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FAQs about Sea Star Genetic Disease
(poor species selection for captive use)

FAQs on Starfish Disease: Seastar Disease 1, 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, 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.

Linckia spp., Protoreastor (Choc. Chips, <African> Red General), most large stars period... don't generally live in captivity for any time... due to rough handling, starvation enroute, genetic predisposition to tolerance of captive conditions. LOOK for better species.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Growth on the back of my star fish... "she not slimmie, she move around the tank, she eats,"   7/7/07 My red general star fish was attached to a off white feathery like worm that came out of my new live rock.? <What?> I tried to pull the worm off my star fish but it was inside as well. <I'm trying to decipher what you've written here... You saw some sort of whitish growth on your star? It might have been part of this animal...> My star fish is doing fine I think, however one day a growth was on it back so I remove it, it was like hanging and hard so I removed it. Now there a half inch growth yellowish, red around some side. <Huh?> The growth is lodge in between the peck <?> around the center of the back of the star fish. The same place where the worm went inside. <Likely more of the star...> As I look to the side it look like eggs and than when I look down on it could be pus. What should I do? <Read, understand, act...> I do not have another tank to put the star fish in <This would be best... to move it to (hopefully) better conditions... but it is likely doomed> and I'm worried about the other fishes <Say what?> in the tank. Two clowns, and one shrimp. The star fish color is fine, she not slimmie, she move around the tank, she eats, <Sounds like a new wave-oh music refrain> This growth was not on her two days ago, now it big and look like it what to pop. I've being going thought this with her for about two and a half week now. Since the worm went inside her, I though I killed the worm when I pulled it off. Does anyone know what I should do. Sheila Reed <Read, and quick; here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Help. sick chocolate chip starfish. Using WWM    6/13/07 Hello. I've had my CCS for a little over than a month, and he has always been good. But the past week for some reason the nitrates in the tank have gone up to around 20ppm. <See WWM re...> I've done many water changes, god rid of all the algae on the side of the glass, and off the sand on the bottom, and still the nitrate is high. i <I> have one damsel also and he doesn't bother the starfish at all. Today i noticed that near the stomach of the star fish, that his skin was falling off, and i could see these white bump like things, where the skin no longer was. and the little tentacles around that area were dead like. ive looked all around the website and i cannot figure out what is wrong. please help! Olivia T <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm The linked files above. BobF>

Another "Good ol" Linckia question ... health, comp.  11/21/06 Hi Bob, Hope you don't mind being emailed directly, but I'm a bit desperate (and I do realize you must get a LOT of mail) <Mmm, some, some days> I have been reading your pages for years now, but have never actually asked a question before ( your FAQs are so comprehensive, I've always found what I'm looking for, thanks for the years of valuable passive assistance). However, I'm stuck this time and hope you can help. My Blue Linckia (WAIT!! ....please keep reading) <Heeeeee!> who I have had happy and healthy for about 2 and a half years now in a  FOWLR 90 litre tank lost a leg last week after I added a Valentini Puffer,  a Dragon Wrasse , and a turbo snail  (yeah, I know.. I  bought the Wrasse on a whim , with no research, just advice of LFS, stupid!), <A Novaculichthys will get too large for this volume... the Toby and it will easily pick the Linckia to bits...> a Domino also died with in  2 days, with a very minor abrasion on one side. The leg was quite mangled and half of it was in the bottom of the tank ( I suspect the puffer , but can't prove anything),  I removed him and cleaned the leg up to a tidier cut just at the disc with a scalpel hoping he would grow it back, then put him back in. Then I noticed the puffer having a go at the "Manky bit" and don't know if it's because it is a tempting wound now , or if she was responsible in the first place. <Too likely this latter> So I upended a small 5 litre tank inside the main tank and put him in there with some live rock, because I was afraid she would not let him regenerate. <Not at all probable to happen...> He wandered around inside the little tank for about a week looking pretty good , but this morning I found him curled up and flaccid on the bottom, and another leg seems to be exuding the same white fibrous material from a new small wound that  the original damaged leg had coming out of it, and the damaged limb is showing no sign of repairing itself, he looks in bad shape, staying rigid with few "feet" coming out or moving around, can't even feed him because he won't relax over the food , which disappears immediately to a fish . I was afraid he was starving in his small enclosure, so I have put him back in the main tank to "take his chances" with the puffer What should l I do, please help. can't bear to lose him? <... another tank...> My tank is something of a miracle anyway , since it has no skimmer , is only 90 litres with a basic trickle filter, but he has been so healthy for so many years , he obviously finds it ok, <Yes... much preferred to a too-sterile typical reef setting for this Asteroid> as does my clown . Pseudochromis bicolor and other anemones etc. <Other anemones?> The ammonia and nitrites are still nonexistent , PH is fine and so is salinity , only the temperature is varying by about 2 degrees daily at the moment as we are having a very hot spell ( any tips for cooling a tank?) <Posted on WWM> Thanks for the help in advance Cheers, Rama <This Linckia is very likely a goner... your "luck" with this sort of mixing is nearing an end. Bob Fenner>

Night Abductions... Sick red African Star, also dwarf lionfish   Scotter's go   7/27/06 Hello Bob, <Scott F. in for Bob tonight> I love your book and your wonderful website.  You guys are keeping my fish alive! <Well, YOU are doing the hard part- we're just along for the ride!> Here are a few questions for you'¦ <Okay..> I have a two months old (relatively new) 55G reef setup and green and brown algae are starting to form.  So I ran out and got a sea star to clean the tank.  It turned out to be an (Protoreastor lincki) African or Horned Sea Star, which I don't know if it is reef safe. <Not really, IMO.. They can eat all sorts of sessile inverts.> I guess I may not have gone though the acclimation procedures long enough (30 min) when I put him in the tank.  A few minutes after it went in, clear, slimy strings start to floats around it.  The body goes from being totally smooth to slight sandpapery in texture.  Although he changes shaped a little bit, he hasn't moved since I  put him in the tank last night.  I also tested the water in the bag after the fact, and it is at SG .018 and my tank water is at .023.  Is it too drastic of a change for him?  Although it is not moving, I can still see some wiggling tube feet coming out at the bottom of the star.  Is he going  to make it? <Potentially problematic...The environmental change may have been too drastic. This could be a response to extreme stress by the animal. Keeping environmental parameters stable is the best you can do right now.> My existing serpent star is doing great!  Which sea star is right for cleaning algae in a reef tank? <I'd rely on snails for that job, myself.> Secondly, I have a 5' dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish (my sea puppy) which I just love. <Very endearing fish!> He is well fed (he eats anything I put in front of him) and doing very well except for a slightly clouded eye on one side.  He never hides, always out in the open (day and night) playing power head surfing by zooming across  the tank.  Here is the problem; some of my other fish (over half its size) are disappearing one after another overnight.  Two Maroon Clowns and three Damsels, along with a 3' Royal Gramma.  There is no evidence that they ever get sick and died and turned into hermit crab's lunch.  Yet, I can't be sure (and refuse to believe) that my cute little Lionfish could have eaten all these good sized fish.  I have found nothing on the floor.  Power head and filters are free of fish filets.  Are we looking at a possible case of UFO fish abductions? <Before you call out Moulder and Skulley, I'd think that it is possible for this Lionfish to do some chomping on fishes that are a good percentage of his own size! You might also be looking at a Mantis Shrimp, crab, or other predatory live rock hitchhiker that comes out at night. Perhaps checking out the tank in the middle of the night could yield some evidence.> Thanks for your help! -Hosh <The truth is out there, Hosh...Keep searching! Regards, Scott F.>
Sick red African Star, also dwarf lionfish tankmate meals   RMF's go   7/27/06
Hello Bob, <Hosh> I love your book and your wonderful website.  You guys are keeping my fish alive! <Actually you are... am glad we can/help you> Here are a few questions for you'¦ I have a two months old (relatively new) 55G reef setup and green and brown algae are starting to form.  So I ran out and got a sea star to clean the tank.   <Mmm... Asteroids are not really "algae eaters"> It turned out to be an (Protoreastor lincki) African or Horned Sea Star, which I don't know if it is reef safe.   <... Is not... and inappropriate for this sized system> I guess I may not have gone though the acclimation procedures long enough (30 min) when I put him in the tank.  A few minutes after it went in, clear, slimy strings start to floats around it.  The body goes from being totally smooth to slight sandpapery in texture.  Although he changes shaped a little bit, he hasn't moved since I put him in the tank last night. <Echinoderms don't "like" chemical, physical changes in their world>   I also tested the water in the bag after the fact, and it is at SG .018 and my tank water is at .023. <Yeeikes>   Is it too drastic of a change for him? <Oh, yes> Although it is not moving, I can still see some wiggling tube feet coming out at the bottom of the star.  Is he going to make it?   <Doubtful for long here> My existing serpent star is doing great!  Which sea star is right for cleaning algae in a reef tank? <None> Secondly, I have a 5' dwarf fuzzy lionfish (my sea puppy) which I just love.   He is well fed (he eats anything I put in front of him) and doing very well except for a slightly clouded eye on one side.  He never hides, always out in the open (day and night) playing power head surfing by zooming across the tank.  Here is the problem; some of my other fish (over half its size) are disappearing one after another overnight. <Inhaled likely by this Lion> Two maroon clowns and three damsels, along with a 3' royal Gramma.  There is no evident that they ever get sick and died and turned into hermit crabs lunch.  Yet, I can't be sure (and refuse to believe) that my cute little lionfish could have eaten all these good sized fish. <Did do so most likely> I have found nothing on the floor.  Power head and filters are free of fish filets.  Are we looking at a possible case of UFO fish abductions? <Heeee! Just bigger, faster tankmates. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your help!

