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FAQs about  Brittle/Basketstar Disease/Health 1

Related Articles: Brittlestars, Sea Stars

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

A goner.

Serpent star sick or reproducing?  Unhealthy!   3/21/07 <Hi Rochelle, Mich here.> Sorry about not capitalizing some of my words. <?> any-hoo...... I've attached a picture of my sea star. He has a hole. <Just a flesh wound... Meant in the same vain as Monty Python> I noticed he had a small white hole 2 weeks before he was purchased, it never got any bigger so I brought him home. He has been in my tank about 3 weeks. Tonight while acclimating him into a bigger tank I noticed the hole has become huge and fuzzy looking. Inside I see something of brown color. Is he sick? <Yes.> or just casting off an arm? <Uhh, not intentionally.> All the other critters in the tank are fine, no one else in the tank appears ill. <Good to hear.> Even the sea star is eating and moving around. <Mmm, not sure how much longer.> what to do here? <Keep you water quality up and hope for the best.  Not a good prognosis here my friend.  If it dies, be sure to remove the remains as not to foul your system.> Thanks in advance
<You're welcome.  -Mich>

Green Brittle Star 9/30/05 Hi, recently I bought a green brittle starfish last week on Tuesday.  The pet store had a display tank which they took down and put in separate tanks to be sold.  The brittle starfish I bought was from that display tank. <The most common cause of problems with these animals is shipping stress.  If this animal was already established in captivity, then it has to be something else...> My point is that now my starfish is like eating it's legs or something of the sort.  It's folding it's legs under him and I don't know if he's just cutting them off or eating them (maybe both -.- ).  Is he doing this because he's stressed from all the moving around or what? <Most likely, yes.  These animals are very sensitive to changes in salinity and pH.  It is most often recommended to acclimate them to a new tank over several hours and many folks actually use a "drip method" where a piece of airline with a loose knot is used to drip tank water into the bag water at a rate of one drop per second or so.> One more thing, my dad also moved the starfish from one side of the tank to the other because we were afraid it was going after the damsels since he was in their hiding place.  Since we moved him, I feel he has been depressed or something.  They told us to feed him once a month.  Is he just hungry?  I hope you can help, I really don't want him to die.  <Usually, when these animals start losing arms, they are doomed.  If it does recover, I would suggest small weekly feedings.  I would also watch it carefully for signs of predatory behavior, as they are quite capable of capturing fish.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>
Green Brittle Star part 2 10/3/05 Hi again, Thx for taking time out of your day to help me out.  I have one more question, that I didn't think about asking. =P  Since this is happening to my starfish, do I have to take him out of the tank?  Will he get the other fish sick since he is sick? <When it becomes clear that it isn't going to survive (it doesn't look good), I would remove it so that it does not foul the water, but the condition is not contagious.> I also attached two pictures of what he looks like now.  What is that white stuff that seems to be oozing out of one of his arms?  Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions.  <Glad to help!  The white stuff is simply dying tissue.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Problem with my Green Serpent Starfish (The Headless Starfish) I have had my serpent starfish for well over a year and he has doubled in size and has been such a joy to us.  We had him in a 150 gallon tank full  of live rock and he would always get behind it and make other rocks fall...so about a month ago we started a small 55 gallon tank just to add him and a few   pieces of rock along with one male and one female clown.  We tested the  waters before adding the things to the new tank and made sure it was  established.  We put him in my sons room because he loves to watch  him.  He has been crawling all over the tank, and has been eating very well.  On Saturday night when I went to bed I fed the clowns and I also fed him.  When we woke up on Sunday Morning... his central disc had completely blown up... I could see everything inside his body  the  whole top is gone.  He was still moving all about the tank.  Today is  Monday night and all the brown stuff that was inside him is now a white color  but he is still very active and moving about the tank. I have noticed that his  all attached 5 limbs are still trying to catch food but he has nowhere to put  it.  Could you please tell me what I should do. <Nothing much "to do"... but hope that this animal will self-cure>   I immediately removed  the clowns from the tank and added them to the 150 gallon tank so he is all  alone.  I read that they do not have brains so they do not experience  pain......but I am experiencing enough pain for him.  My son WILL NOT  let me flush his as long as he is still moving around the tank. <I agree... leave this animal be> I just do  not see how he is going to recover.  Please send me any information that  will be helpful.  Thank you so much in your quick response. Brandi Vickers <Ophiuroids, brittlestars have remarkable "powers of regeneration"... Am hopeful yours will recover. Do your best to "leave it alone" (not add "medicines"), keep water quality stable... Bob Fenner>
Re: Problem with my Green Serpent Starfish (The Headless Starfish)  9/16/05
I am sorry to report that I had to flush the starfish.  His  legs became detached from his body and he began to have a foul odor.  He  was still moving two of the legs that were attached to nothing.  I do plan  on getting another one, he was very interesting and I loved to watch it.   And he did last over a year before we lost him.  I am hoping I did not make  a bad decision to flush him now.  Do you really think he could have  "regenerated" himself? <Not at this/that point... I would have done the same> Thanks for all your help.   Brandi <Very important to "match" the water quality... even better to actually move a good deal of existing water to new systems with this species, other echinoderms. Bob Fenner>

Falling Star? (Damaged Starfish) 8/20/05 Did a water change  on Wednesday, Have my tank taken care of professionally, and it costs me a whopping $600 a month for this guy to come once a week and look at my tank, clean it, get me food etc., etc. and he does a wonderful job, so I keep him. <At that price, he better do more than just a wonderful job- he should do an AMAZING job!> BUT..... He's a little hard to get a hold of in a emergency. <That's not good news to hear when you're forking out that kind of dough!> Now he said my Brittle star would Melt???? ( is that the right word for it?) <Umm...not really sure what he's referring to, but if the animal is injured or otherwise sick, it can "break down" rapidly and become a mass of necrotic tissue.> He is legless, and I'm afraid, powerless to move eat, etc. I need any and all info ASAP that you can give me Thanx Steven S Keilholz <Well, Steven, it sounds like the Starfish has suffered some sort of trauma, either as the result of an environmental lapse or harassment from another tank inhabitant. These animals do have strong re-generative capabilities, so all may not be lost. However, I would keep the animal in a contained area (such as your sump), with a regular supply of food and detritus upon which the animal can graze while recovering. Keep the water quality high during these period of time. You can read a lot more about Echinoderms right here on the Wetwebmedia site! Read, learn and enjoy! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Disintegrating Brittle Star (5/18/05) I have a serpent star in my aquarium; he has been there about 3 years. I noticed that some of the grey and black banded coloration on the outside of his legs has been eroded away, and that his central disk has some crevices into it where the leg attaches. I can see the white insides of his disk.  <very bad>  (I don't see him very often, so I can't say how long he has been like this.) Normally I would assume something that looked like this to be dead, but he is not. He is still moving around the tank and has been eating the meaty seafood pieces I offer him. Last night I found one of the hermit crabs eating away at the white part that is showing on his disk. Should I remove the star and euthanize him? I fear he is suffering a painful death at this point.  <They do not experience pain because they do not have brains.>  But I find some hope in the fact that he is moving around the tank at night, and eating the foods I offer.  <Yes, this is a hopeful sign.>  I really don't want to foul my tank with a dead animal, and would like to remove him before or as soon as he dies. I am torn between waiting for death, and humanely euthanizing him. Help? What should I do? Can a serpent star recover from what seems to be a severe compromise to his disk? My tank is 65 gallon with the following parameters... pH 8.2, alk 3.5 meq/L, calcium 325, ammonia/nitrite 0 and nitrate about 10-15.  <sounds fine>  I have added no new fish, no one seems to be harassing him (except the hermit having dinner) and there have been no changes in my tank parameters listed above ( I test very regularly). I change 10-15% of the water weekly. Thanks for any help/advice you can offer. I just want you to know that I love this website, and am so impressed with the amount of knowledge it contains, and the value of the volunteer time it must be taking to maintain it. You all are truly amazing! <Thanks, glad to be of service, Steve Allen. As for what to do, it is a difficult choice. I'd say it's unlikely, though not impossible, that this star will survive. Once they start to disintegrate it's not just the hermit crabs that start eating, it's the bacteria first. Removing it is probably the best course at this point. You could put it in a small hospital tank and treat with a broad-spectrum antibiotic in hopes that it will heal. It's hard to say what precipitated this in the first place.>

