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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 4 of 4

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,

By Bob Fenner

"Other" Asteroids One Sees From Time To Time:

Echinaster luzonicus (Gray 1840). Variable in color (yellow, green, brown, red... to mottled). Western Pacific. This one in S. Sulawesi.

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Mithrodia bradleyi Verrill 1867, Bradley's Sea Star. Family Mithrodiidae. Subcylindrical arms that constrict toward the small central area. Irregular blunt spines over all arms. To fourteen inches across. Eastern and Central Pacific; Lower Sea of Cortez to Peru, including Galapagos Islands. Galapagos pic.

Mithrodia clavigera Bali 2014, TiffB pic

Mithrodia fisheri Holly 1932, Fisher's Star. Body covered with large bumps. Color variable; from white to cinnamon, generally with dark banding on roundish arms that have a lateral row of blunt spines. Feeds on sponges, bryozoans, other sessile invertebrates. Most about 4-6 inches in diameter though attains at least a foot. Daytime and nocturnal. Kona pix.


Ophidiaster hemprichii Muller & Troschel 1842, Hemprich's Star. Legs round in cross section, of variable color, usually reddish brown, with grey blotches. Body made over with nine rows of articulating plates. To four inches overall. Tropical Pacific.

Pharia/Phataria pyramidata (Gray 1840), the Yellow-Spotted or Pyramid Star. Family Ophidiasteridae. To 9 inches in diameter. Eastern Pacific; Sea of Cortez to Peru and the Galapagos, rocky shores to 130 meters depth. Triangular shaped feet. Galapagos pic.

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The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Phataria unifascialis (Gray 1840), the Blue Sea Star. Family Ophidiasteridae. To 7 inches in diameter. Eastern Pacific; Sea of Cortez to Peru and the Galapagos, rocky shores to 50 meters depth. Dorsal surface blue or tan with black pebbled lines, underside orange. Algae feeder. Galapagos pix below.
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About Cool/Coldwater Seastars:

A brief mention of a despicable practice... the selling of colder (non-tropical) organisms, in this case seastars, into the aquarium interest. These animals rarely acclimate to warm water conditions, either falling apart within days or stress-starving to death in a few weeks. Avoid them unless you have a system designed (chilled) for their appropriate keeping. Two California, U.S.A. examples that need to be kept at 68-70 degrees F. or cooler:

Patiria miniata, the Bat Star, photographed in Southern California.

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The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.
Patiria pectinifera; the Blue Batstar. Here at the Shedd Aq., Chicago. 2015
Pisaster ochraceus, the Ochre Seastar, photographed in Southern California. .

Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available)
Misc. cold-water Seastars in an exhibit up in Victoria, B.C., Canada 2010

There are many other Sea Star choices, okay to terrible, but one especially warrants mention. Please click on the name to see and read about the notorious Crown of Thorns Starfish.

Habitat:

Sea and Brittle Stars, though they are slow appreciate adequate open space as well as coral and rocky arrangements where they can forage, hide, and find the conditions of current, lighting and shelter that they prefer.

Echinoderms are used as biological assay specimens for pollution, for measuring the quality of synthetic sea salt mixes, and for other test parameters. This gives you and idea of how sensitive they are. Some of them are the first to be mal-affected by metabolite build-up in water or by the presence of metallic contaminants. Should yours start "acting funny" (e.g. slowing down, refusing to eat), don't hesitate- check your water quality and make necessary adjustments. It may be better to move the affected specimen if your system water requires major changes.

Predators generally leave these animals alone, but I would not put it past certain Triggers, large Angels, Puffers, large Crabs, or Lobsters to try out your Sea Stars out of boredom or hunger.

Action (ouch!) photos of a big puffer (Arothron stellatus) with a matching dimension appetite. I saw this big boy out of the corner of my eye on a dive in Pulau Redang, Malaysia. What really got my attention was the Linckia laevigata he cleaved an arm off shortly after taking the first pic!

Reproduction:

Reproduction is by sexual means and by fragmentation. The latter capability foiled attempts in the Philippines and Australia to reduce populations of Crown-of-Thorns Stars by having divers hack them up with machetes. This merely produced more animals and added to the reef-destruction problem. Natural predators are much more effective control mechanisms.

Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available)

Feeding:

Most of the Sea Stars offered in the hobby are fed bivalve mollusks (clams or mussels) or other meaty foods (shrimp, krill) once or twice weekly. In the wild, their diets are more cosmopolitan. To keep them well-fed, the aquarist will likely need to use a feeding stick to position the target food where the Star will find it immediately, before other tank inhabitants grab it or it is swept away.

For small specimens of the detritivorous species like Fromias, even Linckias, many aquarists rely on just placing their specimens in suitably "aged" systems that are not meticulously clean. I strongly suggest providing supplemental feeding.

Disease:

Sea Star diseases can be troublesome, especially for those with multiple specimens. Most notable are a fungus (Branchiomycetes sp.) and Vibrio bacterial infections that are primary sources of disease and mortality. Proper selection and providing an appropriate environment are not all a hobbyist can do to assure ongoing success. The use of a quarantine system for a few weeks is a good idea, possibly using special medications for fungal problems and furan compounds or antibiotics for bacterial difficulties. It bears repeating that such treatments should always be administered outside the main system, in a tank that includes provisions for monitoring water quality.

If one or all related organisms in the phylum start dissolving or otherwise dying in a captive system, one must act quickly- make that immediately- to arrest a total wipe-out. Changing 30% or more of the systems water and/or removing affected stock to treatment quarters is strongly indicated.

Summary:

Who needs science fiction when we have invertebrates like the asteroids and ophiuroids? When chosen carefully, the Sea Stars and Brittle Stars can provide great interest and visual appeal in the right aquarium setting. The Brittle Stars are extremely reclusive, although they may occasionally scuttle out during feeding sessions, and their valuable bio-maintenance services usually go unseen, but not unappreciated.

Bibliography/Further Reading:

Photos of Starfish Up Close: What Are You Looking At? | Surprising Science    2/11/13
http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/02/photos-of-starfish-up-close-what-are-you-looking-t/#.URiGHTilPlg.email
<Worthwhile. Thanks. BobF>

Mancini, Alessandro. 1991. Starfishes in tropical marine aquaria. TFH 9/91.

Rohleder, P.G. Undated. Linckia and Fromia- Two starfish for the reef aquarium. Aquarium Digest International #53.

Schlais, James F. 1981. Walking on water. FAMA 8/81.

Wilkens, Peter. 1974. Stars to brighten your aquarium. Marine Aquarist 5:3, May/June 74.

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,


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