Sea-Star DBL trouble ... AdamJ's go   7/4/06 Greetings from Minnesota! <Greeting from Sunny-So-Cal.>   I have some questions I am sure you can answer. <I will do my best.> I have recently acquired a Double Sea Star (Iconaster longimanus). <A tough specimen.> My mother bought it for me because she felt my tank needed a Sea Star, Mothers : ). <Unfortunately I have received livestock as gifts too, including a surgeon of the Acanthurus genus, eek!>   If it was left up to me I probably would not have purchased this particular sea star for myself. <Agreed.> > the research that I have done I gathered that this sea star does not have a good reputation for staying alive in captivity. <Due to poor collection, shipping and holding mostly. The animal is often doomed before it ever reaches the hobbyist.> I used the drip method of acclimation over a period of about 2 hours. <I prefer even longer for such species.>   Once I was sure that the bag specific gravity matched my tank specific gravity, I let the bag float for 15 minutes to make sure the temperatures were equal.  After this was done I released it into the tank.  It was on the bottom and moved to the glass where it crawled around a bit.  The next day I noticed that he had not moved more than a couple of inches from where he was the night before.  Over the last couple of days it has not moved more than a couple inches per day.  Is this normal behavior? <No, the sluggish behavior is tale-tale of a "problem" with this species. Usually indicates starvation, poor water quality or as I said above a problem with collection, transport acclimation…..etc. .>   Could this be due to that fact that it is hungry, <Possibly.> light sensitive, <Doubt that is the problem.> or has experienced an acclimation problem? <Not-uncommon.> I would like to feed it, and the only method of feeding that I can find is to place some food stuffs in the sand and place the sea star over it.  The only problem is it has been on the glass for days, and I don't want to remove it for fear that I might rip off his tube feet. <If done VERY slowly this should not be a problem, however I would not move it just yet, if the Seastar is in fact in search of food, the addition ) smell alone) of such should encourage the animal to move.> Is my sea star doomed, or does he have a chance at survival? <There's always a chance, how large that chance is……..is the question.>   Here's my tank info... 1 yellow tang (will eventually end up in my 75g) <That is better.> 1 Three striped damsel 1 green clown goby 1 clarkii clown 2 blue legged reef hermits 1 emerald crab 1 porcelain crab Many Zoanthids, and polyps 3 stalks of pulsing xenia A couple mushrooms Candy cane coral Moon Favia Star polyps Nitrates - 0 or undetectable Nitrites - 0 Ammonia - 0 SG - 1.026 Tank is 40 gallons (eventually the sea star would go to my 75g, I know 40 is too small) <Good move, all sounds like you are doing your bets only time will tell if the star will pull through or not, Adam J.>
Double Sea Star (Iconaster longimanus) health mainly. Bob's go   7/4/06
Greetings from Minnesota!  I have some questions I am sure you can answer. I have recently acquired a Double Sea Star (Iconaster longimanus).  My mother bought it for me because she felt my tank needed a Sea Star, Mothers : ). <Where would we be w/o them? Uhh... not here> If it was left up to me I probably would not have purchased this particular sea star for myself.  From the research that I have done I gathered that this sea star does not have a good reputation for staying alive in captivity. <Mmm, "about medium" in hardiness for asteroids... which is not good> I used the drip method of acclimation over a period of about 2 hours. <Better to measure the animals source water quality, try to match it in an intermediate observation/quarantine setting...> Once I was sure that the bag specific gravity matched my tank specific gravity, I let the bag float for 15 minutes to make sure the temperatures were equal.  After this was done I released it into the tank.  It was on the bottom and moved to the glass where it crawled around a bit.  The next day I noticed that he had not moved more than a couple of inches from where he was the night before.  Over the last couple of days it has not moved more than a couple inches per day.  Is this normal behavior? <Mmm, no> Could this be due to that fact that it is hungry, light sensitive, or has experienced an acclimation problem? <Perhaps best titled/labeled: "cumulative stress"... from collection, handling/shipping...> I would like to feed it, and the only method of feeding that I can find is to place some food stuffs in the sand and place the sea star over it.  The only problem is it has been on the glass for days, and I don't want to remove it for fear that I might rip off his tube feet.  Is my sea star doomed, or does he have a chance at survival? <Some... not much>   Here's my tank info... 1 yellow tang (will eventually end up in my 75g) 1 Three striped damsel 1 green clown goby 1 clarkii clown 2 blue legged reef hermits 1 emerald crab 1 porcelain crab <Watch these crabs here...> Many Zoanthids, and polyps 3 stalks of pulsing xenia A couple mushrooms Candy cane coral Moon Favia Star polyps Nitrates - 0 or undetectable Nitrites - 0 Ammonia - 0 SG - 1.026 Tank is 40 gallons <Too small...> (eventually the sea star would go to my 75g, I know 40 is too small) <Good luck, life... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Sea Star ... health   7/3/06 Dear Bob, <Denis> I've had a couple of Chocolate Chip Sea Stars for over 8 months; they were doing fine until a 20% water change earlier this spring. <Yes... sometimes it takes very little to "off set", "push over the edge" these stars> They never seemed to have any issues with water changes before, but this time the larger one stopped eating a day after the water change. He also only moved at the bottom of the tank where he normally was always at the top of the tank. He also held up the tips of his feet up most of the time. <Good observations, bad signs> If I put food on the bottom of the tank, he would run away and then stop. I moved him to a quarantine tank where he just moved slowly walking over fresh food at the bottom for about three weeks before he started falling apart and died. <Mmm, not atypical> Changing 20% of the water in the main tank the other day resulted in the other CCS to start the same behavior. He no longer climbs the glass, but he is still eating. I would like to save this one. I have read a lot of article and FAQ on your WWM site, I see that a broad-spectrum antibiotic or fungicide might save him, but I cannot find any references to a particular brand or type of antibiotic/fungicide. Can you advise me on an antibiotic/fungicide to save my CCS that has had good results? <Mmm, perhaps Kanamycin, but most any broad-spectrum, gram-negative type is worth trying... NOT in your main/display system... and I must admit (if not done emphatically enough previously) that the chances of "success" (i.e. recovery) are dismally small. Bob Fenner> Thanks in Advance   Denis

Orange Knob Starfish w/ Mass   7/2/06 Good Morning!    <Thus far...>    After an hour or two of looking on your starfish FAQ's I am still not able to locate a similar situation to what is going on with my Orange knob starfish. He is a pretty active little guy whom I've had for about five months. I have a 92 gallon corner tank, water quality is all in acceptable range, ammonia-0 nitrites-0 nitrates >10 pH-8.3 salinity 1.021 <Mmm, I'd raise this...> and temp around 80. Protein Skimmer, 8-watt UV sterilizer, and 20 gallon sump are all running in great condition. His tank mates are a large Volitans lion, and a rather docile lyretail grouper( I know, bad companion) <Not IMO/E... gorgeous, intelligent... not mean. Just gets too big> but he moves freely around the tank without any aggression from the grouper. Just last night, the star had a large swollen mass directly in his center. I flipped him over to look for deterioration but nothing was there, he is not secreting anything, no color change or whitening of the limbs is noted, and he is moving along business as usual. This morning it is still there but he still looks fine and is acting normal, and the mass is the same size. What the heck could this thing be? <Mmm, a reproductive event, stored food from a large feeding, evidence of some sort of pathology> If you need more information to thoroughly answer this question just let me know.       As always, Thank you for your knowledgeable assistance      -Heather <I would slowly (through water changes) increase your specific gravity (to about 1.025), perhaps administer an iodine/ide solution during your weekly water changes... Bob Fenner>

Trouble with my CCS  - 04/05/2006 I have a 55gal tank and the water is perfect {with small exception on low magnesium, which is being treated}. I've had the tank for over a year now. In the tank I have a damsel, clown and strawberry Pseudochromid along with 7 blue leg hermit crabs {small} and about 20lbs of live rock with a few coral frags. I've had the ccs for about 6 mo.s now and just recently {within the past 2 days} I've noticed that 1 of the arms was breaking off as if it were separating from the rest of the body. <Ooops> I can see the insides of the ccs. He hasn't been on the glass for about 2 weeks. And wen he would fall he wouldn't move for hours. But the odd thing is that when I placed him on some of the live rock he moved around. And he would only eat brine ship by hand. All of his arms are tight and closed now, w/ and exception to 1. One arm is open and its suction cups are looking well. This morning I noticed that another arm is beginning to fall off. He is very flexible. I know that its probably too late to save him, but do you have an idea as to what may have caused this? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm The linked files on Systems, Compatibility, Feeding... Bob Fenner>

Starfish/Disease   3/25/06 Hi, <Hello.> I have read all of the FAQ's about the health of the chocolate chip star, but I didn't see one of the problems I'm having with mine. I have a 60gal. tank that's been set up for 6 weeks now. The pet store I've been getting most of my fish from have not been giving me enough/accurate information on anything. About 3 weeks into the cycle, We purchased what they said was a red ccs (he is white with red markings and chocolate chips). I have had him for about 3 weeks now, and up to 2 days ago he was acting perfectly fine. He's been eating shrimp pellets and frozen fish daily, and even comes to the top of the tank for us to hand feed him. He has now been at the bottom of the tank for the past 2 days in the same spot. The hairs on his back and arms are reaching out a lot more than normal, he won't eat, and it looks like several of his little suction cup feet are swollen and do not move. It looks like he cannot move his little feet enough to walk at all. His arms move fine though, sometimes his toes will curl up for a short period of time. When I gently rubbed one of his swollen suction cups, it came right off. He also gets really puffed up like a balloon (at first I thought he could have been digesting the big piece of fish he was fed 2 days ago). I didn't want to do a water change half way into the cycle of the tank, so I just cleaned it for the first time today. I tested the water, and everything is fine except the nitrites are 0.5ppm. The temperature of my tank is 80, and the SG level is between 1.022 and 1.023. My ccs was acting fine until I had to treat the tank for Ich. I used "Ich-Attack" because I was told it wouldn't harm my invertebrates. All of my other fish and invertebrates are fine. <Shouldn't treat tanks with sensitive inverts such as starfish.   They do react negatively to water parameter changes, and, especially being put in a tank that is not quite cycled.  Do consider quarantining your fish for three weeks prior to putting them in your display tank.  Problems such as these can be avoided by doing so.>  I was told by someone to turn off my protein skimmer while treating the tank, as well as take the carbon out of my canister filter via the directions on the bottle. The star isn't deteriorating, there are no sores on him, and his color is fine. I turned my protein skimmer back on yesterday to help remove the nitrites, <Skimmers will not remove nitrites.> but have not put the carbon back in. Is there anything I could do to help my star? I would really hate to lose such a beautiful starfish. Could the medication be what's affecting him? <Certainly didn't help matters any.  Do search our site on starfish, especially the FAQ's, and while you are at it, search quarantine and read as well. I suggest you do a 50% water change, it may improve the health of the starfish. Sorry for such a long post.  <Do search/read about animals you may intend to buy and learn their needs/requirements for maintaining.  James (Salty Dog)>