Struggling Starfish - 8/10/3 I have a green brittle star who, just yesterday, lost all his legs. They just started falling off as he moved around the tank. I did read in your FAQs about the salinity and I'm sure that is what happened. I just topped off the tank two days ago. My question now is.....he is just a body now. But he is still alive. In order to give him a chance to regenerate his legs can I leave him in the tank he's in? Or should I set up a separate hospital tank for him. <a sump, refugium or like inline vessel would be best so as to spare the stress of a move.> He's in a 20 gal hex with one blue damsel, one maroon clown, and a Jawfish. Thanks for your help! <they are amazingly regenerative... anything's possible here (including the legs growing new bodies). Do know though that this is one of the few Ophiuroid stars that are predatory... eating fishes and invertebrates in time. Consider for the future. Kindly, Anthony>

Brittle Star battlefield Hey there crew, I have a question for you all. Last weekend, I performed a water change in my 150 gallon. it was probably about 15%. My salinity was a little high, but I mixed water in that was within the normal salinity guidelines. In my tank I have one blue tang, a purple tang, a flame angle, a longnose butterfly, a Dottyback, and a strange grey Gramma-like fish. Also, there is a Condy anemone along with a ton of starfish. I have (or had) two red serpent starfish, two huge yellow brittle starfish, and probably close to ten black brittle starfish. There is also about 170 lbs of live rock.  After my water change, all of my stars started to come out. I knew something was up right when I saw my red serpent star (I only ever see those when I have to move the rocks). Also, a black brittle star was completely out along with both yellow stars. They were acting real strange. All of the fish are acting perfectly normally and there appears to be nothing wrong with the anemone.  Then, the really strange part happened- My black star began to get these white blotches between his legs and his central disk (that being the only place). He lost one arm last night and this morning, there was no central disk, just five arms. The most weird thing is that even after a full day, each arm is still reactive and alive. My red serpent I believe is dead and I just saw another large black brittle star come out.  What is going on!? The only thing I can come up with is it is either some disease or, for a little while, I thought that it may be a way they reproduce. I know that the fish aren't bothering these stars. Any thoughts?  Thank you so much for your help! Allen Haggerty <I suspect (and I think you may also) that the new water/change was at fault here... I strongly encourage folks to pre-mix, store, and match water quality... at least spg, alkalinity, pH of new water with old with most invertebrate group keeping... Please see WWM re synthetic salt mix use. Bob Fenner>

Serpent Star Sans Limbs..? II Thanks so much for your comments.  <<Most welcome, Brian.>> Here are some answers to your questions. Water parameters (just measured): pH: 8.0 (normally measures in a range from 8.1-8.2, tonight's reading seems low) (using Hanna electric tester) <<A pH of 8 is fine, as long as it doesn't bounce around too much.>> Calcium: 330 (using SeaTest kit) <<Not bad, although I would have expected a wee bit higher assuming you don't have explosive coralline growth, no other "demanders" of bio-available calcium.>> Nitrate: < 5 mg (using Hagen kit) <<Very good, though I don't know how reliable that kit is, may want to re-check with another to be sure.>> Alkalinity: 14 dKH (using Tropic Marin kit) <<You'll want it no higher, my friend. Beyond this point, on water chemistry questions, I'll have to kick you to one of the other crewmembers.>> Temperature: 78 Spec Gravity: 1.024 <<All look good.>> I previously had a problem with pH. I was using a test kit (can't recall the brand), but my poor eyes could not distinguish between the colors, so I got the Hanna tester. That showed that my pH was low (around 7.8). I started dosing with Kent Marine Superbuffer dKH, which brought it up to the range mentioned above. The range has been pretty steady for the last few months. <<Good.>> Not sure what kind of sand sifting stars I have. They are grey and spotted, and seem to be doing well. Perhaps I'll give one to a friend. <<Might be a good idea.>> I have had the serpent star around 5 months. I noticed the missing legs about 6 weeks ago. As I mentioned, he hides a lot so the legs may have been gone longer than that. One leg is gone all the way to the disk. A second leg has about a half inch left. The other legs look OK (about two and a half inches). I don't see any necrotic tissue. It looks like the legs are cut off. <<At this point, to be sure whether or not it's predation, if you have a refugium or sump you can drop the star into, then I would do that. Measurable parameters don't seem to suggest a problem, and if there is no necrotic tissue, then predation would indeed be the next logical conclusion.>> Even though I have soft corals, I've been paying attention to calcium because I want to get a clam. Thanks again. Brian Berliner <<You're welcome, Brian. At this point I would try moving the star, see what happens. All else seems fine. If you see ANY intrusions into the central disc, this is a problem. If there are intrusions after you've moved it, then I would consider the treatment I mentioned. Otherwise, that's about it! Marina>> 

Serpent Star Sans Limbs..? I enjoy reading your site and have referred to it often for answers. I have somewhat of a mystery that I would like your comment on. <<Alright, let's see if I can help. You've got yourself Marina this morning.>> First, the basics. I have a 50 gallon reef tank, with about 60 pounds of live rock, 1 yellow tang, 1 firefish goby, 1 percula clownfish, 1 royal Basslet, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp, 2 sand sifting stars, 1 serpent star, assorted turbo snails and a few small red leg hermit crabs. <<Expect the sandsifting stars to soon need much larger digs in order for them to find sufficient foods. I'd have one SMALL one in there only.. do you know what species you have?>> For coral I have some button polyps, star polyps, finger leather and mushrooms.  <<Softie tank. I bet it's nice.>> My water parameters are all within normal ranges--I check and measure often.  <<We sure do like to know what "normal ranges" are, in other words, specific readings. Test kit brand is nice to know, too.>> I add liquid calcium a few days a week and on alternate days add pH/alkalinity buffer.  <<I assume you do this because it's needed, although with the corals you have I see little need to dose extra calcium (unless you know it's very low).>> I do weekly water changes of 5%. I can go into more details about water parameters and additives, but I don't think it is pertinent to the discussion. <<Sorry, my friend, it's always pertinent, especially when we're discussing certain animals such as the serpent star.>> In short, everything seems to be going well. Except that the serpent star appears to be missing several legs. I first noticed it a few weeks ago. At the time, it looked like one leg had been cut off close to the disk. Then, I noticed a few days ago that more legs were missing. The critter hides most of the time, so it's hard for me to tell for certain.  <<How long in the system? What are the parameters? Have they changed noticeable within a short period of time? Most important to note are pH and salinity shifts. Do the legs appear to be cut/bitten off, or do they appear to have some necrotic tissue on the stubs? Anything that's white/gray, disintegrates easily should be considered necrotic.>> I am guessing that I must have a predator in the tank, probably not one of the aforementioned inhabitants, but perhaps a hitch hiker that came with the rock, such as a bristle worm or mantis shrimp.  <<Bristle worms (for the most part, most species found in aquaria) prey on detritus. A mantis might be a possibility, do you have any other signs of a mantis being housed?>> Or could it be possible that the serpent star has an illness?  <<Quite.>> Since none of the other inhabitants of the tank seem troubled, it strikes me as odd that the serpent star is the only one affected by the predator.  <<Me, too. This is why an illness seems more likely at first reading here.>> If it is a predator, what could it be and how do I get rid of it?  <<You'd first have to sort out what it is. Then research and act accordingly.>> Or, should I not bother trying to get rid of it and just let nature run its course? <<Nope, wouldn't do that. My first instinct is that there are issues with water quality, some may not even be easily tested for by home hobbyists - problematic. If the tissue appears to be necrotic AT ALL, then get some Spectrogram and a separate system. Even a bucket that's kept to temp and filtered with a simple sponge filter (seed with Bio-Spira or do daily water changes to keep parameters good) will work here. Then treat with the Spectrogram. I believe the label says not to use with invertebrates, but I have personally seen it used at a public aquarium on different starfishes and, to my utter amazement, it WORKED. These animals had necrosis.>> Your suggestions and comments would be appreciated. Brian Berliner Palos Verdes Estates, CA <<Brian, it's difficult to tell without knowing answers to the questions I've posed. I'd first like to know how long you've had the serpent, at this point I am extrapolating that you've had it at least a few months. That would rule out damage via poor acclimation. Note the other questions I have, and if you come to the conclusion that the tissue is necrotic, do try the treatment above. In the meantime, best of luck. Marina>>

