bob, Hope you don't mind being emailed directly, but I'm a bit desperate (and I do realize you must get a LOT of mail) <Mmm, some, some days> I have been reading your pages for years now, but have never actually asked a question before ( your FAQs are so comprehensive, I've always found what I'm looking for, thanks for the years of valuable passive assistance). However, I'm stuck this time and hope you can help. My Blue Linckia (WAIT!! ....please keep reading) <Heeeeee!> who I have had happy and healthy for about 2 and a half years now in a  FOWLR 90 litre tank lost a leg last week after I added a Valentini Puffer,  a Dragon Wrasse , and a turbo snail  (yeah, I know.. I  bought the Wrasse on a whim , with no research, just advice of LFS, stupid!), <A Novaculichthys will get too large for this volume... the Toby and it will easily pick the Linckia to bits...> a Domino also died with in  2 days, with a very minor abrasion on one side. The leg was quite mangled and half of it was in the bottom of the tank ( I suspect the puffer , but can't prove anything),  I removed him and cleaned the leg up to a tidier cut just at the disc with a scalpel hoping he would grow it back, then put him back in. Then I noticed the puffer having a go at the "Manky bit" and don't know if it's because it is a tempting wound now , or if she was responsible in the first place. <Too likely this latter> So I upended a small 5 litre tank inside the main tank and put him in there with some live rock, because I was afraid she would not let him regenerate. <Not at all probable to happen...> He wandered around inside the little tank for about a week looking pretty good , but this morning I found him curled up and flaccid on the bottom, and another leg seems to be exuding the same white fibrous material from a new small wound that  the original damaged leg had coming out of it, and the damaged limb is showing no sign of repairing itself, he looks in bad shape, staying rigid with few "feet" coming out or moving around, can't even feed him because he won't relax over the food , which disappears immediately to a fish . I was afraid he was starving in his small enclosure, so I have put him back in the main tank to "take his chances" with the puffer What should l I do, please help. can't bear to lose him? <... another tank...> My tank is something of a miracle anyway , since it has no skimmer , is only 90 litres with a basic trickle filter, but he has been so healthy for so many years , he obviously finds it ok, <Yes... much preferred to a too-sterile typical reef setting for this Asteroid> as does my clown . Pseudochromis bicolor and other anemones etc. <Other anemones?> The ammonia and nitrites are still nonexistent , PH is fine and so is salinity , only the temperature is varying by about 2 degrees daily at the moment as we are having a very hot spell ( any tips for cooling a tank?) <Posted on WWM> Thanks for the help in advance Cheers, Rama <This Linckia is very likely a goner... your "luck" with this sort of mixing is nearing an end. Bob Fenner>

Another Sea Star Gone Missing! - 10/20/06 I need your help please!!! <<Let's see what I can do>> Hi my name is Monica. <<Hello Monica...Eric here>> My husband and I have a 100-gallon tank where we have about 50 lbs of live rock, (2) anemones, (2) clown fish, (1) yellow tang, (1) Naso tang, (1) blue tang (yes, my yellow tang is a bit aggressive towards my Naso but is getting better ), <<Mmm...would suggest you have too many/inappropriate tangs for this size tank.  The Naso can reach 18" in the wild...the Blue (Hippo?) can reach 12".  Both are robust, active critters and will be susceptible to developmental retardation in this system...in my opinion>> (2) Chromis, (1) scarlet cleaner shrimp, (1) Marine Betta which by the way he is the sweetest thing ever ... <<Indeed, very passive fish...unless it can get the other fish in its mouth <grin> >> We got lucky on this one, he just hangs around his cave and comes out to eat, doesn't bother our shrimp. <<yet>> These are all small fish, the biggest one being our Naso tang and next comes our marine Betta.  We also have red mushrooms, green hairy mushrooms, spotted mushroom, few bunches of different polyps, a beautiful tree coral, candy coral, and I think that is it ... oh yeah and a clam... <<Sounds very nice>> What was my question? <<Hee!>> Oh yeah, well a few months back we bought a beautiful star fish it was an orange-red star fish (I think this is its scientific name "Echinaster" species) it was a small one.  It was very active for a long time maybe about a month or so ... and then suddenly it disappeared one day. <<This is not an uncommon tale>> Since it was so small we thought maybe somehow went thru the filter but we literally turned the tank upside down and we could not find it at all. <<The scavengers in our systems usually make quick work of mortalities>> We assumed it really went thru the filter and decomposed. <<Likely just died within the structure of live rock...and likely completely consumed in less than 24-hrs.>> Few months went by and about 3 weeks ago we purchased another orange red sea star, but this time we went much bigger it was probably about 5".  It was doing really great, moving around the rocks, we did notice it went up to the surface a lot probably to get some oxygen, <<No, likely just "exploring" its surrounding...or...if you have water quality issues...trying to "escape">> but one day ...actually couple days ago we notice it was missing and we really don't know how long it has been missing.  We have looked all over, we purchased a few polyps recently along with the tree coral and we moved some rocks to have the correct placements of these items recently purchased and keeping in mind that the star fish might be hiding in one of these rocks but absolutely nothing ... our 2nd starfish is MIA.  