And another star down, and another star down. another one bites the substrate    1/25/06 Bob, I just noticed that my orange knobby starfish has white stuff coming out of him. I have read on your website  that a lot of people are having this same problem and to my dismay, I think my starfish is dying. He has curled and twisted his leg on top of him. This is the same leg that has the white stuff coming off of it. I have two seahorses in this tank. what should I do? <...?> Is there anyway I can save my starfish? Is there anything that could happen to my seahorses because of my starfish? <They might be mal-affected by the decomposition> please please please help me!!! I don't know what to do and it is too late for any store to be open to call. Hopefully you can email me back tonight, if not Ill call stores tomorrow, but please still leave your thoughts. Thank you,   Lacey <I would remove this star if you have another tank... Bob Fenner>
Re: And another star down, and another star down. another one bites the substrate   1/26/06
I don't have another tank, but someone told me to cut off his rotting arm. <... no> Now he seems to have lots of little white dots at the tip of his thorns. is he unsavable? <Highly unlikely> the man the store I bought him at said that if I cut off the left that was rotting, then he might grow it back and be fine. <... dismal> is this not true? <Not true> he also told me that he would not effect the seahorses in the tank, but my neighbor told me that it might. I don't know what to do :(     Lacey <Think... for yourself... after researching, seeking facts, experiences of others. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Star Trouble Again 01/19/06 I currently own a 55 gallon tank and I have a chocolate chip star. Lately it has been getting some white spot on its body (sort of like its losing its color). What should I do?<<Long term prognosis is not good. Please read the FAQs on Chocolate Stars at this link ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipfaqs.htm). Hospitalization (which means remove him to another tank to treat) may be required. Search for Spectrogram as well.>> Josh <<Good luck - Ted>>

Orange Linckia Treatment   1/11/06     We purchased an Orange Linckia (it may be a Tamaria stria but appears to be reef safe)  through mail order almost a week ago.  Acclimated with a drip for 10 hours (water from shipping was .3 lower than quarantine with lower PH).  He looked good, but had a tiny white patch under the tip of a leg (bad I know).  The leg appears to be dissolving very slowly, white part is coming out and some of the orange tissue has peeled.  He is moving around slowly at night and sometimes attaches to rocks.  I added a UV to the quarantine (pretty stable QT with refugium - Temp 78, SPG 1.25, PH 8.3, Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate 0).  His leg seems to be getting slowly worse.  A few amphipods have also been roaming over him since the leg worsened (not swarms, but a few). <Doug, the Linckia will sometimes harbor a parasite (Theca crystallina), a cap shaped snail that adheres to the arms and literally sucks out fluids and tissue.  If you see something like this remove it.  Do not take the star out of the water in doing so.  Other problem may be necrosis of the legs.  Although you have acclimated this star correctly, God only knows how it was handled during collecting and shipping.  This is a bacterial infection and If you decide to treat be sure any medication you use is safe for invertebrates.   Most of the time the treatment doesn't help too much.>   I've been reading on your site that you sometimes recommend Nitrofurazone (25 mg per gallon), or possibly other antibiotics.  I have a clam, frags and new snails in the QT so I would have to move him to treat or "dip" with antibiotics (but I have another small tank and could transfer some water).  Any recommendation on treatment or should I just continue to watch him?  <I'd first look for the parasitic snail first.  If none present the choice is yours to treat or not.  May be better to observe a while and if it worsens, consider treatment.> Thanks, <You're welcome>  James (Salty Dog)>   Doug
Re: Orange Linckia Treatment   1/13/06
Hi again,   I checked for snails with a magnifying glass and there are none.  It has gotten worse (spreading to another leg with many white "globs" coming out).  He is still moving a little and raising his good arms (trying to eat I suppose).  Truly sad, I won't buy another Linckia as I now realize that contributing to the collection practices is wrong.   I am sure this is from acclimation (I think - before I got him,<I'm sure.> because I did everything I knew how to do).  Is there any antibiotic you would recommend trying?  I hate to put him through anything else - but he is moving toward a slow death now.  I even saw some reference on your site to cutting off the legs with necrosis - but I am not sure about that at all (can't quite imagine it but if recommended with some antibiotic treatment I would try). <I wouldn't cut any legs off, in closed systems they just don't grow back as well as they do in nature.  If it were me I'd probably start treating in a QT with Maracyn (saltwater).  The erythromycin it contains should produce some results.  James (Salty Dog)>  Thanks! (You're welcome>
Re: Orange Linckia Treatment   1/13/06
Thank you!  Should I just follow the instructions as they are for fish? <Yes> I will be moving him to a new QT (10 or 20 gallon) since there is a clam in this one and live rock, etc.  Also, how long should I treat with the antibiotic <Follow manufacturers instructions>(since I presume... possibly incorrectly, that I shouldn't put live rock in with the antibiotic).<You should never treat anything that doesn't need treatment including live rock.  You will have to provide food for the starfish while in quarantine.  James (Salty Dog)>

Sick Knobby Starfish? 7/30/05 Okay, shoot me if this has been answered before, but I'm really   worried.... we recently acquired a 55 gallon salt water tank and some   of the fish that came with it.  After setting it up, and acclimating   the live stock, all seemed to do very well, except our red knobby   starfish. <A not easily kept species> The first couple of days, the starfish was really active   and seemed to be doing well.  Feeding the starfish twice weekly a   diet of krill for the past week and a half, he seems to have taken a   turn for the worse.  He now seems to be lethargic and keeps to   himself at the top of the tank, rarely moving.  His legs/tubes aren't   as active as when we first acclimated him into the tank.  He now   seems to have a web like substance on him and in the tank.  Is this a   disease?  How do I treat it?  Is it stress related?  How do I treat   that?  Is it a loss cause? <Mmm, a type of environmental disease, no treatment per se, yes to being stress-related, better environment to "treat", likely dead or will be soon> Is it a sign of trouble for the rest of   the tank even though the other fish are doing well and active as   ever?  Nitrates, Ammonia, etc all test perfect.  HELP! <Help yourself... read... starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and on to the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Knobby Starfish? 7/31/05
> <A not easily kept species> Tell me about it.  Complete different   > story than I received from a reputable aquarium store in town.    > Today he moved from the bottom to the top of the tank, but now the   > "knobs" seem to be dissolving and falling off of him.  I've   > searched your site for answers on this?  Point me to the right   > direction? <Uhh, same... please look... don't write. Bob Fenner>

Question about starfish vs. hermit crab Bob, I have searched your site and have not found exactly the answers I need, so thus the need to bother you again with another email. First, thanks to your advice and site........ my second try at a FOWLR tank is doing wonderful except for my chocolate chip starfish. <Sigh... very often a problematical aquarium species> I noticed a couple of weeks ago one arm looked a bit "ragged" as if someone had bit him. I watched carefully and did not notice anyone picking on him and he was still eating well and moving around like normal. Then tonight I saw Crabby, our red-legged hermit crab, reach out and take a pinch out of our starfish. Chip moved up and out of the way quickly, but now he has two small ragged areas from his assault from Crabby. These are not big spots, but from what I have read on your site star fish can develop infections easily once they are injured. <Yes, this is so> So here are the questions..........can these two learn to live together. <Not likely> I really count on Crabby for cleaning purposes. Anything smaller and our Hawkfish devours it, is he hungry or just curious? <Perhaps a bit of both> Is there anything extra I can do for our star-fish to prevent infection besides keeping the water at pristine levels? <More live rock, hiding places... put it in a sump, other system> How will I know if it gets infected? What signs should I be looking for? <Very likely it will just be dead, but sometimes, with close observation, one can see vacuolations (missing, dimpled areas), fungal/bacterial growth markings, slowing-down, cessation of movement... Bob Fenner> Thanks for you help Shannon

Sore on Chocolate Chip Star (5/15/05) Hey crew, quick question. My CC star looks like it has a sore on one of its limbs. It looks like skin is missing b/c it is white where the sore is, almost like bone.  <Yes, the non-bony interior of stars is whitish-brown/gray. Of course, echinoderms have no bone.>  What could be causing the problem and are there any ways I can get heal it?  <Do you have any nippers in there? One suspicion is a bite from something. Another possibility is an infection or some deterioration in water quality. Stars need very stable pH, SG, and temp. Ammonia and nitrite at any level can be a problem and excessive nitrates are also a no-no. I'd check all of these.  If you have a fish nipping at it, one or the other has to go. If not, the best treatment is to maintain pristine and stable water conditions and hope for the best. Your water change regimen requires that you carefully match the pH, SG and temp of the change water to the tank to avoid harm to this and any other sensitive inverts.>  I have a 29 G tank and I am doing 25% water changes weekly. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks again and as always good luck with your fish and endeavors. Aaron  <You're welcome and thanks to you too, Steve Allen.> 

