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FAQs about Sea Star Disease/Pests/Injuries/Health 5

FAQs on Starfish Disease: Seastar Disease 1, Seastar Disease 2, Seastar Disease 3, Star Disease 4, & 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.

Star fish; hlth.       5/7/16
Hi bob one of my customers crimsons is looking like this I've not seen one do this before???
Hope your well
<Thank you Dylan. Unfortunately I have seen such expansion as this... almost always a bad sign. I'd be moving this Seastar to a sump/refugium and monitoring it closely for signs of decomposition. Bob Fenner>

Sea Star Trauma (from power head)       10/5/15
Hello Crew,
Last night, I noticed that this starfish was crawling around the inlet to the protein skimmer pump. My display is a 40 Gal with a HOB Protein skimmer. I've had this star for months now and it's been doing great in the tank. Always on the move.
Today, I saw that the star had wrapped itself around the intake of the skimmer. I thought that it might have found something that it wanted to eat there. After a couple of hours of no movement, I powered the pump down and saw that the star had been stuck.
I moved it to a piece of liverock and it sort of wilted and has sat there for the past few hours. It is clearly missing flesh from 2 legs. Is there
anything that I can do for it? Any chance that it will recover?
<I would be double, triple dosing iodide-ate, like Lugol's.... and redosing weekly. And yes to hoping it will recover>
See photo attached.
<W. Bob Fenner>

Starfish with enlarged leg         8/17/15
Hi Bob,
Have you any idea why this starfish leg is enlarged like this?
<Like? Nothing attached. Have you read on WWM re Asteroid health? BobF>
Re: Starfish with enlarged leg         8/17/15

Linckia with very large leg. I've sent attachment. I have looked, yes. I can't find anything that resembles...no explanation for this.
<Perhaps bacterial, parasitic... maybe just something awry w/ osmotic/osmoregulation in the water-vascular network. All bad news... Be prepared to remove this animal on its passing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Starfish with enlarged leg         8/17/15
Have spent hours searching. Also thought it was an infection of some sort causing blockage. It isn't mine. Belongs to a member of my group. Will pass this on. Thank you so much.
<Wish I had summat more encouraging to state, add.... There are some folks (not WWM) who might suggest excising the bad leg.... and/or using an antibiotic as a concentrated bath in slightly reduced spg (a few thousandths) to get the analog inside the Star.... or H2O2 for both (not IN the tank). Myself; I'd just wait, hope. BobF>
Re: Starfish with enlarged leg         8/17/15

Will pass this along. Thanks again..
<Welcome. B>

Re: Starfish with enlarged leg       8/18/15
Leg fell off. I'm thinking autotomy reproduction. It's healthy.
<Soon see. B>

Re: Abrasion on banded hound shark... actually... Not... typical Seastar death     10/28/13
<Shea>     Hope all is well.   I need some info on an issue I am having with my African Red Knob Sea Star (Protoreaster linckii).   I have noticed over the last few months that he seems to be fading in color on the red areas.   I have had him for over a year and he has been fine.  Seems to be behaving normally and eating.   I just am not sure what could cause the change in the Red Knobs turning to a pinkish color.  Do you know what this could be from.
<Yes... just search on WWM re the common or scientific name... Toss in the word health or disease if you'd like. B>
 All param.s are good and my nitrates are now in the 20-25 range which is the best they have ever been since I have had him.  Thanks for the help Mr. Fenner. 
Fw: Abrasion on banded hound shark...

P.S.    I tore through your site but could not find anything similar but if you have a link to something on your site that would be great.  Thanks.
<You'll find it soon. B>

Assistance please; Killing Seastars, flooding the floor     8/1/13
<Hi there>
I inherited a 57g saltwater tank about a month ago. It included LR and LS and I kept about 15g of the previous tank water.
<A nice gift>
A few days ago I added some peppermint shrimp, crabs, Nassarius snails, and a sifter starfish. All appear to be doing well except for the starfish. 2 nights ago, he disconnected one of his legs.
<Too soon to add asteroids. Common beginning of their all-too common loss.
See WWM re the species>

 I've read this can be due to stress and a defense mechanism. He hasn't moved much and as far as I can tell hasn't eaten. I isolated him in a Tupperware container in my sump so that I can place some flakes in front of him.
<? What species is this?>
I had to isolate him because the shrimps kept pulling at his open wound. He hasn't moved there either and hasn't eaten the flake. Is there anything I can do to help him? Poor guy.
<Keep reading>

Also, my tank has some kind of stain along the bottom edges on the silicone. No one seems to know what it is.
<Is evidence of imminent failure sorry to state... You should take this tank down... READ re resiliconing it... new inside beads (which this doesn't have) at least, or perhaps just replace. Is a bunch of work to take apart...>
 My guess it has something to do with the sand since the stain is on all of the silicone at the bottom and up about 3-4" high. Any ideas?
<Oh yes; have seen on quite a few occasions. I suspect "it" is at least partly biological... but this seal is going>
Thank you,
<In future, adhere to our stated limit on image file size. Bob Fenner>

"Linckia" Star parasite?     4/19/13
Hello WWM crew. I have been frequenting your site for about 5 years now and I can usually find what I am looking for with no problem, just a lot of reading which is always helpful.
<Ahh, if you have ideas (workable of course) re how we/I might improve WWM, please do send them along>
Now, to get down to business. I acquired a small "orange Linckia star" approximately 2-2.5 inches across.
<Wow; tis small>

I am pretty sure it is not a Fromia even though it is very small. I couldn't get a good picture of him so I included one that looks exactly the same.
<Mmm, where is this pic from; as in do you have permission to use others property?><ergo, not posted>