What do you think happen to it? <<These animals are easily injured if mishandled/acclimated improperly.  Quick changes in salinity can cause injury to their vascular system, exposure to the atmosphere can cause air entrapment in same.  Some starfish (Linckia sp.) seem to do very poorly no matter how carefully handled...perhaps Echinaster is one of these.  Even many of the hardier starfish can be unknowingly starved to death...seemingly doing well only to mysteriously "disappear">> Where is my starfish? <<Likely gone/consumed>> Do you think something in my tank ate it? <<Not before it died>> I know it didn't escape; we do not have any pets (other than our fish) so if it did we would of found it on the floor or on top of the tank.  So this is a mystery to us now.  If you think you can help us in anyway please do so.  This is the second starfish that goes MIA. <<Most of the "reef-safe" starfish require a "mature" system with ample live rock on which to graze.  You don't mention the age of your system but, I would suggest you add another 25-50 pounds of live rock and try one of the small "Fromia" species of starfish Thank you so much, The Garths <<Happy to assist.  Eric Russell>>
Re: Another Seastar Gone Missing! -- 10/25/06
Eric - Thank you so much for your help. <<Is my pleasure to assist>> I am sad to hear that our starfish got consumed by someone else in our tank. <<But likely after its demise>> And I am sorry to hear that I will have retarded fish ... :o( <<Indeed>> Eventually we will upgrade our tank to a bigger one. <<But sooner rather than later...or find other homes for the Naso and Blue tang>> We have had this one for 1 year and actually have about 70Lbs of live rock ... since I forgot to mention that last time. <<Mmm, you did mention you had 50 lbs of rock>> But thank you so much for your help. <<Quite welcome>> FYI our Marine Betta is not doing well at all, it stopped eating for 3 days and has a big bite on his tail and this morning he was breathing very hard, I am scared to go home and find it belly up. <<Doesn't sound good...>> Not sure what happened, because he was just fine!  :o( <<Hmm...perhaps look to the afore mentioned tangs for harassment issues here>> But again, Eric, thanks so much for your help ... next time we will try to get the other type of starfish species! <<Excellent>> Thanks, Monica <<Regards, EricR>>

Fromia Seastar Ailment, Sir Paul's Mum ref.     8/7/06 Hello Crew, I am a proud owner of a year old 75 gallon SW tank. Throughout my freshman year of keeping SW fish, I purchased almost all "beginner" <Do like this spelling, instead of beginner... a bit different meaning/intention> livestock (2 Perculas, 3 Chromis, 1 royal Gramma, lawnmower blenny, sm. crabs & snails). I had very good luck with all of these animals and my tank has never, ever had any traces of ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate ( w/ SeaChem test kits). <Wow, no NO3?> So, understandably, I thought it was time to branch out. Last week I purchased (from Dr. Foster) a pineapple tree coral, a green mushroom, and a Fromia Seastar. After absorbing all the info I could off of your site I was confident I could take care of the star. After receiving it, I poured it & it's water in a bucket. I then, over the course of 4 hours, dripped water in through airline tubing. <Mmm, did you happen to measure the spg of the water in the bag? Needs to be near-matched... adjusted over days, weeks if very different> The star looked very healthy and mobile. When it was time to place him in the tank however, I neglected to realize that the water the Seastar was in was cooler than the water in the main tank. <Mmm, not generally much of an issue> I was too concerned with not exposing the star to air to notice this possibly fatal mistake. After being placed in, the star moved around as usual for a couple of days. He  climbed the glass up to the waterline where he still is today, 6 days after initial placement. This alone wouldn't be that bad, but the star's central disk is excreting little intestine-looking globs (does not look like a stomach). That's not all- several pores on his front side are bulging out, they're beginning to look like bubbles that are about to burst. <Bad...> I guess there is a bright side- no visible signs of necrosis such as white marks or decaying tissue. A reason for the stars demise might be a pH drop in my tank at night. <How much? A few tenths of a point should be fine> I don't have any fancy equipment to help balance this out. I am a realist, and I understand that the situation is pretty grim, but I'm curious as to what I should do now. Should I move the star down to the substrate <No. Will move itself> and trying feeding him some formula one (doubt he's eaten anything substantial while in my tank), should I be like Paul McCartney and let it be, <Good point/comparison... This is what I'd do> or should I dispose of it immediately? And finally (didn't know I'd type this much) should I try my luck again with Seastars with this new knowledge and maybe some new equipment (I don't like serpent stars, may be hardier but I find them creepy). <Can't tell...> Thank you guys so much, without you I would have never gotten into this incredible hobby. BTW: my mushroom and tree corals are doing well from what I can tell : )   Specs--> Emperor 400 gph power filter; Whisper 300 gph filter; Two 200 gph powerheads; 260 watt PC (soon to add another 130 watt); Remora skimmer; 75 lbs live rock; Alkalinity 2.5 meq/ L; Calcium 500 ppm; Salinity 1.025; Temp 81 F. <Mmm, your Alk. is a bit low, the calcium a bit high... I'd look into, allow these to adjust more to "middling" values... and try another Fromia if you should lose this one. Bob Fenner>