Cobwebbed Chocolate Chip >Hello, I have never submitted a question before; just read everyone else's, but now I have one myself.  >>Hello, Marina today. >I have a 55 gal. system that has been running for 2 years. It is incredibly stable and only houses a bicolor blenny and a yellow tang. Both fish have been in this set-up for 1.5 years.  I am conservative when it comes to my tank and that is why I have only had the blenny and the tang for so long.  >>I am going to assume that you are aware that eventually the tang will outgrow this tank. >However, the other night, I decided it was time to add some life. I went to the fish store and bought a chocolate chip star and some more snails and hermit crabs to add to my cleaning crew.  The star looks great. In fact, I added him to my tank and he has been quite active since then. He seems to prefer staying attached to the glass, but moves all over the place. (I will add that I only have owned him for about 24 hrs).  My point of concern is this: the star seems to have what I can only describe as a "cobweb" coming off of him. I touched some of this substance and it disintegrates upon touch. It looks like bubbles held together by a thin strand. The star has some of this hanging on to one of his legs and whenever he moves to a different spot on the glass, you can see the outline of his body on the glass made from this substance.  >>Sounds like a sloughing of sorts, may be caused by poor or inadequate acclimation. Invertebrates in general are sensitive to pH and salinity changes, starfishes tend to be even more so. >I did a search on this topic on the chat forum on wet web and found other people having similar issues, but no one had responded with an explanation. I am not sure whether I need to worry or not since the star seems to be doing fine.  >>I would watch very closely, and have a quarantine/hospital on hand (really should have q/t'd this animal in the first place, but what is done is done), as well as Spectrogram. You MUST ensure that all parameters are MATCHED (not "matched closely"). >When I finally released him after acclimatizing him last night, he moved rather quickly along the floor of the aquarium. As I mentioned before, he has been actively moving all over the glass in my aquarium. One further question, assuming everything could be ok with my new inhabitant and he continues to stay on the glass, what is the best way to feed him? I have read that if the star is laying on the substrate that you can lift it, lay the food down, and then place the star on top, but what about if the star prefers the glass?  >>Cripes, I wonder how the folks who wrote such things think starfishes eat in the wild? Just put the food down near the animal, and if the fishes go to eat it, give a little more. >The reason I ask is because he seemed to favor the glass at the fish store as well. Please let me know what you think. I have been skittish about adding anything to my living room ocean since everyone has done so well and I don't want to upset the balance now! >>I wouldn't want to, either.  PART TWO: >I wanted to follow up with what I observed on my chocolate chip starfish this morning. The star has continued to be very active. We fed him last night and he responded very nicely to the food; consuming it all. He continued his travel on the glass through the night and was in a new spot this morning.  >>Typical. >I noticed that he has 2 "chips" that are falling off and now I am incredibly concerned.  >>Good reason to be concerned. This is a bad sign, and it's time to work proactively. Get him out, into hospital, and start with PERFECT water quality and that Spectrogram I just mentioned. >I mentioned in my last email about the "cobweb" like material that he leaves on the glass and that also clings to his body. I'm not sure what do at this point. I've only owned this guy for a day and a half, but I don't want further issues. While I am encouraged by his moving about and acceptance of food, I wonder how "well" he may be. Thank you so much, Katie >>Katie, for a single starfish, even a bucket with a heater will do. Get him out of the tank and into hospital. The Spectrogram is the only/best means of treatment I know, and I've seen it used with amazing success with other starfishes (mostly Fromia spp.). Marina 
Cobwebbed Chocolate Chip Coming Back?
>Marina, I think my chocolate chip star is improving.  >>Katie, that can only be good, yeah? >I did not remove him from the tank yet.  >>Alright, but do have the hospital bucket on the ready, most importantly have the antibiotic on hand. >I just can't help but feel leery about that.  >>No worries. >When I checked him today, I noticed he had continued his trek through the aquarium and the places where the "chips" have fallen off seem to be closing up.  >>And THAT, my friend, is what you want to see! >I want to give him until Sunday (my next day off) to decide what to do with him.  >>The don't "work" on our schedules, watch for further disintegration. If you see more, if you intend to keep this animal long-term, no dilly-dallying around, MOVE, and move immediately. Have everything at the ready. >I have been unable to find Spectrogram in any of the local stores so I hope he'll continue to improve.  >>Me, too. You may have to buy online (ask them to start carrying it, it's good schtuff!). >He doesn't look too bad and I don't see anymore "cobwebs" hanging on him either. I think I will try to feed him tonight and see how he responds to that. It seems to me that if he continues to move around the tank and eats that that could be a positive sign.  >>Mm... could be, but in my experience they may continue to move and consume, all the while dying. If they continue to disintegrate and it hits the central disc then it's a lost cause. I strongly advise NOT waiting until it gets that far. >I did call the place that I bought him from and they admitted that he hadn't been fed very much while in the store. Cross your fingers for me. I've read that they are fairly resilient so hopefully this guy will be ok. If he doesn't seem better by Sunday, I'll put him in the bucket and take him back to the store. They said they'd be willing to take him back.  >>Alright, no worries there. What's actually MOST important here is water quality, and NO shock via pH or salinity changes - I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. >Thanks again, Katie >>You're welcome, and I've got my fingers crossed for you (but not while typing.. tried it, doesn't work). Marina 

Chocolate Chip Star Problems (11/3/04) Hi, my name is Cathy, and I recently got a chocolate chip star. I have had it for about two weeks, and it looked great when I bought it. But now, its skin is not as hard as it was, and when it is on the glass, it looks like the top legs are too thin, and the bottom ones are too fat. Like it is sagging. It also curls its legs upwards when it is sitting on the bottom of the tank. Now I have noticed that one of its chips has broken off. What could be causing all of these problems? <Hello Cathy, Steve Allen tonight. Did you acclimate the star slowly over a couple of hours? Are your salinity, temp and pH stable at normal seawater values? Stars are very sensitive to fluctuations. They are also sensitive to ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. That said, the loss of one "chip" may not be a problem. Anything in your tank that might have bitten it off? Their skin is not always hard, though will firm up as a reaction to being touched much. It may feel a little soft when first touched. The tube feet that are higher on the glass sometimes stretch out and the lower ones may be shorter and fatter. I have seen this with my own and suspect it is related to gravity-induced sag. Curling the leg tips up is also common. Thus, nothing at all may be amiss if it is moving and eating normally. Does it react to food and eat? The key here is to maintain stable and optimal water conditions. Do feel free to write back with more details. Hope this helps.>
Starfish Death (11/8/04)
well, my starfish died yesterday. <Sorry to hear.> It looked like it just broke apart... if that makes any sense. <Yes, disintegrated.> and white stringy substance started coming out of it. <Guts> It was hard to watch, but it seemed like there was nothing I could do to help it. <Very difficult to treat echinoderm diseases.> all I have in that tank are a blue damsel, a yellow tailed blue damsel, and I had a Percula clown, but it died the same day the star died. Could these be connected? <Possibly. Do check ammonia, nitrites, nitrates. Strive to maintain optimum conditions. Steve Allen.>

Linckia Problems (10/21/04) Hi. <Sorry for the late reply. Just got back after a week away from WWM and found this in my inbox. Perhaps someone else replied earlier. BTW, please capitalize "I" and punctuate in the future--it makes it much easier to read and respond to a query.> I have just started a tank about 2 months ago <better to wait several months to add most stars> and I just got a starfish and it isn't doing so well...it is a blue 5 legged star <Linckia laevigata, notoriously un-hardy. The vast majority die within days or weeks of purchase. In fact, most are already dying from poor handling by the time they get to a dealer.> and I think he is actually eating himself. <More likely disintegrating. I can't see how one would eat itself.> I just got him less than a week ago and I think it may have been damaged when the woman at the store removed it from the coral it was attached to because some intestine looking piece fell off his stomach. <Already dying there as noted above.> The starfish used to be very active around the tank but is not anymore and I am pretty sure he is picking at his own tentacle..<tentacle? Starfish do not have these. They have arms and tube feet. Not tentacles.> My fish recently got the Ich and I have been treating them outside <very smart> of the tank so as to not harm the starfish or my other invertebrates but I still don't know what is wrong with my poor guy. Any suggestions as to why he would be eating himself or acting like he is dying? thanks so much, Charlene <Sorry to say, your star is dying and there is little if anything you can do to save it. I'd guess it's already dead. If still alive, you could put it in a hospital tank and treat with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. How did you acclimate this star to your tank? How did the store acclimate it to theirs? It requires slow-drip acclimation over a couple of hours because these animals are very sensitive to changes in salinity and pH. If you want a star in the future, I would recommend the much hardier Fromia species. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Chocolate Chips and Lionfishes Hi all!!! <Hi, MikeD here> I believe, sadly, that my Chocolate Chip Starfish is dying. He seems to be melting away (one limb gone and seems to be spreading). The arm was white 2 days ago, I found him "stuck" to my powerhead and removed him.<It's being stuck is due to it's weakened condition as a normal chocolate chip starfish has plenty of strength to walk away, even one that was injured.> I checked your great site and learned that the white might possibly be caused by stress. He also looked quite shriveled that day, but became very active once removed from the powerhead...I assumed that stress was the cause.<Stress may have been a contributing factor, but it sounds like your animal may be the victim of an active infection that I've seen before in sea stars.  While it's unknown as to whether it's a bacterial or viral infection, it seems to be almost universally fatal and highly contagious to other sea stars as well. The one consolation is that it seems to affect the sea stars only, having no effect upon sea urchins, sea cucumbers or any of the other echinoderms.> The next day, I saw that my fuzzy dwarf lionfish was "aggressively" checking him out.<Any interest by the lionfish was purely in looking to see if there were any small sea creatures actively attacking the infection site, such as small shrimp or isopods which would have been greedily gobbled up.> Are they able to peacefully cohabitate as I was told that they were? <Without question, yes they are.> Alas, my poor Chocolate Chip now looks as if he were dipped in milk, will he eventually die or is there something I can do? He is still active and eating...Please help!!<This is one of those situations where I truly believe that there is nothing that you can do, with the exception of removing the animal in hopes of preventing the spread to other sea stars that you might have.  If you have none, I strongly suggest that you wait a month or two before introducing another, one of the things that makes me suspect a bacteria, virus or even parasitic protozoa that needs sea stars to survive and dies off without their presence..... I've never had a spontaneous reoccurrence of the "disease" once it's run its course and killed all the sea stars in an aquarium. In all instances where I've had this occur, it was shortly after the introduction of a new sea star....it may be possible to bring it in with an introduction of another animal, such as a fish or coral that was kept in an open system at the LFS that contained sea stars, a reason why even invertebrates should be kept in isolation as a preventive measure, but this is pure speculation as, again, any instances I've seen were with the purchase of an infected animal.> Carol

