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FAQs about Asterina (tiny, white...) Sea Stars, Compatibility/Control

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

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

Asterina plague   9/1/13
hi all
<Jim>
Recently I have had had a plague of these stars in my reef tank. Normally they are harmless so I'm told but they are crawling on my soft corals and leaving snail like trails on them causing them to not open properly.
These Asterinas are also eating my coralline algae.....doh!!!!
I have put a harlequin shrimp in and was wondering on how to thin these blighters out or destroy them completely. Is the harlequin the best option here?
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinacompf.htm
Bob Fenner>
Re: Asterina plague  8/31/13

Thanks for the reply bob
<Welcome Jim>
It's comforting to know there will be a die off. Meanwhile it is clear they are "irritating" my soft corals....
<Mmm>
I can dip some of them and one in particular a lovely Sinularia hasn't opened fully for some months now due to this plague .
I've added a harlequin shrimp. Am I looking at losing the softies to these little munchers?
<Not likely; though I would remove larger specimens physically (with tongs) when I was in the tank>
Thanks again.
Jim.
<Cheers, BobF>

Asterina starfish eating wrasse or other fish? 11/24/10
Hello, I am starting to notice a lot more Asterina starfish in my tank as of recent. My tank set up includes a mixed reef type tank with some "reef safe" predatory fish e.g.. Niger trigger, Volitans at present. I am looking for a species of wrasse or other type of fish for that matter that will decimate my Asterina population.
<Mmm...>
ANY SUGGESTIONS? What about a Twin-spot Maori wrasse, Tuskfish, or similar species that eats starfish?
<They might>
Any help would be appreciated as I am tired of looking at all the white blotches of coraline that these guys are eating. Thanks for the help in advance guys/girls.
Oh yeah, My tank is 85 gallons so nothing too large!
<Both the above get too big for here>
Cant get harlequin shrimp as they will get eaten by my Volitans for sure,
<You can't temporarily move the Pteroine elsewhere... for a few months?>
I really want a new fish addition anyways. My nutrient level is around: 5-10ppm of nitrate, and phosphates are @ 0ppm. I am not noticing any film algae or hair algae that should be promoting the growth of these guys, just my coralline! :(thanks in advance for any suggestions or help with this matter.
Ryan
<Better to make a game of "remove the Asterina" manually... to thin the herd. The population will likely crash/end of its own accord in time. Mmm, do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/asterinacompf.htm
Bob Fenner>

Coral Eating Starfish/Asterina Starfish 10/20/10
About 3 months ago I had a SPS about 3" tall eaten by something. It started at the base, the 1st day about ¾ inch of the coral was eaten completely around the base. I looked at it in the tank and wondered what was going on with it but I had to leave and could not look at it more closely. The next day the coral was completely eaten and I could find nothing on or around it to blame for the destruction. Fast forward 3 months to today I found another of my SPS corals in the same predicament.
This specimen was completely healthy on Sunday; Tuesday morning, I found it in the condition you see in the picture. About 2" of the base of the coral was completely eaten away and I immediately removed the coral from the tank to examine it. On the white, eaten away area of the bottom of the coral, I found this small starfish (.200" across). I don't know if this guy is the culprit or happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It seems odd that such a small starfish could eat so much so quickly but he right now is my prime suspect.
Being a juvenile I am having trouble identifying exactly what type of starfish it is and was hoping the photos would help you answer my question. Could this guy be what is killing my coral?
<Lloyd, the starfish you have is definitely an Asterina species. There is much debate about whether these starfish actually eat coral or not. Some reports indicate these starfish may just be feeding on an already degrading coral, other reports indicate that they are known to feed on Montipora corals and Zoanthids. Necrosis and bacterial infections can also cause what you are seeing. Bottom line, as far as I am aware of, no documented proof exists that they are known coral eaters. They are opportunistic feeders and likely can likely adapt to eating most any food in a captive system. The Asterina family is huge, and there very well may be species of Asterinas that may eat corals if other food sources are depleted. I have Asterinas in my tank, and so far have not bothered any of my corals. Best bet, if you suspect this, remove the starfish and further observe the health of your corals.
Do read here.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinacompf.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corldisart.html
James (Salty Dog)>
Lloyd

