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FAQs about Sea Star Disease/Pests/Health 1

FAQs on Starfish Disease: Seastar Disease 2, Seastar Disease 3, Star Disease 4, 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 StarsAsterina Stars, An Introduction to the Echinoderms:  The Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers and More... By James W. Fatherree, M.Sc.

Picking out healthy asteroids has all to do with knowledge in action, close inspection. Here a Culcita up close.

Sick CCS Hi <Hello> My name is Kai and I have one Chocolate Chip Starfish for about one month and CCS was fine until our tank has ICH. I saw my CCS's skin rot...and I can see the white thing...(is that CCS's bones?) <Likely part of the exoskeleton, yes> What should I do? (I am changing the water because of the ICH but I don't know how to cure the CCS) <If you have an older, established system, move this Seastar to it... quickly. If not... Bob Fenner> Sincerely,
Thank you very much

Crumbling Cookie (4/5/04) <For future reference, please capitalize the proper noun "I" and the first word of each sentence and spell-check your e-mail. We post all queries and replies on our site for permanent reference. They need to be readable. Our volunteer staff will have a lot more time to answer queries if we don't have to proofread too.>   About a month ago me and my mom bought a chocolate chip star fish, there is a picture of him like two days after we put him in the tank. The 1st two pictures are him before we saw him getting funny looking, and the last pictures are when we notices something wrong. <Only one picture came through.> His one arm is kinda turning white and crumbling, and you can see in the 2 pictures that I marked off. And also 2 of the chip tips are falling off like you can also see.   I couldn't get picture of these but these got a gray spot on him and that has 2 little black dots inside of it, and he's got little brown polka dots on his bottom side, he still moves around the tank, he doesn't like to  be stuck up against the side though. What is wrong and how can I save him? please Help! Meghan <Well Meghan, I'm sorry to say that it is not very likely that you will be able to save this star. Once they start to "melt," there is little that can be successfully done. The best bet would be to put it into a small, separate hospital tank (see WWM for details) and treat with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Still, I'd be surprised if you can save it. Starfish seldom recover from degeneration/infection. Read more about them on WWM and elsewhere or in "Reef Invertebrates" by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner. Steve Allen.>

Chocolate Chip Star Problems (4/5/04) Hi, <Howdy, Steve Allen covering echinoderms today.> I have had my chocolate chip starfish for 2 years, and he has always been healthy.  Yesterday I noticed white ragged spots on his legs.  The areas are near the dark "chips" that are furthest from his central body, there are three affected legs - one that looks pretty bad, the other two legs have smaller spots.   Nothing has been altered in the tank, and all other inverts and fish are fine (none are showing spots). <Do you have any nippy fish that might be taking a taste.> He is also still very active and interested in food. I would greatly appreciate it if you could help me I'm quite attached to the little guy! :) Thanks, Beth <This may be a bacterial or fungal infection. I'd be a little concerned about it possibly being contagious. Even if not infected now, these wounds easily become so. Unfortunately, such conditions are usually ultimately fatal. Do consider putting it into a hospital tank with pristine water for observation/treatment. Consider a broad spectrum antibiotic if this seems to be worsening at all. Hope this helps.>

Sick Starfish (3/30/04)  Dear Crew: <Steve Allen tonight.>  You guys are the best. I have only been in the hobby for about one year, however, I have discovered a passion beyond description. <I hear ya!> Your site is the most informative and educational I have found. The loss of one of my fishes/critters breaks my heart. <Yes indeed. I have felt that too many times.>  Anyway to my questions, my red serpent star that I have had for over a year has suddenly turned very white on the top of his disk. <Uh, oh> I have a 55g tank with 80lb live rock with live sand. All parameters are good and I am faithful with weekly water changes. Other inhabitants include spotted Hawkfish (very  small), true Percula clownfish, lawnmower blenny, scooter blenny, royal Gramma, and diamond goby. I have several hermits, snails and my beautiful starfish. The lawnmower blenny has suddenly started picking at the starfish like he is eating something off of him. <May well be doing just that.> Of course the starfish hates this and runs like crazy. Could this be a fungus infection of some kind? <Is it fuzzy/fluffy stuff or just pale skin?> If so, should I remove him to the quarantine tank and treat him. <Putting him in QT is a good idea. Treating with an antifungal and an antibiotic may help, but I regret to have to say that echinoderms rarely survive infections.> He is otherwise acting normally, moving around and eating well. <Reassuring> I always make sure he gets a chunk of the Formula Frozen algae (he eats like a pig). He has always been healthy and active. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Best Wishes, Lona Pearson <Pristine water, QT if available, meds maybe. Can you get a good picture with a digicam and send it?>
Sick Star 2 (3/31/04)
  Dear Crew:   Thanks very much for your very prompt reply as it is very much appreciated. <You're welcome. Steve Allen with you again.> The white on my starfish disk looks to be fuzzy/fluffy, however, the lawnmower keeps it mowed down.  We recently dismantled our tank (almost completely) to capture a damsel who had become so territorial that one side of the tank belonged only to him.  He was one of the original fishes I started with and had gotten very large and aggressive.  Although I loved yellow belly, he went back to the LFS where I bought him.  They were very surprised how large he had gotten as I fed conservatively, but a great variety. <The benefit of extreme territoriality is not having to share food. Although he was attractive, your tank will be better off without him.> Could this fungus be stress-related from taking apart the tank? <Echinoderms are particularly susceptible to harm/stress from the abrupt changes in water chemistry that can be associated with such an intervention.> What do you think of adding Melafix to my tank? <I would perform any treatment in a separate hospital tank to avoid possible harm to other creatures in your display. Even Melafix could be detrimental.> Would this help the starfish? <Maybe, maybe not. An antifungal might be a good idea. Unfortunately, little is known about safe/effective treatment of infected echinoderms. Most do not survive.> The menthol smell is annoying but I have used it in the past for damaged fins or for stress relief. Thanks for your help and the great service you provide.  My morning starts with coffee and your daily Q & A section. <Mine too, sans the coffee--don't like the taste. There is definitely a lot of great info here & it is a privilege for me to help out.> Best Wishes. <To you as well, I hope you are able to save this serpent star.> Lona Pearson

Fromia starfish falling apart... Hello I need some help with a Fromia milleporella. <I believe you're referring to a Fromia star> I have recently got into the hobby (4months approx) and my tank has been going OK to date but I have made some errors which I have noted from studying your website. Top of my list of things to do is to get a QT tank and perform dips on new stock. Anyway the point being I have no QT tank at this moment in time. <Get that thing going! You'll never regret it!> I introduced a star fish last week, what I realized after the event was that the shop must only have taken delivery of it that day and it had probably only been in his tank a matter of hours, <Yep, with things as sensitive as Fromia stars, you really need to wait at least a week if not more to ensure that your LFS has not botched the acclimation> I then took it home and placed it in my main tank (via normal acclimatization procedures recommended on this site but no QT). <No need for QT. My idea of a normal acclimation is an hour or two, Fromia stars require a much slower acclimation (several hours)> The stress of all these moves (so I reckon) has resulted in his legs rotting away as I have read on this site. <It's an acclimating issue, in part from just being acclimated at your LFS (potentially incorrectly) then getting acclimated within a few hours to your aquarium (again, potentially too quickly).> The end of his legs have turned to mush although his body is fine (not rotting), he is moving around. I am concerned that he will die and most probably as a result of my negligence/inexperience. <It's very possible> What can I do to help it? Am I endangering my other stock by keeping it in the tank in this state? (black Percula clowns, fire shrimp, turbo snails, hermit crabs, yellow boxer shrimp) All of whom are in great shape. <Take out all the dead leg pieces but leave the body in, I have seen them on more than one occasion heal back up if the entire "body" is intact. Other than that, there's nothing you can do.> I am keeping a close eye on my water (daily checks) and it is looking OK SG 1.023, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites all zero plus temp 78. I perform a 5% water change every 2 weeks and add Kent liquid calcium. <If you are adding calcium you should also be testing for it. Include an alkalinity test as well if you're using the Kent liquid calcium as it tends to deplete your alkalinity level> My water has been very stable since I completed my initial 4 week cycle. <Good luck, I hope the starfish pulls through! -Kevin> Cheers John

Falling Star? Hello gang, <Scott F. your man tonight!> Our sand sifting star lost the tip of one of its legs. He is healthy and happy. I have not taken the tip of the leg out of the tank yet. I was wondering will that little bit of leg regenerate into another star or is he not the species that does that? <Well, most starfishes display remarkable regenerative processes, and with steady, high water quality and careful observation, the animal should be okay...If it really starts to decline, you will want to remove the animal to a separate aquarium for more intensive observation and possible treatment with antibiotics to avoid infection as a result of the damage. Also, re-check all water conditions in your tank to make sure that environment did not play a factor in this problem, or think about the animal's companions in the tank...could any of them have harassed the animal to the point where it suffered this damage?> I know he will regenerate his leg if we take good care of him. Thanks Very Much. David and Christy Evans <I'll bet that it will, too! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> David W. Evans

Injured Chocolate Chip Starfish Hello, I purchased a chocolate chip starfish two days ago. The starfish is about 2 inches across. Also in my 45 gallon non-reef tank is a Banded Coral Shrimp, of moderate size, and several dwarf hermits. The starfish was fine for the first day, then I noticed a small chunk had been taken out of one of his legs. I'm not sure if whether the hermits or the shrimp should be my prime suspect. I've since isolated the chocolate chip star with a divider, and noticed the small chunk has gotten larger and the wound looks worse. Why is this happening? Is it some type of infection, and should I worry about that affecting the other animals in the tank? How long, with proper water conditions, would it take for the star to grow that leg back? And finally, is there anything I can do??  <I'm suspecting shipping is what caused this wound as there are very touchy shippers.  There is not much you can do for him except keep him isolated and keep your water quality good.  Also make sure your salinity is ok since they are sensitive to low salinity.  Cody> Thanks. a.h.