Starfish keeping Hi I have just started a tank about 2 months ago and I just got a starfish and it isn't doing so well...it is a blue 5 legged star and I think he is actually eating himself I just got him less than a week ago and I think it may have been damaged when the woman at the store removed it from the coral it was attached to because some intestine looking piece fell off his stomach. <Uhh...> the starfish used to be very active around the tank but is not anymore and I am pretty sure he is picking at his own tentacle...my fish recently got the Ich and I have been treating them outside of the tank so as to not harm the starfish or my other invertebrates but I still don't know what is wrong with my poor guy. any suggestions as to why he would be eating himself or acting like he is dying? thanks so much, Charlene <Charlene, please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm and on to the linked files (in blue, at top) re starfish selection, systems... Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Problem (8/22/04) I have read through your site on sea stars with special attention to the chocolate chip.  Mine had a little black bump on one of the chips that make up his crown last night.  Today when I got home from work  one of the chips on his leg had a white spot like the tip (of the chip, not the leg) was sliced off, very very small piece.  I touched him, he is still very firm, very active, and as always <Good signs>, wanted to climb on me as soon as I put my hand in the tank.  Background info: 29 gal tank w/ coral substrate, tank up since June 13th, water is very stable ph 8.2, temp 79, s.g. 1.022, Amm 0, No2 0, No3 around 12.  Currently fallow (except for Cookie) to kill velvet outbreak, last fish died 8/1.  <Be patient and wait 8 weeks to add fish again--the prolonged time will reduce the risk of recurrence.> The only change I have made since then is to add a piece of live rock (cured, no change in any tank numbers, checked daily) 4 days ago.  I have started doing weekly water changes of 3 gal. He eats well, 1/4 in piece or shrimp or scallop (defrosted in tank water) every 2 or 3 days.  I want to act fast since he is still firm. Is there anything I can do  to help him (I am scheduled to change 3 gal   water tomorrow) My QT/Hospital tank is just in start up and still hasn't cycled. <It is tough to say what is the cause of this. The white spot seems more concerning than the black bump as it sounds like more of a deterioration. Since you have no fish in there, you should be able to keep excellent and stable water conditions in the main tank. I'd do that and keep an eye on things. If this seems to progress, then I'd move it to the QT and consider antibiotics there. This is about all you can do.> Thanks, Beth <Hope this helps. Keep us posted. Steve Allen.>

Blue Linckia Problems (7/5/04) Hi, <Hi. Steve Allen with you this evening.> First off, I would like to thank everyone from your crew for keeping such a great and informative site available. <Thanks. It's my pleasure to play a small part.> And here to my problem, which I hope you might know how to resolve or identify....I recently bought a blue Linckia starfish at my LFS. It seemed to have acclimated well after introducing it to the tank, moving around, climbing up on rocks and glass. <How long did you acclimate for? A couple of hours I hope. Linckia stars are particularly difficult to acclimate.> However, after a couple of hours....something started to come out of the mouth of the starfish which looked almost like a tapeworm or maybe even its guts. <More likely the latter.> It started with just one worm like thing and ended up with three things hanging out of the mouth, each about 4-5 inches in length. I have attached a picture. <I did not make it.> Ever since these "worm/guts?" have detached from the starfish it moved back to the sand bed and hasn't moved since, not sure if it is dead or dying or else. I have not attempted to move, because I read it is best to leave them alone. I has no sign of discoloration so far. Have you ever seen or heard something like this???? Could this actually be its guts that it is expelling (like sea cucumbers do to get rid of parasites in the digestive system???) or could this even be a tapeworm??? <I am not aware of tapeworms infesting invertebrates. The most common parasite of Seastars are a species of snail. I would fear that this material is part of the starfish and that it is disintegrating. Keep an eye on it and remove it if it stays put and begins to "melt." Do read up on this species. The vast majority do not survive the trip from ocean to tank. Mortality is likely over 90% and most are already dying by the time they are purchased. Fromia are a much better choice, but all echinoderms require slooooow acclimation.> Thanks in advance for any advice <I hope it helps.>

Starfish trouble at School Hello, your site is very informative. <Good to hear. > I am at an elementary school where we have three saltwater tanks set up. <Wow, who paid for that?> One has a large set of live rock and some feather dusters and small fish (I think damsels) and one brittle star.  That tank is doing great.  Another tank has Nemo and Dory <I hope it's a big tank--Dory needs 120 gallons when she grows up.> and some feather dusters and sea anemone and two African starfish. <The red-knobbed kind (Protoreastor lincki)?>  Today one of the starfish turned white and we had to put him in a hospital tank.  He looks gross but not yet dead.  His little bumps turned white and fell off.  He has lived in there for more than two weeks. <Probably not much longer. Will almost certainly die.> This is the second star like that to die.  We have a local company helping us but as I read on your site these seem to be not the best star choices. <True. They eat a lot of things that many aquarists would rather not have eaten, and they get quit big. I have one, but not in your typical reef-type tank.> Could you recommend some hearty happy healthier starfish so that our first graders do not have to keep witnessing their friends dying? <Look to genus Fromia stars. Some are very pretty and they are hardier. You could also consider the sand-sifting star Archaster typicus, but it will spend most of its time buried in the sand. In your situation, I would shun al other Seastars. Don't let anyone try to convince you to try a genus Linckia star--99% chance it will die--most are already dying on arrival. When adding a Fromia, remember that all Seastars require slow, careful acclimation over at least a couple of hours. Do read more on WWM about all stars.>   We are very good with the tanks and the children do not handle them, only very rare petting of them with a teacher holding them and only with washed hands. <Best not to pull the stars out of the water. It can destroy their water-vascular system, which is fatal. At public aquaria that allow petting, they keep the stars immersed in shallow water.> Any suggestions would be appreciated. <There is an excellent chapter on echinoderms in Anthony & Bob's "Reef Invertebrates" book. he best treatment of echinoderms for aquarists is in volume 4 of the Modern Coral Reef Aquarium by Foss?& Nilsen. Also, I put a bunch of URLs in a recent answer to someone else that you can find here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastarfaq5.htm >   We love providing them with the ocean experience since we are in an at risk neighborhood in Las Vegas. <A great way to teach them the wonders of nature and our duty to respect and preserve it.> Katie <Hope this helps. Thank you for your efforts to help and educate the next generation. As a pediatrician, I understand what you are dealing with.>

Chocolate Chips (3/8/04) Hi.  <Howdy. Steve Allen tonight.> I have had a chocolate chip starfish <Protoreastor nodosus> for 2 months. Recently, I have noticed that it's "chips" are turning from brown to almost black and I also noticed that it has a "bubble" on its arm. What is causing his "chips" to turn color and what is the bubble? Please let me know. Thank you.  Cori <Well, darkening of the "chips" is probably not a problem if uniform and if it's eating & acting normally. I can't really say much about the "bubble" without seeing it. Can you send a digital picture? I am concerned that this could be an infection or parasite.>

