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FAQs about  Brittlestar Identification 2

Related Articles: Brittlestars, Sea Stars

Related FAQs: Brittlestar ID 1, Brittlestar ID 3 & Green Brittlestars, Brittlestars 1, Brittlestars 2, Brittlestars 3, Brittlestar Behavior, Brittlestar Compatibility, Brittlestar Selection, Brittlestar Systems, Brittlestar Feeding, Brittlestar Reproduction, Brittlestar Disease, Seastar Selection, Seastar Compatibility, Seastar Systems, Seastar Feeding, Seastar Reproduction, Seastar Disease

Baby Mini Brittle Star? Nope, Hydroid Jellyfish! 8/19/07 I was wondering if this was a mini brittle star. <Nope, it's a teeny tiny crawling hydromedusae (Staurocladia oahuensis) and generally nothing to worry about. Please see these links for photos and more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/jellyidfaqs.htm http://www.ronshimek.com/Animal%20Groups%203%20Cnidarians.htm <Take care -Lynn>

Brittle Star Fish Reproduction? Nope... Micro Brittle Stars -- 08/01/07 <Greetings Mich here.> I have a brittle star fish. <OK.> It lost about an inch of two legs a couple weeks ago. <OK.> I saw them wiggling around, but then they disappeared. <OK.> Now I am noticing at least 10 "baby" starfish wiggling around in the crushed coral. I've questioned in the past about the "starfish" attached to the glass (which are not starfish at all). <Likely Asterina stars.> These are definitely different. Their arms move around just like the momma star and they are the exact proportion, but they are so small. Could they actually be reproduced brittle starfish? <No. Most likely a different species altogether. These are probably micro brittle stars (Ophiactis spp.), beneficial scavengers. A fine addition to any marine tank. You can see some photos here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestaridfaqs.htm > Why are there so many if only two legs broke off? <Are not one and the same.> Thank you for your help! <Welcome! Mich>

Starfish ID... Striped Micro Brittle Stars (Ophiactis spp.)  7/11/07 Hi all, <Hi there! Mich here!> Recently I purchased a really nice looking piece of live rock from my LFS who is very reputable and does very very good work in the marine aquarium world. However, I got home and put it in my tank, and after a little bit I noticed a lot of little legs sticking out. The legs belong to some type of brittle star which I hope is not the dreaded green brittle star. <Hee! No tis not the dreaded green brittle star.> Of the ones I've seen, they have 6 serpent-esque legs around a round disk which on the largest one I saw, is no bigger than 1/2 an inch in diameter. The legs are a banded in alternating brown and a grayish green pattern. I've attached a pic which isn't the best, but it can hopefully give you an idea of what I'm talking about. <Yes you can see a better picture here on the query dated 04/01/2007. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestaridfaqs.htm You have a Striped Micro Brittle Stars (Ophiactis spp.). They often have 6 arms, because they frequently reproduce by asexual fission. They are a beneficial addition to your tank and are part of the clean up crew. Hopefully they will reproduce and establish themselves in your system.> Hope you can help me.
<Hope I did! Mich>

Ophiactis spp.? Perhaps, or maybe Ophiothrix -- 07/07/07 Thought I would post this here for those of us that are relatively new to the hobby. I feel I got a pretty good picture of it and would mostly like to share the picture with you so that new people to the hobby that find one would have a source here for their identification. <Thank you for sharing and helping others.> You can post this e-mail or not as you so choose as I really don't have a question at this point <Most all get posted.> unless I am wrong in my identification. <Is a micro brittle star of some sorts, perhaps an Ophiothrix spp. as they tend to live on sponges, gorgonians, corals.> My tank is a 29-gallon Oceanic Bio Cube. It has been in operation since 07-Jan-07, so almost 6 months old. <Welcome to the hobby.> I found this last night, first time I had ever seen him/her. From what I can find it is a Striped Mini Brittle Starfish (Ophiactis spp.) a detritivore and good addition to any CUC. <Is a detritivore and a beneficial addition to any marine tank. What is a CUC?> He is about the size of a nickel from tip to tip. He is in this picture resting on the main branch of a red Gorgonian with yellow polyps, they are closed right now except the few that you see open on the branch to the left, but when all are open what a beautiful creature. <Yes, but not likely photosynthetic. I suspect it is Diodogorgia nodulifera, which has a rather poor record of survival in captivity. Requires good water flow to prevent algae growth, which can smother and kill it. You will likely need to do supplemental feedings with planktonic foods or finely minced frozen foods. This is a high maintenance gorgonian.> TOO COOL!! I am excited. Amazing the things that you find even after this amount of time. <And what you will continue to find with sharp eye and patience!> Best regards,
Henry G. Mello
<Thanks for sharing. Mich>