An asteroid in the sand Hi Bob, <PF here tonight, though I'm sure Bob will read this.> I have been reading all of the FAQ and email exchange. You are by far one of the most dedicated people to this hobby. I admire and Thank You for all the time you take to answer our questions. < Speaking on Bob's behalf, you're welcome, and yes, I believe he is very dedicated too.> Boy, the stuff you must cringe at:-) <The less said about that, the better.> I have a 30 gallon fish only, no live rock <I would advise getting some LR, and curing it in a separate container. Here's the FAQ on LR: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm > just live sand <Your sifter is soon going to turn that into not-so-live-sand, that's the nature of the beast.> , 2 month old saltwater tank (almost immediately realizing it is toooooo small) <Good call on your part> but such is always the case with any addiction:-) I have received a sand star from etropicals.com I am from the old school and took a real chance ordering ONLINE. <Many fine etailers out there, but always do your research on the company before ordering.> He arrived with the tip of one of his legs cut but otherwise healthy. I acclimated him for about 45 minutes. <Just an FYI, in the future, do a drip acclimation, most asteroids (hey, I didn't name 'em) are very sensitive to salinity changes, the more we can do to help them, the better.> He took to the sand quickly but gradually (if that makes sense). <Yes it does.> He seems healthy and happy so far. <Good.> 1. What are some signs I can be looking for if he takes turn? <Stops moving for long periods (hours... days...) is one sign, drastic color changes is another, and falling apart is a really bad sign.> 2. What can I feed him to supplement his diet? He is not carnivorous <Well... that's a tough one. Sand sifting stars eat the organisms that make a sand bed live - amphipods, copepods, small bristle worms, etc. It will quickly sterilize the bed. I'm not really sure what you can feed as a substitute. A refugium that gravity feeds into the tank to restock the supply of detritivores the sifter eats may not be out of line. OTOH, it may just be happy eating waste from your fish.> I am not sure. 3. I have four small blue leg crabs and 8 small (tiny) bumble snails, will they hurt him? <I don't think they would, especially the snails.> 4. I am going out tomorrow to buy a hospital tank (in every article you respond to, you recommend a QT) I am sold. <A very wise decision.> 5. Can I set a QT without live rock. <Yes, to start the nitrate cycle, just use a small piece of shrimp (fresh or frozen) and a sponge filter, in a few weeks the tank should be up and running fine.> 6. Also do I keep the QT running all the time like my regular tank? <I would say yes, if you have the room for it.> 7. We are moving in September and my husband and I plan to move everybody into a 70 gallon tank, so I know they will be happier. <Good, they can use the room. If you decide to do a DSB in your 70g tank, the sand sifter will have to find a new home, it defeats the purpose of having a DSB. Kind of like using coyotes to herd sheep.> 8. We have: A healthy beautiful eating Yellow Tang:-), a watchman goby and his pistol shrimp buddy (purchased separately), two Percula clown, a blue damsel <Might want to give the damsel a new home when you move, they get very aggressive.>, and the rest of the invert gang mentioned above. My water quality is high and I stay home so I feed small several times a day <Would that I could.> and monitor the tank constantly. I realize this number of fish etc is a challenge given the age of the tank but I have two young step daughters (8 and 6) who only come and visit from NYC three times a year and wanted the two clown fish to remind us of them when their not here (resist that one). <I'm with your there.> 9. Will we be ok until we can buy our fish their new 70 gallon house? < You didn't mention filtration. Be sure and use a good skimmer, it wouldn't be out of line to overskim a tank that full. And a method of running activated carbon would be good too. That is an awfully full tank. Have you given any though to setting up another tank (say a 20g long) and splitting the crowd out some?> Thank You for being a gift to the hobby. I am returning to it after 5 years of absence. <Welcome back. : ) > I read everything I can get my hands on <Now if only that attitude were infectious... ; ) >, but it always nice to have some consistent decisive advice. <Several years ago, when I first started writing and talking to Bob, he warned me if I hung around I'd wind up answering questions one day, I pass that warning on to you.> I look forward to hearing from you as I have envied all the folks  who receive a reply because I did not know until now how to get in on this. <Feel free to ask questions anytime, that's what we're here for.> Sincerely Christina <Good luck, and happy reef keeping, PF>

Starfish Missing A Few Legs? Dear Crew: We have a reef tank that has had in it for several months some snails and hermit crabs, one purple Linckia star and an emerald crab. Two weeks ago we added three corals and a fire shrimp and a brittle star. This week my Linckia star appeared with some of each of its legs eaten off. Any idea what could be eating it so I can remove it? Tracee <Hard to say, Tracee...Could be the crab, or it could be some sort of bacterial infection, which starfishes tend to be subject to now and then...In fact, I have a Centropyge angelfish that loves to "graze" on the tips of one of my brittle star's legs...this kind of thing may be happening to your animal. Keep up the highest possible water quality, observe the interactions between the animals carefully, and be prepared to remove either the offending party or the injured starfish if necessary. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Linckia coming to a bad end - 4/2/03 I purchased a Linckia star fish that did not move for 4 days, <Not unusual, but not a really good start, in my experience> I also noticed its stomach was hanging out, After calling my fish store they said they put out there stomach to collect food <Yep. Some species>, a few days later I picked up the star fish and the stomach fell off. <Yeah, probably just expelling gut as a signal of some form of stress. Did you acclimate or is this in the acclimation tank? What were all of your tank readings? These are things to check before purchasing. Also a good idea to see what the purchase tank readings are as well for reference.> my pet store said that it is a defense mechanism if they feel threatened and there stomach is out it will just release it to protect themselves... is that true. <Utter bull@#&*. I don't even want to go there. Certain types of Seastars are known to do this as a feeding mechanism, but I have not heard of it as a defensive mechanism. (at least not in my experience) I suggest you do a little research before you purchase such animals as it is somewhat well known that Linckias are not exactly the hardiest of echinoderms. Also, keep in mind the place you purchased the animal from is always trying to make a buck. They will tell you whatever they think you need to hear. (most will anyway). In any event, quite a lot has been written about these starfish, not only here, but on a great many other sites as well. Here is a great place to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and read through the FAQ links as well! Lots of great information there. I would identify your species of Linckia and let you fingers do the walking (on your keyboard) and find out all you can. Knowledge is half the battle, my friend. In the mean time I think it is best to watch this animal and see if it might not recover. If it does not seem to move for many more days and you notice no podia movement, then it might be time to remove the Linckia. With that, we do appreciate your coming here to learn and ask questions. You are already on your way to enlightenment.>  Thank you <thank you. Paul>

Saving A Starfish Please Help!!  I bought a sand shifter star one week ago.  I have one other in my tank that is doing and has been doing fine for about 6 months, but this new one has now lost three legs in the last three days.   <Yikes!> I try to keep checking on him, but he seems fine.  I flip him over and he can get himself back over he is just losing arms at an alarming rate.  He is much bigger than my other sand star and I'm beginning to wonder if he is too big for my sand depth or my aquarium is too full for him to maneuver around easily.  I have a lot of live rock.  I'm not sure what to do.  He's lost two arms today.  He's down to two arms left.  The arms he's lost look kind of mushy at the ends where they were connected to his body.  Should I take these out of the tank?  My local fish store said to leave them in just in case they are another star fish forming, but I don't think they are.  Please any advice would help. <Well, I'd absolutely get him out of the tank, or at least put him in a "breeding trap" or other confinement system within the main tank. If he wanders off under a rock somewhere and dies, it will be a major tax on water quality. Starfishes lose digits due to a variety of things- environmental, bacterial, or predatory situations. The "mushy" appearance that you are describing sounds to me like some form of infection. If it really looks like an infection, I'd get him into a separate tank and treat with an antibiotic, with the heroic intentions of saving this guy...Starfish do have amazing regenerative powers, but you may need to address the infection before this can begin. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Seastars, loss Hi, Alas, within a few days, after this post the Tamaria was dead; I'm stumped unless it starved because I don't really have much algae even though I have 70# of LR in a 46 gallon, but quite a few snails competing for algae on the glass.  <Not just, or likely competition for algae... but residual effects from collection, transport... A common "aquatic loss theme"... unlike tetrapods (dogs, cats, birds, reptile...) as companion animals, most non-tetrapod animal life "seems okay" from such travails... but may well be virtually "doomed" from the rigors of getting from reefs to end-user...> Most of the growth on the LR is coralline which I assume to be pretty much inedible?) <To this Seastar yes> The H2O parameters are "perfect" and everything else seems happy. I only had it about 2 wks so I guess it could have been shipping stress.  <Yes... and damage> I acclimated it carefully but it did have to sit on my porch in the cold a few extra hours unavoidably, however it only flew from LA to SF, and surely they survive much longer flights than that! <It probably did... in addition> I'd appreciate any ideas on possible cause of death and also on the question of a possibly more hardy species of starfish.  <These are posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm> I realize, of course, I'm only asking you to speculate; a few feather dusters in the same shipment didn't make it at all and FF Exp. is crediting me for those. I'd love to have one-several sea stars or serpent stars that are hardy and would be visible a good part of the time. Thanks as always for your help. <Try a Fromia species my friend. Bob Fenner>