Re Coral Eating Starfish/Asterina Starfish 10/20/10
<Hello Lloyd>
I have removed the affected coral to my frag tank to observe for a while. So far (1 day) no further dying has occurred. The starfish has been removed and is living temporarily in a Petri dish awaiting proper disposal. I am surprised that a bacterial infection could destroy this coral so fast without affecting any other coral nearby.
<If that is indeed what caused it.>
I will let you know if it survives the week.
<Sounds good.>
Thank you for the timely response!
<You're welcome, you just happened to be number one in my inbox. James (Salty Dog)>
Lloyd
Re: Coral Eating Starfish
> Hello James,
> I did find your reply re: coral eating starfish interesting. I've read Calfo's piece on this, and his hypothesis that these starfish may eat the corals when there's not enough other stuff for them to eat.
> I wonder though, if by analogy with snails and plants in freshwater aquaria, Calfo hasn't got this back to front. In freshwater tanks snails are often maligned for eating plants, but very largely they only do so when the plant is dying anyway, and they eat soft or decomposing plant matter. Could it be that Asterina only eat sickly/dying corals? So rather than providing more food for the Asterina, what you need to do is keep nutrients so low that the corals are healthy. My guess being that healthy corals have nothing to fear from Asterina, just as healthy plants are largely immune to predation by small snails.
> Cheers, Neale
<I do agree. BobF>

Overtaking Asterina starfish 06/01/2010
Hello to all
I have a beautiful 75 gallon saltwater tank that has been taken over by Asterina starfish. We are talking about hundreds if not thousands of them.
At first they didn't seam to bother much, but, now there are so many of them and they are eating my coraline algae so fast. All of my live rock that was beautifully covered in all shades of purple are all pinkish. I took a half a day and picked out as many as I could (a small butter container full) and the next morning it looked as if I had done nothing at all. So here is my question, I would like to get a harlequin shrimp, but, I have a very large brittle starfish that I have had for 2 1/2 years (we love to hand feed him). Will the harlequin shrimp attempt to eat him as well? If so what would be the next step?
<I don't think the harlequin shrimp would eat the brittle stars. However, I wouldn't use these shrimp to solve your Asterina star "problem." These "blooms" of one species of little inverts never last. I would just wait them out. Your coraline algae will come back.>
Thanks
<Best,
Sara M.>

re astria sp starfish, control and Ophiuroids as well -- 11/27/09
I have these in large quantities in my reef tank. The tank is a 50 gallon reef tank approx 25kg of live rock. Stocked with 5 chromis a convict blenny
<Social animals Pholodichthys>
arrow crab and cleaner shrimp. The rock is full of brittle stars and bristle worms. The astria star fish are eating my coral xenia colt and finger leather. My question is could i add a C. valentini puffer to feed on the starfish?
<I wouldn't, no>
and would it effect my other inverts/corals?
thanks in advance Andrew (uk)
<Best to go the physical removal for Asterina and baiting route for Ophiuroids. See WWM re... Oh, the search tool... Bob Fenner>

Asterinas and Triggers 11/21/09
Last week I removed and returned to the LFS a healthy Picasso Trigger that was getting a little too bossy for the tank. Final straw was when he killed a Chromis of mine in a rather brutal display of aggression. Anyway, removed him and went on a 1 week business trip. Upon my return I noticed 9 Asterina starfish on the front glass - never saw any before and I keep a daily log of observations, problems etc. I can only assume the trigger kept the population in check.
<Likely so>
Not advocating anyone get a trigger to control these things but my Picasso sure did!
Alan
<Heeee! Am considering getting, keeping a grizzly bear now to keep the neighbour's dogs off the lawn!
Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Grizzly Bear Needed To Control Dogs, Ursids 4 sale! 11/21/09
Hi Bob,
<James>
I'm thinking the Grizzly Bear may be a bit overkill, but I did find a good deal for you on a Black Bear which should do the job once he grows up. See below.
James
"Black Bear for sale, AWESOME CUTIE !
Okay he's been here long enough .........
He needs to find a home, He's about an 75-80lbr
$ 1750.00, Crated, Insured and Shipped to your door. Anywhere in the lower 48
They don't get any better than this one.
He'll make your heart all warm and fuzzy.
Be sure you can Buy Black bears in your state
I am NOT RESPONSIBLE.
Thanks
DENNIS"
<Yeeikes! Now where'd the house cat get to? Cheers, B>