Parasitized Serpent Star, And How NOT to Care for Them! Hi I'm Anthony.. <Hello, I'm Bob> I've had my tank for only 2 months.  Water is perfect, where it's supposed to be at. My banded sea serpent started developing a white area on the top, then a hole was evident. You can see the insides. Then I notice something that seemed to move - a reddish\brownish something. I think its moving inside him, however the sea serpent is still moving ok and seems to expand around the hole. The hole or gap is getting bigger, what is this? <Sounds like a parasite... could be a crustacean, worm...> When I first put in the sea serpent 2 weeks a ago, when I added salt to the tank 3 legs came apart.  <... A good practice to pre-mix, match new/old water... ahead of use> Then I dropped a rock on it about a week ago. [A] friend told me while the other serpent passed on top of this one that seems to be sick, the reddish\brownish stuff came almost out almost to grab the "ok" sea serpent...."almost like worms" he described. ....please help me!  P.S. Thanks for the valuable info you have provided for me <Look into our site re Ophiuroid health, and Strunk and Wagnall's for your deficient grammar. Bob Fenner> 

Super Nova Star? >I have a branch seastar which appears to have "exploded" from its stomach.  >>Was this associated with any type of foodstuffs? Seastars feed by basically prolapsing/inverting their gut around/over whatever it is they eat and digesting it thusly. >The tissue has torn and these tiny white pieces have blown around my tank.  >>Ooohh.. I don't think that's the case. Sounds like it's dying. >The starfish has covered its stomach with its limbs and basically curled into a ball although it appears to still be alive. It is dying?  >>That is very interesting, I've never observed this behavior. At this point, my advice is to isolate it if possible, assuring absolutely pristine water quality. You haven't mentioned any disintegration of the central disc or limbs, but I don't think it would hurt to treat prophylactically with Spectrogram. At this point, that is my best advice, along with going to reefcentral.com, reefs.org and posting same, see if anyone else has observed this and what transpired beyond. >Any advice is appreciated. KD >>Marina 

Green basket starfish I just purchased a green basket starfish and seems to be doing very well, but it has lost a few tips from it's "legs/arms". What causes this? My water is very good, and it is moving around. I would appreciate any info you have.  <The basket stars are strictly plankton eaters. They need to be fed daily to survive. They normally extend their arms at night to catch and trap the plankton, so you will have to feed at night. Some research on your part should have been done before purchase to see if the animal's requirements were acceptable to you. I'll post a link here I think you should read. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/echinoderms/echinoderms.htm Just scroll down to basket stars. James (Salty Dog)> 

Serpent Stars Hey guys. I have a saltwater setup, and I added a brown serpent starfish on Tuesday evening (January 25).  The little guy is pretty, and has been hiding under some of my live rock since he has been in there.  He came out this morning, and I noticed that on a few of his tentacles (on the end of them) there is a part that looks "dry" or "dead" if you will. I figure that was caused because when the fish store placed him in the bag when I purchased him, that the tentacles were out of the water a little.  Is that what caused the problem? Will these eventually heal or fall off. about how long will that take, and will it affect his eating habits or whatnot? Also, what do starfish eat?  I saw him grab a piece of the pellet food the other day when I feed the fish.  I want to ensure that he is getting the accurate food supply that he needs.  How much should he eat. and does he also eat the algae as well? Thank you so much for you help with that matter.  I do greatly appreciate it. >>>Hello Ken, These stars sometimes lose limbs due to rough handling or predators. When the leg begins to grow back, it looks a bit strange, and is smaller in diameter than the rest of the leg. This is what you're seeing - just growth. They are predatory, and will eat almost anything offered. Feeding twice a week or so should be plenty, and you can feed shrimp, scallops, silversides, even prepared food. Whatever you have on hand. Cheers Jim<<< Algae & Star Regeneration 1/19/04 Basically, I had a 90 gallon system for two years, I just recently moved and managed to transfer over 2/3 of the water.  I just assumed that the whitish sandy stuff on my live rock was simply sand from re-setting up the tank at its new location.  Upon a more closer look, it does in fact look like sand but appears to be hanging onto the live rock (some of the power heads too).  Does this seem to match the description of any algae you are aware of? <hmmm... not sure without a pic. Sounds more like bleaching of some corallines or the like from light shock (rock exposed to light while out of water)> As well, I have a dark purplish/greyish matter (algae?) hanging off some of the live rock.  It falls off easily enough when brushed against.  Should all this be removed? Is it harmful? <please do keep siphoning, yes... doing water changes and especially pay attention to your skimmer. Tune it so that you get a full cup of skimmate daily if you can> For a fish/invertebrate system (crabs/snails, brittle/serpent stars) how important is lighting? <lamp color is not that important to sighted animals... photoperiod is more of an issue - give natural 12/12 cycles or something close> I have just a basic florescent light that I have had now for just over two years.  I don't mind algae, as long as it is good algae.  One last note:  my red serpent star lost a limb, starting right at the disc, and now has a gaping hole to be seen through his mouth and where the limb once was.  He is still alive and appears to be trying to feed on some plankton that I put under him.  He is in quarantine.  At this point, would you say he is a goner?   <without any history on the animal (new import or established, etc.) its hard to say. Have you been target feeding it several times weekly? Critical.> I strongly suspect that my water quality was to blame.  Even though once setup I promised to do everything right, there was an issue with my canister filter where it wasn't running for perhaps up to 10 days.  I have done two partial water changes since then in the last two weeks. Thanks, Dave <best of luck. Anthony>

Little critters on my serpent star Hi.  I have a banded serpent star and I noticed a bunch of small insect like critters crawling on it's body.  I was wondering if you could tell me what these could possibly be, if they constitute an issue, and how to deal with them if they are an issue. < I'll bet they are not an issue.  Probably Mysis or copepods.  Either way they are good and I wouldn't have any concern. > The only other inhabitant of the tank is a snowflake eel who doesn't appear to have any of the hitchhikers but refuses to come out of the rock long enough for me to get a better look. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,     Tammy <  Blundell  > Serpent star deterioration I have a 30 gal. tank with a bird wrasse, serpent star (formerly), porcupine puffer, and pencil urchin. <A thirty gallon is too small for this wrasse or puffer> They have been living peacefully for about 2 years. The other day I noticed each of the star's legs were half missing. I placed it in a separate tank. It was still moving and ate when fed. The next morning more of the legs had fallen off and by evening they were all gone and my tank is down by one. Any ideas of what may have happened, tank conditions, disease age? <If you have had these animal's together this long, I doubt aggression/predation (from the Puffer) is at play here, but some sort of triggered/threshold nutritional deficiency. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/brittlestardisfaqs.htm Bob Fenner> Green Brittlestar problems (11/17/04) Hi, <Hello. Steve Allen back in service again tonight.> Thanks so much, your archives have helped me thru a lot! <Glad to be of service. I've learned a lot here as well.> However I need to ask a question now. One week ago I added a green brittle starfish, and now it's developing white smudge like areas on its arms............... all my tank parameters are within optimal ranges, and I'm feeding it without any problems. Thanks, Mike <Strange indeed. Suggestive of tissue damage or infection. I trust you acclimated over a couple of hours. Slow drip acclimation is best I always put min in a plastic container in the sump (for heat) and drip acclimate over several hours. This seems to really help in preventing the damage of rapid SG & pH shift. If you acclimated correctly then something else is amiss. Hard to say what. Best bet is to maintain optimum and stable conditions and observe. Moving the star to a QT and treating with broad-spectrum antibiotic is an option if infection is suspected, but I've not really heard much report of this working. Good luck. I hope things turn out OK for your star--way cool creatures, those greenies. Just keep them away from smaller fish.>

Can this Green Brittlestar Recover? (11/17/04) This is a picture of our eaten brittle star. <Yuck!> We sent the culprit (cream angel) back to the shop  He's still moving but we haven't seen him eating anything.  Will he recover? Yours hopefully, Kevin Gregory. <So sorry to say so, but I am highly pessimistic. From what I see, the entire top half of the central disk is missing. The condition of its exposed internal organs can't be good, and its vitals are now vulnerable to infection and to chewing by various opportunists (e.g. hermits). I'd say the only (slim) chance is to remove to a QT with stable, optimum water conditions and probably antibiotics to prevent infection. Let us know if you succeed. Steve Allen.>

Spiny Brittlestars (10/24/04) Hi.....I need help. <Steve Allen trying to help tonight.> I have a Spiny Brittlestar, his named is Spike. There is something wrong with him. I got the water in the tank right. I have 155 gal. tank. The other night I put them to bed (fishes, Spike & Whisper (anemone)) & all 4 of Spikes legs fell off. <How long has he been in there?> He was getting around alright then 1 of his 5 legs, the central disk fell off. It's causes great concern for me that 5 of his legs fell of then 1 of his central disks fell off. <I do not understand. They only have one central disk, plus 5 legs (rarely more). Anyway, the last leg fell off & I don't know what to do. His still breathing <Brittle stars do not breathe, so I do not know what motion you are referring to.> & I don't want to put him threw no more misery than he can handle. I know they don't have a brain but he can feel. <Not in the sense that an animal with a brain does. They merely react reflexively to stimuli.> Is it right for him to loose all of his legs then the central disk? <What's left? I'd say there is little hope of this creature recovering. IF there is just the central disk left, you could put it in a quarantine tank and place food under it periodically (the mouth is on the bottom). Legs can grow back.> Help me please. I'll wait for your reply. Thanks, Valerie <Please describe what is left.>