Keeping Genus Linckia Stars (3/7/04)   Hi Bob! <Steve Allen helping out today.> I'm hoping you can help me with a question on my starfish. After years of freshwater I decided to make my dream come true and start a salt. I've setup a 46 bowfront, 50 pounds. of live rock and sand, with skimmer. It's been setup for almost 3 months with only snails, hermits, a brittle star, a Sally Lightfoot, an Emerald, a Blood shrimp and three recently added soft corals as occupants. <Don't be surprised if one of your crabs eats the shrimp. Also, Emeralds have been known to eat fish.> After reading as much as possible, I've decided to wait for about 5/6 months before adding fish. <That sort of patience certainly give the reward of a much more stable system.> Now for the question/problem.   I'm working with a man from a LFS who also sets up and maintains saltwater systems professionally for restaurants, offices etc. Needless to say I've been placing more trust in him then myself. Even though I read as much as I can so that I have as much knowledge as possible. Three days ago I added an Orange Linckia and Blue Linckia. Nothing I've read has stated that either are particularly hard to maintain. Now after looking at you site I've afraid I was duped :( The man I've been depending on is extremely nice and seems to know what he's doing. Am I wrong? Please help! :) <Genus Linckia is problematic. I killed several myself before giving up. If you get the rare one that is not already dying of the rigors of collection/transport, and if you slowly acclimate it to your tank, and if there's adequate food, they actually do well. If they survive the first month, they'll probably be fine. It is important to keep your water quality optimum and avoid fluctuations in SG and pH because they cannot adjust quickly enough. Very important to do small daily top-offs (evaporation replacement) with RO water so the SG does not bounce up and down. Stars like an SG closer to real seawater than fish need. I'd say about 1.024. pH should be around 8.2 and stable. Consider and electronic monitor--much easier to use than color-change test kits, IMO. If these stars die and you really want something, do consider genus Fromia instead. Hope this helps.>
Linckia Follow-Up (3/7/04)
  Sorry Steve! Didn't know it was you. <Back with you again.> LOL I'm planning on getting a Fromia soon. :) <Good choice> However, now I'm confused Steve. I was expecting you to "yell" at me for making a big mistake on the Linckias. First, THANK YOU for not doing that! LOL But why didn't you? LOL <Because I made that mistake several times in the past myself. Naturally, when you're new at this, you expect that if an LFS is offering something for sale at a relatively low price (generally under $20) it is actually a viable option. Live and learn. It's not the buyers who need to be chastised, it's the dealers.>   My tank's pH, ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels have been great. <zero, zero, and not too much right?> My SG has remained at 1.025 since setup, so I guess I'm doing something right. :) <The mark of a conscientious marine aquarist. :)> I have PC lighting and a Remora hang on skimmer with a filter box which I find has helped with the "scum" floating at the water level. <Yes, and makes the skimmer more efficient.> However, my skimmer stopped working earlier this week. <Hmm> It suddenly started up again although I still checked the pump. Today it seems to be doing the same thing. Could something be going wrong with it? <What pump did you choose? Some are more equal than others. Output can be variable from day to day due to tank conditions. Review the owner's "manual" (one sheet of paper!) for anything you might try. You can always e-mail AquaC and ask them for help. Jason Kim is very customer-friendly and conscientious.>   (You guys are great BTW! SO patient with us newbies!). <Everyone's been a newbie at everything they now do well at. Always worth remembering.> As for the Emerald. Do you think if I return it and get a mated pair of Banded Coral shrimp it would be all right? I've read about the Banded being aggressive at times but would the fact that they were a pair make a difference? <I've never had a problem with mine. A pair would be very nice and they supply plenty of egg & larvae to feed fish. There is some risk to your fire shrimp (Lysmata debelius) with having Stenopus though. Consider adding another fire shrimp instead. As hermaphrodites, they should get along and mate.>   Again, Thanks for all the help! And forgive me if I bug you a lot in the future! I just found your site and am thrilled that I did! I make sure to check through by searching first though, so I don't bother you too much. But sorry, I just know I will!! LOL <No problem. It's good for the mind to try to find the answer oneself first, but we're all happy to help here.>

The Linckias Didn't Make It (3/15/04)   Hey gang! <Steve Allen again tonight>.> Just wanted to give you an update on my Linckias. Just to remind you, I have a 46 gallon bowfront that at the moment has a cleaning crew, (including a bristle star, Emerald crab, Sally Lightfoot, snails, hermits and two Cukes), and some soft coral and a Blood shrimp. Yes, you told me about the risks between the crabs and shrimp. LOL But I also had 2 Linckias. A blue and an Orange. Well both have gone to that big beautiful reef in the sky! :(  <Sorry to hear, but not unexpected as we discussed before.> Unfortunately I was unable to retrieve the orange until it was pretty much "gone". Hadn't seen it for a while but didn't realize it was dead. You know how stars can be! Out in the open some days and hiding the next. <Yep> But I was able to get the Blue out sooner. So obviously I suffered from a Nitrate spike. :( I hope this won't cause too much trouble. The tank's been up for 3 months now and has a lot of purple coralline algae and copepods etc. I did a water change so I would think it would be O.K. What do you think? <Nitrate shouldn't be to much of a problem. Ammonia and nitrite are much worse. A couple of extra water changes should do.>   Question #2-- I'm planning on sticking to Fromias <Better choice & quite attractive> from now on but am interested in a Tiger Star--Ophiolepis superba. What do you think of this star? <Very nice serpent star. I have 4 myself. Easy to find. Very active and hardy if carefully acclimated. Tend to lose a leg (or part of one) here & there, but grow back readily.> Is it reef safe? <Should be. Pretty much sticks to detritus and seldom gets big enough to go after any fish.> Is it hardier? <Yes> Will it be as secretive as my bristle? <IME, serpents are seen a bit more than brittles. Should come out when food hits the water, especially in subdued lighting.>   Also, I have only 24 lbs. of Arago-Live which makes a bed of about 1 inch. I've left the back of the tank without any sand so that I can clean it better since the sand is larger and from what I've read any deeper can be a  nitrate trap. I'm hoping in the future to add a sump to add a DSB in. I think switching now would be a mess and would take up a lot of swimming space. What do you think? <There are pros & cons here. Adding more sand will be messy and take up space because it needs to be 4+" deep. A DSB in sump would be easier. On the other hand, if you add slowly with a long funnel, you can get the sand in without too much mess. Really a matter of your choice here.> Thanks again for your help! Now I must go and light a candle for my stars. :( Eileen :) <Thanks for the follow-up & I hope things go better with stars in the future.>

More on Linckias (3/15/04)   Thanks Steve!  I placed the snail back in my reef, since it is not of the menacing variety.  It sometimes buries itself in the sand...seems to feed on detritus. <Typical of Nassarius. I like them myself.>  Good to hear maybe I'll have some luck with the Linckia (knock on wood!).  The reference materials I have on Linckias say they are "easy to keep", but after posting in some reef forums, I discovered most folks have bad luck with them. <It's the initial period that gets them. Successfully acclimated ones with lots of food available do very well. Unfortunately, most are already "dead stars walking" when the leave the store, with no hope of recovery (even though they look fine outwardly). Wondering if once the sponge is gone, should I feed maybe some sponge-based angel food? <That stuff seems to float too much. Hopefully it will eat other things.>  Water is (me bragging here) PERFECT in my reef, so I don't have to fight that battle. <I hope you didn't just jinx yourself ;). On your trip to Madison, if you get a chance, stop by the Great Dane Pub downtown.  Great joint for micro-brew and nice atmosphere:) <Alas, I'll be at a meeting at the Fluno Center the whole time. Oh well, Epic Systems is a wonderful host.> Thanks again for the help:) <My pleasure, Steve Allen> Vicki, Madison, WI

Mushy Linckia (2/27/04) I have a Blue Linckia star fish. <How long have you had it. More than 90% die within a few weeks of being introduced into the tank. I killed six of them before giving up. I should have stopped after just a couple, but I'm too stubborn.> Last night it was very alive and okay. I noticed , there was white damage one of his arms. This morning it just collapsed on tank floor and crawled. His three legs getting mushy but the other two is okay. After I checked your web side I separated it to another tank. I don't know anything about it and Please help me How can I help him. (I bought him 5 days ago it lives with 4 damsel and one anemone)  What kind of antibiotics I have to buy. Or it is already dead. It is not moving ,but one mushy leg it seems getting okay. Thank you for time. Beril <Sorry to be pessimistic, but your star is almost certainly doomed. Most develop infections & die due to poor collection/transportation practices or to failure to acclimate very, very, very slowly. You could try some sort of broad-spectrum antibiotic in combination with pristine water conditions, but I'd say the prognosis is exceedingly poor. Do read on WWM or in Reef Invertebrates about the many disadvantages of this genus. Next time, try a Fromia. Yes, they are smaller, but they are very colorful and are much hardier. Good luck, Steve Allen.>

Another Dead Linckia (3/2/04) Hi Steve, As you said my starfish died. Thank you very much for your time and information. Take care, Beril <So sorry Beril. I know exactly how you feel. :(  Do consider a Fromia next time. They're quite attractive, though small, and much hardier. Steve Allen.>

Dying Star 2/2/04  I am new to saltwater, and have had a tank going for 3 months. My parameters have been fine (ph, nitrates, ammonia, salinity).  <Whenever you ask a question where water quality may be relevant, please list all of the results for these tests. In this case, salinity is very important. Starfish are very delicate and can be damaged by changes in salinity or salinity maintained below 1.024 (1.025 is recommended with inverts).>  It is a 46 gallon bow-front tank with plenty of live rock and an AquaClear 300 filter. I have a Kole Tang, Clown, Goby, Hawk, Yellow-Tail Damsel and hermits. Whenever I try to add a starfish, it dies. I began with a Chocolate Chip, and it was dead 4 days later. Then, a General Star that is dying after 3 weeks. The store is stumped, telling me they must have a disease when I get them because my water is testing out fine. A friend tells me I need a protein skimmer, and he cannot keep one alive longer than a few years. What are your thoughts on this?  I'd really like to have one. Thanks! Lisa  <Starfish are often lethally mishandled in shipping and holding. Ask your dealer to hold one for you for a week before purchase. After purchase, these animals should be very slowly acclimated to your tank water before introduction. Protein skimmers are highly recommended, but not mandatory with good care and water changes, and probably has nothing to do with your problem. Do also keep in mind that the stars you mentioned like most thick armed stars are very hungry carnivores that will need to be fed often and can be a risk to slow moving inverts. Brittle stars and serpents stars (avoid the green spiky armed ones) are excellent scavengers and won't harm any tank mates. Best Regards. Adam>

Chocolate Chips are Falling Off! >I have had a chocolate chip starfish for a few weeks and yesterday I noticed one of its chips fell off.   >>This is not good, it sounds kinda funny, but it is not good. >I had it in a tank with a spotted moray eel, but the eel never bothered it.   >>Eels wouldn't be a concern, but certain shrimps (that WOULD be eaten by the eel), triggers, and puffers are known to munch stars. >Today it is keeping 3 of its legs curled up and it seems to be losing more chips and turning white.   >>Bad signs, my friend.  If it appears the animal is disintegrating, there are only a very few things that can be done for it.  These creatures are among THE most sensitive to water quality, salinity, and acclimation.  I doubt it's an acclimation issue if it's been a few weeks.  Water quality, especially in a tank with an eel is another story entirely.  It is imperative to keep the water as pristine as sea water. >Is it just sick or is it dying?   >>It very well may be dying, especially if it appears to be disintegrating.  If the central disk appears to be falling apart at ALL, I'm afraid there is, for all intents and purposes, little to no hope. >I have already separated it from all my other fish so it doesn't ruin the tank.   >>This was a very wise decision. >If it is sick what can I do to cure it and when can I put it back in my other tank?  Melissa >>Melissa (now I feel as though I'm talking to my sister), water quality issues aside, the only method I know of to help a sick sea star is to try an antibiotic called Spectrogram.  I would treat for a week, using FRESHLY made up water, not tank water.  I would make certain that the water in the tank is perfect and make certain that I have the best test kits I can buy - Salifert and SeaChem are two excellent kits for the money.  (Salifert is often out of stock, Dutch company - SeaChem is in Georgia.)  Many times correcting the water quality is all that is necessary if necrosis is very limited.  Marina