There no visible signs of stress or discoloration and so far its acting...normal or as normal as a new star acts on day one of being placed in a tank.
<... oh>
 I noticed what appears to be...well tiny "bugs" for lack of a better word on it so I started looking of hitchhikers and parasites and all that keeps popping up is a type of parasitic snail and these are definitely not snails. They resemble some sort of "pod" and are very very fast and seem to almost jump/scoot around like amphipods on LR.
 They are so small I originally thought the stars skin was just semi coarse until I saw one move. They appear to be an orange-ish-red in color,(most likely due to the color of the star they are hosting) oval shaped and slightly domed. They do not seem to be focused in any specific area like around the feet or anything but just kind of scooting about. I cannot see any legs or antenna or anything like body parts, just too small.
I tried to remove one with a toothpick but it shot back under the leg of the star faster than I could even get remotely close to it suggesting it has either excellent vision or is extremely light sensitive. Unfortunately they are so small I can not get a photo of them and the sea star is pretty small itself so I hope the description is at least semi-helpful. Have you all ever seen or heard of anything like this before? The only thing that I found that is close is Periclimenes soror, the "starfish shrimp"
<... have seen all sorts of organisms living in and on Asteroids... they span the range of commensals to space parasites and more... T'were it me/mine, I'd do nothing here... However, to be clear I've made, am making the point, I would NOT have purchased such an unknown, esp. of such small size. I hope yours adapts to captivity, but the vast majority of such "misc. species", particularly when small, do not. Bob Fenner>
Re: "Linckia" Star parasite?      4/20/13

Thank you for the prompt reply as always Bob. Hey just an idea, how bout a link to a basic general photo id section or did I miss it?
<Did not post your lifted pic... again, that's stealing.... like gov't  taxes... taking other peoples' property w/o their express consent>
That'd Probably be too much work though lol.
<Not too much>
The star along with a few LPS corals came from a friends tank that keeps "crashing" and he is throwing in the towel on SW. (He severely overstocked and overfeeds his 40 breeder in my opinion.)
 This is my first star ever attempted mainly because it was free, small and I have a 5 year old, 100gal LPS softie tank with a ton of LR so I figured why not.
<Worth trying>
He probably has a better chance in my tank than at the PetCo he was originally going to give it to. So far the star has moved but it doesn't appear to be aimlessly wandering all over the tank like its looking for food but I know it is way to early to say anything's going right with it. If I still have him after 3-6-9 months I'll be sure to post it.
<Thank you, BobF>

Urgent: Sick Red Knobby Star Fish? - 10/04/12
Hi! I hope you can help. I have a 50 gallon Bow Front Saltwater tank
<... too small... these stars are hard to keep... need large, aged/stable setting>
 with 2- Red Knobby Star Fish
, 2-Orange Clown Fish, and 2-Black/white clown fish. All water conditions test normal.
<?... need alkalinity, alkaline earths...>
 I have had the inhabitants for over a month now. I feed the star fish a combination of a omnivorous formula and a frozen brine shrimp formula. I usually place the food in the sand and place the star fish on top of it.
They seem to be eating fine.
However, they have been acting odd. They seem to curl up their arms so the tips are pointing upwards or at times seem to twist their body in odd shapes. Normally they move around the tank quite quickly, however one of them wedges itself under a piece of live rock for long periods of time. I have one that curled one leg up and I could see a white flesh colored substance under its leg. Thought it may be some of the shrimp food still lingering on its leg, but because it has been acting so odd, I was concerned it may be a disease. I wasn't sure if I should remove it or just monitor it?
<Be ready to remove... dying>
 I'm not sure the best treatment for these specific star fish. In addition, they at times seem to almost shrink in size. They have been so entertaining and seem to do so well, I hate to see them stressed or sick. What do you recommend?
<That you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisf5.htm
and the linked files above>
I have sent a few pictures. The picture with the two of them in it shows them when I first got them in the tank. They are a good size and seem to be plump. The other pics are taken today. They have been set on the shrimp. As you look at the one, his arms are pointing up and curling itself backwards and they don't seem as plump as they have been. The last picture is tough to see, but it is moving along the bottom, but the one arm is turned and is almost being pulled under it.  I hope the pics help.
<Some... do read as soon as practical... Bob Fenner>
Oh oh

Worried about red starfish... Is there a full moon?     3/23/12
<7.5 Megs pic? What is it w/ people not reading/following directions...?>
I just purchased this starfish yesterday...the owner said it was it good condition and that it was just shedding its skin, but now I am not so sure.  I acclimated it to the take using a drip method and moved around fine but red stuff is coming off from it..and it has this spot on it and I have no idea what it is...it had to yesterday when I bought it, but now I am not sure if it is healthy.  If it isn't I want to get it out of the tank quickly so not to kill my other fish.  nitrates and ammonia is 0 salinity level is 1.025.  Please help me.
<... this animal is dead. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

Re: Worried about red starfish    3/23/12
Thanks for the quick reply :)  The crazy thing is...it is very active...I don't think I can remove him from the tank yet..because he has wedged himself have in and out of a rock....should I wait until he comes back out and put him into a bowl?
Best Regards,
<Read where you were referred. B>
Re: Worried about red starfish    3/23/12

How can I get him out of the tank...he is seriously stick on my rock and will not let me take him out...I am afraid I might break him into pieces
<... read... siphon out when decomposes...>
Re: Worried about red starfish    3/24/12