Re: hitchhiker... Micro Striped Brittle Star (Ophiactis spp.) ...  -- 06/26/07 <Hi Matt, Mich with you tonight. I included your previous email below. I saw this picture when you sent it in earlier this month. Coming back for a third opinion I guess...> I attached a photo. The feeder tentacles are slightly out of focus but visible nevertheless. <I see.> There are probably 6 to 10 of these critters that hide in very small openings in the rock (I would say as small as a 1/4 inch). <There are probably many more than what you observe.> The tentacles are striped and reach out about a 1/2 inch (though one of them reaches up to 3/4"). When they grab a piece of brine shrimp they either curl it up and bring it in or sometimes it seems that they have tiny legs on the tentacles that carry it down the tentacle. <Yes, you will have a difficult time trying to convince me this is anything other than a brittle star as previously stated. I would be quite surprised if this is not a Striped Micro Brittle star (Ophiactis spp). You can do a Google image search using the term Ophiactis or you can see some picture here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestaridfaqs.htm Please do take a look for yourself. You seem to need convincing. Ophiactis are very small, generally get up to be about an inch across from out stretched arm to outstretched arm, the body itself is typically less than a quarter of an inch, thus the common name: Micro Brittle star. They are common hitchhikers on live rock, reproduce readily in most systems (many reproduce by asexual fission and often have 6 legs instead of the classic 5 legs) and are beneficial members of the clean up crew.> I caught a glimpse of one time for a half of a second and it appeared to look more like an insect and lacked a definite color. <There are not many marine insects... of the 2 MILLION described species of insects about 250-350 species are thought to be able survive exposure to marine environments but there are NO known species that remain submerged through out there lifecycle.> They also seem to be most active during the day especially in the evening around feeding time. I never see any indication of their presence at night. <They usually stretch out there arms during the day, (particularly around feeding time) as they can easily (I guess this is a relative term...) regenerate an arm, but keep their bodies with in the relative safety of the live rock. At night they may venture about under the rocks, but you will generally not observe out stretched arms at this time as they are more secure under cover of darkness.> Thanks for your help. I hope you have a couple ideas about what these things are. <Yes, I am confident with the ID. Hopefully I have given you enough information that you can check and determine for yourself that the information provided is indeed on the mark. Edify thyself... <<Amen. RMF>> Mich> Matt Hitchhiking Brittle Stars - 6/15/07 <Hi Matt> I have searched for hours and hours attempting to identify these critters I have living in my rock. I just want to know what they are and what they look like. I would guess that there are at least six of these guys hanging out in tiny holes, some no bigger than a 1/4 inch in diameter, in my rock. The only thing visible is two, half inch tentacles reaching out. I actually saw one pop out for an instant after a feeding of brine shrimp. It looked segmented like an insect but it was so quick I cannot be certain. Can you help me identify these critters? <I sure can! They're small brittle/serpent stars, most likely a species that stays small (usually around an inch or less across), and a neat addition to your tank. They hitchhike in and like to hang out in crevices in, and around, the rockwork. What you're seeing are several of their little 'arms' reaching out in hopes of catching a bit of food floating past. Please see WWM for more information, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestarreprofaqs.htm > I attached a photo and I can also send a higher resolution copy if needed. <Thanks, but I think we're good to go!> Thanks Matt Huppert <You're very welcome! -Lynn> Re: Hitchhiking Brittle Stars (Maybe not?!)- 6/15/07 <Hi Again!> It is definitely not a brittle star. What is your second guess? <Hmmm, sorry about that! If there's any way you can get a good close up shot of one of these, that would be terrific. Thanks. -Lynn><<RMF would swear this is an Ophiuroid also>>