My starfish My starfish is sick, I think. I hope you can help somehow. I have a 55 gallon, with damsels and 3 crabs. I bought a chocolate starfish to help with cleaning. He worked very well, so I bought another.
<<This species is a carnivore. RMF>>
 The second one is doing great, but now the first one looks absolutely terrible! I think two of his legs have totally fallen off. They're still kind of there, but hanging on by these boogery threads. Very mucous looking. He's still eating, and still alive, but half his innards are trailing behind him. He doesn't move a lot. I am almost positive the damsels have been leaving him alone, and the crabs too. I have him separated now to be sure. They have regular water changes every 3 weeks, they are all fed 3 times a day from a good mixture of green lifeline, red lifeline, Mysis shrimp and krill. They only get 8 hours of light a day, and I keep the filtration system clean. And on top of that, everyone else looks great, and is doing fine. I've tested all the levels recently, and they are all within normal levels. Can I give him Zoe? <Yes, a good idea... Soak the foods this animal is eating for about fifteen minutes> Or should I just hope he gets better on his own?  <This species can be hard to keep, hopefully yours will recover. Please do consider other hardier species like Archaster, Fromia... as detailed here on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and read the FAQs section beyond. Do remove the damaged individual if you become aware of it no longer being alive. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Krysty
Re: My starfish
Thanks for your response. I guess I waited too long, he didn't make it through the night.  <Not atypical... be satisfied that you did your best> When I gave him to the porcelain gods, I noticed in some of the slimy boogery stuff, I saw some worm looking things. I've noticed these in the tank itself before. They live in the crushed coral, and always seem to be heaviest in the green algae, and they are always heaviest right before I do the water changes. Did my starfish pick up a virus from my tank itself?  <Doubtful. If it had an infectious or parasitic disease, it was likely "imported" with it... and through weakening in transit, acclimation to new surroundings, succumbed> Is there something I can add to the water? I just thought these worm things were bacteria.  <Mmm, nothing I would "just add"... and not bacteria... if they're moving... something/s bigger... likely some type of "bristle worm"... and likely not the direct cause of trouble here> I have found a lot of information on your website and plan to do a lot more reading. Very informative. I hope you don't mind all my trivial questions, my local fish store's employees are less than competent. Thank you again, Krysty <No worries my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Snails on starfish Hi Bob, Hope that this finds you well! Both tanks have been doing well, thanks to your guidance! Like the new improvements/layout to the site, btw. <Thanks. Will send your note to Mike/Miguel... who does the looks, navigation sides to WWM> Wanted to ask you a quick question. I have a sand sifting star in both of my tanks. I noticed last week the one in the larger tank had a tiny snail on it, but I couldn't find anything on the internet or in my books about them, so I left it be. This weekend when I looked again, it had more, so I grabbed him out of there and started picking off snails -- 8 in total. They were tiny, a millimeter or less in size, pearlescent white with pink on the top point of their shells, and a bit tough to get off the star, I had to use my nails and scrape. I couldn't find any elsewhere in the tank aside from on the star. There was also a bristle worm which was weaving in and out between his little feet, so I pulled him out as well, (resulting in about 5 pieces of worm -- yuck!) The star is now much thinner than the one in the smaller tank, and he originally had been the larger of the two. I just wondered if this was something you had seen before and what they were, if I needed to worry about checking him regularly for snails . . . he is moving but not as much as he used to. <Yes... reason to be concerned. Good move on your part... taking them off/out> I picked up a 6-line wrasse this weekend, hoping that s/he would help with the Bristleworm/snail issue, and also to try to keep my derasa clam safe -- wasn't sure if they would also go after the clam . . .Thanks Bob, Cari <Likely different species... but just the same... I would have extracted them. Bob Fenner>

Blue Linckia Hi bob, Need your advice. I bought a blue Linckia about 4 days ago and he is doing great. Yesterday I noticed one of his arms was cut open and I couldn't figure out why. Then I noticed something green coming out, like a green worm. What it was is my Linckia regenerating new starfish. He has generated that one but I don't know if its even alive. Should I just leave it alone or move it to a breeding container? <Leave it whatever it is where it is> Non of the fish are picking at it but it does float around from time to time with the currents. Also the Linckia seems to be regenerating another one. Again should I just let nature be or should I take it out? <I would just watch and wait at this point. Please read over the following: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastarf.htm  re others experiences with this species. Bob Fenner>

Sick Starfish Hi Bob, I have a blue starfish, Linckia laevigata. He was doing great up until this morning. He was active, worked his way around the tank, etc. This morning we came in and he has what looks like a small cut at the base of one leg. White stuff has come out, but is still attached by fibers to the body. I don't know how it happened - crab, sharp rock, who knows. Does he need to be removed as a threat to foul the tank, or is this the kind of thing that heals in time? <Cuts, vacuolations (missing areas) are real trouble with this species... Often indications of disease, parasitism... not catching to other species... and if your Linckia should perish, it won't immediately pollute your system. Do keep your eye on it. Otherwise I would leave this animal in place w/o specific treatment. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dale Re: Sick Starfish Thanks for the input, Bob. It sounds like a job for the quarantine tank. What do you think? Dale <Mmm, I would not move this animal... it's too likely to starve, stress it to death to be moved. Bob Fenner>

Blue Linckia starfish: Help Mr. Bob I need help figuring out why I can't keep blue Linckias.  <Actually... L. laevigata is not easily kept... most do die... mainly from infections, parasites that "take over" consequent to the traumas of collection, shipping, handling... the ones that do "make it" have had better histories in going from the wild to captivity and have been placed in well-established (many months...) large, reef systems...> I have tried 3 so far. One a year and have lost each one. All my chemistries are in check. Nitrates are kept at about .07. the rest is good. I have a reef tank and check for just about everything except oxygen and organics. I have a 105 gallon oceanic show tank. That is actually growing corals for me. I change the water so often I am almost sick of water changes (but it is worth it). Back to the story: I buy a blue Linckia and it usually last for a couple of days. then it kinda become real thin and nasty looking. Then the crabs take over. <The types, numbers of crabs you have may also be big trouble here> Are these not acceptable with a reef and fish system?  <They're on the "just barely" worth trying side IMO... Please read over the survey piece: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and consider a more appropriate species... like a Fromia...> I only have 4 fish in this set up: Purple tang, 2 clowns, and a flame hawk. Or does the unknown inhabitant of the tank getting it: Bristleworms ETC? Or are the Crabs actually killing it from the word go? <Maybe so, particularly the crustaceans> Thanks for any help you can give me. I would sure like to figure this one out because it is my little girls favorite fish. Kevin Johnson <Do try to interest her in the Purple "Linckia" other hardier species shown on our site. Bob Fenner>

Starfish infection? I have a General Starfish, and it has multiple orange bumps all over its body and 5 distinct bumps where all 5 legs meet, and these bumps form a pentagon shape, thus the (5 star) General Starfish, or so my salesmen said. It has a spot between two of its legs that is black, and appears hollowed out, about 3 mm more than the space between a regular set of legs. Is it an infected wound? Is it dividing? I would like to know because if it is infected I will take it back for a refund before the guarantee wears out. Thanks! <If the lesion doesn't look too black and cruddy, your starfish will almost certainly heal itself... but if the store has others that are in perfect shape, I'd probably do the trade. -Lorenzo>