Thank you so much...starfish is safely removed from my tank and is now in a bucket....my daughter really wanted a starfish....after getting this one I really did not know what I was in store for.  Is there any particular starfish that is more hardy?  She originally wanted a purple beaded starfish.
Best Regards,
<Stop writing... and read where you were referred; the linked files above.>

Sea Star Air Exposure   2/8/12
I hear a lot of people cautioning not to expose your sea stars to the air.
<Best to not>
I've heard things like "Exposing them to air will slowly kill them. If they get air bubbles inside their digestive tracks, they'll dissolves from the inside out...".
<Mmm, sometimes harmful... not as bad as Poriferans>
I don't know anything about starfish but this reasoning makes sense. I'm wondering if this has been verified by anyone?
Has a study been done to determine whether or not this is true?
<Not that I'm aware, no>
 I often see some species of star fish (Pisaster ochraceus)
<Ah yes... and its congener here on the US west coast>
hanging around out of water at low tide by the hundreds so I'm wondering if what applies to them applies to subtidal genus such as Fromia and that the air bubble theory is a myth?
<Got me>
Thanks for helping me clarify this,
<Perhaps a college thesis... Bob Fenner>

Red Thorny Star Sickly?   2/7/12
My boyfriend and I (Okay, mostly I) have a serious concern about our red thorny star "Sonny"!
<Echinaster echinophorus?>
He's usually quite the mover. He's always making his way around the 20 gallon tank,
<... too small. Tiny volumes are inherently too unstable, hard to keep optimized water quality wise, don't provide enough food and means for removing metabolites, pollution for such animals>
 around the walls, live rock (around 15 pounds of it), and generally being active.  The last three or four days I've noticed that he's been unusually still and uncharacteristically boring.  He's wedged himself in between two of the live rocks and stays there for hours and hours (to the point where I had my boyfriend reach into the tank to make sure he wasn't actually stuck between the rock). 
<Don't do this!>

We picked him up, put him on the sand with a piece of shrimp underneath
him and he just sat there and slowly (slowwwwly) moved across the sand.
He's now, 24 hours later, wedged himself between the same two rocks, and isn't moving around like crazy anymore.  We did a 5 gallon water change tonight,
 and before doing that tested the water temp, and salinity and they both read completely normal (on the green line of the floating meter, the number I can't remember off hand).  I know stars are sensitive to changes in salinity, but he's been in the tank with no changes in fish (a clown, flame angel, and a six line wrasse), rock, or coral, for four months now and is just now acting like this.  It's very odd. His body doesn't seem to be decomposing. I don't see any open sores or tears, his "thorns" look normal, and his coloration is good, but I have noticed that his legs seem a bit chubbier and less slender than normal.  I think this is because he's not as stretched out when he's just sitting (or wedged) as he normally is when he's in active motion.  Is he sick?
<Can't tell... but this is a poor choice of species, setting. Read here:
and the linked files above>
 I know that's such a strange question for the complete lack of viable information I can really provide-
<Well put>
 but when you watch a tank for an hour a night for months at a time, you definitely notice when a critter is acting funny! I hope he's going to be okay! Any suggestions? We do not have an quarantine tank at this time.
<A bigger, better world... Bob Fenner>

Starfish dying    4/20/11
Hello, my name is Scott. I have a 60 gallon tank that has been set up n running smoothly for a year now. Two weeks ago I introduced an African Red Knobbed Starfish to my tank. This morning I woke up and the star had big open sores all over its body. The knobs are all falling off and the star is now very lethargic and even just falls off the glass and goes limp for a bit. What should I do? There are no other problems in the tank. I have no crabs or fish that would pick at it. Can the star be saved?
<Not likely>
Should I leave it in there or quarantine it?
<Should be removed if too far gone, decomposing>
Thanks in advance for any help or advice you may be able to offer.
<What you describe, observe is all too common. Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Starfish help, Losing legs, 12/9/10
I have a red sea starfish for about 1 month now. The first couple of days I noticed the tips of 2 legs fell off. Now all 5 tips are gone. It doesn't seem to move around very much, just sticks on the glass. Any suggestions.
<Sounds like it is not doing well at all, most likely due to shipping, environmental conditions, and/or acclimation. See here for more. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm .>
All other creatures in tank are fine, 100 gallon about 4 months old , live rock was in for while before added fish.
Water tested 3 weeks ago great.
<Retest your water, three week old tests results are useless. These creatures are often the first to be effected by poor water quality. Ammonia and nitrite must be 0, nitrates <20 ppm along with proper pH and salinity, see our water quality section here
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/maintindex.htm . >
chance baker

Curling upside down Starfish -- 03/05/10
Thanks to you for your awesome website. We searched for answers before writing you. We just purchased a General Starfish.
<... not a good choice of Asteroid for home hobby use. Have you read on WWM re?>
It is brown with orange knobs. It was so active in the tank at the store, but when we got it home, it barely moved at all. We have a high flow 55 gallon
<Too small...>
tank with live rock. A month ago or so, we did a two week copper treatment to rid the tank of huge bristle worms,
<... not advised>
but we double-checked the copper levels and they were at zero for a week before we got the starfish. The water is pristine as we were doing multiple water changes throughout the copper treatment. The starfish ate small pieces of shrimp the first two days, but we found it on its back two times and righted it each time. We thought it was dying but then it started to move around and explore the tank. During these first few days, it was getting harassed by the other fish...a couple of Chromis, a coral angel beauty and two damsels [and a needle-nosed hawk fish-who could care less about the starfish!] They were nipping at the starfish's legs and covering it with sand. Today is day 6 and it is upside down again, has its legs curled up under it like a ball, exposing its entire underbelly to the other fish. Its stomach[?] was out a little ways. We turned it right side up again and now it is curled up off the sand with all its legs over it, in a right-side-up ball, the underside of its legs are exposed. It looks like it is trying to get off the sand???
<Return this animal... Now>
Could there be residual copper in the sand?
<Possibly, though not the most likely cause of trouble here>
We were told by our fish "experts" at the shop that the species is hardy.
<Mmm, no>
But now we are reading horror stories of deterioration and don't want this to happen. Should we return it to the store before it gets any worse?
<Ah, yes>
Any advice would be most appreciated! Ani :-)
<Be chatting! Bob Fenner>
Re: Curling upside down Starfish 3/8/2010

