FAQs about Sea Star Identification
Related Articles: Sea
Stars, Brittle Stars,
An Introduction to the
Echinoderms: The Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers and
More... By James W. Fatherree, M.Sc.
Related FAQs: Sea
Star ID 1, Sea Star ID 2,
Sea Star ID 3, Sea Star ID 4, Seastar ID 5, Seastar ID 6, Seastar ID 7, Seastar ID 8, & CC Star Identification,
ID, & Sea
Stars 1, Sea Stars 2, Sea Stars 3, Sea
Stars 4, Sea Stars 5, Brittle Stars, Seastar Selection, Seastar Compatibility, Seastar Systems, Seastar Behavior, Seastar Feeding, Seastar Reproduction, Seastar Disease, Asterina
Stars, Chocolate Chip Stars,
Crown of Thorns Stars,
Linckia Stars, Linckia Stars 2, Sand-Sifting Stars,
Starfish ID 9/5/17
Can anyone assist with ID of this pretty hitchhiker I found in a shipment of
He appears to like meat.... found him on top of a large PE Mysis today in my
seahorse tank.... Attached pics of top and bottom with Mysis attached!
<Any idea Lynn? BobF>
Another picture of starfish
Here is a better picture of my Botryocladia hitchhiker. Can you identify?
<Looks something like a Blue Fromia species. Am asking Lynn Zurik to chime in
here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Another picture of starfish
Hi Bob, I've seen that star before, but can't identify it at this time.
Sorry for the delay in responding - on top of the hurricane Harvey stuff, I
slipped on Monday, fell and wound up with a concussion, a cut worthy of Harry
Potter on my forehead and a broken arm/wrist.
<Aye ya! When it rains....!!!>
It's nothing time won't heal, but in the meantime, I don't have any of my
research books and can't find that star online. I agree that it looks like some
sort of Fromia spp - or maybe an Echinaster of some sort. There's a variety in
Florida/Caribbean (Echinaster sentus - not blue) that has what appears to be
nodules on the arms, but they're more spine-like. I'm thinking Fromia. I'll keep
looking - if I find it, I'll send in a response. Take care, Lynn Z
<Thank you Lynn. Please do take care. BobF>
RE: Another picture of starfish 9/7/17
Thanks so much for the reply! I do believe this star comes from Florida
area, as it was included in shipment of algae collected in Florida...., and my
lighting in the picture is making the star look more blue, it's actually kind of
a mauve color....
<Mmm; maybe another Echinaster then... E. spinulosus? Bob Fenner>
Itty-Bitty Starfish ID...is it a 'good guy"?
My son noticed this starfish in our 29 gallon holding tank and I remembered
seeing something about some small whitish starfish eating corals... Should I
flush him or put him back and be grateful?
<Up to you... appears to be an Asterina sp.... worth the possible, potential
Right now he's in a ZipLock floating in the refugium just to be safe. Just
in case it matters, in the holding tank I have small frags from a few Zoas,
green fuzzy mushrooms, a couple GSP, a daisy polyp, and a couple leathers.
<Mmm; I'd likely keep it if there not too many. Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Eight legged starfish
Hoping to ID my starfish. had a number of stars before and realised that
Linckia will eat sand stars so stayed away from them.
<Tis on WWM..... try looking up Nardoa novaecaledoniae (Perrier 1875)>
Ended up with other species such as this one but just want to be sure it
will not eat my other stars.
<Keep reading. Bob Fenner>
Was walking on Clacton beach today where an angler had pulled in a eight
legged starfish. It was possibly 12 inches across and it had smooth
cream legs about 3/4 inch dia tapering to nothing I have seen many
starfish but nothing like this , have you any idea what it is.
<Assuming not an octopus (!) there are only a relatively few starfish
that size found in shallow UK waters. The standard one is of course
Asterias rubens. There's also Crossaster papposus, another common
species, sometimes called the Cushion Star. Less familiar (and typically
deeper/colder water) species include Marthasterias glacialis, Solaster
irregularis and Luidia ciliaris. Let me direct you to a couple useful
sites, Marlin and Glaucus:
Without a photo, it's hard to be certain what you saw. Cheers, Neale.>
Be interested in your comments
Regards R Rawlinson
Star Fish Identification ? 12/18/13
Good afternoon ... I've been researching numerous web sites that show
the immense variety of star fish types that reside along the
Alabama Gulf Coast, and have been unable to identify the type I
found on the beach recently. Might you have an ID for this
specific type star fish shown in the attached .jpg file?