Re: Hitchhiker... Micro Striped Brittle Star (Ophiactis spp.)  - 06/27/07 Wow. <Hello again Matt, Mich here.> Thanks, <Welcome!> I guess I just needed a little more detail. <Yes. Sometimes our ideas/believes about what we know/understand become fixed and we have a difficult time accepting/comprehending anything that conflicts with these concepts. Sometimes further evidence/explanation is required for us to acknowledge/embrace the new information.> I guess what I saw was something sharing the space with it and snagged the food out from its tentacle. <Often this is the case.> I wonder that the heck that thing was. <A Scud (Gammaridean amphipods or Gammarus shrimp) would fit the general description you provided... looks like an insect, color is... well... "Scud color" as you said, "lacking a definite color" is a good description. Hides in the live rock during the day as another appropriate name for this creature would be "fish food". You can see some pics here or again do a Google image search: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amphipodfaqs.htm http://www.museum.vic.gov.au/crust/amphigal.html > Thanks for the help.
<You are most welcome! Mich>

Same pic, same org.

Ophiolepsis sp. (Serpent Star) Reproduction...Nope Striped Micro Brittle Stars (Ophiactis spp.)   4/1/07 Hi, <Hi Elaine, Mich with you today.> I read your information frequently and have some photos to share.  I have attached two pictures of what I think are baby Serpent Stars.   <Mmm, nope sorry.  These are not babies, but a different species altogether.  They are Striped Micro Brittle Stars (Ophiactis spp.).  If you notice, at least 2 of the stars in you photo have 6 arms.  This is because they often reproduce by asexual fission.  They are a wonderful addition to your tank and are part of the clean up crew.  They will likely reproduce and establish themselves in your system.> I have two Ophiolepsis sp. serpent stars in my 90 gallon tank as part of my clean-up crew.  I purchased a fish net breeder box to hold a ball of macro algae in the overflow of the lower tank, which is where I found the babies.  I was doing some tank cleaning and was going to change the netting on the breeder box.  When I looked into the box, the babies were hiding in the ball of algae.  I got them out and put them into a small tank with a huge piece of live rock.  They immediately hid in the crevices of the rock.  They came out to pose when I changed some of the water in the small tank.  I was wondering what I should feed them. <They eat detritus.> Thanks for the wealth of information that you have contributed! <From Bob and the rest of the crew, you're quite welcome.  -Mich> Elaine

Re: Ophiolepsis sp. (Serpent Star) Reproduction...Nope Striped Micro Brittle Stars (Ophiactis spp.)   4/1/07 Mich, <Elaine> Thanks for the information - these are definitely cute little guys - and they clean too! :) <Yes!  All good!  Enjoy them!  -Mich> Elaine
Small Brittle Star  3/6/07 Hi, <Hello.> great site thanks for all your advice in the past. <Welcome.> I am  attaching a picture I found on another site....since I can't get a  clear picture of mine in my tank.  I purchased a rock with blue  mushrooms and out of several  holes I see these three white-black  banded arms sticking out at times.  They are always in threes and  never look like anything more than this picture which depicts them  beautifully.  Any idea what this is. <A small brittle star, nothing to worry about.>   Thanks again
Carlos
<Adam J.>