Night Abductions... Sick red African Star, also dwarf lionfish   Scotter's go   7/27/06 Hello Bob, <Scott F. in for Bob tonight> I love your book and your wonderful website.  You guys are keeping my fish alive! <Well, YOU are doing the hard part- we're just along for the ride!> Here are a few questions for you'¦ <Okay..> I have a two months old (relatively new) 55G reef setup and green and brown algae are starting to form.  So I ran out and got a sea star to clean the tank.  It turned out to be an (Protoreastor lincki) African or Horned Sea Star, which I don't know if it is reef safe. <Not really, IMO.. They can eat all sorts of sessile inverts.> I guess I may not have gone though the acclimation procedures long enough (30 min) when I put him in the tank.  A few minutes after it went in, clear, slimy strings start to floats around it.  The body goes from being totally smooth to slight sandpapery in texture.  Although he changes shaped a little bit, he hasn't moved since I  put him in the tank last night.  I also tested the water in the bag after the fact, and it is at SG .018 and my tank water is at .023.  Is it too drastic of a change for him?  Although it is not moving, I can still see some wiggling tube feet coming out at the bottom of the star.  Is he going  to make it? <Potentially problematic...The environmental change may have been too drastic. This could be a response to extreme stress by the animal. Keeping environmental parameters stable is the best you can do right now.> My existing serpent star is doing great!  Which sea star is right for cleaning algae in a reef tank? <I'd rely on snails for that job, myself.> Secondly, I have a 5' dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish (my sea puppy) which I just love. <Very endearing fish!> He is well fed (he eats anything I put in front of him) and doing very well except for a slightly clouded eye on one side.  He never hides, always out in the open (day and night) playing power head surfing by zooming across  the tank.  Here is the problem; some of my other fish (over half its size) are disappearing one after another overnight.  Two Maroon Clowns and three Damsels, along with a 3' Royal Gramma.  There is no evidence that they ever get sick and died and turned into hermit crab's lunch.  Yet, I can't be sure (and refuse to believe) that my cute little Lionfish could have eaten all these good sized fish.  I have found nothing on the floor.  Power head and filters are free of fish filets.  Are we looking at a possible case of UFO fish abductions? <Before you call out Moulder and Skulley, I'd think that it is possible for this Lionfish to do some chomping on fishes that are a good percentage of his own size! You might also be looking at a Mantis Shrimp, crab, or other predatory live rock hitchhiker that comes out at night. Perhaps checking out the tank in the middle of the night could yield some evidence.> Thanks for your help! -Hosh <The truth is out there, Hosh...Keep searching! Regards, Scott F.>
Sick red African Star, also dwarf lionfish tankmate meals   RMF's go   7/27/06
Hello Bob, <Hosh> I love your book and your wonderful website.  You guys are keeping my fish alive! <Actually you are... am glad we can/help you> Here are a few questions for you'¦ I have a two months old (relatively new) 55G reef setup and green and brown algae are starting to form.  So I ran out and got a sea star to clean the tank.   <Mmm... Asteroids are not really "algae eaters"> It turned out to be an (Protoreastor lincki) African or Horned Sea Star, which I don't know if it is reef safe.   <... Is not... and inappropriate for this sized system> I guess I may not have gone though the acclimation procedures long enough (30 min) when I put him in the tank.  A few minutes after it went in, clear, slimy strings start to floats around it.  The body goes from being totally smooth to slight sandpapery in texture.  Although he changes shaped a little bit, he hasn't moved since I put him in the tank last night. <Echinoderms don't "like" chemical, physical changes in their world>   I also tested the water in the bag after the fact, and it is at SG .018 and my tank water is at .023. <Yeeikes>   Is it too drastic of a change for him? <Oh, yes> Although it is not moving, I can still see some wiggling tube feet coming out at the bottom of the star.  Is he going to make it?   <Doubtful for long here> My existing serpent star is doing great!  Which sea star is right for cleaning algae in a reef tank? <None> Secondly, I have a 5' dwarf fuzzy lionfish (my sea puppy) which I just love.   He is well fed (he eats anything I put in front of him) and doing very well except for a slightly clouded eye on one side.  He never hides, always out in the open (day and night) playing power head surfing by zooming across the tank.  Here is the problem; some of my other fish (over half its size) are disappearing one after another overnight. <Inhaled likely by this Lion> Two maroon clowns and three damsels, along with a 3' royal Gramma.  There is no evident that they ever get sick and died and turned into hermit crabs lunch.  Yet, I can't be sure (and refuse to believe) that my cute little lionfish could have eaten all these good sized fish. <Did do so most likely> I have found nothing on the floor.  Power head and filters are free of fish filets.  Are we looking at a possible case of UFO fish abductions? <Heeee! Just bigger, faster tankmates. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your help!

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