Red Fromia Starfish <Ernestine. Sorry about the late reply, this is Lorenzo Gonzalez, subbing for Bob, who's in Indonesia. Unfortunately, I'm traveling now as well, so we're a little behind on the emails!> I have a question about a "little red starfish" (Fromia sp) that I got two days ago. (My reason for choosing the Fromia was that it was one of your favorites.) It seems to be expelling it's insides. Because of everything I had read, I acclimated it very slowly (over 6 hours) to equalize salinity, etc. It has crawled up on the front glass and seems to be expelling it's insides. (?) A couple of pinkish "strings" are hanging from it and in the center it looks like a "blob" of "stuff" squished up against the glass. It dying? Will it cause problems for the other inhabitants? I have a 75 gal reef tank, almost 1 1/2 years old. Water parameters are all good, etc. (SG 1.024, temp 79-82 - temp goes up over the day with MH's on, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates <10, phosphates 0, Alk 3.5, pH 8.2) . <Everything there sounds fine: unfortunately, and I do apologize for this, replying so late... if your Fromia is not dead by now - it's probably fine. :-| > Although I know you hear this all the time, I must say it anyway, I LOVE YOUR BOOK (The Conscientious Marine Aquarist). I've spent a small fortune on books and yours is hands-down my favorite and the one I recommend to others. Thanks for providing such a wonderful reference for saltwater addicts. :) <Bob will be happy to hear this, he'll see all his emails, including the ones I'm answering, within a few more days... regards, Lorenzo> My thanks in advance for your help and advice. Earnestine Smith, Harrison, AR

Chocolate ship starfish I have a new chocolate ship starfish and he sick. Something is eating away at his arms. Any suggestions? My other two seem to be just fine. <Not a good sign... the problem is likely internal and not easily stopped... but there is a chance that "something" is eating it during the night... that you might be able to discover and remove. Please read through the 'Seastar' section and FAQs stored on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for more here. Bob Fenner> Shane Hardin

Blue Linckia Starfish I just purchased a blue star a week ago. It was doing fine (looked healthy and was active). It has stopped moving around the tank in the last few days and has what looks like a hole in the top of it and on the tip of its leg. It looks like a torn stuffed animal with white stuffing coming out. The hole appears to be getting larger. This is my first starfish and I don't know what to make of this or what to do for it. The only fish in the tank is a spotted green mandarin which I have not seen picking at the star. The only other critters in the tank include a brittle star and a sea apple. What can I do for the poor thing? Any information would be greatly appreciated. THANK YOU! Stephanie <Please read through the FAQs section on "Seastars" (and "Sea Cucumbers" posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com... this situation is dire for your Linckia... it is likely doing poorly... Keep your eye on it and be prepared to remove this specimen. Bob Fenner>

Protoreastor lincki HELP! Hi Mr. Fenner- I have been searching and searching for information on my starfish and I am hoping you can help. I have had this starfish for about 4 months. He was doing great! Then about a month ago he started loosing his tips. We talked to our LFS and he said that he was reproducing.  <Hmm, no, not reproducing... at least not "intentionally"... falling apart more like it from... a combination of influences... perhaps cumulative stress from... infectious agents, nutritional shortfalls, disagreeable water quality...> Great! But now he is not looking so hot. He is not moving very much, his center is sucked in and he seems to be decomposing. Parts of his legs are falling off!  <REMOVE this animal completely from your system> His color is also not looking too hot. His white parts have become quite a bit darker. We feed him regularly, shrimp and pellets etc. Also I have noticed that our cleaner wrasse has been "hangin" around the starfish a lot also. Could this be a parasitic problem? Is he dying?  <More likely the past tense: DEAD> I fear the answer is yes. I have read on your site you do not recommend these starfish but found this out a little too late. :-) Is there anything we can do to help him recover or is this poor guy doomed?  <The latter... siphon around the area where it was after you remove it... possible good time for a partial water change, switch out of activated carbon...> All of our other livestock is doing wonderful and all of our water parameters are great. If he is dying, is he toxic to our other livestock?  <Eventually deleterious, yes> At what point do I need to remove him?  <NOW... no sense, reason to wait...> I hope you can help me… I am at a loss on what to do… I would very much appreciate any information you can give me on this. I read your web page religiously and I know that if anyone can help, it would be you. <There is only life for the living my friend> Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Natalie Burgert <Bob Fenner>

Pyramidellid or siphon snails on starfish? Hi, I started my reef system based on your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and when I saw your name on the WetWebMedia page I jumped at the chance to ask you to help me solve this mystery I have been trying to solve. I have a dying white starfish (Archaster typicus) in my tank. He appears to have parasitic snails eating away at him but the only references to parasitic snails I have found are in regard to clams.  <Most popular... but yes, there are mollusk parasites known on/in most large taxonomic groupings...> Have you heard of Pyramidellid snails, or any other snails for that matter, attaching to starfish?  <Yes... though Protozoans and infectious agents (bacteria, funguses...) are much more often causes of loss... consequent to physical damage, chemical stress...>The snails I see in my tank and on the starfish are pure white and about 1mm to 3mm in length. The poor guy lost a leg today. Any info you can provide would be great. <Hard to reverse, remove at this juncture... in a quarantine tank with a few pieces of live rock, a "Lined Wrasse" species (genus Pseudocheilinus) would be my first, perhaps last chance/choice to eradicate the snails... no real molluscicides, env. manipulation that would greatly disfavor the one, not harm the other...> Thanks, John L. Allen, conscientious reef enthusiast <Very glad to have met up with you here... and sorry to learn of your Archasters plight. Bob Fenner>

Sick Star? Dear Bob, I purchased a blue star last night from my LFS. By the time I got him home and acclimated to my tank he had developed a cluster of bumps on one of his limbs. By this morning he had these clusters on four out of five of his limbs. Is it possible that he has cauliflower disease? or is it something else? And is there anything I can do to help him out? Any help you could provide would be very much appreciated. Thanks, Brent <What you describe could be evidence of an internal difficulty or nothing... and there is very little to prescribe to "treat" these animals (likely Linckia laevigata)... and their (also likely) "stress syndromes"... do just keep your system optimized and stable... and with sufficient live rock nutrition... the specimen should rally. Bob Fenner>

Your Book I have recently purchased your book and all I have to say is... WOW! Not  only is it packed full of incredibly helpful information, but you cant turn  a page without seeing a beautiful color photograph of marine life. It is  definitely the best book so far I have read on marine aquariums, and I plan  to recommend it to all in the hobby. <Thank you. Many good people's efforts went into this work.> One question: The purple Linckia starfish I have looks in pretty bad shape.  Not only am I positive he has an infection, but I'm quite sure he's going to  die. The blisters on his skin have popped open, exposing ruptured flesh on  three of his legs. The only thing is that everyone I have talked to in the  fish stores said that he is for sure going to die very quickly. He has  lasted more than a week now and still moves around the aquarium quite  freely. He has had the exposed flesh for almost the entire period of time,  but surprisingly has not died. I don't want to kill him without knowing  that he is for sure a goner. Have you seen any starfish survive such  perilous circumstances?  <Yes, and would keep an eye on it... if/when it does die you will know... and then it should be pulled promptly. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Starfish ... I recently purchased a Chocolate Chip Starfish for my 30 gal Fish Only tank. He seemed to be doing very well for about a week moving around the tank a great deal. For the last couple of days, he's stuck to pretty much the same area; I assumed he just found a comfy place to live. However, this afternoon, I noticed he had turned himself almost 'inside out' and that some of his choc chips tips had turned white. He is also oozing clumps of white stuff. When I say inside out, he's kinda got 2 of his legs down normally on the sand, and the other three are then flipped over on top of them, with his mouth facing upwards towards the top of the tank. Any ideas? <<Yes, this animal is either dying or dead... I would remove it... Cause of death hard to ascertain... but probably just general trauma (collection, handling from the wild)... Bob Fenner>>

Disease Since my starfish more than likely has an infectious disease, is there  anyway to treat it with antibiotics or it is going to die no matter what I  do? From what I have read they die very quickly if anything happens to them  and then they break apart, making it extremely difficult to remove them from  the tank. I assume quarantining it is a smart idea, but if it dies in the  tank would the disease that it is carrying have any chance to affect my  fish? From what I have heard/read most diseases are either fish or   invertebrate specific. Anyhow, any advice is accepted with the greatest of  gratitude. Matt Lindstrom <<No to the animal dying, dissolving in hours... you'll know... and the animal will be discrete enough to remove... And no to the disease-causing agents infecting your other livestock... these complaints are spiny-skinned animal specific... The only mal-affect might be ignoring the dead animal. Bob Fenner>>

Marble Star Losing Legs I have a Marble Star that has lost some of the tips of its arms. The tips began to waste away and then just fell off. The process has been very slow, and it took about two weeks before the first tip just fell off. It appears that it may have a bacterial infection, but the animal is still alive and moving (a little) around the tank after about of month of being like this. What do you think I should do? Ammonia, Nitrite & Nitrate = 0. Alk = 3.0. Calcium = 385 ppm. Temp = 75. S.G. 1.024. Thanks.  <<Hmm, the above looks fine... I might move the animal to another system if you had one... with a slightly reduced specific gravity (a few thousandths) and a dose of Nitrofurazone (25 mg per gallon), ten minute dip on the way there... It may be there is something that doesn't agree with the animal in your present system... that it could find or lose in another... especially one that has been set up a good while (more than six months). Bob Fenner>>

Purple starfish splitting up  Hey Bob, we've appreciated your help in the past, and normally wouldn't  bother you except we have a purple starfish 6" in dia. or so. that is  splitting in many pieces, which remain stuck and still moving a little on the  side glass of our tank. Is this an asexual repro. process, or is the thing  dying? So far our chem. tests don't show any evidence.  Thanks, Mark & Shelly <<Might be both... This is probably a Linckia (laevigata most likely)... Do keep your eye on the "bits left behind" and the parent animal... and remove it/them if there is no sign of life, obvious decomposition going on...Bob Fenner>>