Thanks for your insight. We returned the poor animal on Saturday.
<Ah, good>
At the shop, they seemed puzzled as to why it wasn't doing well. They are fully versed in our tank (condition, livestock, etc), and said that it should have done fine.
<Historically this species does not fare (often) well in captivity...>
I've learned my lesson, though. Research is so important, and I will be visiting your site from now on before making any purchase!
<Ah, even better. Have been to a few LFS where they have WWM on-line on terminals for their customers use. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Possible sick African Red Star... dying/dead, no reading  2/4/2010
I was hoping you guys can help me with my African red star fish. I just started my 90 gallon tank 3 months ago and things have been pretty successful thus far. The last couple of days I have noticed changes in my starfish's behavior, which I have had for about a month.
<Have you read re this species, family care? They're not hard, well-suited for aquariums:
Use the search tool here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
with the two words: Protoreastor health
and read the cached views>
I also have 6 damsels (2 being domino),
<You'll learn, are learning>
1 purple lobster, 1 blenny, 1 maroon clown, 1 rusty angel, 1 emperor angel,
<Misplaced here. Needs much more room>
1 royal gramma, 2 cleaner shrimp, and a couple of snails. I just checked my levels yesterday which was 79 degrees, PH is 8.2, NO2 is .1,
<Toxic; likely due to mis- and overstocking>
NO3 is 1, SG is 1.023.
<A bit low>
Ok, so a few days ago I noticed my starfish spending more time on the sand as opposed to his normal behavior on the walls or rocks. We saw he was doing a lot more what we call star "yoga" which was fun to watch, but then we
noticed he had a couple of nicks/cuts on his underside. Yesterday we tried feeding him by putting a cube down and him on top which didn't seem like he ate much if any. He doesn't look any smaller, but we thought because he was
behaving differently he might be hungry.
This morning I noticed he had a couple more chunks out of him,
one located towards his core. I noticed that my purple lobster was out (which is rare for him...he usually stays hidden), but not near the starfish. Could the lobster be picking at him?
Today the starfish has laid in the sand belly up.
He is alive, but not moving.
<Remove the carcass>
I tried placing him belly down on a rock in hopes that he would attach, but that was unsuccessful. He basically slid
down. We called our LFS and they said he might be "playing dead" if something is picking at him and that this behavior can persist for about a week. Is that a possibility?
<The first, no, the second, more ludicrous>
Any suggestions as to what might be bothering my starfish? I do not have a QT, but with his behavior am thinking about setting one up as soon as possible. Any help or guidance will help.
<Read, search before writing. Bob Fenner>

Not sure if Chocolate Chip star fish died -- 12/15/09
I've had my 12 gal tank set up for 6 moths now; have a Clark's clown(doing great for 1 mth so far), Nitrates 40, Nitrites .5,
<The last two are quite high.>
Alkali 300, and PH about 8.4. Two days ago I added a Fiji Rock, 1 blenny and the CCS fish. The star moved around to the back of rocks and hid there and had not moved. Today I tried to move him and he was hard as rock.
<Normal, their skeleton consisting of calcium carbonate lies directly under a thin skin. When touched they become rigid.>
So I assumed he was dead.
<I'm not sure.>
While removing him he had some white film coming off the top. Do you really think he was dead or should I have done something else?
<To test if a starfish is dead you can put it at an oblique angle to the glass wall of the aquarium. He should start to move into a more comfortable position within half an hour.>
The fish store told me my water was fine.
<Can't agree with the values you give above. The tank is too small to support a Chocolate Chip Star long term. Please see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm . It will also become quite tight for the Clownfish in the long run. Cheers, Marco.>

Red starfish... hlth., gen. sel., reading  -- 12/09/09
I purchased a red starfish
<... what species?>
and I hope I acclimated him right. Unfortunately he hasn't moved from where I dropped him in. I used the drip method of almost 2 hours. He's still red, but a little stiff to the touch. I read in one place that the starfish can remain in one place for up to 3 days.
What are they like when no longer alive? Do they change colors?
<Yes... whitish... decomposition>
Please advise,
<I advise you to read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm
and the linked files above. Asteroids are by and large not easily kept...
Bob Fenner>