Star Gone (10/25/04) Hi.......Spike is dead. <Sorry to hear, but it did seem hopeless.> I don't know what killed him.  I guess he'd out grew himself. <??> I have a new Green Brittle star. <I trust you are aware that  these (Ophiarachna incrassata> grow to well over a foot in arm span and have a habit of trapping and eating small fish. Grammas, Firefish and Gobies can make nice meals for them.>  His named is Swampthing. <Cool. I have two very large ones with disks the size of an old silver dollar and about 15" arm span. I do love them, but the smallest fish in that tank is a 4" Maroon clown.>  Thanks for your help. Valerie <Sorry it didn't work out in the end.>

Ready to Call it Quits (10/31/04) Hi....I said 155 gals., not right, 55 gals is my tank. I'll keep an eye on Swampthing. The 3 clownfish died. <Sorry to hear.> They had a Viral Infection or something. They turned white up on their faces & their eyes got cloudy. <Perhaps Brooklynella?> I'm not putting anymore fish in that tank. If they die, I'm giving my tank to the Thrift store. I didn't know it was going to be that much work. I knew I had to check the tank everyday & all the chemicals in there but fish kept dying & my starfish is gone & I don't know what to do. I'll keep an eye on Swampthing. Thanks for all your help, Valerie. <Don't give up just yet Valerie. Most fish diseases will die out if there are no fish in the tank for several weeks. I'd suggest you leave it fishless for several months, while attempting to nurture the population of fascinating invertebrates that come on life rock, including copepods, mini featherdusters, etc. Maybe get a couple of cleaner shrimp or a single Coral-banded shrimp. Consider returning the Green Brittlestar as it will eat the kinds of hardy, beautiful fishes that are appropriate for this size of tank. A lot of folks have been having bad luck with clowns since "Finding Nemo," probably because they are being over-bred. Once the tank has had a few fishless months to clear up, you could start adding fish, taking care to QT each new acquisition (Set-up costs less than $50--check the FAQs for ideas.) for 4 weeks. Ideas would be the Royal Gramma, Firefish, Banggai Cardinals, Shrimp Gobies, Flasher Wrasses--all hardy, colorful, and relatively small. You could top the group off with a Flame Angel, which would be an appropriate centerpiece fish for a 55. Patience is the key here. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Where Did Those Arms Go? (10/9/04) Greetings Crew. <to you as well, Steve Allen tonight.> Hope you may have an idea for this situation. I have a Brittle starfish that has somehow lost the greater part each of its arms. Each arm  is only about 1/2  inch long now. Looking at the ends they almost appear to have been broken or bitten off. <Could be either. Impossible to know.> I know of no predators in the tank.  I do have a sally lightfoot crab, <could be the culprit. No crab can be trusted 100%.> a serpent star, and two cleaner shrimp. The only fish are a pair of percula clowns. The brittle star seems to come out at night and feed as usual. Any ideas.? <As long as it moves and eats, the arms should grow back. I bought one once for less than 1/2 price because all of its legs were an inch or less. They eventually grew back to several inches in length. Hopefully, this will be the case with yours.> Thanks again for all of your help. Dean A sick brittle star Thanks for replying Jim, I posted the photo on your website in the user forum under "lphuehn". Is it possible to hook me up with the person that had a similar problem? (see "Wounded green brittle starfish 7/18/03" and the reply posted in your FAQs. >>>I saw your pic. My advice is just pull the star out, scrap it off, and call it a day. I don't have the ability to put you in touch with that other person unfortunately. I don't have access to their email. Jim<<< Holy Serpent Star Batman! Hello Bob, I've never written before, I hope you can help. I recently purchased a bright yellow brittle star with black markings, he is quite large. He had been at the pet center for about 2 weeks when I bought him. The first day when I transferred him, I did not attempt to feed him. The next day I gave him a freeze dried shrimp which he ate. The next day he ate another. On the third day, I woke to find a gaping hole in his disc with something weird poking out. I brought a sample of my water to the pet center for testing and everything checked out. In the meantime my 9 month old fuzzy dwarf lionfish died. I discovered that my heater had conked out and the temperature was off the scale. I have replaced the heater and the temp. is back to normal 78 deg. The hole in the starfish seemed to have healed somewhat and the thing poking out disappeared. He has not eaten any offered food since the hole appeared and lost an entire leg. Today when I checked on him the thing is poking out again. What should I do? To describe the weird thing, I would say that it looks like a cluster of small dark orange crab legs. Lorraine >>>Lorraine, Is the star moving? A hole in any animal is never good obviously. I'd say whatever the cause, he's dead or on his way out. If those things that look like crab legs actually ARE crab legs, then he's had it. Jim<<<

Holy Serpent star, part II > Hey Jim and/or crew, > Here is the picture of the thing poking out of my brittle star. I noticed an e-mail from another hobbyist describing what sounds like the same thing. > Have you heard back from this person: "Wounded green brittle starfish 7/18/03"? I wonder if you could put us in touch to compare notes. My > starfish is still alive and looks good but has not eaten any offered food since about a week ago. The "seeds" on his disk swell sometimes, I haven't > determined what causes this effect. Please let me know what you think. Thanks. > Lorraine >>>Hello again Lorraine, This may be a form of parasite, but if it is it's not something I'm familiar with. Unfortunately I don't seem to be able to view pics that are sent here. I'm not sure if it's a server issue or what. Anyway, if it were me, I'd  try pull the serpent star out, and check to see if these growths can be gently scraped off. Jim<<<

Melting Brittle Star (9/6/04) Hello <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> I have a brittle star his legs are just falling off he is down to one leg. His legs are crumbling what should I do I've put reef builder calcium in the water. <Not likely positive or negative in this situation.> The nitrates are at 0,the PH sis 7.8 <This is a bit low. 8.2-8.4 would be healthier for a star.>, the ammonia level is 0.My water seems to be ok. I would like some suggestions are advice that you might have. <There is regrettably little to do other than to maintain optimum and stable water conditions. What is the SG? How long have you had this star. Once they start to melt, they are difficult if not impossible to save. Consider moving to a small quarantine tank and treating with perfect parameters (any adjustments should be gradual) and perhaps a broad-spectrum antibiotic.> Other than the Brittlestar I Have 2 crabs and a mono I can't pronounce the name I saw it biting at the brittle star. <If bitten and injured, ensuing bacterial infection can be lethal. Once it is disabled, the crabs will take their turn.> Do you think there's any thing I can do to treat by brittlestar fish. <As above.> His arms are all gone except one which is still on him. <They can grow back if the causative process is halted.> What should I feed my brittle star he's on flake food. <Small chunks of marine meats (shredded raw shrimp for example) or frozen Mysis shrimp and such.> Will he grow back his tentacles/arms. <As above> thank you for your time. thank you! <Hope this helps.>