Red General Star Help! I bought a Red General Star (Protoreastor lincki) from my LFS about a month ago. He seemed to be doing very well until about a day ago- he is getting sores all over (looks kind of like the paint peeling off the side of a building). Any ideas as to what is wrong, or is that just a bad species to keep in captivity? Is there anything I can do to help him? The tank is a 125g FOWLR. Water quality is good with the exception of nitrates- they keep pushing up to 100ppm+. Could this be the problem? Ammonia and nitrites are 0, temp is 76, sg is 1.022. He is (was) a beautiful animal (actually the reason I started the hobby in the first place), but I can't stand to see him suffer, so if they're just not suitable for aquarium life I won't get another one. On the other hand, if there's any way to provide a suitable home, I'd be willing to do whatever it takes. Thanks for your great column and sense of humor. P.S. I have read that starfish do not age (that they'll live forever barring disease, predation, foolish aquarists, etc. Is this true? <<Thank you for writing... and being an active part of this forum... I am not a big proponent of trying to keep the genus Protoreastor Seastars... as the vast majority don't live long or well in captivity... Generally, IMO, from rough handling and treatment in the processes of collection, transport through supply channels from the wild.  Your nitrates could well have a hand in this animals present condition... I would look further into areas that may be increasing the forward reaction rates of nitrification (like plastic wet-dry biomedia) and remove them... and/or increase your skimming, use of macroalgae, even put up a natural nitrate reduction unit in a sump... These Stars can be kept... in very well-established reef set-ups... but I would encourage your trying the hardier genus Fromia stars instead... Re your post scriptum,,, I have heard this rumour as well (immortal spiny skinned animals...) Some species do live for decades, but they do age, perish. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>>

Starfish Dying Hi. I've got excellent water quality parameters in my reef tank (my SPS corals are thriving) but as it comes to getting a starfish they day in several days after introducing into the tank. What could cause this problem? Thank you. Oleg <<Probably the initial quality of the animals you're getting... many are in very bad shape (doomed) due to the rigors of handling, shipping.... Another possibility is that something is eating them... any marks on their bodies? Another is that the species are not suitable for your type of environment... the trade sells a bunch of cool/coldwater animals... unfortunately... Do you know what species these Stars are? Bob Fenner>> Bob, I've tried blue, maroon Linckia and marble starfish. I don't know whether or not they are cold water species. What kind of starfish would you recommend best for a reef tank? Thank you. <The best, bar none in my opinion are the smaller specimens of the genus Fromia... they seem to ship well and come in without weird (fungal et al.) pathogens... Bob Fenner>

Fromia Star Could you please help me with the following I have a red star fish, Fromia indica I acclimatized the star for about 1hr slowly adding a bit of water at a time (for salinity and temp) For 2 days the star hardly did moved. On the 3rd day in the tank it was moving around a bit. On the 4th day I notices a type of lesion with stuff (pink fine tubes and brown matter) coming out of one of its legs (its still moving a lot). On the 5th day it has lost a leg (from where the lesion occurred) and it has a new deep lesion across the center of its body (its still moving a lot) Could you please comment. I have had my 300ltr tank up and running for almost 2 months now. I skimmer running consistently, 15WUV, large trickle filter (bio ball) + Over-under filter with a lot of super-ex (porous tubes) and some coral. I only have a cleaner wrasse and 2 common clowns (ocellaris), a boxer shrimp and a cleaner shrimp, 1 purple anemone (magnifica) and a green stripped anemone, mushroom coral (in the tank for almost 2 months) Everything else is happy and looks healthy, Andrew <Sounds like a very nice system... and I really like this species of Star...  The one you got likely "had problems"... an injury, perhaps an infection... that progressed while in your care... Because the matter is evidenced at its center, I would just wait and hope for the best at this point... even if there is a "Star" parasite or infectious agent... it will unlikely effect your other animals. Bob Fenner, who says don't give up on Fromia because of this one bad specimen.>

Luck with Linckias I have a 55 gallon reef tank. Its contains plenty of live rock, hard & soft corals that do fine, and several inverts, such as crabs and fire shrimp. I have had no success with adding starfish, particularly red & blue Linckia starfish. They seem to die off within 1-2 weeks. Is there something I'm doing wrong? Do they require certain food. Should I acclimate them slower? I would love to add several of these creatures but they keep dying, please help. Thanks, Jeff <<There are some folks who have success with Linckia Seastars, but they are few... these species take a beating in their collection, holding and transport from the wild... and just don't appear to be "tough", or compatible with captive aquarium conditions... I would wait a few months to let your system age a bit more, and then maybe try one of the smaller, colorful stars... my fave genus Fromia! Bob Fenner>>

Linckia Star Thanks for your quick response, I'll keep an eye on the Linckia. If it dies will it kill everything in the tank or just pollute the water which I know could do the same thing). I just wanted to add a cleaning crew but it seems I made a bad choice. Will brittle stars fare any better?, I've tried different types of hermit crabs, blue legged, scarlet and they all seem to have a taste for my snails and the scarlet for the coralline algae which I saw them working on a rock which they cleaned the purple coralline algae right off. I work too hard to make it grow for a crab to have it for dinner. Any suggestions on a cleaning crew. Thanks and keep up the great work. I'm saving my money so hopefully in a couple of months or so I can buy your book, have read great reviews on it. <<The loss of life from the Linckia dissolving would be slow... Brittle stars are hardier by far. For cleaning crews, I'd have to see the spec's (again) on your set-up and other livestock. By and large I don't favor snails or hermit crabs for the reasons you state above and more. Look more to preventing unsightly algae by proper set-up, stocking, maintenance...Bob Fenner>>

Orange Linckia Star Hello Bob...I just bought an orange Linckia about a week ago...he is alive, but slowly perishing...he has this brown thing in the center of him now...what could this be?? thanks <no idea from the description "brown thing"... do remove the star to a QT tank to prevent fouling of the main display from the starfish crawling into an inaccessible area and dying and to get the creature direct care needed (in QT). Best regards, Anthony>

Sick stars hello I need help we have two starfish in our aquarium and they both look injured I don't know what I did or what to do I don't want them to die or to lose the fish we also have do have any suggestions? please help Becky <Becky... first remove the starfish to an isolation tank. Something simple and inexpensive if you don't already have a QT (very important to QT all fish and inverts before adding to your tank <4 weeks> for just such reasons... spread of disease, sudden death from stress of acclimation, etc). A 10 gallon tank with some aged tank water, a few large pieces of live rock, a heater and some circulation would do the trick... no lights, no other filters of sand on the bottom. Then lets figure out what you have and how we can help. Do browse the articles and FAQs by navigating through the marine topics from out index page at www.wetwebmedia.com If you can send a picture that will help too. Kind regards, Anthony>

Cob webs on burgundy sea star This sea star is from Indo-pacific it seemed to be doing fine in my dealers tank.  <are we talking about a couple of weeks or a couple of days. Many sea stars do not succumb to shipping duress for a couple of weeks (ammonium poisoning, low pH, low oxygen, etc)> After acclimating it seemed to just lay there. I moved it a couple of times to see if it was even alive. I read that you could turn a star fish over and if it righted it's self it was thought to be healthy. I tried this on the fifth day and it did right it's self within 2 minutes.  <a good sign> I have a few questions:  #1 it forms some web looking stuff around it what is it and is this a sign of sickness?  <"sloughing": a sign of significant stress/duress. Not good but not necessarily death throes either> I have had it for a week now it is quite active when I first turn on the lights but with in two hours it is at the very top of the tank with two of it's legs hanging at the top of the water. I understand that they have been thought to be feeding on detritus floating in the water could this be what's going on.?  <possibly... indeed acclimatization is slow for many sea stars to aquaria. Most tanks are too small... don't have enough live rock/algae/bacterial slime...too low dissolved oxygen, etc> Do burgundy sea stars generally hang on the glass with two arms loose?  <nope> Also he had two arms that were gone when I purchased him. I looked at it closely and both areas had already began regenerating new arms that are about 1/2 in. in length but much smaller.  <that's fine> These two arms look great as far as I can tell . Is there anything I should be doing for it? the Salinity is 1.023-1.024,amonia 0 ppm., nitrites 0 ppm, nitrates 15 ppm., pH is 8.3 temp ranges from 75-78 depending on the lights.  <all sounds good except the temperature swings (more dangerous for Ich on fishes). Get a second or better heater and heat the tank to a more stable temp (that higher 78f if necessary will be fine)> My tank is 15 months old, I have a Prizm skimmer, <this skimmer draws a lot of heat on message boards and from us here for not producing daily skimmate. If yours does not yield dark skimmate daily and you are not doing good weekly water changes to compensate then you DO have high dissolved organics which ultimately will be problematic on many fronts> pump with bio bag and a Power head for extra circulation. 20 gal. w/purple fire fish, two blue streak damsels, small yellow tang , juvenile dragon wrasse,2 flower anemones, anemone crab, a strawberry crab, which I can not find anything out about,  <a lovely and uncommon omnivore, I believe> 1 blue leg crab, a Mexican turbo snail, and 1 Astrea. I some time think the star fish is doing great moves from the front glass all the way to the rear glass within 5 min. then it will stay in that position for hours is this normal?  <ahh... no. Not after a couple of weeks of captivity. Are you target feeding this animal should be fed at least several times weekly if not once daily. Else your animal is sluggish in part from lack of feeding starvation. Offer meaty and green foods. Place near arms (not under) and let the animal crawl toward the food. If not... it is in dire straits (the condition...not the band).> Thank you for your time and effort, Paula <my great pleasure. Anthony Calfo WWM>