Appreciate your time and attention ... Cheers!
<Mmm; appear to be Luidia alternata. Bob Fenner>
|Re: Star Fish Identification ?
Thank you Bob ... appreciate your very timely response ... Happy
Holidays to you and yours !!
<And you Craig. BobF>
Starfish I.D 11/5/13
Can you please help with this starfish identification.
<Mmm, not from this pic alone; no>
I am a golf professional and my tank is in my golf shop. Mu members
thought it would be nice to add a starfish while I was out of town
and I want to make sure it is reef safe. I have look at the
pictures and read about them on the web page but have not been able to
<Please read here:
and the linked Starfish ID FAQs files linked above. Bob Fenner... Would
you say, ask more... re the inhabitant life in this system? Perhaps a
cautionary remark concerning the star falling apart, polluting the
system? Maybe something even more extreme, didactic for "advice?">
Sea star ID 9/23/13
This guy hitch hiked a ride on some live rock we purchased a few months
ago. He has been growing slowly but surely. We recently upgraded our
tank and shortly after the move I noticed he had lost an arm. I have 2
questions, what sort of sea star is this, and how likely is
it that the arm will become another star?
<Might be a Linckia sp. See here:
Re the other arm... maybe>
I have included a couple of photos. The arm is moving slowly around
the tank and both the arm and the star are much more active at night.
Thanks for your help.
<Use, search WWM and read re these animals. Bob Fenner>
Sea star identification help
Hello WWM Crew,
I would like some help identifying this sea star. It's about 2.5" to 3" from
tip to tip, and pink with purple tips. The closest thing I found on the
internet was a Chocolate Chip Star,
<I too think this is a young Protoreaster nodosus>
but it really doesn't match the color descriptions given.
<Does occur in other colors>
I also notice the lack of "chips" along each arm.
<These develop over time, w/ growth, size>
It's been in a FOWLR for over 2 years, but 2 months ago I got a Long
Tentacle Anemone and a few days ago a couple of beginner frags (Softies &
Polyps) so now I would like to know for sure what type of star this is.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
I discovered a mystery star in my tank the other day. Sorry the
picture is so blurry, but the colours are purple and green, and the legs are
fat! I tried to ID it and it looks to me like an Anthenea aspera -
cake star. Is this even possible?
<Mmm, I think this is a member of the family Asterinidae. Please see here
I think it is too colourful to be a biscuit star, though I did not flip it
over to see if it's belly was white (I didn't want to disturb it in case it
was very delicate). It is definitely not spiny. It also has a white
bump on the top which you can see in the
picture. It hides on the underside of a rock during the day, and comes out
at night. I tried to research cake stars all around the web, but can
not find any literature on whether they are reef safe, and what they eat.
Most of the literature comes from dives in Singapore.
Can you tell what it is? And do you know what it eats?
<Do see the file/citation above and the linked Related FAQs above>
Thanks for your help!
<Welcome, Bob Fenner>
Starfish id! 7/10/12
Curious as to what type of starfish this is, had
my tank running for over a year first time seeing it. Attaching a
picture of it, sorry if it is not the right format sending through
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
I found this Seastar washed up on the beach in Hatteras, NC
Can you please tell me what kind of Seastar it is as well as what
<Mmm, this may be an Asterias rubens... you can look up its
I have a salt water tank with a hermit crab from another trip to
Hatteras, NC 2 Â½ years ago. Will the crab eat the star
or vice versa?
<The hermit may eat the star>
Can I keep them
in the same tank?
<IF the hermit is small, and/or not hungry... Bob
Found starfish on live rock
I started a 60gal tank with about 20lbs of live rock, sand and
that was it.
After three weeks of cycling, I was told by the local reef shop
it was OK to add three damsels and some more live rock. With this
latest addition of about 14lbs of Fiji live rock, this starfish
came creeping out after a few hours. He is about 5" across,
orangish-tan. He moves around a lot, and has been in the tank
for about 12 days.
I have been on a few reef forums and cannot get a answer on what
type of starfish he is. No one is convinced of why type he is. I
need to know if he is reef safe or do I need to return him to the
place I got him from?
I was told to seek an answer from a member on Living Reefs.
Thank you very much for any insight.
<Mmm, have never seen such an Asteroid before; nor is it in my
ref.s. IF you'd like for our resident marine invertebrate
identifier to take a look/see, re-size (no more than a few
hundred Kbytes as we request) and resend your images and msg. and
I'll post it to her in-folder. Bob Fenner>
Re: re: Found starfish on live rock
Any help you could give me as to weather I can leave him would be
I appreciate your quick response.