Brittle or serpent star? Bristly -vs.- Smooth.   2/25/07 Good evening! I cannot seem to find the information on WWM or in the Reef Invertebrates book <See page 346> which tells the difference between Serpent Stars and Brittle Stars.   <Most serpent stars have smooth arms where as most brittle stars have some type of spiny projections.  More here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/echinoderms/echinoderms.htm  > My FOWLR tank (45 gal, one Humu Humu Trigger, one Sailfin Tang, One Tomato Clown and one Yellow Tail Damsel) has been running since February 2006 and has had this collection of fish since the end of June 2006.   <Sigh...  Here come the tang police...  The sailfin tang will get big, to nearly 16 inches.  Tank size should be a minimum of 135 gallons to provide enough swimming space.  Forty-five gallons is way too small long term for this fish.>   Everything seems happy and healthy.   <See above comment.> A few weeks ago I saw a small star of some sort - center is about the size of an eraser on a pencil, the five legs are each about 1-1.1/2" long.  It is a dark gray-green color.  Legs appear to be smooth.  Is this a green brittle star?  How is a serpent star different? <I suspect you have some mini stars in your system.  Either Amphipholis or possibly Ophiactis.  Both are beneficial detritivores that need little in terms of care and typical reproduce in the system.  I don't think there is any cause for concern.>   I've only seen this guy three times in the last few weeks, at night after the lights have been out. <Not surprising, most hide during the day.> Thanks! Judi <You're welcome!  -Mich>

Invert ID  Zoanthids <Maybe a Chlorophyte> and Euryalid    02/17/07 Dear Mr. Fenner, <Hi Laurie, Mich here.> I hope I am not going to crash your server again! <Nope!  Not this time!> I have resized the pictures of the inverts. I hope you can id them for me! <Will try, the photo are quite blurry.  The Macro setting on your camera (symbol often looks like a flower) might help for future reference.> I do not know if you have received the text--so, I'll write everything again.   <Actually saved the text before deleting the overwhelmingly large photos.  Included the original text at the end of this message.> The group of green tubes began to grow around November in my classroom 12 gal. tank. The largest is about 1 inch long with a diameter of about 1/16 of an inch. The tubes are turning white at the base and appear to have fine white "hairs" on them. There appears to me a mouth also at the end of the tube (I can see a dark green slit), although I have never seen the mouth open. See photo of green tubes. <I believe the photo shows a zoanthid colony.  Please read more here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zoanthid.htm ><<This looks like the Green Algae, Neomeris sp. to me. RMF>> The second photo was taken of my gorgonian in my 55 gallon home tank.  The creature has been attached to the gorgonian since I bought the gorgonian and is growing fast. Its "arms" move, but it appears to stay in the same place daily...a possible Euryalid?! <Could be, hard to tell by the photo but the description and the behavior would fit.  RMF any comment?><<Maybe>> Thank you for your help! <Welcome!  -Mich> Laurie Price <Mmm, Laurie... the pix aren't here... are you sure you attached them? Please cc yourself (to make sure they're getting through) and re-send. BobF> <Original text below.> I have (possibly) two different types of inverts that I cannot id. myself. One type is in my classroom's 12 gallon nano tank. There are about 7-8 of them. They began growing last November. They are not about 1 inch long with a diameter of about 1/16 of an inch. They appear to have white "hairs/fuzz" on their bodies. See photo of lime green tubes.  The other creature is on my gorgonian in my 55 gallon tank at home. It, too, is growing. It has maroon skin and several arms. The arms have cream colored "feathery" branches coming out of them. See photo of purple gorgonian. Thanks for your help! Laurie Price, NPHS

Brittle Stars in macro algae, Ophiactis spp.   1/23/07 Hello All - <Hi there Charlene, Mich with you today.> I have an odd question. <Mmm, probably not that odd...> I just purchased about a handful and half of macro algae from a LFS. <OK.> I was going to put it in my 20 gal tank that I house 6 dwarf seahorses and a mandarin. When I was getting ready to open the bag I noticed something crawling back into the algae. I looked closer and turned the bag around and I saw a couple of dozen brittle stars in the bag. The size range goes from a little shy of a dime to smaller than a tip of an eraser and that's just what I can see without tearing the algae apart. I tried to take a picture of one of the larger ones but, it just came out blurry and they move rather fast. They are a light tan color with a dark brown spot as the center. <Yes, these are Micro Brittle Stars, Ophiactis spp., beneficial reef safe, clean up crew members.  There are a couple of queries regarding these on this page, be sure to note the size as the larger one are a problem.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestaridfaqs.htm>   I am very concerned about adding these with my dwarfs. Could I leave them in the refugium and be safe? I do not want to hurt them either. <Refugium or display is fine.  These stars stay small and should reproduce in your tank, which, in my opinion would be a good thing.> I have found conflicting advice where I have searched the past couple of hours. <Yes, larger species are a concern, but these little ones are a fine addition.> Thank you in advance for your help. I appreciate it. <You are quite welcome!  -Mich> Charlene Pardi