Red general starfish - white patches, reading  -- 12/09/09
Hi and thanks so much for your helpful website! I could really use your advice please.
Our red general starfish has white patches on 1 of his legs on each side of the suckers (that are in the middle of his leg). It's like the pigment is gone.
<Ahh, not good, and all too common with this genus, family of stars in captivity>
He is still eating and moving around.
Any ideas?
<All sorts, and these are archived on WWM. Read here:
and the linked files above in series>
Thanks so much,
Jamie Flynn
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sick Starfish, reading   11/30/09
Hi Crew
I have attached some pictures of my poor starfish. Don't know what species he is
<... Protoreastor lincki African or Horned Sea Star An opportunistic omnivore of other invertebrates that can literally clean sweep an aquarium of sedentary life. >
but we have had him for about 4/5 months.
<Likely 4-5... four to five>
Before that he was in the LFS for about six weeks, as they would not let me take him until my tank
had had fish for six months,
<Good shop, but...>
so was well rested after transport and health when I got him.
Over the last week or two he has started to have a problem with his leg.
<Is decomposing. Yes, a problem>
It started with a small tear in his skin and bits that look like white tic tack mints are coming out and it seems to be getting worse each day. I am not sure if he splitting to reproduce, the little 'mint' are star fish seeds / eggs or something else is wrong. Is there anything I can do - such as put him in a bowl with antibiotics or leave him and hope. If he is dying then do I wait until he moves to the great reef in the sky or will he start to damage / infect rest of tank / reef?
<Read... Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
If he has to come out of the tank now - I don't have an isolation tank so how would I put him down quickly and as painlessly as possible.
<Wouldn't help>
Set up is
Rio 125ltre tank.
<Too small>
Protein skimmer
Internal Jewel filer set up with contained heater.
Plus External Canister Filter (TetraTec 700)
T5 lights (one white , one blue) - timer controlled 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Blue LEDs strip for overnight (timer controlled 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.)
Tank Feed - frozen food different types mixed three times a day (e.g. third blood worm, half brine shrimp and third of vegetarian)
<And what to/for this Star?>
Occasional dry tetra marine flakes (the regal tang (Dory) was from a broken up tank and she loves them)
Dry Nori Seaweed - some with garlic some green some red and some brown
Live phytoplankton (30 / 40 ml a day)
Live bugs - mix up one dry teaspoon in tank water - three times a week
Also given liquid reef food 1ml three times a week
Purple up - 5 or six times a week
<This may be trouble here>
Sea- lab 48 (slow release mineral supplement - once a week (one block)
Aqua vitro 'Fuel' once a week
Water change 18 to 20 litres at least once a week - when reading are high an extra 10/12 litre bucket mid week.
All filters cleaned each week and replace in line with manuf recommendations
Recent Readings
<Read by deleted. Table not entire>
Regards Tina R
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Starfish/Health 9/28/09
Dear Wet Web Media,
I see that you have helped so many people with their aqua lives. It is a great treasure that we're able to keep these items away from their salty ocean homes and inside our miniature sewage systems. Thanks for teaching and helping us clean up after ourselves.
<You're welcome.>
I've run into a predicament. I have a Chocolate Chip Starfish that is pretty active. She walks around my 80 gallon FOWLR tank, and I've kept her happy for a couple of months. However, a spot has developed on her backside. I am guessing it is some type of parasite, although I have no expertise. She still eats fine.
My question is, do you know what this cyst is? Is it cancer?
<Do not know at this stage.>
Is it contagious to the other fish in my tank? Did she catch it from the other fish in my tank?
<Very unlikely on both counts.>
Should I remove her immediately into quarantine?
<I would not.>
Would you recommend that I treat her with any medications?
<Would not treat with any medications, but continue to observe the starfish along with maintaining regular feedings. These starfish do much better in systems with high water quality. Do concentrate on this aspect. Poor water quality could lead to a heterotrophic bacterial infection, and this could be a possibility.
Dosing weekly with an iodine supplement may be beneficial in this regard.
Do read here for more information.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Truly yours,
<Mmmm, I don't know if I like that sign off, my last one was love and kisses too:)
James (Salty Dog)>

Re Chocolate Chip Starfish/Health 9/29/09
Thanks so much James (Salty Dog ??)~~~!!
With love, and a kiss on the cheek :*
<You're welcome, Sally, and thanks for the smooch:) James (Salty Dog)>

Chocolate Chip (pic attached); Marco's go - 09/29/09
Dear Wet Web Media,
<Hi Sally. I'm adding some small notes to James' answer.>
I see that you have helped so many people with their aqua lives. It is a great treasure that we're able to keep these items away from their salty ocean homes and inside our miniature sewage systems. Thanks for teaching and helping us clean up after ourselves.
I've run into a predicament. I have a Chocolate Chip Starfish that is pretty active. She walks around my 80 gallon FOWLR tank, and I've kept her happy for a couple of months. However, a spot has developed on her backside.
<I bet this spot was there all time long.>
I am guessing it is some type of parasite, although I have no expertise.
She still eats fine.
My question is, do you know what this cyst is?
Is it cancer?
Is it contagious to the other fish in my tank?
Did she catch it from the other fish in my tank?
Should I remove her immediately into quarantine?
Would you recommend that I treat her with any medications?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Truly yours, Sally.
<What you photographed so nicely is the so called madreporite, a starfish organ. You'll find it briefly explained and also illustrated in the article James linked you to. This is no sign of a disease. Cheers. Marco.>


Injured Starfish: Starfish Injury\health. 9/22/2009
Hi Crew..
<Hi Jennifer.>
Got an emergency..looked through the website but couldn't find anything on an injured starfish.
My orange Florida Seastar (can't think of technical name) was found today in the MaxiJet pump. He was curled up sucked up in the bottom at the intake portion of the pump. I turned it off and loosened him from it. He didn't move for quite a while. I put him in a small Rubbermaid container and let it float around the tank. After about 45 minutes I noticed he was moving but he has white stuffing or cobwebs all over him.
<Good that it is moving, the "white stuffing" is not a good sign at all..>
He is moving but it looks like one of his legs is bent backwards. First of all what can I do to facilitate recovery and what is the prognosis?
<Time and excellent water quality.>
Should I put him in the refugium (it has liverock)?
<Certainly could not hurt.>
The tank is about 3 years old, I've had him for 1 1/2 years.
<Have a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastarfaq5.htm >
Thanks! Jennifer
<My pleasure, MikeV>
Re: Injured Starfish: Starfish Injury\health. 9/23/2009