<Uhh, send your images re-sized... for LynnZ's perusal.
I've deleted your too-large files. BobF>
Follow-up Re: Found starfish on live rock: Possible
Echinaster sp. -- 5/5/11
<Hey Kevin, Lynn here this afternoon.>
Ok, will do. Try these.
<Thanks! Unfortunately, I've gone through all my sources
and have not been able to find a similar star that's
indigenous to the area around Fiji. My best guess is that
it's something in the genus Echinaster, which includes a
number of 'spiny' species such as the Spiny/Common Sea
Star (Echinaster sentus) that's so common around
Florida/tropical Atlantic. Adding to the ID difficulty is the
fact that sea stars can vary to a surprising degree in color and
morphology, often with localized variants. Overall health can
also be a factor in that it can affect color. Your star may have
started off as a dark red, orange, or even brown, etc., before it
was transported. Please see the following links for more
information and photos of Echinaster spp. for comparison:
Echinaster sentus: http://www.sms.si.edu/irlfieldguide/Echina_sentas.htm
More Echinaster spp.: http://www.eol.org/pages/71494
The orange individual at the following link (listed as Echinaster
echinophorus) looks similar but I'm not confident of the ID.
Basically, it could be the right star with the wrong name but it
does seem to point toward your star being in this genus. At any
rate, the darker red individual (see thumbnail below photo) is
more typical of the species. The other just doesn't fit -- at
least not to my eyes. Also, I can only guess that if it is indeed
E. echinophorus that the photo must have been shot from within a
tank since you'd never see this species alongside what
appears to be a Tridacnid clam in the wild (different ranges):
As far as how 'safe' this star will be around your other
livestock, I can only tell you that if it is indeed a species of
Echinaster, it could consume anything from detritus and/or
biofilm, to sponges, tunicates, clams or other sessile
invertebrates. Keeping the star healthy could present a
challenge, but if you wish to try, you might try offering it some
meaty bits of marine origin (clam in particular). Do also keep an
eye out for any signs of decline so you can get the star out
before it causes any water chemistry issues.>
<You're very welcome! I'm just sorry I couldn't
have offered a positive ID! Take care, Lynn Z>
e: Follow-up Re: Found starfish on live rock: Possible
Echinaster sp. -- 5/6/11
Thank you Lynn!
<You're very welcome, Kevin!>
This is curious. May I repost your info on the Living Reefs
forums as those guys are wanting to know as well what he may
<Absolutely. One thing I'd like to clarify relates to the
sea star listed as Echinaster echinophorus at the link I
supplied. I do think it's an Echinaster species of some sort,
I'm just not sure that it's E. echinophorus. Also, I
wonder if the Fiji rock you purchased was kept in a large system
with rock from other areas/regions? If so, the star could have
arrived on rock from, say Florida, gone on walkabout in the tank,
and ended up on your Fiji rock. I do hope you get lucky and
someone recognizes your little fellow. If so, please let me/us
know. I looked everywhere I could think of and could not find
anything that matched in both appearance and locale!>
<It was a pleasure, Kevin.>
<Take care, Lynn Z>
starfish id please 4/12/11
I've had my tank running for about 10 months now, it's a
custom built 400 Liter tank
The other night with having a look at the tank with a flash light
and I came across this star fish, I've had a good look around
on the net to match a species but with no luck yet
Any ideas on the species? it's nocturnal if that helps
<Mmm, likely a Gomophia or Leiaster species... See here:
Unidentified 6 legged 2 or so inch
Great website and thanks for all your advice and insight!
Last night during a bout of insomnia, I thought viewing our 250
deep dimension tank might help me snooze, it didn't work. In
fact, what I saw helped me stay up later as I saw an unidentified
starfish on our rock. We have numerous Asterina starfish, a pair
of sand-sifting starfish and a orange serpent star fish. The guy
was puffy, 6 legged and white with a little bit of brownish-green
hue. My first thought that it is from the Asterina family but I
thought they stayed very small. The only photos that I was able
to take were horrible and with my cell phone. I attempted to take
some additional photos this morning but when I turned on the
lights it slipped back into the rocks. Any idea what this guy is?
Thanks again and sorry for the bad photos!
<Unfortunately I can't make out much detail either. Do try
to make better images... and send along. Bob Fenner>