Brittlestar Losing Its Legs (8/31/04) I have a black brittle starfish in my saltwater aquarium. All the levels in the tank are within normal range. <There is no "normal range" for ammonia and nitrite--zero is the target.> The starfish has lost two limbs that continue to move <brittlestar legs are not likely to grow bodies in an aquarium> and the main body of the starfish continues to move. It appears that the other limbs will fall off too. <strange> I need some guidance as to what is happening and what I need to do. Is it a normal process? <No> Or is it a disease that I can treat? I hope you can be of some guidance!! Thank you. <Well, it is not normal for a brittlestar to lose all of its legs. Is something biting them off? Did it get injured by a falling rock or something? It can be very difficult to figure out whey this is happening. If water conditions are optimal and stable, consider perhaps other toxins. If the legs are falling off rather than "melting," they may regenerate if whatever caused them to drop off is resolved. Again, figuring this out is the tough part. Good luck, Steve Allen.> Damaged Serpent Star (8/3/04) I have a serpent or brittle star fish, reddish in color who was badly damaged at the aquatics store, I got him free hoping to help <usually impossible if there is any deterioration of the central disk> in in a healthy 4in 12 pound live rock 10 gal salt water tank that had 15 nitrates, 0 nitrites, 0 ammonia, pH 8.3 good alk but just a regular light. I have a hardier small fish but divided the tank so that the fish did not decide to try to eat the legs. The body of the star disintegrated and fouled my tank so I am doing numerous water changes to keep the nitrates down but I have 4 legs left, they are still doing well 5 days later, moving. Will they eventually die, do I need to discard them or does the legs also regenerate to a star fish? <It is unlikely that serpent star legs can regenerate to full animals in the aquarium setting. There generally needs to be a piece of the central disk remaining on the leg, and aquariums are not ideal environments either.> Since they move I really do not know what to do or what they eat? <They can't eat as they have no digestive system. That's part of the problem.> I would like some advice regarding these. None of the legs seem to have any part of the body of the star that I can see. <And thus is very unlikely to regenerate.> Please let me know what to do with them. <Personally, I would not keep them because they will probably just rot and foul the system more. You could set up a small tank with a sandbed and a bit of rock to give them a chance.> I appreciate your advice. I tried to find something in the FAQ regarding only the legs but did not find anything. <I hope this helps. For future reference, I recommend against putting anything damaged into a tank. The fouling you experienced is the inevitable result. It's one thing if part of a leg is missing as long as the break does not appear infected. It's quite another if the central disk is damaged. Steve Allen.> Susie Dying serpent starfish? Hi <Greetings, Steve Allen with you tonight>, I have written your group before with such help given back by everyone our mandarin fish is alive, healthy thanks to everyone's instruction we have had  him about 7 months now. 2 of my kids work at a aquatic store selling fish and  one customer brought him back when he wasn't eating. Since the store doesn't  sell this fish because of the lack of food my son brought him home and with the  wet web help we were able to grow copepods and so on to feed him. He is a real  joy to see. <So glad to hear.>   Now, my kids brought home a greenish serpent star fish that had been being eaten by emerald crabs at the store. <Don't you just love it when your kids bring critters home for you to deal with? I remember how happy my parents were when my brother brought home a 1 y/o German Shepherd--not.> He was a newer star fish so I am not sure if he was ill and that was why the emerald's decided to eat him. <Or maybe they were just hungry and he couldn't get away for some reason.> In any case, we  now have him in a 10 gallon 10 pound live rock, 4 inch sand bed w/small charcoal  filter, pump, airstone, and the light is just a regular fluorescent light. I had  a damsel and 2 hermit crabs living in this small tank we used as an  extra to grow the copepods and Caulerpa. I have had to remove them to  the main tank as they also began to eat this star fish. <Sounds as if there is something wrong--he ought to be able to get away.> I just did a water change as since we put the star in the tank the nitrite went to 30 either from  the 2 legs and body skin which has fallen off or from trying to feed him. I usually keep the water at water is 15 nitrite, no nitrates, specific gravity is 1.025 temp is about 78 -80 (w/o a heater) pH is 8.3. I will be happy to try any recommendations, instructions and information that you can supply me with. Thanks so much Sue <If the skin is coming off of the central disk, there is virtually no chance this star will survive. Having arms break off is one thing, but when they start to slough/melt, they seldom recover. The best hope is excellent water conditions and a broad spectrum antibiotic in a tank with no substrate. I would strongly discourage using antibiotics in what sounds like a stable, useful little tank. BTW, compare pictures on WWM or elsewhere to determine if this is the dreaded green brittlestar Ophiarachna incrassata. If so, you don't want it. They grow to an arm span of well over a foot and are well-known to sneak up on smaller, sleeping fish and capture/consume them. You'd hate to lose that beautiful Mandarin that way. I've seen pictures of one eating a fish about the size of a Mandarin.>

Sick Brittle Star (7/1/04) Hi Bob, <Steve Allen tonight.> I'd like to introduce my self. I'm Kathy. I work in a retail store that has had a salt water tank for 10+yrs..(for decoration)  We have a lg green spiny star over 2yrs old, that usually hangs out in the back under the rocks. Today when I went to work it was in the front of the tank and the other fish were hiding in the back in the stars usual spot. The star was molting its spines and you could see almost new spines pushing threw, although they were translucent and very flexible. <Stars do not molt, that's a crustacean process, not an echinoderm. I find this worrisome for some infectious or toxic process causing shedding of the skin, which is something an echinoderm is unlikely to survive.> The Star was also opening its gills as if it were taking in water to help push the old spikes off. <Seastars do not have gills. I'm not sure what was opening up, but fear this could be a rupture. Stars have 2 openings on top, the central anus and a pore off to the side that leads to the water vascular system that provides circulation and locomotion (by providing the hydrostatic pressure to move the tube feet.> I also see what looked like a  small green worm, could this be a baby? <Or innards. Most stars reproduce by free spawning and some are thought to be ovoviviparous.> I also noticed some small creatures that may have hatched in this area... Also the anemones (sp) <anemones?> that were growing in the coral have disappeared in a week's time.. Is the star dying? <I fear so.> I know the shop has someone they consult but I've become attached to the tank and need to know for  my own knowledge. Thanks for your time. The info. I've found on this site has been so informative that I've been here 2 hrs. now...  Thanks - Nurse Kate <Glad to know you find the site helpful. I enjoy playing a part in it. There is a lot of interesting information about seastars in a number of different aquarium books, including Bob & Anthony's wonderful "Reef Invertebrates." I hope all goes well with this star, but am rather suspicious that it is ill.>

Injured Brittlestar (5/31/04) I came home and my brittle starfish looked weird so I had to get him out of his hole. When he got out AHHHHH! He was chopped up only like 1 full leg and 2 others were partials the rest were lying by him also some of his disc was damaged. Will my brittle star live to see another day? <Perhaps> Please help, he is a great companion in my tank also he is active as he was before but can't go anywhere. <The disk damage is concerning and may be fatal, especially if it gets infected before it can heal. However, Brittlestars can regenerate all of their legs. I bought one once (for 1/2 price) that had five 1" stubs left of its legs. I target fed it daily with chunks of shrimp and such right to the stumps so it could ingest the food. It eventually re-grew 5 normal legs. So there is hope. Steve Allen.>

Brittle Star Disintegrating  >I recently received a green brittle star and it was desegregating after two days.  >>I think you mean disintegrating, as in falling apart or just disappearing, yes? This is a very bad sign, but I would have told you that a green brittle star is NOT a good occupant.  >Could you please give me more information of tell me where to go.  >>There's little you can do, as there are a myriad of problems that are likely here. To start, most shops fail miserably to inform customers about the absolute necessity of proper acclimation for all sea stars. Another issue may be your water quality (isn't - but I don't know since you haven't provided any readings or test results whatsoever).  >The legs were falling off but after about 6 hours the body started to tear apart and red balls started coming out.  >>Those are the guts. I hope you've removed it before it completely came apart.  >I know they will reproduce by little red "eggs" but I've never seen the body disintegrate. If you could help me one this matter I would appreciate it.  >>I wish I could, but once the central disk goes it's a lost cause. I suggest avoiding sea stars altogether until you research them. They are actually rather delicate creatures. The green brittle, though, is also a hunter of fish and other mobile specimens. Bad news.  >thanks, Ammie Witt  >>I'm sorry I couldn't be more helpful, but please make good use of our vast resources here. Do search on sea stars, acclimation procedures, and the stars themselves. Marina

Starfish - help! I started a saltwater aquarium on the February 14, this year. I cycled and matured it for about four weeks prior to introducing any fish. I then introduced a few damsels. Everything was going well, so about two weeks after the damsels, I introduced three starfish. One chocolate chip star, one black brittle star, and one brown bubble (brittle) star. within about 6-7 days, both the brittle's proceeded to lose some of their legs/tentacles. The black one has now lost all his legs/tentacles and I am not sure will live. <How long did you take to acclimate them to the tank? Stars need at least a couple of hours of drip acclimation.> The brown one as lost two of its legs/tentacles and doesn't seem to be thriving. The chocolate chip star is thriving. <They do seem to be hardier than some others.> Now today, a tang and Heniochus are acting awfully lethargic. <Uh, oh>  I have mentioned this to my local aquarium shop (they suggested I attempt to contact you), they don't know what could be happening.  My water conditions are as follows:  Temp: 76 degrees  Specific Gravity: 1.023  Ammonia: 0  Nitrite: 0  Nitrate: 5.0 ppm  pH: 8.3  Do you have any idea what could be happening or a suggestion or two as to what I should do? <I wonder if the ammonia test is correct. If the stars are losing pieces, this could cause a spike that might make the fish lethargic. Certainly this is suggestive of toxicity. I'd suggest a significant water change (30-40%) and running carbon and/or PolyFilter to see if this helps. Brittle stars can grow new legs, but if the central disk begins to disintegrate, then it's a goner and ought to be removed.> Thank you for your time. A new and frustrated aquarist. John McKnight <Hope this helps, Steve Allen>