Asterina Starfish Infestation 8/18/08 I have a 125 gal tank that is 1 year old. For the last 6 months I've noticed the starfish on my glass. First one or two and now I have 15-20 at any given time. I hesitated removing them because everything I read said they were not a problem. <Generally not> Unfortunately, they are consuming my coralline algae faster than it grows; much of my live rock is pure white. I'm convinced that these critters are responsible, I can see the shape of the stars outlined on the rock and sea shells. I've begun to pull those on my glass out of the tank, in the last two weeks I've removed probably two hundred! My Zoas are not looking very well but my xenia, Kenya tree, Montipora, mushroom anemones and stony corals are all well. I have a Yellow Tang, Hippo Tang, splendid Dottyback, tomato clown and an flame Hawkfish. If I get a harlequin shrimp I plan on removing the Hawkfish to my QT tank. My question is, can I beat them by simply removing them from the tank or will they reproduce faster than I can remove them? <Mmm, might be a close race...> I bring the starfish to my local fish store. <Ah, good> Thanks for any help. John <Often these Seastar repro. wars fix themselves... I would take a philosophical bent here. Bob Fenner>

Asterina Seastar Populations, control -- 03/20/08 How to control these creatures? They multiply so quick. They eat the purple algae; make the tank look weird and ugly because of white spot. Thanks. Vinh <<I have seen postings where it was reported Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera sp.) will eat/reduce populations'¦but be aware; once the Seastars are gone the shrimp will starve. Regards, EricR>>

Re: Asterina Seastar Populations, & Gnathophylliid f' - 03/21/08 Thanks Eric. <<Welcome Vinh>> Do Harlequin shrimp is reef safe, and peaceful with other inverters? Thanks, Vinh <<Depends on your definition of 'reef safe' I suppose'¦but other than Echinoderms, your other inverts should be spared from the shrimp's diet.

Asterinas -- Reef Safe? 3/2/08 Let me start by thanking you for your valuable expertise in this matter. <Well, I'm by no means an expert, but I'm happy to help in any way I can!> I'm sorry to take up your time, <No worries, we're here to help. :-)> ..but after reading the faq's about Asterina sp. starfish I am still not yet confident enough to allow these specimens free reign. <Understandable. There are many different species, some of which may indeed eat corals or be problematic in reef systems. For the most part, the little tan/beige asterinids we see so often are harmless herbivores/scavengers. However, if their numbers become too large and/or the food supply runs low, they have the potential to cause problems. I've had anterinids in my tanks for years with corals and never had any issues. Others, unfortunately, have not been so lucky.> Could you please let me know if it is most likely reef safe? <Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure is to keep an eye on it. However, since the majority of these little stars are 'well mannered' I'd give yours the benefit of the doubt - innocent until proven guilty. Take care, -Lynn>

Re: please help... Asterina... comp. 3/5/08 Thank you I appreciate the reply. I have pulled out about 40 or 50 of the Asterina anomala's since introducing the rock and I initially assumed the worst. This tank is 2 years old and I have a lot of valuable SPS in it. I traded a rock covered in zoo's and ric's that I have had for 3.5 years to this fellow and received some frags and a few rocks in return. The life in my tank is substantial but I was shocked by the sudden emergence of species which I had thought to be invasive. Thank you for the reply and I now feel bad for removing this little creature, but at the time I was only thinking of the reef that I have grown from 1/2" to 1" frags over years. Again thank you this was my first experience with WetWeb and I am very pleased by the timely and constructive reply. <Welcome! B>