Linckia Starfish Hello! I hate to bother you guys with a "is the doctor in" type fish questions... but I am really quite concerned and after researching for 3 nights a total of 9 hours, I can't find any solid information. I hope you will tolerate my inquiry.... <Certainly> I recently purchased a purple Linckia via mail order. I say purple Linckia not just because that is what the retailer called it. <Many animals sold as Linckias/Linckias... please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm > I have studied pictures of both the supposed Linckia and the purple more predatory star it is often confused with. I notice the other star has sort of brighter orange feet, while mine has sandy colored feet. Mine has 5 arms not 6- although I'm not sure if that matters and although he might not be a Linckia it is my educated guess. <Doesn't sound like a Linckia laevigata... perhaps a Tamaria... a predatory species.> A day prior to his arrival I decided to do a partial water change. My numbers seemed great, nearly negligible, but I had very slight ammonia and nitrate so I thought some exporting might help perfect his new home.  <Detectable ammonia? Not good> After testing after the water change... both were higher. Maybe from water exchange stirring the sand?  <Perhaps... but perhaps from a dissolving, decomposing Seastar> I tested my source water and it appeared that my tap has a high (25) ammonia level. I'm not sure what to think except maybe ammonia and chlorine are related?  <This is a BIG question... you should not have twenty five ppm of ammonia... with an OTO test method? Chloramines are how high in your tapwater? Please contact your municipal water district (their number is on your water bill), and ask re the titer/method of administration of what sorts of sanitizer they employ... And by all means, irrespectively do make-up and store your new water per something like the protocol described here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm? I didn't treat the water I tested, (and when I water change I do aerate the salt water mix at least a day prior... also my kit is Red Sea... and I'm not sure of its accuracy.) At any rate.. he was already on the way and it seemed like more water change might make the picture grimmer so I just held my breath. <All these issues are not easy to discuss here, independently... you should either treat your new water (if it's not coming through an R.O. or D.I or both device) with a dechloraminator, or store, aerate it for a week or more before use> On with the tale... he arrived after a bit of delay... about 1PM rather than 9AM and it must have been a stressful trip. In the order also were 2 Mithrax, 5 peppermint, 3 Chromis, 1 blenny. The blenny was dead and one Chromis died. <Arggggg> I drip acclimated him and after he entered the tank he climbed onto some live rock and stayed there. He is in a prominent position, but not really high traffic. I only have a royal Gramma who doesn't create traffic. (The Chromis are in quarantine) I did not quarantine him because I am not confident how well cycled the quarantine tank is and the 2 fish bioload seemed enough, also there is no live sand or rock in there and if he is a Linckia he is supposed to eat detritus... however he is right in the light... and at "dusk" and at night he doesn't move either. <My friend... your quarantine system must be stable, you have to make sure that you can rely on stable, high water quality there> After he climbed up on his perch he curled his toes a little. 6 hours later they were uncurled. He makes a sort of cobweb above him. I know he is making it because I wiped it off one leg and it was back within the hour. The perch is in fairly high water flow. <Yikes...> Here's the problem... I'm coming on 48 hours and he has not moved.  <...> Today I lifted him off of it (I wasn't hard he doesn't even use all of his feet to attach) and dipped him for one minute in a Lugol's dip (mixed with the tank water).  <What? Why?> No difference now. He didn't like the dip. He curled his toes. I flipped him over while he was in the bath and I did not see anything imbedded in him or any abrasions. I also gave in and did another partial water change (although smaller) last night. We are leaving in 5 days for vacation. (the first in 2 years- of course I feel guilty anyways) If this guy dies in there while we are gone... he could wipe out the tank. I feel really bad for him. Although his toes look fine and he isn't showing any degrading of tissue he doesn't seem healthy. Any advice? All other tank mates seem happy and busy, Anthelia polyps are open. <I would move, isolate this animal in your quarantine system... move all else before your trip.> I appreciate your time, greatly. (If relevant... 33L, 220 PC full/actinic 14/12 hours a day.) <Not> P.S. Your site appears to be non for profit. Can I donate? How? I do have a PayPal account. -Brooke <We do have an Amazon "begging bowl" at the bottom of the homepage and indices... But please donate your time when you are back, rested from your trip and can focus on a longer term plan for your aquatic hobby... We can start at "square one", perhaps help you develop a relationship with a local dealer... a better regimen of set-up and operation of your quarantine procedure. Do enjoy your holiday away. Bob Fenner>
Re: Linckia Starfish
I thank you for your time. It would seem from your response that I am doing things sloppily but I do research for hours and hours each day and I am really attempting to be responsible... <You are close to a more complete understanding I assure you> The link you gave me regarding the Linckia (sounds like a bad pun) did not work so I was hoping you can repost it, if he is not the Linckia (I thought it was the predator star with the orange feet... you think it is the true Linckia with the orange feet?) that is important to understand. <Search the index yourself here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm the area is an article on Seastars, their FAQs posted near the bottom with the other Echinoderm pieces> Prior to our trip I will quarantine him. Also... I mean he moves enough that I do clearly know he's moving; he's just not "on the move", if you follow me? <Yes> I will attempt to bring a higher level of care to the husbandry of these beautiful marine animals. Believe me, it's not for lack of desire. Both tanks appeared well cycled with zero readings. Only after the order did the readings go askew. I suspect my test itself to be of low quality... another is on the way. <Good> Please do not feel burdened with a response, I know you are too busy already. I just wanted you to know that I welcomed and appreciated your feedback. <Never a bother. Bob Fenner> Brooke

Starfish Care I have had particularly difficult time keeping Starfish alive. This includes brittles, Choco, sand sifters, etc. All of my measurements are OK and the tank is well seasoned with plenty of detritus/algae for feeding. I am going to order some more but want to know if there are any tricks to acclimation that I can use to increase chances for success. <Yes, please read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm > Also, I am prepared to quarantine specimens and medicate. Do you know of any safe medication that I can use to "Cleanse" the newly acquired specimens so that I am not introducing problems on top of what I already have? <I would quarantine, but not medicate. The key is finding and selecting healthy specimens. See here for tips http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm > Thanks for any info. Don <Good luck. -Steven Pro>

Dissolving starfish? I have a rather curious situation going on, and was wondering if you guys have any ideas as to what to do about it. I have an Orange Marble Starfish that appears to be "dissolving" in the tank. It started with a single leg slowly getting shorted a few weeks ago, and now it's down to the point of where there is only a single leg left fully intact with some degree of dissolve in all of the other four legs. I had thought that the situation would stop, and the affected legs would just re-grow, but the problem doesn't seem to be stopping. Any suggestions? <Mmm, yes. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm particularly the linked FAQs files beyond... Do monitor your water quality closely. If possible and you want to optimize your chances of saving this animal, do consider dipping it in a dilute antibiotic bath (input here can be found by using the search tool at the bottom of the homepage or indices) AND moving it to another established reef system. Bob Fenner>
Re: dissolving starfish?
Thanks for your rapid reply. I've gone and read the articles and related FAQ's, and am left with a question of two. You mention in one FAQ that moving to a hospital/quarantine system may not be a good idea since the specimen may starve. I unfortunately don't have another established reef system available to move him to, but am willing/able to dip him and see if he recovers. So the question is, if I dip him and return to the current system am I wasting my time in trying to save him, and putting the rest of my tank in danger in the process, or should I euthanize?) him now? <Hmmm...if you feel as though you can supervise it very closely in the display, I'm all for a medicated dip/bath and return to the tank. Considerably less chance of pathogenic infection with this invertebrate compared to a sick fish. Watch closely. Kindly, Anthony>

Fromia Starfish I bought a Fromia star 3 days ago. It seems fine until yesterday that part of one arm start to degenerate. I had a same problem with one before and it died.  <this necrosis is serious at times> Could I use iodine treatment?  <sure... swab a reef strength dose directly onto the affected portion with the intent to stain it> If all else fails, could I cut off the portion of the arm that is infected, since their can regenerate?  <please do...sooner rather than later and take off more of the arm than you need to. Use a sharp razor or scalpel.> Thanks, Jackie <with kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