Injured Serpent Star (3/7/04) Hi, <Steve Allen tonight>   I noticed a few weeks ago a white ring around the outside edge of my serpent's disc. A few days ago one of his "legs" was severed cleanly at the disc. Now the other fish are biting his disc. I moved it into the quarantine tank. Attached are the best pics I could get to show you the problem. <No attachment came through.> He is still moving around and eating normally. Any ideas? <Well Mary, it's hard to be certain without the pix, but the ring sounds like an infection. If this is the case, the star will almost certainly die. However, the leg can regenerate if it was just an injury. It was wise to put him in QT so the fish can't keep nipping. Getting him out of there was/is his only hope. Keep the water conditions pristine, feed him & see what happens. If the disk heals, he'll be OK to go back in the tank and re-grow the leg.>   Any help would be appreciated. My husband normally takes care of the fish but he's out of town right now. <Back soon, I hope.> Thank you for your help! Mary <I hope this does help. Do try to re-send the pix.>

Doomed Brittlestar? (3/7/04) Hi Steve, I am only sending one pic of the star. This is the best one. The 3 pics I tried to send last night were too big. <Understood. Most photo editing programs have a function that automatically formats/compresses images for e-mailing.> If this is an infection, could it spread throughout the tank? <Not likely. Such infections are opportunistic wound infections that should not affect healthy, intact organisms.> Also, is too much of the disc gone? <Sadly, I'd say yes. I can see right through the top of him to the mouthparts. Looks like all of his digestive tract beyond that is gone. I'm amazed he hasn't broken into pieces. On the other hand, the regenerative powers of Brittlestars are impressive. Since he's in a QT, it can't hurt to wait & see. Keep the water conditions optimal and consider adding a broad-spectrum antibiotic. There is a slim chance it will make it.> Thank you very much for the information. Your support right now is greatly appreciated. <Always a pleasure, Steve Allen.> Mary

Dying Brittle Star? (2/17/04)   Bob, <Steve Allen tonight.> I have a green serpent star and have had him for about 4 months now. He has been doing well up until this AM. I was feeding him small dead frozen fish from a local saltwater dealer. <Are these fish that died of some unknown cause or fish that are intended as food?> He would eat that no problem, then about 2-3 weeks ago he stopped eating them. I assumed the fish were no good (freezer burn?) and pitched them. I have been trying to feed him some freeze dried food to no avail. <I generally feed mine a cheap fresh seafood assortment from my local Albertson's.>   Today I noticed he has two holes on the top of his body. <Uh Oh!> He still seems to be moving about normally but I can't get him to eat. <Not good. These creatures are usually voracious eaters.> I recently did do a move of the 55 gallon aquarium that he is in along w/ four perculas, 1 Sailfin tang, and two green Chromis. At the current moment my salinity is a little low and in the process of raising it. <If you did not slowly acclimate the starfish to the salinity, temp and pH of the new tank, he may be suffering from shock.> Temp at about 75. any suggestions or ideas on what this might be. <Some sort of toxic effect. Once they start to disintegrate, they almost never survive. You could try putting him in a QT (starting with tank water) and keeping the water pristine. A broad-spectrum antibiotic might be helpful, but I am not optimistic for the survival of a Brittlestar with a deteriorating central disk, sorry to say.>

Yellow brittle star 1/13/04 Well, after another 10 days, the entire top of my star's body is gone. All his insides are gone. That being said, he is still active and the degeneration looks to have stopped and it never moved to his legs at all.  He really appears to want to eat, but as he has no innards left he can't possibly.  Have you ever heard of a star regenerating that much of his body?  Does it hurt him to just wait and see? Or should I be humane and "destroy" him?  Any suggestions on the most humane way do that?  Cold water/freezer is what I have done with dying fish in the past.  Thank you again for your advice!  Sherri <Hello again Sherri.  Sorry to hear of the severe progression of this problem.  It certainly does sound like it will be fatal.  Your biggest concern at this point is the rotting of the remains of your starfish.  If your tank is set up such that you can easily find and remove any remains, I would leave it.  If you think it will be difficult to find and remove, I would remove it now.  The freezer is an OK idea, as is a plunge into the running garbage disposer (sounds brutal, but is swift).  Sorry for your loss.  Adam>

Red Serpent Starfish with white blotches Hi, I have had this Red Serpent Starfish for a few months now and he seems fine but developed white blotches or discoloration's on his body. Cause? Cure? <I would try target feeding this guy. I have noticed many starfish tend to fade away, I believe to a lack of food.> And, my Yellow Polyps are very brown in color. How to make them yellow? <This maybe a reaction to your lighting, probably not intense enough. If you make a change, do so gradually. You may find this article helpful, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm> I've heard of a "chemical reef safe cure" to kill Aiptasia. Is there such a thing? <Kalkwasser works ok and does not harm anything. Please start here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/Aiptasia/aiptasia.htm following on through the linked FAQ files.> Thank You, Tim <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Falling Star? HI, <Hello! Scott F. with you today> I bought a brittle starfish and the second day in the tank it looks like it is peeling on top and you can see the flesh. I only have a cleaner shrimp and 2 hermit crabs. Any help you can give me would be helpful. Thank you. Tanya <Well, Tanya, it's hard to say exactly what is wrong. Starfishes tend to be susceptible to Vibrio, and other bacterial infections. Once injured, whether caused by collection traumas, "picking" by fishes, or even environmental stresses, these animals can decline rapidly. You could move the animal to a separate quarantine system, where you could treat it with antibiotics. With decisive action, you will be able to save the animal.  Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

- Bumming Brittle Star - Since last time I have seen the first Brittlestar to shed legs. <Is the brittle star actually shedding these limbs or is someone else in the tank pulling them off. You might want to investigate that possibility.> Although only with stumps of them he is roaming about and trying to find food (cod). <And hopefully finding it, yes? Cheers, J -- >

- Brittle Star Amputee - Another brittle star shed almost a whole arm at once, i didn't see it separate but it was moving all over the substrate (upside down). He was stretching out at this time, up the glass, and seemed pretty healthy to me in other ways. Do you think that he is ok? <Yes, I think so... the arm will grow back in time. Cheers, J -- >

Star Fish...Without legs? Have a question about my black brittle star fish.  When i bought it, it had 5 evenly long arms to it...  I don't see it too often because it comes out about an hour after the lights go out... but I saw it on the weekend and again this morning and it has 3 'amputated' legs.   The starfish now has one full leg with a point tip to it, one half leg, and 3 stumps... Hmm, is something eating him? <Good gracious! It does sound like something is nibbling on him> 90 gallon tank, 90lbs of live rock 2 small clown fish 1 shrimp goby 1 mandarin goby Coral Banded Shrimp Cleaner Shrimp Pistol Shrimp 1 small emerald crab 1 larger red emerald crab <Possibility> 35 hermit crabs about 30 snails Of note, I did have two butterfly Aurigas in the tank up until a week ago. <Bingo! I think we have a winner! Yes...These guys can and often will make short work of inverts> The starfish arms disappeared while I had the Butterfly's and since they have left I have seen no further damage to the starfish.  May be a coincidence, maybe not. <Watch the star fish closely. He could also be in poor health. However, I really think he's probably had multiple amputations by a couple of butterflies!> a)  Do ya have any idea what happened to the 3 starfish arms?? See the above> b)  Will the starfish grow them back? <If he's healthy...no problem! Just be patient. David Dowless>

Sick Ophiuroid starfish There are no predators just Fungia, Physogyra and Trochus (or other Ophiocoma). How much should three brittle stars eat? I feed mine every two to three days on an ice cube of seafood, defrosted in aquarium water. <sounds reasonable... and do be sure to drain the water/pack juice away. Else it contributes to miserable algae growth in time. Just feed the meat to the animals, no juice to the water <G>> Calcium = 350 (rectified with liquid reactor, now slightly higher than recommended) <do be very careful with liquid reactors that use Calcium chloride... it can cause serious problems in the 1-2 year picture with water chemistry. Much has been written about chlorides accumulating> KH = 7.4 Alkalinity = 2.63 <a touch on the low end but no biggie if you are stable here> Salinity - 1.0257 (as close to 1.0126 as I can get) I have lots of Cyanobacteria, could this be releasing toxin? <definitely noxious/toxic... but not the likely cause... must be ingested and even then it is not troublesome to many herbivores. Best regards, Anthony>                   Re: Sick Ophiuroid starfish Thanks!!! I was worried. One of my brittle star's disc is deteriorating in two places, with white and orange visible inside. <not a good sign... if its a new star, could be residual from stress of import. If established, look to starvation or damage (attack by fish, crab, etc).> There are no predators just Fungia, Physogyra and Trochus (or other Ophiocoma). How much should three brittle stars eat? I feed mine every two to three days on an ice cube of seafood, defrosted in aquarium water. When I checked the nitrate is 50. <not great... but not the problem if all other aspects of water quality are in line. Do test for all anyway and do a water change> On the last water test by a professional: Calcium = 350 (rectified with liquid reactor, now slightly higher than recommended) KH = 7.4 Alkalinity = 2.63 Iodine = saturated Salinity - 1.0257 (as close to 1.0126 as I can get) I have lots of Cyanobacteria, could this be releasing toxin? <I'd get rid of this stuff. Better skimming, less feeding, more water flow, bigger/more water changes etc.>