Tiny Little Starfish Hello all, or rather, whoever ! I had moved my 55 gallon tank a month ago and everything is pretty much broken down. Various fish are in different tanks all through the house, all inhabitants are doing great in their little vacation homes. My concern is this: The main tank which just has a lot of my live rock and live sand in it is infested with tiny little whitish, bluish starfish. I have had a few of these guys from the beginning but never so many like now. The tank has about 40lbs of live rock in it, about 4 inches of live sand, lots of brittle stars, macroalgae, etc., but no fish. I have read some things on these little guys, and I know they supposedly eat coral, don't have any of that, so it doesn't really matter (but will in the future), but I just don't want them in there and refuse to kill them. Is there some fish or such I can get to eat them? Do you know of any damage they may cause? <Without a picture, I can offer you a few good guesses. First, I bet the starfish are harmless. They allegedly eat coral, but you have none and they still reproduce and thrive, so I think they are probably eating something else. Secondly, they are reproducing without fish in the tank. Again, it makes me think they are eating something that the fish would normally eat and compete against them/starve then down in population or whatever fish you have may eat some of the starfish. I would not worry about them at this point, but do try to make a positive identification. Take a look in Julian Sprung's book "The Invert Guide" and Dr. Shimek's "Key to Identification" found on his webpage.> Also, I made my own protein skimmer (countercurrent flow, airstone driven). Since the filter system is broken down right now, I was thinking about changing it to Venturi driven. Is this more trouble than it's worth? <Generally less maintenance than CC air driven models, but far more difficult to DIY.> Do these things really run better than with airstones? <Very debatable. If you are getting good production now, I would be inclined to keep the current unit.> I sure go through a lot of airstones and thought it might even be more cost efficient over time. Whatcha think? <Airstones are pretty cheap. It would probably take years to recover and money saved in airstones versus the pump and Venturi valve to run the new DIY skimmer. Upon rereading, I am not sure you wish to DIY. If not, I would look through the FAQ's on skimmer selection for various recommendations for various size tanks and applications.> Thanks for all the advice, and have a good weekend, Jana <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Nuisance sea stars (Asterina) Hi, and thanks for your last reply on the length that I can keep mixed Kalk. I am now becoming concerned with the eradication of the dreaded tiny starfish that can get up to the size of a dime that I have had in small numbers in my tank for approximately one year. <I assume that they have not eaten anything desirable, but that they have simply grown to a nuisance population?> I continually find them everywhere and have removed upwards of 200 from my tank over the same time period. The starfish have only been on one side of the tank but are now migrating to the other and I am worried about my SPS corals on that side of the tank. <my friend... at these numbers, if the species hasn't eaten a coral yet, they are not going to. Most aquarists never have a single problem with this species... only a few honestly do. They are just a plague... not much of a predator> I have a 180 gallon. Will the Harlequin shrimp take care of these if I can find one or two? <Yowza! This is an obligate feeder. It may eat the stars... but what happens when the stars are eradicated? Are you willing and prepared to buy live starfish monthly if not weekly to keep the shrimp (s) alive? I would never recommend that you simply put a Harlequin in this display for this purpose alone of even primarily. Harlequin shrimp need specialized and direct care> Would I need to keep two or more for the shrimp to feel at home? I don't think I have any fish that would hurt the shrimp. I do have emerald crabs which have never hurt anything that I have so far. < "so far" being the operative phrase in that sentence... wait until they grow to sandwich size and the cat goes missing> Would I need to remove my sand sifting starfish or wouldn't the harlequins bother them? <the Harlequins will likely bother your other sea stars> Any other ideas for ridding my tank of the pest starfish? <dedicated ,manual extraction if they must go... else they are truly excellent algae eaters from the glass (and rocks). You will notice once they are gone> Thanks again, Jeff <kindly, Anthony>