Thanks Mike.
<Hi Jennifer.>
.I put him in the refugium last night and is doing a lot of moving around the tank.
<A very good sign.>
He ate a little last night. Is there anything I can put on him..antibiotics or anything to help him heal?
<As long as it is moving around, eating, and not showing any signs of getting worse, I would leave him be for now.>
Thanks again! Jennifer
<My pleasure, MikeV>
Re: Injured Starfish: Starfish Injury\health: Recovery\great news. 9/24/2009

<Hi Jennifer.>
He's looking great! He's eating and moving and even the white cottony stuff is gone.
<Excellent News!>
I think the crabs may have helped out on that front.
<Possibly. You should take some credit. Keeping a Seastar for over 1.5 years is no small accomplishment.>
Thanks for all of your help!
<My pleasure as always.>

Red Starfish Health 1/19/09 Hi there. <Hello Wendy> I have purchased a small red Seastar. I knew when I bought it that I may have a challenge on my hands but thought it so bright and cheery it was worth the risk. I have not owned a Seastar before. <Since you didn't provide a name or pic, I will assume it is a Red Linckia starfish.> <<Mmmm... I wouldn't assume this... refer this person to the site for ID. RMF>> I have been running my tank for 8 months. All the water parameters are fine and I have been pleased with my general coral wellbeing (they are all getting bigger and show beautifully!). I have about 50kg live rock, 3 tank reared clowns, 3 tank reared Blue Damsels, a sweet scooter dragonet (he is so funny and likes to be hand fed), snails, red and blue hermit crabs and 4 Peppermint Shrimp. I feed Cyclop-eeze, live brine shrimp and Salifert coral food. My tank is 3.5'l x2'w x2.5'h, with 2 Fluval 305 canister filters with carbon, ceramic and phosphate remover, a skimmer and 4 x 39wT5 (1 x blue, 3 x white), 9w uv filter, 2 power heads, a top up <off> unit and a small fan. I do a 10l water change (using RO filtered water) every over other day as I believe that this will be less stressful on the animals within the tank than a larger weekly or fortnightly change. I drip acclimatised the Seastar for around 4.5 hours by putting a pinprick below the waterline in his bag and allowing his water to equalize with my tank very slowly (I have done this for all the animals I have purchased). He was not exposed to the air. Unfortunately I forgot to ask the LFS how long they had been in possession of him. The upshot is that one leg is slowly rotting away. I have read this can happen due to stress. <I'm guessing this starfish was badly shipped, exposed to air and/or harsh changes in water parameters which can cause necrosis of the legs and/or the entire body of which you are observing. Linckia starfish are generally a hardy species providing they are shipped well, and once acclimated and feeding, should live a few years.> <<Linckia stars are NOT typically hardy... actually Asteroids period don't last in hobby set-ups... RMF>> However what I would like to know please is whether this rotting may stop and I should just watch him and hope he will recover on his own or whether I should try and cut off the leg and hope that all will be OK and, if so, how I should go about this? <Mmm, leave the scissors in the drawer, better to maintain good water quality and hand feed the star with pieces of clam meat and hope for a recovery. Removing the leg would be a last resort if the necrosis continues to spread. This can be done with a razor blade or Exacto knife. If it comes to doing this, remove the starfish in a shallow container, remove the leg, and place the starfish back into the tank.> <<This won't work... RMF>> I have read other threads where this is advocated but they seem to be about animals in a much worse state than mine (he is happily moving around my tank and feeding at the moment) and I am worried about causing him more stress than he has already been subjected to. <Yes, and do read here and related articles/FAQ's above. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/linckiastars.htm> I would be grateful for your advice. Kind regards <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Wendy
Re: James... not good input, Seastar hlth.  01/19/09
Yep, I thought about it after I sent. Although I have had good luck with them, they are not the easiest to keep, requiring hand feeding to insure their food requirements are met. Originally I thought of omitting the cutting completely as once necrosis sets in, chances of recovery are poor. Bad judgment on my part. I need to put myself more in the mindset of the people writing. J <Yes my friend. B>

Starfish, hlth., reading   6/3/08 Good morning Crew, I recently bought a Red General starfish <Not generally an aquarium hardy species...> for our 125 gal. FO tank. He seems to be doing well, but I noticed an orange film starting to cover one side of him. It almost looks like algae. <Bad> You can see it more on the grey parts of him, but the bright red parts mask it. Question is does he have some kind of disease or something harmful growing on him. Have you seen this in General Starfish before? The tank also has an Orange Linckia, <Also not generally hardy> Snowflake Eel, Panther Grouper, 3 Damsels, and a Lawnmower Blenny. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marind5_5.htm toward the bottom... Asteroid health, systems... Bob Fenner>

Picture of General Star Sorry, I meant to send this with the e-mail about the orange stuff. <Mmm, actually, have seen this "stuff" in the wild as well... let's hope this is not deleterious. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Red Knob Seastar, hlth. using WWM  5/22/08 Last week my Red Knob Seastar looked like it almost had a large zit on it. It is located on the side/underside. It then proceeded to bust open and this white/light orange thing came out and hung there for about a day. <Bad...> The thing that busted out of him like some alien is left in the sand where he was at and it is a very hard, tooth-like consistently about an 1/8th of an inch to an 1/8 of an inch. The hole in which has left on my Seastar is more like a 1/4 of an inch. Now this didn't happen just once but numerous time over the last week. Needless to say my starfish has a bunch of holes in him and leaving these teeth like things around the tank. When I first bought my Seastar he roamed all around the tank. Then for about a week he just laid in the same vicinity. Now he is moving around the tank again but he doesn't look good. He looks sunken in and one of his legs might fall off. I brought pictures of him and the pieces of tooth like substance to my aquarium people and they have no idea. They made some phone calls but no one seems to know. What can I do for my poor little guy. He has been eating 1 krill about every four days...sometimes 1 in between. Is there anything I can add to the tank to help him? Thanks, Rob <.... please... follow directions... search, read on WWM before writing... Do take a read there re Asteroid-Seastar health... this is a difficult species to care for in small captive systems... Yours is on its proverbial way out health wise. Bob Fenner>