End of the line for Chippy? Bob & Crew: We have a Choc Chip Star for about 4 months now - we've recently had to move him to a hospital tank. It was suggested that he be removed by our LFS because we were treating (lower salinity, up temp) for ick. They said he wouldn't like the change in salinity. <I agree> He been in the hospital tank for about 2 weeks now - yesterday morning - I noticed that the little tips of him were odd looking, almost white. This morning - I see that it almost looks like he is deteriorating. I fear it may be because of a deteriorating water quality in the hospital tank. Is it too late to save him? <It sounds like he has already begun to turn into mush. Yes, too late then.> Will a major water change in there do any good? <It cannot hurt.> thanks! ~Bill <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

African Red Starfish  I *had* an African Red Starfish (purchased Jan/02)..introduced him to the tank and within a couple of days he was losing color at his tips. He has since died (today). I was wondering what may have caused such a sudden death?  <they are commonly shipped from quite a distance under poor/crowded conditions. (Bacterial) Infections are not at all rare> I do not have any incompatible fish (according to the fish store where he was purchased). However, I *do* have a chocolate chip star who has also lost color in one of his tips, since the intro of the African Red star. <infection may have spread. keep a close eye> The C/Chip seems to be doing okay but I believe the African Red is dead. Your input is appreciated as I believe the store may have sold me a sick star. <I agree that this may very well be true. Anthony>

Chocolate chip star I've had a chocolate chip starfish for about 2 weeks now.  He has been moving and eating fine.  We added a second one a week ago, also eating and moving fine.  This last weekend we lost two of our damsels to some unknown reason.  I did a 20 percent water change and cleaned the inside of the tank to get rid of the algae.  I fed them this morning and the newest one, the smaller one, wouldn't eat.  I was told by my LFS to treat the tank with an antibiotic to try to save the other fish.  He said Melafix was a pretty good general antibiotic. <... an antibiotic to treat what? Melafix is not an antibiotic... but a liquid preparation of Tea Tree (Melaleuca) leaves... does have anti-bacterial effect... but so does soap, detergents...> As soon as I poured it in, both of the stars lifted their arms and curled them back over themselves and all of the fish started to swim around a lot.  The smaller one has gone back to normal and moved around a little while the bigger one keeps his arms curled up even when it  moves.  The bigger one has gone through dosing of Melafix before and was fine.  Now the main part of its body looks kinda bloated, thicker than it was a couple of days ago.  I don't think I gave him a piece of shrimp that was too large.  Can you feed these guys two much. <Yes>   I feed them about every three days, usually shrimp.  Also, these stars seem to do the curling thing when the lights go out.  Is this normal?  Any info would be greatly appreciated. <The symptoms mentioned are signs of probable poisoning. I would move the stars and any other invertebrates to a separate system (if you can) or barring this, start a series of large (25% or so) water changes, add activated carbon... to reduce the toxic effect. Please see here re these stars: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the linked FAQs pages... and perhaps use the Google Search feature on our homepage, indices to learn about Melafix. Bob Fenner>
Re: chocolate chip star
I was told to treat the fish for possible fungus infection.  All damsels and clowns faces turned a grayish color and the remaining damsel has a big grey patch by his right pectoral fin. <Fungus infections are rare in captive marine settings> I have left the charcoal in the hang on filter (Emperor).  Now both stars have completely curled up and the larger keeps falling off everything and ends up upside-down without righting himself.  Neither will eat. <Did you change water as instructed? Stop medicating?> Good news is, that the fish are becoming more active and eating more.  Shrimp, snails and hermit crabs seem totally unaffected by the Melafix. Although, they do move around a little when it goes into the water.  Will try to pick up a small QT, budget allowing.  Is there anything I should think about treating the starfish with? <Just optimized, stable conditions. Bob Fenner>
Re: chocolate chip star
Have moved the starfish into a five gallon bucket with a small 60 gph filter with charcoal.  SG is about the same at the tank about 22.  Is there anything that I should do for the fish to keep anymore from dying? <Do slowly (about .001 per day) change your specific gravity to near seawater level (1.025)> What about the grey patch.  And do you know of a place to see a good picture of Ich.  Not sure what the damsel has. <I would not be worried re the patch. Please read through our root web: www.WetWebMedia.com for the picture, further information. Bob Fenner>

Starfish I have a chocolate chip star <This is a great starfish for fish only systems. They're too ravenous for a reef tank> which I have had for about six months. <Okay> He has been very active. In the last few weeks he seems to have trouble holding onto the sides of the glass 75 gal. tank. At times falling off. <That's not unusual. I had one for several years and he was never able to really hold to the sides of the tank. He finally got so large I had to trade him in at the LFS> The last week he has not moved. <Doesn't sound good. That's way too long for him to remain in one place. These guys forage for food constantly> His color seems the same and he is flexible. Not stiff. <Not a good sign. Every starfish that I've ever handled felt more or less stiff. They will also try to bend their bodies away from you> The other fish, angels, clowns and one triggerfish seem to be doing ok. <Triggers are likely to prey upon starfish> How do I tell if this animal is dead? <Pick him up and look at the tube feet: They should be wiggling. Then look at its mouth. You should see it trying to close or in some way, it will be making an adjustment...and give it the old nose test.  Sorry, but I don't feel good about this critters' well-being> Thanks, Tim <You're welcome! Chocolate chips are normally very hardy.>

Sick Orange Linckia Dear Bob- I have an orange Linckia and at night he swells up on some of his arms. He also has some brown spots on some of his arms. He seems to do fine and look better during the illuminated period and I am afraid I may loose him. Please let me know what I should do. Thanks in advance and I appreciate the time you take to answer these questions. Dr. Ron Widen <the symptoms do not strike me immediately as pathogenic but I do wonder about the nutrition that this animal has been getting. They need a tremendous amount of food as deposit feeders. A good "rule" for sea stars is to only keep one per 100 gallon aquarium and the aquarium should be set up for at least 1 year minimum. Even then they will need fed several times weekly. Any compromise of this requires daily feeding. Most starve or suffer attrition within mere months... some hang in longer. Do consider if this applies here, my friend. Best regards, Anthony>

Sick Fromia Greetings, I purchased a Fromia monilis on 9/14 and it seemed to be doing fine until last week.  <still... I'm guessing that this is a newly acquired specimen. Many succumb to infections and duress within weeks of import. Correct me if you have had yours for months> First, the tips of his legs started to dissolve and then 5 days ago it seemed to eviscerate. For 2 days all of it's innards seemed to be hanging out his underside until they became detached. Amazingly, he continued and still is moving about the live rock.  <indeed... a bad sign, but they are remarkably regenerative. You are feeding this animal, yes? Microalgae on rocks, algae wafers, etc> I have read that cucumbers eviscerate and regenerate their internal organs, have you heard of starfish having this capability?  <yes... a sign of great duress> The tips of his legs seem to be healing now but there are now 2 huge gashes across 2 of his legs and another cyst on the top of his body. I have read that dying starfish can pollute an entire tank.  <anything of that size/mass can pollute a tank just the same (tang sized fish, anemone, etc)> Do you know if this is true with Fromias? Do you think that he has any chance of recovery or should I euthanize him? <the healing tips is a very good sign... feed well and lets wait a little longer. Place in a sump or refugium if necessary to keep an eye on it but do not move to another tank just yet. Remove on the first sign of giving up the ghost (non-motile, tube feet non-responsive, etc)> Also, my other orange Fromia seems to spend all his time at the very top of the tank glass, hardly moving.  <sounds hungry :) looking for organic matter at the surface where it collects... or... low dissolved O2 in the system. Do get a cheap O2 test kit (like Tetra brand) and verify> I moved him down to the substrate last week but one morning I woke up and he was at the top again. I am concerned b/c there doesn't appear to be enough algae on the glass to keep him fed.  <quite possibly> Could this indicate that the oxygen level is too low at the bottom of the tank.  <yes... very intuitive. Kudos to you, my friend> I do not utilize powerheads.  <not a problem if you simply have a very large return pump on the sump> I measured my GPH from the return line at 610 gal/hr and have an air pump in the sump.  <wow... definitely in need of stronger water flow here. Do consider a larger return pump if your overflow can handle it, and powerheads in the display if not. The old rule of thumb of 10X water flow in the tank per hour is antiquated and not accurate for modern reef aquarium systems. I run approx 2200 GPH in my 50 gallon marine tank. Simple Random turbulent flow (converging outlets) and you wouldn't look at it and think the flow is that strong> My oxygen is reading 6 and I can't seem to get it any higher. Should I attempt to move him again or should I just leave him be? <don't move the star but do take a low tank water sample (submerged film canister and sealed while low). > My 72 gal tank is a little over 2 months old now and I still have nothing in the tank but 75 lbs live rock, a orange Fromia indica, a cleaner shrimp, and a peppermint shrimp (another peppermint shrimp also died). A third Fromia I purchased died 3 days after arrival, dissolving after a few days.  <sea stars should be left in the dealers tank for at least one week before buying them. Pre-pay or deposit if necessary to hold them for screening of weak individuals. Even then... it is critical to quarantine all new livestock on your own for 2-4 weeks. Please browse our archives at wetwebmedia.com for more info on a proper QT tank> All stars seemed fine at arrival, and I acclimated them extremely carefully over a 1.5 hr period. I purchased all online. I am off to a very discouraging start and am reluctant to purchase fish until I can prove that I am capable of keeping a few starfish and shrimp alive.  <the purchase of livestock online is not recommended when a good local source is available. If you choose to purchase online... all such animals need a full 4 week QT. And using the Seastars as a gage for fishes is inaccurate my friend. They are fairly difficult to keep relative to fishes> Is it too early in my tank's life cycle to be adding starfish? <absolutely yes!!! Seastars need very large and very mature aquariums to survive. Some say 100gall tank minimum. Try brittle or serpent stars instead (Ophiuroids). Much hardier. Try common species first> Test kits- Salifert SPG: 1.023 Temp: 81-83.5 <these warmer temps may be the reason you cant get your oxygen levels higher... aim for 78-80F> PH: 8.1 <target pH 8.3 night and 8.5 by day> Oxygen: 6 Ammonia: <.5 Nitrate: 0 Nitrite: 0 Alkalinity: 4.57 Calcium: 320 Strontium: approx. 15 Thanks for you time, Jeff <with kind regards, Anthony>