Brittle star id, worries  - 1/18/07 Hi guys and gals, <Hey Scott, JustinN with you today.> I've been burning the midnight oil trying to ease/confirm my worries about my brittle star. Here's the story: I bought a used 60 gallon tank 10 months ago, and I'm still in the early stages of stocking and upgrading it, so that I can eventually call it a reef tank. It came with an ocellaris clown, yellow damsel, royal Gramma, a sea cucumber, and a brittle star (and lots of live rock). In the last couple months I added a neon goby, yellow streak fairy wrasse, and flame angel. The flame angel hid in the rockwork immediately, and I only saw glimpses of him for the first two days, after which I didn't see him at all for another 4 days. I took most of the live rock out to try to find him, and found that the brittle star had obviously eaten him. <Mmm...> I know it's possible/likely that  he died first from the stress of shipping or disease (my girlfriend bought him as a surprise gift without really knowing what to look for--an innocent but probably costly mistake) <And I hope you explained to her the rationale and reasoning for conscientiousness as an aquarist...> but now I'm concerned that the brittle star  could be predatory. <Mmm, all too likely> I figured he was safe because he's not the infamous green brittle star your site warns about, but further investigation (endless google image searching) makes me think he might be in the same genus, Ophiarachna. <I would agree with this> The closest resemblance I've seen is a picture on marinedepotlive.com of a "bubble tip brittle 'fancy' sea star, Ophiarachna sp." Any idea from the blurry pics? He's definitely big enough to pose a threat to my small fishes (~14 in. diameter with about a 1.3 in. body). <Yes, quite large... definitely a predatory threat. Although, I'm not too hip on specific identifications, so I can't help you any further than I have here, perhaps RMF will chime in here?> I'm worried to the point of wanting to give him away, but I do like his scavenging ability and would want to replace him with another detritivore (a "safe" echinoderm?). <Do consider so-called serpent stars for this task.> Or, would he be okay if I transferred him to the refugium/sump? It's a 20 gallon with a large skimmer and pump, some live rock, and Chaetomorpha algae, alternating light cycle with the main tank. Any help at all would be appreciated. <Mmm, too likely that the echinoderm will consume any beneficial benthic life in the refuge.> On another topic I might as well bring up, my Gramma has become much more shy over the last 2 months, only darting out to eat and hiding again. He's been with the same tankmates for the last 5 months (and the damsel for 2 years) and his hiding constantly is pretty new. He looks perfectly healthy to me. Do you think the damsel is intimidating him? I haven't seen any overt hostility. It actually seems like he's also scared of me. Do you think giving away the damsel would make him more comfortable? <Its possible that the damsel is causing some aggression you're not noticing, however this seems to be a fairly common behavior for royal grammas. I wouldn't be too overtly concerned here.> Sorry for the long email and thanks for a great website. Scott <No problems, Scott, the details help us. Hope I've helped you! -JustinN>

Snake stars... name   1/16/07 Hi <Hello there> I hope you can help me, I have some confusion as to what snake stars actually are as the phrase is used some what flippantly! Are snake stars another name for all Brittle stars? Are snake stars another name for all serpent stars? <This common name is used interchangeably for a few species of Ophiuroids..> Or are snake stars separate species from a family of Brittle stars? I appreciate your help. Thanks very much Janet <I would say all Snake Star species are Brittlestars, but not all Brittlestars are referred to as Snake Stars... sort of like all newts are salamanders, but not all salamanders are newts. Bob Fenner>