Sick Seastar -- 5/3/08 Hi, <Hello> I read through the other emails, but I have a little different situation. I am the lab manager at a community college and our science department recently received a 125 gal aquarium that was donated by a retiring instructor. I know noting about salt or fresh water aquariums but am learning very quickly (he at least left me a book). It was moved from his office to our lab and I know that stressed all in the tank. I have finally gotten it balanced, pH, ammonia, nitrite, a nitrate are all where they should be. The specific gravity is 1.025. The problem is Patrick our cc starfish. <Shades of Squarepants!> When I got him he had a small white spot on the tip of one of his legs. Not having seen him before, I thought it was normal, but it has continued to spread and he holds that leg up all the time. That's when I started looking for help on the web and found this site. We don't have a hospital to move him to. Patrick is about 2 years old and we are all very fond of him. What can I do to save him? Can I cut that part of his leg off (I don't want to do that)? Please help!!!! Theresa <It might be the best route to go (to excise the bad leg... try a bath with a Furan compound, administer iodine/ate (Lugol's) to the system... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above for more input here. Bob Fenner>

I'm clueless - ID needed: Egg Ribbon -- 3/18/08 Hello! <Hi there, Sonny!> Hope you can help me to identify this creature. <Sure hope so!> I set up a nano reef tank about 7 month ago. I am into the hobby about 9 years now. All my water parameters (including Mg, Ca, Sr..etc..) are close to perfect. I keep my temperature at 78-80 degrees. 15-17 lbs of live rock, 20 lbs of aragonite, Marineland C-160 canister, Hydor Koralia Nano powerhead, AquaC Remora Nano skimmer with MJ 900. Current Satellite light system, 1 dual actinic and 1 dual daylight, 40 W each, 80 Watts all together, set up with a timer. Only 8 hours daylight. 1 small colt coral, 1 green eyed and 1 yellow polyps, trumpet coral. 1 six line wrasse, about a dozen hermits, about the same amounts of assorted snails. 1 sand shifter <Sifter?> star, 1 red thorny star, <Uh-oh, these two stars need much, much, more room in order to survive. They will not make it in a small tank.> ..and 1 cleaner shrimp. Very happy and healthy environment. Yesterday I noticed something on one of my live rock, something I never seen before. If you look at the picture the creature is right above my fish, and it looks like a target. <Nice photo!> Round shaped, and has circles inside.. The color is kinda clear whitish...Please help me identify this new critter for me! <Hmmm, it looks like an egg ribbon, possibly left by a Nudibranch or snail. No worries, these things pop up from time to time and usually disappear within a few days - as food for the system's inhabitants! Please see these links for examples of Nudibranch egg ribbons: http://www.seaslugforum.net/display.cfm?id=1128  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nudireprofaqs.htm> Your help is truly appreciated, Sonny <You're very welcome! Take care, -Lynn>

Re: I'm clueless - ID needed: Egg Ribbon -- 3/18/08 Thank you very much Lynn! <You're very welcome, Sonny!> I forgot to mention this is a 10G tank. <Yep, I had a feeling it was when you mentioned the light fixture, but didn't want to assume.> I also forgot that I just introduced a lettuce Nudibranch (beautiful creature, I never had one before) about a week ago, so I suppose he's the source of those eggs. <You got it!> The sand sifter looks very happy, I don't see him too much though. <Unfortunately, these need a large area of mature DSB to survive.> The red thorny star is not the African red knob sea star, but I'm sure you knew that. <Well, I wasn't sure if it was Protoreaster lincki or Echinaster echinophorus, but unfortunately, neither is suitable for this size tank.> When I purchased him (I bought him and the Nudibranch at the same time) they told me they won't grow bigger than 3-4 inches. <Yes, although I've read differing reports on their size (ranging from 4-8'). Most say it's around 4', so I'd be more inclined to go with that number.> Should I take him back? <Yes, actually I'd take both of those stars back. They'll starve to death in such a small system.> He seems healthy. My only concern is that ever since I introduced him to my tank, he's not moving a lot. Looks like he settled down on one of my live rock, and he's been there ever since. I see him moving his tentacles and arms, but he just "sits" there. I don't know.. He's beautiful bright red and orange color.. Any thoughts? <Yep, if he's been in the same place for a week, that's not good. Even if he was doing well though, I would still recommend taking him back.> My heavenly Nudibranch is all over the place, grazing for algaes all day. Actually I don't have too much of nuisance algaes of any kind anymore, is there any supplement I can use if unfortunately ( I can believe I said that:-) I run out of algaes? <Hmmm, you could try Nori, but I'm not too confident that it will be eaten. These sea slugs are nothing if not picky little eaters! They tend to like one particular algae and that's it. Some like Bryopsis, others eat Caulerpa, etc. Sadly, they're usually short-lived in aquariums.> Again, thank you very much for the info and those great articles, I think you made my night much better. <You're very welcome. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news about the stars, but they really do need to be in a much larger system.> If you have chance Lynn, please let Anthony know that He rule the saltwater world.. By any means, He is the greatest. <Hey, what about Bob! I say he's the greatest! :-) Sorry, but I can't help being partial. LOL I just couldn't let that go without saying something! I've never met Anthony Calfo but he does seem like a terrific guy -- knowledgeable, funny and kind. I'm hoping to meet him at IMAC in May. At that time, I would be most happy to relay your message!> Thank you Lynn, good night <You're most welcome, Sonny. Goodnight to you too, -Lynn>