- Need Help ASAP! -  We need your help ASAP! We set up a 20 gallon quarantine tank and it has an Emperor 280 Bio-Wheel Filter and we have an air stone and heater and a couple PVC pipes in it. We are keeping the temperature at 81 degrees. <You do know you can keep that a little cooler - perhaps 78 degrees if possible.> We bought two clown fish and a chocolate chip starfish about two weeks ago and put them in to quarantine. The problem is today we noticed our chocolate chip starfish is on the bottom he is moving a little but not like he was and his arms are all curled upward.  Our nitrites are reading at 3.0 and we can't figure out why they are so high. <Nitrate being the end of the line in the nitrogen cycle, the leading way to eliminate them is via export - water changes.> The ammonia tests are reading 0 and the nitrates are reading 0. Do you think this is why our chocolate chip starfish isn't doing well? <Probably not... does it have anything to eat? I wouldn't bother quarantining a Seastar and would go ahead and add this to your tank.> Also, what can we do to bring the nitrites down? We do a 25% water change about twice a week. <Three parts per million of nitrate is not high, and not a danger to much that I can think of. I wouldn't be too concerned.> Help! Also, our starfish has like a white mucus floating on one of his chocolate chips. What do you think that is? <Hmm... not good, get it into the main tank where it can find some food.>  Your help would be greatly appreciated!  Thank You, Bret  <Cheers, J -- > 
- Need Help ASAP! Follow-up -
We will go ahead and turn down the temperature on the quarantine tank. We give our starfish shrimp pellets twice a week  and he does sometimes eat them.  He is now looking a lot better after much more frequent (almost continuous) water changes. Our Nitrates are still reading 0  it is our nitrites that are still reading at 3.0 12 hours after a 50% water change. <Yeah... someone on the crew pointed out to me that I responded to your last mail by saying that a nitrate reading of 3.0 is not high. My bad, you said nitrites, and this most certainly is bad news for the Seastar. You really need to get that animal out of there and into the main tank - no need to quarantine it.> Since the last response from you we have done a 75% water change yesterday and we just completed another 50% water change.  Once we did the 75% water change the starfish is doing better.  The funny thing is our clownfish seem fine during the high nitrites. <Clownfish are an order of magnitude more hardy than Seastars... but still, any tank fresh/salt/quarantine will need to have the nitrogen cycle firmly established, or made insignificant by regular [daily] large water changes, there is no other way. The presence of the nitrites is just he nitrogen cycle becoming established.> We decided to quarantine our starfish for the only reason that our main tank had Ich (and our LFS suggested it). <Seastars don't carry Cryptocaryon and would be fine to leave behind as long as you're not treating the main tank with any chemicals.> That was Dec. 11th.  The only thing we have in our main display is live rock (65 lbs.) and hermit crabs.  We had about 9 snails in the tank as well and they died off one by one till the last died around the 22nd of Dec. We were wondering if we could add a little live rock to the quarantine tank to help cycle the tank (and if so how) so we don't have to do 75% water changes every day to keep the nitrites down. <I would not add the live rock to quarantine - better to just work with daily water changes of about 25%, perhaps 50% every other day.> What would you suggest? Thank you very much for all your great and valuable advice. Thank You, Bret <Cheers, J -- >

Inside-Out Sea Star (1/6/2004) Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> First Of all I would like to thank you for all your help. Having said that. I have a Chocolate Sea Star in a 180g fish only tank. The reason I am writing is because it is doing something that I have never seen or heard of before. It sits on the side of the tank and it looks like it is grazing but it looks like its stomach is on the outside, its a mucus- like blob under it then a while later its gone. I have looked through your pages on Sea Stars and can't find anything about this. Thanks for all the help. Tom <Good observation on your part, Tom. In fact, this is how many Asteroids feed. They evert their stomachs over their prey and begin to digest outside their bodies as they pull the partially-digested item back in. Actually rather interesting to observe from the ventral side through glass. I have several sea stars, including a Chocolate Chip and an African Red-knobbed (Protoreastor lincki). I often feed them by placing a chunk of seafood under them on the front glass of my tank. It takes several hours for them to completely ingest the chunk. They seem to like being fed that way. I know they want food when they come to the front wall several time per week.> <Most Asteroid Sea Stars need direct feeding. In their excellent "Reef Invertebrates" book, Bob and Anthony advise placing food close by in their path rather than handling them because that might provoke a fright response. I was not initially aware of this recommendation, so for a long time I have been feeding mine by placing food directly under their mouths and then placing them against the front glass. They attach themselves to the glass and go merrily about eating the food. They are used to this and associate my touch with feeding. BTW, it is very important not to lift them out of the water, which may damage their water vascular system. Personally, I think all echinoderms are truly fascinating creatures--enjoy.>

A Bright New Star...? Bob, <Scott F. here today!> We just started a saltwater aquarium about 2 months ago.  We waited about two weeks and added two clownfish.  They were doing well and then we left on vacation for a week and turned down our skimmer and when we came back from vacation we believe they had Ich and other various diseases.  Probably from bad water quality since we turned down the skimmer. <Well, poor water quality is definitely a contributing factor to stress, which can lead to disease...> We then did a 50% water change and bought an UV sterilizer. Our fish died on Dec. 11th and we were looking at getting a chocolate chip starfish.  We have a quarantine tank already set up and we were curious if we kept him in the quarantine tank for a week of so and then introduce him to the main tank do you think the tank has had enough time to get rid of the Ich? <I recommend at least a 3 week quarantine for all new animals. It gives time for potential problems to show themselves. As far as the tank "ridding itself of Ich"- you really need to let it sit "fallow", without fishes, for about a month or so. This will cause the majority of the parasite population to crash for lack of hosts (i.e.; fishes!). Perform routine maintenance (i.e.; filter media replacement, water changes, etc.) during this time> Will our starfish be susceptible to Ich? <Nope> Also, our local pet store tells us that we don't really need to feed our starfish that he will eat things out of our tank.  Is this true? <Well, the Chocolate Chip Starfish (Protoreastor nodosus) is a pretty heavy-duty feeder. Being omnivorous, it can derive nutrition from a variety of sources, and will need to at least have some supplemental feeding to avoid having it munch on your corals and other sessile inverts. I would not call it a "reef safe" animal, but it is an interesting hardy creature if well cared for.> We have hermit crabs and snails in our tank which we have had since the beginning of our tank setup.  The hermit crabs are doing well but within the last two weeks our snails have been dying about one every day. We have checked our salinity and our nitrate, nitrite and ammonia. Everything has been good.  We are not sure why they keep dropping like flies.  Any suggestions? <Could be anything from some sort of chemical contamination in the water (Were you using any medications or copper? That could be the cause right there..) to a parasitic illness of some sort. There is a definite possibility, by the way, that your starfish might further contribute to your declining snail population...> Thank You, Bret Weddle <My pleasure, Bret. Just keep a close eye on things, check and recheck water conditions, and adjust as needed. Go slowly, and I'm sure that your tank can make a happy recovery. Regards, Scott F>

African Knobby (likely a Oreasteriid Seastar) Bob, <Cynthia> I think my African Knobby is in dire straits. I have had this star for about 2 months. It is in a 29 gallon tank with one yellow tang and two clown fish. The star developed white spots on the tips underneath and they are spreading underneath toward the center. My water has been fine. It looks like the red color is peeling off, like paint peeling from a wall. Last week, I changed about 4 gallons of the water out and was told to do this once a week. It has stayed on the floor until today. For the first time in 2 weeks, it crawled up the side of the tank. I'm not sure what to do, or if there is anything I can do. I assume it will die. (?) Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thank you, Cindy Huff <Do take a read through the accumulated FAQs we have posted on Seastar disease: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>
Re: African Knobby
I had previously read through before emailing you, but didn't find anything relative to what I'm seeing. Cindy Huff <Unfortunately, there is not much (more) known, "standard" re the pathology, even general husbandry of these echinoderms. Being careful on selection (waiting for a few days post-arrival), taking care in transport, acclimation, providing a suitable aquarium environment per species, adequate food/forage, maintaining optimized, stable water quality is de rigueur in their long-term care. Once specimens begin showing signs of diminished health, it is generally too late to reverse... no general "treatment" has proven expedient in slowing, curing "falling apart" by Seastars. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Starfish Disease <Hello! Ryan with you> Got a very weird problem occurring with a chocolate chip star. It started last winter when it was one of very few survivors of a power outage that resulted in a devastating temp drop, killing nearly all of my reef animals. (All of the live rock & hermit crabs lived as well) But it was left with a bright white tip on one of it's limbs. <This is a common stress indicator among Seastars.> This white tip, over the last 9 months has eventually proven to be some sort of rot, as this one appendage is now mostly gone, and the nub still tipped in white. The animal other than that, is very much alive, healthy & eating. Any idea what it is? <Have a look: http://wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm> Is it treatable? <Only with improved water quality, diet> and is it dangerous to the other animals in a now replenished system? <Likely no.>  Thanks for your help. <Best of luck! Ryan -Pat