My star fish Hello, A week ago I bought a star fish, I think it's a Linckia or Fromia, <Looks like it may be a species of the latter genus> yesterday afternoon it was moving around the sides of the aquarium and this morning I found her dead, it looked like if her back had an explosion, it was open and little pieces around it. I'm enclosing 2 pictures so that you can see what I am talking about. Do you have any idea what could have cause this sudden death of my star fish?  <A few... most likely this loss is indirectly due to "poor handling" in the process of collection, holding, shipping before the animal got to your dealer, and you... physical and chemical trauma... perhaps malnutrition (or a total lack thereof) played a significant role... perhaps latent infection, infestation of parasites, bacteria...> Everything seams to be Ok with the water, I mean, PH and so on. I only have 2 damsel fish in there, the rest are 2 feather dusters and a couple of corals. Not much because I have a 15 gal. aquarium and I am trying to see how well it goes to have a salt water aquarium before I buy a larger tank. I thank you in advance for your input! Have a nice day, Berta <Sorry to hear of your loss, and so many like it. Seastars in general are not easy to keep in captivity... but there are ones that are easier, and some general suggestions for improving your chances. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the many FAQs (the linked blue files near the top) beyond. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Star! my chocolate chip star fish is still not moving or letting its suction cups out or stomach out but  I just don't know if its dead or not cause I put a heater up to the tank and whenever I pick it up it just seems like its dead cause nothing moves even at night  so do you have a way of telling if its dead or not  its not falling apart or disintegrating. thank you very much < Just give him time if he is not disintegrating there is still hope.  Also make sure your salinity is between 1.022-1.026 as they are sensitive to salinity. Cody>

Chocolate Chip Star Hi, I just bought a chocolate chip star fish.  It was doing fine when I put it in the tank, but I didn't know it needed a heater.  So in the middle of the night I put the heat light close to it and the next day it moved some in the morning, but when I got back from church it wasn't sucking on to any thing and it wasn't moving its suckers at all.  Do you think it's dead, or do you know anything I can do for it?  Please email me back please ASAP Thank you, please hurry. >>Well, not knowing what temperature it got down to, as well as not having other parameters, I'm shooting in the dark here.  But I can tell you this much: the thing to watch for is disintegration.  If the parts of the sea star appear to just be falling apart/disintegrating, then I'm afraid your chocolate chip is doomed.  Otherwise, if that is not the case, then if at all possible get a heater in the tank and try to keep it at 75F minimum.  Assuming it lives and you get it warmed up, you may want to set some food out for it, a piece of shrimp, squid, or krill--but do not just leave it in the tank to decompose. Let us know how it goes, and good luck! Marina

Taking Care of A Sick Starfish I recently received 3 sand sifters 2 are doing fine, but 1 is loosing its appendages.  Water is 125 gal FOWLR 55# live rock tank is staffed with 2 small Percula clown and a goby with 25 snails( 10 Nassarius 9 turbo and 6 margaritas) ammonia 0.0 nitrite .2 ppm nitrates 0 ph 8.3. What is wrong with the star and is it contagious? <Well, your water conditions sound just fine,
so it's probably not an environmental problem in your tank. It could have been caused by a trauma of some sort, or, more commonly, by  Vibrio bacteria infection.> Should I get him out of the tank or is this something he will heal from. He lost the tip of one and most of a second.  As always I love reading your FAQ but find nothing on the star. <I'd remove the injured specimen to a separate aquarium for possible treatment, as well as a precaution against possible pollution if he dies undetected. Furan-based medications or antibiotics can help treat these problems. If you do effect a cure, the animal has amazing regenerative capabilities, and there is a good chance that it will grow back the missing sections of it's legs. Give a treatment tank a shot...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Seastar Troubles - Hello, <Hello, JasonC here...> I had a red star general.  Suddenly it got a spot on it.  the tank was medicated with Mela-fix. <Perhaps a reaction to the tea-tree oil/Melafix.> The starfish got worse and it looked like something ate it, however nothing was ever seen on it. <Well... when a Seastar checks out, they tend to dissolve.> Recently some of my fish got Ich.  The tank was medicated with Greenex. <Oh goodness, no... this is what caused you the problems with your inverts. Greenex is incredibly toxic and pretty much fatal for invertebrates.> Now my Brittlestars are starting to lose sections of their arms.  They are not losing a whole piece but small pieces at a time. <I'm sorry to tell you that they are probably goners.> Could you please help. Thanks Joe Stein <Joe, in the future, when you need to treat a problem like Ich, you need to do it in a separate tank, away from the main display. Greenex is a combination of Malachite Green and Formalin, both of which are really bad news and in fact, inappropriate for Ich - you'd be better off treating with copper in a quarantine tank. Likewise, I wouldn't bother with Melafix at this point - there is no scientific evidence that this stuff works for treating a problem like Cryptocaryon/Ich. Please read the following articles on WWM - they should provide you some background and also a plan for action: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm Cheers, J -- >
- Re: Seastar Troubles -
Thank you for your quick reply.   <My pleasure...> Just a clarification, the Melafix was put into the tank after the spot was on the starfish was seen, it looked like something had started eating him. <Ah, ok - well just keep in mind for future reference that Melafix isn't going to help your starfish.> Question: On the bottle of Greenex it says that it is invertebrate safe on the owner of the fish store I got it at said it was safe for inverts.  Is this false advertisement? <It most certainly is. Both ingredients are toxic to just about all life...> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

Knobby Seastar health Hi Bob, I am writing you this short note hoping it gets to you , I have a question on my chocolate chip star fish, over night we have noticed he has a white tip on one of his arms also a small bump on it and also curls it up.....can you give any ideals? maybe on how to treat it?.....need help..... <Unfortunately these stars do often fall prey to cumulative stress (mainly from collection, holding, shipping from the wild)... and subsequent infection. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner> Debbie

Two-fer on Chocolate Chip Seastar health Dear Crew Member,     I purchased a chocolate chip, Protoreastor nodosus, about six months ago. After becoming enamored with it, I purchases a partner for it about a month later; it is about twice the former's size and appears to be of a different species.  The former then began to act lethargic and look sickly, then it began its normal constant moving about the tank, and both seem to be enjoying each other's company by "hanging out together" on the glass walls of my 10 gallon tank.  About five days ago, I noticed that the former had lost a chip on one of its legs; now, one can see into its leg - it looks like little rows of cotton balls with a ligament down the middle of them.  What's wrong, and is it curable? Sincerely, Maura Staker <Unfortunately these stars do often fall prey to cumulative stress (mainly from collection, holding, shipping from the wild)... and subsequent infection. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

Starfish hi my name is Zach I just purchased a chocolate chip starfish and it is moving a lot but the top where the  chocolate chips are is kinda puffed up do you think this is normal for them ?  I have 1 more question I just set up this tank to but I made sure the salt is right and the temperature is right to and I have a under gravel filter so does that mean that the tank is going through a cycling period? will it hurt the starfish? and if so is there anything I can do about it? thanks please email me back ASAP. < The star is likely fine for now but will have a hard time making it through cycling.  Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Cody>

Starfish dying 3/22/03 My 220 gallon reef tank has been running well for about 5 years. The past few days, my orange serpent and orange Linckia stars have all been dying, losing legs, etc. One species of soft coral seems to be dying also. All other parameters OK.  Nothing new or changed.  Help! Ron <cheers, Ron :) Not sure what could be ailing your poor inverts on a general symptom... but, making an educated guess from among the many sudden echinoderm and gastropod ailments we hear... I'm wondering if you didn't switch brands of sea salt recently? Over the years, I have heard this complaint with a couple of brands regularly (stunning or killing starfish and snails particularly). One of these brands has had a prominent surge in popularity as of late. FWIW... I favor Tropic Marin, Instant Ocean and Omega brands. If no salt change, I wonder if there wasn't a belated evaporation top off or other sudden change of salinity. Else, do consider if there are any other symptoms or anomalies you can share for the diagnosis. Best regards, my friend. Anthony>

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