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Related FAQs: Sea Stars 1, Sea Stars 2, Sea Stars 3, Sea Stars 4, Sea Stars 5, Brittle Stars, Seastar ID 1, Seastar ID 2, Seastar ID 5, Seastar ID 6 & Seastar Selection, Seastar Compatibility, Seastar Systems, Seastar Behavior, Seastar Feeding, Seastar Reproduction, Seastar Disease, Seastar Disease 2, Seastar Disease 3, Star Disease 4, Star Disease 5, & Asterina Stars, Chocolate Chip Stars, Crown of Thorns Stars, Fromia Stars, Linckia Stars, Linckia Stars 2, Sand-Sifting Stars,

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

Sea Stars, Class Asteroidea

part 3 of 4

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4,

By Bob Fenner


Not So Spiffy Choices, But Often Seen:

Much less desirable, but commonly offered and attractive are the "knobbed" Sea Stars, Family Oreasteridae of the genera Protoreastor, Pentaster and Pentaceastor. They are distinguished by having dull spines, bumps or knobbles on their dorsal surfaces, with these often seen in colors that contrast with their overall body pigmentation. Sold under names like Red-Knobbed, Chocolate Chip, and other labels, these species are hardy but aggressive feeders, more than happy to mount and consume sessile clams, oysters and all manner of corals, soft and stony.

Protoreastor lincki African or Horned Sea Star An opportunistic omnivore of other invertebrates that can literally clean sweep an aquarium of sedentary life.

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Another "Knobby" species, the Chocolate Chip Star, Protoreastor nodosus at a wholesalers and close up in N. Sulawesi. An opportunistic omnivore on other invertebrates. Found widely throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific. Select for smaller 2-3 inch specimens and keep them well fed; though rarely lives for long in captivity.

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Family Oreastridae: "Plump" stars. Have large, domed discs with short or no arms at all. Not easily kept... i.e. rarely live in captivity.

Another typical offering, the "Doughboy" Sea Star, Choriaster granulatus, Lutken 1869, is a big, bulky Indo-Pacific asteroid that scavenges in reef shallows. It should only be employed in systems of hundreds of gallons size with corals that can be spared... as it is a coral eater.

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Culcita novaeguineae Mullet & Troschel 1842, the Bun Starfish, Pincushion Star. Eastern Indian Ocean, Western Pacific. To a foot in diameter. Though seemingly sessile, this animal requires large quarters with plenty of open space, and feeding of bivalves, snails, fish meat, tablets... and may eat your corals! Images made in Bunaken/Sulawesi, Indonesia and two in Hawai'i.

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Culcita schmideliana (Retzius 1805), the Spiny Cushion Star. Indian Ocean; eastern Africa to Malaysia. To ten inches in diameter. In Malaysia and N. Sulawesi

Nidoriellia armata (Gray 1840), a Chocolate Chip Sea Star. Family Oreasteridae. To 6.6 inches in diameter. Mid to Eastern Pacific; Hawaii, Sea of Cortez to Peru and Galapagos. Blunt arms, large central disc, large aboral spines dark in color. Variable color and shape. Intertidal to 73 meters, feeds on benthic marine invertebrates, gastropods and algae. Galapagos pix below.
Pentaceraster cumingi (Gray 1840), the Panamic Cushion Star. Family Oreasteridae. To 13.4 inches in diameter. Mid to Eastern Pacific; Hawaii, Sea of Cortez to Peru and Galapagos. Variably red, orange to greenish blue bodied with large red spines. Feeds on micro-fauna in substrate, benthic algae, seagrass and other echinoderms. Usually found on sandy bottoms from shallow to 180 meters depth. Galapagos pics below.

Family Ophidiasteridae:

About "Linckia" Stars: There are a great many seastars sold as Linckia/Linckia spp. that are decidedly of other genera. Some are not peaceful bacterial et al. detritus feeders as the "true" Linckias of many colors (and at least two species). Do make sure and get a positive identification to species, and research the nutritional, and system size and type needs before purchasing stars. The true Linckias are good choices where available in initially healthy condition, and placed in established, large systems (at least a hundred gallons) with plenty of live rock, detritus to feed on, and not too many competitors. Named in honor of J.H. Linck who wrote a monograph of seastars in 1733. Tropical Atlantic and Pacific.

Linckia columbiae the Fragile Seastar. Semi-tropical Linckia species found in the eastern Pacific. One off of San Diego California in the process of sampling/eating a sea anemone.

Linckia guildingi Gray 1840, the Green Linckia. Usually with five (sometimes 4 or 6) arms that are cylindrical in cross section. Skin appears smooth but is coarse with low, hard nodules. Though called "green" occurs in other colors (tan, beige, brown, blue, reddish). Big Island Hawaii pix.

Linckia laevigata (Linnaeus 1758), Linckia Seastar. Blue and greenish ones in Fiji. Also found in other colors, brown, tans, violet to burgundy, even mottled... And there are other species of the genus offered to the trade. This animal is very (95+ % IME) often doomed from the retailer to aquarists... having suffered too much damage and neglect in the process of collection, holding, shipping... Look for damage (ex. right) and avoid such obviously poor specimens. In the wild this is an algae, bacteria, detritus feeder... that needs space (hundreds of gallons) and mulm (muck, dirt, call it what you will, on the bottom of its system to survive. My advice, look to other genera, species of seastars.

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Linckia multifora (Lamarck 1816). Similar but smaller than L. laevigata and mottled red, blue and yellow colors... also a suspension, algal, microbial... feeder. Indo-Central Pacific; Red Sea, East Africa to Hawai'i. N. Sulawesi, and Nuka Hiva, Marquesas pix.

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A Purple "Linckia", Tamaria stria Gray 1840. Eastern Pacific; Baja to Columbia. Need rock substrate for habitat, not over-zealously clean. Best kept one to a tank. Family Ophidiasteridae.

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4,

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