Mysterious Worm in My Blue Starfish - 8/15/03 Dear crew, <cheers> I have a blue starfish that in the last month has had a worm friend living amongst its 'legs'.  Is this worm harmful? <impossible to say without a picture or description, but likely so> I have tried to remove it but every time I try the starfish closes around it.  He got burnt on the heater last week but is growing skin back rapidly, so he is obviously healthy. Also, I purchased a piece of coral yesterday and when I got home realize that it was Goniopora.  I researched it on your site and found that it was basically doomed.  I rang the shop and told them that I would like to exchange it for something else and they said that they would.  Should I take it back straight away?  Thanks in advance Amon Masters, Canberra <it is very challenging by any measure. If your tank lacks a mature fishless refugium, deep sand bed and or you are a newer aquarist (less than a few years in)... I would agree: do exchange it for a hardier species. Best regards, Anthony>

Linckia problems... Greetings Bob & crew! Just stumbled across your site while searching for info on a lethargic Blue Star. VERY IMPRESSED!!!  Being new to the saltwater scene, please allow me to give you a break-down on how I've started and what I've got: <ok> HARDWARE, ROCK, SUBSTRATE, ETC 75G AGA Reef-Ready Tank w/corner overflow Coralife Compact Fluorescent Fixture[2 65W Actinic; 2 65W 10,000K] EcoSystem 3012 Sump w/20lb Miracle Mud (no skimmer) Gen-X MK-4 Return Pump (1190 gph) Won Bros. 250W Pro-Heat II Titanium Heater (in sump) 3 Maxi-Jet power-heads [Model 1200; 295 gph] (1 too many?) Ultra Ground Titanium Grounding Probe (in sump?) Red Sea Wavemaster Pro Wavemaker Tsunami ATI Dosing System w/Rio 90 Powerhead [for make-up water] 2 Moon Beam 470 Nanometer Blue Night-lights <cool!> 115 lbs LR (Tonga & Haitian) 80 lbs CaribSea Aragonite Seaflor Special Grade Reef Sand 40 lbs CaribSea Aragalive Reef Sand Crystal Sea Marinemix Salt Water: AquaFX RO/DI LIVESTOCK: 6 Turbo Snails 40 Astraea Snails 30 Blue Leg Crabs 3 Peppermint Shrimp 2 Fire Shrimp 5 Green Coral Crabs 2 Brittle Stars 1 Blue Linckia (See below) WATER QUALITY - Tetratest & Aquarium Systems SeaTest Kits Temp: 75 to 76 - Lifegard Little Time or Temp SG: 1.024 to 1.025 - SeaTest Full Range SG Meter ALK: 6 to 7 <That's in dKH and not alk I presume> pH: 8.1 to 8.2 - pHep by HANNA NO2: <0.3 <It better be 0!!! Nitrite is highly toxic but you are likely getting a false positive on your test kit (I'll guess that it's the Tetratest kit). Get another kit and have your LFS test it to make sure that you have none> NO3: 2.8 average NH3: 0 PO4: 0 Ca2: 405 to 465 (Kent Liquid Calcium added to make-up water) 20% to 25% water change twice a month Approx. 3 qt.s. evaporation & make-up per day O.K. Here goes: I initially filled the tank on April15th. Obtained & introduced LR on April 27th. On May 7th brown algae showed up on rock, glass and substrate.  After cycling the LR for 2 weeks, I added Caulerpa to the mud in the sump and it propagated well. On May 9th I introduced the snails, crabs and shrimp. Algae was gone within a couple of days. Awesome!!  On May 18th NO3 jumped to 5.68 and upon investigation found 5 dead Astraeas. I'm assuming this was the cause of the NO3 spike.<A nitrate level of 5 is hardly a spike, it's only toxic at a few hundred>  No change in NO2 or NH3. Removed dead Astreas and performed 20% water change. The next day NO3 was back to 2.8. On May 29th I added 2 Blue Linckias (wish I had read up on them first!).  On June 3rd NO3 had jumped back up to 4.54. You guessed it! <Nope, a nitrate level of 4 would have no effect on the star) A deceased Linckia (stomach distended and tips chewed off 2 appendages) <Sounds more like an acclimation problem to me. They need to be dripped for several hours>.  Performed a 25% water change an am now closely monitoring the second Linckia which appears to be somewhat lethargic and pretty much staying in one spot on a rock under an overhang.  I was contemplating quarantining the poor fellow, but from what I've gathered in your responses to others experiencing this same dilemma, I gather I should just leave him be and keep an eye on him. <You got it> As I stated at the beginning of this message, I'm a neophyte to this hobby and  guess I'm looking for constructive criticism as to how I'm handling things.  I started purchasing and reading books on saltwater/reef set-ups last November (5 months before I even began to purchase the tank and components)<excellent!>, but it seems there are as many opinions as there are authors!  [Tullock, Paletta, Tunze, Shimek, Skomal and Metelsky to name a few]. <Look for books by Borneman, Nielson, Fossa, Sprung and some sketchy characters named Bob Fenner and Anthony Calfo>  One question I have is the recent appearance of red slime algae in the mud/Caulerpa chamber of the EcoSystem sump.  Is this a normal phase? <Sometimes yes, sometimes no> Do I need to remove it or let it go? <Siphoning it out wouldn't hurt> Another question is when might I expect to see the development of Coralline algae on the glass. <3 weeks, 2 days, 11 hours, 26 minutes, and 32 seconds. Actually, the time it takes coralline to get going varies from a few weeks to a few months so just be patient and keep your calcium and alk high> There is a fair amount on the LR but I'm wondering how long it takes to propagate to the aquarium glass.  Does the presence of the Turbo and Astraeas on the glass negate the production? <Nope, or we'd all be in trouble!> Should I be adding Strontium? <That's debatable but it doesn't hurt> If so, how much and how often? <Follow mfg's recommendations> Is lighting a factor? <Yep, but your lighting is perfect intensity for many species of coralline> At this time, my Actinics come on one hour before the whites (which run for twelve hours) and remain on for one hour after the whites go off. <14 hour day? A bit long, try not to exceed 12 at the most> At the end of that cycle, the Moon Beams come on for six hours, shutting off just before dawn.  Another concern is feeding. As stated in the list of livestock above, basically all I have are janitors, as I will be out of town for ten days in July and want to hold off on adding any corals and/or fish until my return.  Do any of these guys require regular food or are they okay with what's on the LR and in the live sand? <They'll be fine for 10 days provided there's plenty of algae on the rocks. It would be preferable to have someone throw in some pellets half way through though.> I have been hand feeding the Fire Shrimp a pinch of flake food every couple of days (amazing how they will eat right from your fingers!) but that's about it. I have purchased a package of Formula 1 but have yet to try it, not knowing who will eat it and how much to use. <Everyone will eat it, try half a cube for starters then go from there> I sincerely apologize for being so long winded here,<hehe> but I figured too much info is better than not enough.  I truly enjoy the education I'm absorbing with this hobby, and although I have a minimum habitat thus far, I just can't get enough of it and look forward to setting up other systems; experience (and funds!) permitting. <Damn that funds thing, think of the incredible tanks we all could have!!!> Thanks in advance for any enlightenment you might be able to provide. <Good luck, -Kevin> Greg Binder
Blue Linckia trouble part II
Hey Kevin, First off, thanks for the quick reply. <I bet this one will be quicker!>  To clarify; yes, the ALK I referred to @ 6 to 7, is indeed dKH.  You were correct about the NO2 test being a Tetratest. <Figures, I'm not a big fan of most of tetras products as they have quality issues.> Had all tests performed at LFS a little over a week ago to see how his results related to mine and he read 0 Nitrites.  I think he uses Aquarium Systems SeaTest kits primarily. <That's what we use at the shop too. They're cheap, hard to screw up, reasonably accurate, and it's readily apparent if the reagent is bad. If you want better accuracy, go for Salifert or LaMotte> I'll check & pick up one of whatever he uses. Didn't drip the Linckias. <That's pretty much the do or die activity with these critters> Floated the bags for about an hour adding 3-4 oz of tank water every fifteen minutes.  Had I been aware that they are considered an advanced aquarist's species, I wouldn't have even thought about purchasing them. <I wouldn't say they're for advanced aquarists, they just need a really really long slow acclimation and a big ol' established tank with lots of microbial life to eat.> The second one I mentioned as being lethargic seems to be showing a little more movement the past couple of days.  I've got my fingers crossed.  I could kick myself for not researching these guys before acquiring them. <Ah, happens to everyone, you'll know next time.> I'm looking at it as a reckless act on my part but if there's an up-side to it, it's that at least I've learned to look before I leap! (More reading!) I did, by the way, order both the New Marine Aquarium - Reef Invertebrates and Book of Coral Propagation immediately after sending off the first e-mail. <Great!> In regard to the time element regarding the development of the algae being 3 weeks, 2 days, 11 hours, 27 minutes and 32 seconds.......What time zone are you writing from, and are the minutes and seconds from the time you typed them or from the time you hit the SEND key? LOL.  <Hehe, geez, I lost count already!> I had extended the lighting time from 10 to 12 hours after I introduced the janitors and saw how quickly they had seemed to clean up the initial bloom.  Not a necessary move, eh?  I'll go ahead & cut back to 10 hours if that's the case. <Well, you said that the daylights were on for 12 and the actinics on for an hour before and after, so after renting a supercomputer for an hour I came up with a photoperiod of 14 hours, maybe I misunderstood you. The idea is just not to go past 12 hours, it's very abnormal for these critters and can even be a little stressful to the photosynthetic ones.> Thanks again Kevin for the education and sharing your knowledge and expertise. <That's what I'm here for, enjoy! -Kevin>
Oops, One more thing...RE: Blue Linckia Starfish
>It has been behind the rock for just over one week.  Thanks! >>You're welcome!

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>

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>

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>

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>>

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>

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>

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 greyish 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>

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>

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