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FAQs about Sea Star Pathogenic (Infectious, Parasitic) 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, Nutrition, Genetic (poor species selection for captive use), 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.

As always, bacterial involvement is "secondary"; following trauma, starvation... other primary causes.

Disease Since my starfish more than likely has an infectious disease, is there  anyway to treat it with antibiotics or it is going to die no matter what I  do? From what I have read they die very quickly if anything happens to them  and then they break apart, making it extremely difficult to remove them from  the tank. I assume quarantining it is a smart idea, but if it dies in the  tank would the disease that it is carrying have any chance to affect my  fish? From what I have heard/read most diseases are either fish or   invertebrate specific. Anyhow, any advice is accepted with the greatest of  gratitude. Matt Lindstrom <<No to the animal dying, dissolving in hours... you'll know... and the animal will be discrete enough to remove... And no to the disease-causing agents infecting your other livestock... these complaints are spiny-skinned animal specific... The only mal-affect might be ignoring the dead animal. Bob Fenner>>

Sick Fromia Greetings, I purchased a Fromia monilis on 9/14 and it seemed to be doing fine until last week.  <still... I'm guessing that this is a newly acquired specimen. Many succumb to infections and duress within weeks of import. Correct me if you have had yours for months> First, the tips of his legs started to dissolve and then 5 days ago it seemed to eviscerate. For 2 days all of it's innards seemed to be hanging out his underside until they became detached. Amazingly, he continued and still is moving about the live rock.  <indeed... a bad sign, but they are remarkably regenerative. You are feeding this animal, yes? Microalgae on rocks, algae wafers, etc> I have read that cucumbers eviscerate and regenerate their internal organs, have you heard of starfish having this capability?  <yes... a sign of great duress> The tips of his legs seem to be healing now but there are now 2 huge gashes across 2 of his legs and another cyst on the top of his body. I have read that dying starfish can pollute an entire tank.  <anything of that size/mass can pollute a tank just the same (tang sized fish, anemone, etc)> Do you know if this is true with Fromias? Do you think that he has any chance of recovery or should I euthanize him? <the healing tips is a very good sign... feed well and lets wait a little longer. Place in a sump or refugium if necessary to keep an eye on it but do not move to another tank just yet. Remove on the first sign of giving up the ghost (non-motile, tube feet non-responsive, etc)> Also, my other orange Fromia seems to spend all his time at the very top of the tank glass, hardly moving.  <sounds hungry :) looking for organic matter at the surface where it collects... or... low dissolved O2 in the system. Do get a cheap O2 test kit (like Tetra brand) and verify> I moved him down to the substrate last week but one morning I woke up and he was at the top again. I am concerned b/c there doesn't appear to be enough algae on the glass to keep him fed.  <quite possibly> Could this indicate that the oxygen level is too low at the bottom of the tank.  <yes... very intuitive. Kudos to you, my friend> I do not utilize powerheads.  <not a problem if you simply have a very large return pump on the sump> I measured my GPH from the return line at 610 gal/hr and have an air pump in the sump.  <wow... definitely in need of stronger water flow here. Do consider a larger return pump if your overflow can handle it, and powerheads in the display if not. The old rule of thumb of 10X water flow in the tank per hour is antiquated and not accurate for modern reef aquarium systems. I run approx 2200 GPH in my 50 gallon marine tank. Simple Random turbulent flow (converging outlets) and you wouldn't look at it and think the flow is that strong> My oxygen is reading 6 and I can't seem to get it any higher. Should I attempt to move him again or should I just leave him be? <don't move the star but do take a low tank water sample (submerged film canister and sealed while low). > My 72 gal tank is a little over 2 months old now and I still have nothing in the tank but 75 lbs live rock, a orange Fromia indica, a cleaner shrimp, and a peppermint shrimp (another peppermint shrimp also died). A third Fromia I purchased died 3 days after arrival, dissolving after a few days.  <sea stars should be left in the dealers tank for at least one week before buying them. Pre-pay or deposit if necessary to hold them for screening of weak individuals. Even then... it is critical to quarantine all new livestock on your own for 2-4 weeks. Please browse our archives at wetwebmedia.com for more info on a proper QT tank> All stars seemed fine at arrival, and I acclimated them extremely carefully over a 1.5 hr period. I purchased all online. I am off to a very discouraging start and am reluctant to purchase fish until I can prove that I am capable of keeping a few starfish and shrimp alive.  <the purchase of livestock online is not recommended when a good local source is available. If you choose to purchase online... all such animals need a full 4 week QT. And using the Seastars as a gage for fishes is inaccurate my friend. They are fairly difficult to keep relative to fishes> Is it too early in my tank's life cycle to be adding starfish? <absolutely yes!!! Seastars need very large and very mature aquariums to survive. Some say 100gall tank minimum. Try brittle or serpent stars instead (Ophiuroids). Much hardier. Try common species first> Test kits- Salifert SPG: 1.023 Temp: 81-83.5 <these warmer temps may be the reason you cant get your oxygen levels higher... aim for 78-80F> PH: 8.1 <target pH 8.3 night and 8.5 by day> Oxygen: 6 Ammonia: <.5 Nitrate: 0 Nitrite: 0 Alkalinity: 4.57 Calcium: 320 Strontium: approx. 15 Thanks for you time, Jeff <with kind regards, Anthony>

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