A Profusion of Stars (9/15/04) Hi Mr. Fenner, <Steve Allen helping out tonight.> I have used your web site for years to help answer many of my aquatic questions. Thank you. <A pleasure to have a role here. Bob and all who have contributed over the years have done us all a great service.> In many of your Q&A you refer to many links for people to follow. As a result, the first thing I did was go to as many issues to see if my question had been covered! - It has, but only in part. From what I've gathered I'm 97% sure there tiny Asterina starfish. <Make that even more so, these pix are clearly a form of Asterina.> This wouldn't be bad except they are eating my coralline algae at aggressive proportions! <Hmm. They generally eat other algae and I have not heard this complaint before.> As many as 35 might get plucked from a 6 inch in diameter live rock. I estimate roughly 250+ in the tank. <That is quite a lot. I wonder what aspect of your tank conditions favors this. Overfeeding? Inadequate detritus removal? Hard to say. Mine has only a few dozen.> They multiply so fast when they break their appendages, and are hard to see on the rock at times. The easiest thing to do would be to toss in a Trigger and let him go at it. Unfortunately, this system is a 5 year old 55gal reef and has an established group of "peaceful" fish, inverts (coral banded, hermits, bristles) and corals (candy canes, mushrooms, bubbles, colt, hammer, cabbage, polyps) What can I do! I have been manually plucking off the starfish with tweezers. The article from your site (colored in green below) is the nearest reference to my question I found. Attached are 3 low-res jpgs of my uninvited guests. <Asterina, to be sure.> You have my permission to use these images and our correspondence (edited) if this will help. Please help!!! Thank you. Clayton <I have to concur with Anthony's opinion on these. There are those who swear these stars will eat corals, but some very respected invertebrate experts in the hobby beg to differ. A Harlequin shrimp will need to be fed manually once it wipes out the Asterina. Someone at GARF was crowing about keeping them alive for 8 months. I am not impressed--18 months and I might start to be. It doesn't sound like you can use the kinds of large aggressive fish that might eat them. That leaves manual plucking with tweezers, which the sites I checked recommend. I'd suggest that if you do try this, you take the time to pluck out every last one that you can get at. Good luck.>

Tweezing Stars (9/16/04) Thanks Steve Allen. <You're welcome.> I was afraid tweezers or the Harlequin were my only options. <Regrettably so, the first of these being the only truly viable choice.> I will double check my "tank waste" levels. I would think they would want to be where the detritus is and not on my coralline however. <Go figure. Maybe they have developed a taste for it.> Time to tweeze. <You will have your hand & arm in the tank for a long time doing this. I strongly advise wearing a long-armed aquarium glove to protect your skin. It will take some practice to be able to use tweezers while wearing one. Go to www.drsfostersmith.com and search on "gloves" in the fish section for examples.> Thank you for your response. Clayton <Good luck to you. Steve Allen.>

(Asterina anxieties) Hi I'm wondering if you guys could help me out real fast. I have a small 7 gallon reef tank and this evening I noticed a very very small white star fish like creature in the tank. Looking further I have found a ton more hiding in the rocks and inside the green algae. Are these bad? What will chow down on them? I just now placed an emerald crab inside the tank to control more of the algae and was hoping he would dine on them as well. Any help you guys could give me would be great. I would also like to thank you for the countless articles of help I have already read for help in the past, Thank again, Brian S. <Mmm, not likely a problem with these little stars. You can read about others experiences with Asterina on WetWebMedia.com. I would use the Google search tool on the homepage and the genus name. Bob Fenner>

- Mini-star dangerous? - Hello All, First I want to thank all of the WWM crew for their tireless efforts to make the WWM what I consider to be one of the best sources for practical advice on marine aquaria I have come across in the "whole year" I have been involved in the hobby (read that obsessed). <Haha, that's good to hear!> Thank You!!! I have also just received "Reef Invertebrates" By Anthony and Robert, wonderful work and very much appreciated. <Will pass along!> Now for one of many questions, Attached is an amateur photo of the underside of one of several critters I have recently noticed in my 55 Gal. Reef. This animal is approx. 3/8" across and appears to be akin to some sort of starfish when viewed from above. They are somewhat active and I have observed them on my Tridacnid clam shell and some of the LPS coral bases but have not observed any damage done. Any help with ID would be greatly appreciated as I have scoured your site as well as a good part of the net with no success other than continued education. <That's a tiny sea star of the genus Asterina. Most of these critters are simply harmless algae and bacteria feeders, but some have been seen chowing SPS tissue. They are quite common in reef tanks, so don't be alarmed unless you see them cruising over on of your acro's. They reproduce by dropping legs, which explains the odd and highly variable shape!> As of yet I have had some wonderful success with my tank and am involved in propagating LPS and SPS corals, I have 120 lbs LR in a 55G show tank, 1-2" Med aragonite base, overflow to a wet dry with protein skimmer in sump, I have a 10G refugium loaded w/ copepods and all kinds of macro algae which along with the live rock I attribute to the successful existence of 2 fat and happy Dragonets 1 mandarin and 1 psychedelic, <Good to hear of fat and happy dragonets, I hear too much of the other extreme...> I was about 6 months into a FO set up when one of my vendors sold me the contents of his reef tank and thrust me into this wonderful world where I have been scrambling to learn as much as I can trying to keep everything alive with only a minor fatality of SPS along the way. <Sometimes that happens, don't let it get you down. Happy fraggin'! -Kevin> Thanks again for all your work and advice. Best Regards, Jim

