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FAQs about Sea Star Nutritional Disease

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, Genetic (poor species selection for captive use), Pathogenic Disease (Infectious, Parasitic), Predator/Pest, Trauma, Treatments

Related Articles: Sea Stars, Brittle StarsAsterina Stars, An Introduction to the Echinoderms:  The Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers and More... By James W. Fatherree, M.Sc.

... don't eat "rocks"... or just any algae... READ up on the species you have, or better, intend to get.

Fromia Star question -- 4/26/07 Dear crew, <Hi Kris, Lynn here.> Thank you for your reply identifying my batik star as a Fromia. However, I'm still not sure what to feed him. I haven't read any clear-cut messages that these stars are meat eaters or algae eaters or just detritus.  I read one description that they feed on the fine algae film covering the tank.  Since it's in a q-tank without any substrate what should I feed him? <I'm not sure which species you have but they're generally omnivorous. They could eat anything including sponges, detritus, film algae, sessile invertebrates, to meaty foods such as bits of clam, shrimp, krill, etc.> Last night I tried small pieces of chopped up fresh shrimp, but there didn't seem to be any interest.  Would pieces of Nori be better?  Help, I don't want him to starve! <If the star was just introduced into QT, it might still be adjusting. I'd continue to offer various meaty foods (as mentioned above), just be sure to remove anything the star doesn't eat. As for the Nori, I'm not sure if it'll eat it but I'd definitely give it a try.> Thanks, Kris <You're welcome and good luck! -Lynn>
Re: Fromia Star question  4/26/07
Thanks for the help, but now I don't hold out much hope. Just took a peek at him and he has that hole in the center I read about. <Truly unfortunate. I'm so sorry to hear that.> Would furan help? BTW I have an anemone in the q-tank too. <Although I've read that Furan can help when you've got a sea star leg that's deteriorating, I'm not aware of it helping this type of deterioration on the disk. When this sort of thing crops up, it seems to advance very quickly. I'm sorry I don't have better news for you. Take care and best wishes --Lynn>

Astropecten polycanthus...Not For A 29 Gallon Tank - 11/10/05 I recently purchased a Sand Sifting Star.  I notice the second day that it had lost two of its arms.  I have a 29 gallon tank with one Coral Beauty Angel, live rock and sand.  The water tests fine with the nitrate a little high <<how high is "a little?">> with everything else in the normal good range.... Do you think the angel got it or is the nitrate level? <<Could be the nitrates...doubt it is the angel.  More likely, the starfish was already sick/injured when it was purchased.>> Thanks for you advice Sandy <<Please do be aware, injured or not, Astropecten polycanthus will not survive in your tank...it is much too small.  These animals need much more substrate than your tank can provide in order to find enough food, and even then, will quickly decimate the biota in the sand bed.  Regards, EricR>>

Sand-Shifting Star Issues (8/17/04) Hello Crew, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.>   I have a question, Is it normal for a sand sifter Starfish To climb the tank and glass. <I would not consider it abnormal, but it may mean that it's not finding enough food in the sand. These voracious eaters can rid a sandbed of all life other than bacteria, though yours ought to be big enough to keep up.> I have 140 Gal, 1 year old. 150 lbs of rock, and I see copepods like you see ants on a hill. They are all over. <Are they on the sand too?> Every so often he climbs the tank. I also will see little white bugs on the glass. <Could be he senses them and is going after them. Or maybe he just wants to see the world. ;)> Also are you supposed to try to feed it shrimp? LFS said to put it on a piece of shrimp, tried it once and he ran away from it and does not eat it. <Stars often do not like being handled and will run away as soon as you let go. However, I hand feed all of my big stars. (I have no Archaster, however.) Sometimes they eat and sometimes they don't. A couple of them seem to have specific tastes. Perhaps it would take mussels or squid or something else. Perhaps it is getting enough already--many folks do not hand feed Archaster typicus. I would not worry about its wanderings as long as it appears healthy and is not wasting away.>   Also , I have a Bubble tip Anemone, I feed it shrimp with Secor (Sometimes with Secor) but every 3 days he eats, was doing good. for 5 days now he has been hiding behind a rock with the clowns, it is like he is hiding from the light. <Not a good thing. They generally like lots of light--need it to survive/thrive.>  Have not changed any lighting or anything in the tank Readings are all normal, He will not eat but I still see he is alive. <Hard to say what the trouble is here. I have not kept anemones because of my personal opinion that they should be left in the sea because too many die in tanks. I would recommend you read the anemone articles and FAQs on WWM, check for articles at www.reefkeeping.com and look for the article on BTAs published a few months back in Aquarium Fish Magazine at your local library. If you do not find these helpful, submit a new query about the BTA only and I will see to it that it gets routed to someone with more experience. Your query came to me because I'm into echinoderms.> Than you for your help <I hope this does help.>

Starving Star? (4/16/04)  Guys, <Steve Allen tonight.>  I've done it again! <Some folks never learn.> An impulsive buy.... I'm they guy who wrote to you about a rippled coral goby, Banggai cardinal and a pajama cardinal in a 20G QT. BTW, the goby died of starvation... And I returned the pajama, because the Banggai was trying to starve him too.  Getting to the point, as I returned the Pajama cardinal, I noticed that some of the angels at the pet store had too much body slime and decided to not get any fish. But I couldn't resist this Red Sea Star (looks like a Fromia milleporella...?!) <OK> that was with a bunch of brittle stars in a separate tank with just a power head and no mixing of water with the fish tanks - I know, they still use the same nets and everything.... But, since I was going to QT it anyway, I got it! It's been 2 days and the star hasn't eaten. <Sometimes they take a while.> I've put pieces of shrimp right under the starfish and placed the star over it and he just move away! He doesn't care for Mysis, daphnia or the algae in the QT!!!! Should I just keep offering him food a few times a day until he accepts it? <It may only eat a few times a week.> He finally got sick of me bothering him and just climbed up the side. <Might want to leave it alone for a while & see what happens.>  Question two -the star has no external parasites or necrotic tissue as far as I can tell. Both Bob Fenner's book and the WWM website talk about the use of drugs against fungal and bacterial infection--what isn't clear to me is whether I'm supposed it use it as a routine part of QT with stars or just in case an infection is noticed???!!! <No, I would not treat in the absence of a sign or symptom attributable to an infection.>  BTW, as I was vacuuming the bottom of the tank and tried to vacuum accumulated debris off the star, I noticed a flap of skin peel up on the dorsal side of one of the arms, near the end and a fluid that looked like pus or sperm ooze out. <If out by the tip, this is not a normal thing.> The closer I got, the more the flap opened and more stuff oozed out.. I kinda got overzealous and ended up sucking the arm, all the way up to the body, in to the siphon!!! Sorry! I didn't notice any visible damage though... <Hmm. Do be more careful careful. Wounded starfish seldom survive.>  Thanks for being there and for the advice. Narayan Raja <Be patient, keep the water in good shape and hopefully things will work out. Steve Allen.>

-The incredible shrinking Linckia- I have a blue Linckia that is orange in color. <Isn't that an oxymoron? :) > I have had it for over six months. She  moves around actively has no sores of any sort.  The problem is that she keeps getting smaller and smaller, I feel that she may be starving what can I do, I don't want to lose her? <Unfortunately, this is all too common with Linckia stars, especially larger ones. Since their diet consists of mainly microfauna, it takes a pretty large and well established tank to keep them truckin'. You can hand feed them by placing bits of seafood (got any sponge based marine angel food?) on the substrate in front of it's path or literally drop it right on top. Try this a few times per week or more. Good luck! -Kevin>

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

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

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>

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

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