Indian sea star has been attacked... reading  -- 1/04/08 hello WWM <Charles> I'm a novice in marine aquaria but seem to be doing quite well so far I have a nano reef aquarium, 58 litres. <Okay> I have 1 yellow tailed damsel, 1 humbug damsel, 1 blue damsel, <A poor mix of Pomacentrids in such a small volume> 1 banded coral shrimp, 1 red legged hermit, 1 blue legged hermit, 1 purple coral <What is this? Specifically> and until this evening (3rd Jan 2008) 1 Indian sea star. <A Fromia indica... or Fromia sp. at least, likely> Now this is what my email regards I came home from work yesterday to find my sea star clinging to the spray bar with two lesions in two of its legs. I kept an eye on it for a while and it seemed to be moving around, slowly, but moving. Later that evening I checked up on it and one of its legs was missing and part of it on the sand at this point it was on the live rock and the closest animal to it was the blue legged hermit (which, may I add, I think is something else as it has black and blue legs rather than red and blue) but it wasn't attacking it at that point, although I assumed, that having powerful pincers, this was the culprit so I isolated it over night. <Mmm> In the morning the sea star was in the same condition but alive, then when I came home it was life less on the sand missing 3 whole legs an 1 badly damaged I think it is dead now as it hasn't moved at all. As the blue hermit was isolated and the red legged hermit is tiny I passed the blame onto the shrimp. I liked the sea star and it was the first animal in the tank and it was thriving I don't believe that water parameters are culprit, or reproduction, as there is nothing left of the legs. Can you help me with this, could the shrimp be culprit or maybe the damsels. <Yes, either could be... or no culprit/predator at all> Also is this common as I want to get a new sea star but don't want a repeat episode. I thank you in advance for any advice you can give me. Regards Charlie <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marind5_5.htm Toward the bottom... on Seastar Disease, Fromias... Bob Fenner>

Decomposing Starfish... What is: Things I wouldn't keep in my reef tank... 12/31/2007 <Greetings! Mich here, apologizing for the very long delay.> I seem to have a problem with decomposing starfish. <Unfortunately, not an uncommon problem.> I have a 72-gallon tank that has been set up for about 9 months. It has cycled very well, and has wonderful coralline algae growth. I have maybe about 20 pounds of live rock, <I would consider adding more.> along with a Firefish goby, coral beauty angel, blue damsel, royal Gramma Basslet, and tomato clown. As far as non-fish goes, I have a tomato anemone, <Tomato Anemone?> trumpet coral, a pulsing xenia coral, and an orange sponge. <I personally would not keep the sponge... I have had such sponges up and die and take many tankmates along for the ride...> I had a chocolate chip star in the tank for about 6 months, then about 2 weeks ago I noticed that it had a few white spots on its top. I immediately feared the worst and put it in my 10-gallon hospital tank. <Hope you also use it to QT as well! Some reasons to here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm
 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quarinverts.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i4/quarantine/Quarantine.htm 
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm > By the next day, all 5 legs were decomposing with large white chunks falling off, <Nasty!> yet the poor thing was still alive, and by the next morning it was dead. <I'm sorry for your loss.> I looked at my fish very carefully and none of them showed any signs of anything, so I figured that perhaps the starfish got a small cut and got infected, as starfish tend to do. <A possibility.> I left my tank alone for about a week and a half and continued to keep an eye on my fish. They still showed no signs of any sort of disease, <Good.> so 3 days ago I bought a blue Palau starfish. The first day was fine, the second day it looked a little cloudy so I immediately separated it. This morning I found it dead and halfway decomposed, all of the blue flaking off. I'm at a complete loss of anything that would cause this. Please help! <Most starfish brought into the aquarium industry are doomed. They are very sensitive to osmotic changes, such as variations in salinity, and often die from osmotic shock. Starfish generally don't do well in captivity as the diets of most species are poorly understood, if known at all. I would highly discourage from purchasing any more starfish... IMO A red brittle star (Ophioderma squamosissimum) would be a similar but much better choice. Red brittle stars generally fair well in captivity, are good scavengers and unlike the green brittle star (Ophiarachna incrassata), are not predatory on fish. Cheers! Mich>

Dying Starfish 12/20/07 I have a 60 gallon tank and yesterday I can home and noticed my Red African Starfish had bites taken out of it I rushed to the fish store where I had bought it they said that they have know clue as the what caused it because all of our fish seem to be fine with starfish. Since The pet store wouldn't take it they suggested we put them in breeder tanks that's float on top of the water, since it was still alive and would just grow back, this morning I woke up to find my starfish in the same spot and looks like he is decaying the its looks like mush can you please tell me what's going on? <Unfortunately, many of these types of star fish are just very difficult to care for. Too little is known about them and what they need in captivity. I wish I could help you, but the reality is that we just don't know. It could be starving to death, but that's just a guess. In any case, I doubt there's much you can do to help it. However, to give it any chance at all, I'd take it out of the floating breeder and put it back in the tank (or better yet, in a refugium if you have one).> Ashley Davis <Best,
Sara M.>

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