- Brittle Star Questions - Bob, <Actually, JasonC today...> I have a question about a red brittle star that I have had for about 5 months. When I purchased it two of the legs were smaller, which over time grew in fine. i have seen it eat a number of times and it seamed to be doing very well. I haven't seen it for the past few days and today when I found it the central disk was almost total gone. <Bummer.> I realize that their isn't much that I can do for it now, but I would like to know what caused or to figure out what caused it. <Hmm... either something in the tank nailed it or this was a condition already at work when you obtained this Brittlestar.> I eventually would like to add another brittle star to the tank, but I want to clear this up before that. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <Do go through your water chemistry just to make sure, but I wouldn't hesitate to try another one. Is there any other life in your tank that would be suspect for causing this damage?> I guess the second part is that I recently added a power compact light to my tank and the algae has taken off. I'm aware that the green "grass" like algae is good, the crabs and snails like it, but a dark maroon algae has also started to take over. From what I've read the darker algae is not desirable. My question is how do I control it? <There are a number of ways... best way is to start by looking for the fertilizer... perhaps you are overfeeding? Likewise a phosphate test would help give you an idea if this parameter is out of whack - should be zero. Here is some reading that should help: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm > Thanks for your time, Jeremy Sabatini, DVM <Cheers, J -- >

Reaching For The Stars (Starfish) We had a green brittle star that died.  We thought perhaps it was that our floating salt thermometer was not working correctly, it showed a normal range but when we bought a gravity tester it showed 1.029.  So we added to the tank more water and now we are at 1.023.  All other tests look good, temp. at 78.  Bought a new brittle star, only in tank 1 night and looks distressed.  Legs curled up around body, they have not fallen off?  Any ideas on what may be occurring.  We are new to this. Thanks for any help. Sherry and Larry <Well, guys- Sea Stars in general, tend to contract fungal and bacterial diseases, often as a result of improper handling somewhere in the chain of custody from the reef to the hobbyist. In my opinion, it would be best to quarantine starfish just like you would fishes, prior to their introduction to the aquarium. You could use over-the-counter (aquarium store counter, that is!) antibiotic medications to treat these infections. Also, provide very stable, high-quality water conditions for these animals, and they can thrive. An often-overlooked aspect of starfish husbandry is selection. A healthy starfish should be rigid, and reactive to stimuli. And, of course, they really should have all of their arms! Look for any body damage, too. Another great test for a healthy star is to flip it upside down gently. A healthy animal will try to turn itself upright quickly. Do a complete review of your tank's water parameters, and pay careful attention to your husbandry techniques (water changes, protein skimming, etc. and you should be successful in the future with these animals! Maybe you should order a copy of "Reef Invertebrates" by Anthony, Bob, and Steven Pro...should provide lots of good information!. Take care- Regards, Scott F>

I have a living brittle star arm  Hi Guys, <Cheers> I've read through FAQ after FAQ and my eyes are starting to cross.   <with hopes you've learned other things in the process> Six weeks ago I bought my first live rock and converted my small fish only tank into a reef tank.  Last week I noticed my first hitchhiker, what I can only guess is a ghost shrimp, its small very fast, translucent, and looks like a shrimp. <hard to say without a pic... if rather small, it may be a Mysis shrimp... if larger, perhaps an Alpheid pistol/snapping shrimp>   This morning I bought some more LR to add to my growing tank.  I pulled out an old piece of decorative only (bought off a store shelf) coral, and found a long spindly creature attached under the base.  I only got a glimpse that time, but I was pretty sure it looked like a starfish arm.  I picked up the rock it hid under a little later and took a good long look.  After a great deal of research, I'm positive it's a brittle star arm.  I've looked at a lot of photos today. Quick description of the arm, about two and a half inches long, hard to tell when it's wriggling away as fast as it can, a healthy looking pastel pink color and white/light yellowish spikes, an ID would be nice if you are familiar with this particular species.   <hundreds of possibilities... not possible even with a pic perhaps> The end where it was broken off from is very nearly healed up, it has a very tiny scab(?) and looks healthy, I didn't see any sign of irritation and it was difficult with all of the twisting curling and turning and attempts to hide the stump in the nearest hole.   <indeed... the autotomy (casting off) of an arm can produce another animal. Usually part of the oral disk is necessary... but not always. Such frags are very needy of good feeding in time. If the tank is very young, target feeding from you may be necessary (small/tiny amounts OK)> My question is (finally after all this description), since the star seems healthy, how long will it take to regenerate a new disk and the other arms, <weeks/months depending on feeding> and what can I do to encourage its growth?    <as per above> And is it really common to find a surviving arm, since I've been reading all day and haven't found anything of this nature except casual mention that some brittle stars are capable of growing a new star from an arm?   <somewhat uncommon without a piece of the center/disk> And how exactly is it eating without a mouth, <correct... not yet. Growing from luxury stored nutrients I believe. You /it will feed when it has recovered/grown more> I'm very confused on this point?  I'm not very well versed in starfish biology and I can't seem to find a classic Biology Textbook entry for them on the web. Thanks for any info and advice you can give me. Shelly <please check out this site for more specific Ophiuroid information: http://home.att.net/~ophiuroid/home.html best of luck, Anthony>Sick brittle star Hi,<Hi Jon, PF here tonight.> I have a green brittle star that has recently become ill. <Sorry to hear that.> For the past week, week and a half he has been upside down and acting normally, and I have been occasionally flipping him back over.  Until today when I flipped him over and there was an open sore on the top of its body.  It looks like there is some kind of bacteria eating it away, but I'm not sure.  Please help! <Well, Jon, that's not a lot that can be done. None of the treatments for fish will work (they're not good for such (or indeed, most) invertebrates. Try a big water change (25% - 50%), and adding activated carbon to your filtration system (carbon needs to be swapped out and replaced a few times a week. Even that may not help, basically your brittle will have to fight off this infection on it's own. I wish you the best of luck.> Thanks, Jon <Sorry I couldn't give you more advice, please read through the FAQ ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestarfaqs.htm ) and see what you're up against. Hope it all turns out well, PF >

Brittle star death - 5/19/03 Hi my name is Jason. <Hi Jason. My name is Paul. Thanks for coming to WetWebMedia.> I recently bought a brittle star not sure of exact species. <If you, knowing the species would you and me in the long run, but no worries. Always important to know exactly what you are putting in your tank.>  He was in a 65g w/5 inch percula's and 3 damsels. My lighting is on about 4 to 6 hours a day.  There is a decent amount of cover in my tank, and I feed my fish twice a day frozen fish food. A few days ago I noticed hairs or what not disappearing. <OK>  The next day 4 limbs got shorter a couple days later no limbs at all just stubs with a gash between the stubs. <Wow. So would you say in about 4 days this brittle went from good to dead? Obviously something is went very wrong here, Jason> No water changes have been done <Why not?> my salt is good, proper chemicals have been added and ph is always good. <unfortunately this doesn't really help me diagnose at all, sorry to say.> I removed him. <A very good idea> because I don't want damage to my tank. <Again, a very good policy in this case as I am fairly sure this brittle was doomed>  What can I do to prevent this from happening again? <Well, there are quite a few things that have happened here. First of all, a good idea is to know exactly what type of star we are talking about. Here you go: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm Next, where did he come from? Online or LFS? Was he healthy from the get go? Next, a nice little 10 gallon hospital/quarantine tank would have helped with the star's acclimation. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm Now also another good idea is to be sure of your tank condition and proper acclimation procedure. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm This type of rapid destruction sounds like water related shock/stress. I realize your fishes are doing fine but....you get the picture. Take a look through WetWebMedia with careful attention relating to acclimation, quarantine, water parameters, and animals to be kept. Now if at all possible, be sure to do this before purchasing the animal whenever possible and I think you will see minimal issues in the future. This is your best bet in my opinion. Thanks for coming to WetWebMedia, Jason. You are well on your way to becoming a better aquarist! Thanks for your question and I look forward to hearing from you soon> My email is XXXX@ATTBI.COM Thank you for your time Jason <Good luck in the future. Paul>