Asterina Star Invasion - 04/30/06 Hi Bob / Crew, <<Hello Matt...Eric Russell here tonight>> I have been reading through the FAQ's etc and I have determined that my 180 gal (semi) reef has a plague of Asterina stars. <<Likely not as much a problem as you perceive>> They are varying in size from dots to 1/2" specimens, and I have hundreds of them. <<Like many of the organisms in our tanks, these too are self-limiting based on available food stuffs>> On any given morning I could have between 150 and 250 of them on the front glass alone. <<Is a bunch...but probably not anything to worry about>> They are everywhere - and to be honest are quite unsightly stuck to the front glass all the time. <<Getting in the way of viewing your tank eh?>> My tank is not exactly a full blown reef - it has half a dozen mushroom (Sarcophyton) corals ranging in size from 12-14" to 2", some 'shrooms and star polyps, and a mature finger leather coral (about 12"). <<Is still a "reef" my friend>> Reading previous FAQ's, I see that the only real options for removal are a tweezers (but they'll just divide and come back within a couple of weeks) or a Harlequin shrimp (that would run the risk of starvation once the stars are gone). <<Take a look at your feeding practices...these stars are eating "something">> I was thinking / hoping that seeing as I have so many of these little guys that it might be enough to sustain a single harlequin shrimp long term. Would this be a realistic hope? <<I'm skeptical>> Failing this, is there any fish that could be reliably used for removing them? Seeing as my tank contains only hardy, nasty tasting corals, I was hoping there might be a fishy alternative - like maybe a Maculosus or Navarchus angel or the like....... <<Not that I'm aware of mate. I think your best bet is to adopt a judicious feeding plan and let them go by way of attrition>> Thanks guys <<and gals>>. Regards, Matt <<Things could be worse my friend...I wouldn't fret the stars, they will likely wane on their own. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Asterina eating a polyp 12/20/06 Hello Crew, <Hey Nick, JustinN with you today> Thanks for the awesome website! <Thanks for the kind words!> I was wondering if you could help me with a couple questions I couldn't find an answer to. <I can certainly try, can't I? *grin*> I have numerous little white starfish which I believe to be Asterina. <Likely so, very common> I have had them for well over a year with no problems. A few days ago I noticed that some of the polyps on one of my Zoanthid colonies were not looking very good, shriveled and discolored. Last night I looked at the colony and noticed one of the Asterina engulfing one of the polyps. <Scavenging, as they do...> Do you believe that this starfish was only eating the polyp because it was dead or dying? -or- Do you think it just attacked the polyp because it was hungry. (although I've never seen this happen for over a year since I've had the starfish population) <I think you answered your own question here *grin* You witnessed the degrading of the polyps before the incident happened, and as you stated, you are well over a year incident free. I personally believe these intriguing (and invariably free!) reef denizens have gained a bad rap in the Zoanthid fanatic circles. I've not seen anything beyond circumstantial at best information on this behavior from Asterina stars.> Worried, I peeled the starfish off and removed him from the tank. But now I wonder what would have happened if I had left him.... Do you think he just would have beneficially eaten the decaying part of the colony or would he have eaten the health polyps as well. <My thought is the former, not the latter.> So if I see this again should I just let the starfish do his work? <Yes, if you witness this again, I would just let it happen, is part of the biota balance.> One other quick question, I am giving some Chaetomorpha macroalgae to my brother for his refugium. I have a population of flatworms in my tank that I don't mind, but my brother might. I was curious if it would be ok to freshwater dip this algae to remove the worms.... I could just swish it in saltwater, but I'm afraid that it might not remove them all. <Why not just take the safety route and use both methods? Rinse in some saltwater first, then do a short freshwater dip before rerinsing in saltwater and bagging for your brother.> Thank you so much in advance for your help. Everyone have a happy Holiday! -Nick <Happy holidays to you and yours as well, Nick. Hope this helps you! -JustinN>