Deadly green brittle star?!?   1/6/07 Mr.. Fenner, Attached is an e-mail that I have tried to send to WWM for about two months now. I understand that ya'll are having server issues and just want to make sure it is not on my end, Thanks, Brandon <Hotay... hope it clears through my acct. B> Deadly green brittle star?!? Resend of a prior unanswered e-mail. Thanks, Brandon Hello crew! So ,  I sent my wife to the store to get a "clean up crew" for her 55 Gallon Reef tank. She came back with a few blue and red hermits, a few turbo snails, a few chromis (she thought they were cute) and this brittle star. Looks to me like the fish killer AKA Green brittle star. <And there are more fish-eating Ophiuroids than Ophiarachna...> The guy at the LFS did not warn her that this bad boy might turn her favorite Royal Gramma into a midnight snack. As you can see in the pics, her punishment was having to hold the star long enough for me to take MANY pictures. Am I IDing this wrong or is this her new refugium clean up buddy never to touch her main tank?!? <Is likely O. incrassata> Her system has a 10 gallon fuge with a wet dry. If we put him in the fuge will he get enough food (nothing is in the fuge yet except pumps and heaters since we are waiting for the right macroalgae to get into stock)? <Should be fine food-wise, yes> On a side note, We were wondering why WWW has never had a LFS good bad list. <Mmmm> A place where people can write reviews on the LFS and other WWW readers can sort out the good, the bad and the ugly! <We allow postings of individual assessments... but do think on this... Who's to judge? There is at least a tint of collaboration/agreement in such... Many foreigners believe all U.S. citizens are in accord with the Bush Administration... and, who knows when particular staff, management, practices may change and a "bad" store/governance, become "better to good?"> Thanks for all the wonderful information you provide! Brandon
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Small brittle stars?   12/28/06 Hello, <Hi there, Mich with you tonight.> found your website today while trying to research what appears to be quite a few brittle stars I found hitch hiking in on live rock and while I haven't yet been able to find anything to answer my question the information included in these posting is very interesting and informative.   <Glad you think so!> Now my question, recently decided to set up a new reef tank in my office and when I put in the first few pieces of live rock I've seen literally a dozen or more small animals that appear to be brittle stars.  Unfortunately I cannot take pictures of them but will do my best to describe so that you may be able to narrow down the species.  These all have a central disk of dark grey or brown about centimeter across with six arms, some seem to have lost a few and are regenerating, that are banded in white and the same color as the disk.  Closer examination with a magnifying glass shows that the arms have small hairs or spines along the entire length.  They all move just like any other brittle stars that I have seen, and move in and out of the rocks, across the glass and across the substrate.  It's the six arms and they all have them, that has me confused.  I did some research and found a picture of Ophiocoma Alexandri (Alexander's Brittle Star) here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm like the one's I'm attempting to describe, although I'm not sure if I'm seeing six legs or five and a shadow on this picture.  Any ideas?  And if you think this is not said brittle star what do you think it is, I've read most are good for reef tanks but that there are some exceptions.  I think these are interesting, should I leave them alone? <Sounds like a striped micro brittle star (Ophiactis sp.).  A good friend indeed and a beneficial part of your clean-up crew.  They should happily reproduce in our tank and often do so by asexual fission, basically splitting in half and regenerating the missing half.  This is often why they are often observed to have 6 arms instead of the more common five.>   Thanks, <Welcome!  -Mich> Todd Camp

Re: small brittle stars (Ophiactis savignyi)   12/28/06 <Hello Todd, Mich with you again.> Many thanks again!!   <You are quite welcome!> After your reply I was able to do some more research and believe I have narrowed these individuals down to Ophiactis Savignyi.  Just in case anyone else has these and is interested: <Oh!  Thank you for sharing!> Ophiactis savignyi (Muller and Troschel, 842) Identification -- Small (2 cm diameter with arms) 6-armed brittle star.  Green, brown or cream. Distribution -- Tropical and subtropical eastern Pacific, Indo-Pacific and Atlantic.  Common in all reef habitats. Notes -- Can be extraordinarily abundant, often lives in sponges. Reproduction includes asexual fission and sexual development with a feeing larva. http://striweb.si.edu/publications/PDFs/Collin%20et%20al. Page 698. <Muchas gracias!  -Mich>  


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