Asterina Starfish compatibility 11/24/06 Hello, <Hello and a happy Thanksgiving to you, Rosemary! JustinN with you today.> I very much enjoyed reading the information you had posted on your web sight about Star Fishes. I am looking for information about a specific breed I did not see mentioned on your web sight. I was told it is called "Asterina Mini Star" I will email you the listing off eBay so you might see what they look like. <Mmm, not necessary, am very familiar with this species> I am interested in learning anything you know about this species. I especially wanted to know if they are coral safe? I currently have a pair of Erectus sea horses and a bluestriped pipe fish in a 15 gallon tank. I wanted to make sure this is a peaceful type. According to the sellers listing this type is suppose to remain small so I thought it might be perfect for my tank. I would greatly appreciate to learn what you know about them. I would be extremely grateful for any help you could give me! Thank you so much for your time! Best Wishes Rosemary <While some people like to point fingers and blame Asterina stars for such things as polyps not extending, and of consuming Zoanthids, myself and many other reefers in my area have many of these in our tanks and have never seen any deleterious effects. These starfish have little to no affect on the overall bioload, and are excellent detritivores. The main reason that they seem to get accused of as much ill as they do, is because they do reproduce like weeds. If your tank is nutrient rich enough, they can grow to plague proportions, although it is typically easy to keep in check with manual extraction. Do you have any live rock in your aquarium? If so, you may already have some Asterina stars and not know it yet! Have a browse through our existing Asterina starfish FAQ's and decide for yourself if they sound right for you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm Hope this helps you! -JustinN>

Hitchhiker...friendly or evil? Asterina Stars -- 12/30/07 Hello, <Hello, Brenda here!> I purchased my first batch of live rock yesterday for my brand new saltwater aquarium! Yippee!! <Congratulations on a very exciting adventure!> When I got it at the store, the guy helped me pick out a really good piece with a little mushroom on it and a small white starfish which I thought was pretty cool. When I got it all home and put them in, I found another, and this morning I found another! They're asymmetrical, tiny creamy colored things. I've done some research and found out that they are either carnivorous enemies that must be irradiated before they populate the entire tank and eat all of your coral, or cute, harmless algae eaters. I'd like to keep them because I like them, but if they're going to cause a problem I'd like to get rid of them earlier rather than later. Do you have any idea which one they are or how to tell? <It sounds like you have Asterina Stars.> Have you encountered this at all? <I have Asterina Stars in all of my reef tanks. I have never encountered a problem with them. I find them to be beneficial. Some have stated that they have witnessed these stars eating coral. This is rare in healthy coral. Asterina Stars are often found eating already dead tissue and are falsely accused. I would not be concerned, and would add them to my tank. More information found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm > Thanks! <You're welcome and good luck to you! Brenda>

Re: Asterina Stars -- 12/30/07 Good to hear! I have an 8g nano tank, hopefully will become a reef tank, and already I have three nice sized whitish ones and like 10 TINY bluish ones (about a cm long). <Yikes! I would remove the blue ones. My previous recommendation was for the white and tan Asterina Stars that you stated you had. I have read of instances where any pink, purple or blue Asterina stars are known to eat coral.> How quickly will they overrun my tank? <This is hard to say and will depend on available food. An 8 gallon tank is rather small, so it may happen within a few months.> When should I start plucking? <This is a personal choice. I never remove the white/tan ones. Many people do not like to have them on the glass.> Thanks so much! Tori <You're welcome! Brenda>

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