Creepy crawlin' brittle star legs! Dear WWMedia Crew, I have a two questions for you.  The first part is in regards to one of my two brittle stars (I am not sure what species but I think they are Atlantic in origin) in my 150 gallon reef tank.  To distinguish between them, one star is brown and the other is pink (like coralline algae)<Cool!>. I set up the 150 gal tank in Jan of this year and moved both stars from my old 55 gal where they had been doing fine for 2-3 years.  I noticed a gash part ways into the center body section of the brown star after moving some rocks about in the tank some time during the first weeks of having the tank set up.  I believe that the gash came from the star being caught between rocks while moving them about. <Very possible> The gash filled in with a white calcareous-like material after a while so I assumed it was healing.  The brown star always ate well--whenever any food settled to the bottom it would quickly slither towards it.  Then for some reason in the last 2-3 weeks it started disintegrating along the gash line until each leg fell off and the center disappeared. <Likely succumbing to an infection> All this time the pink star appeared healthy.  Here is the eerie part. When the first leg fell off I was about to pull it out of the tank and throw it away but since it moved about on its own I was reluctant since I have heard of pieces regenerating into new stars.  The leg would even try to feed its missing body, grabbing at pieces of food and passing them conveyer-belt style up to its non-existent mouth.  Now I have 5 appendages moving about and none of them show any signs of being deceased. <As creepy as that is, it's very common. They won't grow back into new stars unless there is a piece of the center of the star connected to the leg. It's up to you whether to leave them in or not, just make sure you take them out immediately after death.> Needless to say it is a little creepy to look into my tank now.  About a month before the separation took place (but after the gash) I added a globe urchin to this tank.  Could this specimen have introduced any disease? <It's unlikely> The urchin and the pink star are currently alive and healthy I believe.  I wonder if you can tell me when should I consider this animal/appendages not alive and if I leave it in the tank should I worry about it fouling the water if it is on the long road to the afterworld? <Hehe, when they're dead they'll stop moving and begin to disintegrate. If they are taken out quickly you won't have to worry about them fouling the water.> The second question involves the behavior of a healthy Acanthurus nigricans that resides in the 150 gal tank. Yes, I know I picked the more fragile powder brown according to your web site but I did not know this at the time. I have had this fish for 3-4 years now.  Despite all that I have read about this species, this individual is hardy and has survived several copper treatments in a 20 gallon quarantine tank after being infested with Amyloodinium.  The main 55 gal reef that housed the dreaded ick that would not go away after 1, 3, and then 6 months of going fallow without fish has been dismantled and I shall never skip the quarantine step again. <Whoa, super ich?> If only I had found this site earlier....   After spending some time in a copper-free quarantine tank (along with the brittle stars) without getting ick again it was placed in my new 150 gal.  This question is more out of curiosity than for any practical purpose.  For the last year and half now I have watched this fish some times dart quickly back and forth for a few minutes and change its usual brown body into a crescent of white at its tail and dark brown/black at the remaining half.  What does this behavior signify? <Usually a sign of stress or if he's trying to scare somebody.> It seems that this fish can also become pale/white (usually when stressed) and sometimes the brown section will have white lines instead of the crescent. It can be very entertaining to watch this fish and it would be nice to learn more about its moody behavior. <This behavior is pretty widespread with tangs, they can change all kinds of colors and patterns at the drop of a hat. Very entertaining to watch, but nothing to worry about, especially since you've had this critter for 3-4 years. Enjoy! -Kevin>  Thank you for any info you can provide, Laurie Rindell

Wounded green brittle starfish 7/18/03 I have a green brittle starfish that has opened on the top and it looks like a bunch of yellow seeds .It is still alive and doing well. what happened? <the creature has a wound caused by injury or septic infection. You may need to QT it... but do maintain superb water quality in the meantime and feed as best as you can to help it recover. Best regards, Anthony>

Sick serpent starfish >Help! My red serpent starfish (Rudy) developed a white mildew-ish looking area on its back yesterday. This morning two of his legs are off and the spot is bigger, but he is still alive (not moving though). >>It's dying. >My husband (his tank) is out of town. I have no way of determining the water quality other than it was fine on Thursday. It is being treated with Kalkwasser (spelling?) though. >>Ok. >I don’t know your “lingo” but I’ll try to describe the tank set-up. It has only had critters for 3-4 weeks. >>Uh oh, a sea star in a brand new setup?  Not a good idea.  Could be suffering from many things. >The tank is 150 g with around 140 LB of live rock.  Excalibur Protein skimmer; Two pumps- we reverse the water flow, which is medium to high in most of the tank area; Two ballasts with 72” bulbs (4) on 12 hours/day.  There is a 4” layer of sand; the top being live sand. >>If the top is live, it's all live.  Just takes time for it to become fully seeded and "get going". >Tank mates: One damsel One red brittle star One sally lightfoot (just completed a molt) One tiger tail sea cucumber Two emerald crabs Several blue legs 18 turbo snails (I think) >Last week we added some soft coral frags. Nothing has changed since then. If Rudy is doomed, should I remove him before he turns to mush? >>"He" may or may not be doomed.  I shall assume that, because you're having no trouble with the other invertebrates that your parameters are acceptable AND stable, and that your specific gravity/salinity is in the 1.024-1.025 range (inverts HATE improper S.G.).  I would remove him to a bucket (or some such), add aeration, and try treating with Spectrogram.  It is a broad spectrum antibiotic, and I've seen other (Fromia) sea stars brought back from a very similar state with this stuff.  Do water changes in the container daily, I would mix up fresh water the night before and be sure it matches temperature, salinity, and pH.  If you use a smaller container it's going to be easier to do this, then change about half every day.  More is fine, just don't blow him away with whooshing water. >I am not even sure how to remove him. >>Pick him up. >Will the brittle (which is our most recent acquisition) be in jeopardy? >>Only if "he" shows the same signs. >I rarely see him but he likes the frozen shrimp treats! My husband won’t be back until August 4. I am so glad to have this site to contact.  Thanks, Crystal >>Ok Crystal, we're glad to help.  Try the Spectrogram in the separate container.  If it doesn't work then at least Rudy won't be in the main polluting it if he kicks that bucket you put him in.  No lighting necessary, and don't worry about feeding, either.  Just treat, and keep fingers (and sea star legs) crossed!  Marina

Re: sick starfish >I already sent another message saying that he died, but wanted to tell you I was able to test the s. g. and it is perfect.  Thanks again.  Crystal >>Ah, sorry to hear that.  But, if there is a "next time", try my advice, you may be able to save it.  Marina

Fallen Star... Aaaaaah! <Ahhh! Scott F. screaming with you today!>   I just bought a new starfish, a medium sized brittle star, good kid, definitely more interesting than my sand-shifting star, the problem is, I've had him for only maybe three days and this morning (to the best of my knowledge) he was fine, 6pm tonight?  Mangled.  The possible culprits are as follows: Maroon clown, flame angel, silver-tip shark (Arius seemanni) yellow-headed goby and an electric blue hermit.   <Yuck...> I was figuring that the most likely aggressor was the shark-cat, but I have kept all sorts of small inverts, and a couple soft corals, that he has never touched, this guy is as docile as catfish come, are there any other possibilities? <Well, I'd be inclined to blame the animal with the best dental equipment or most powerful claws, as the case may be...I'd suspect that the animal may have been injured slightly (somehow), and then one or more of his tankmates "heard the dinner bell", as they say, and caused further damage. It is quite possible that the hermit and others did a little "post traumatic" chewing....>   The starfish is alive technically, and I know starfish have wonderful powers of regeneration, but he didn't just lose a leg -- if he recovers I will call him a miracle baby, he looks *very* bad. Are any of my fish prone to liking starfish a little too much? <Well, it's hard to say...I have seen a Centropyge that constantly picked at a brittle star before...> No one has ever touched my sand-shifting star, so why the change of heart when I drop in the brittle star? <Your guess is as good as mine...!> Grrr, I wish I could slap them all on the fins and tell them to play nicely, I feel horrible about this little guy.       OK, so I've made myself understand that he will likely pass on very soon...but just in case, is there anything I can do for him? <Put him in a very clean environment and administer some antibiotic into the treatment tank water. This could help speed recovery, if there is a chance at all!>   I have recovered his disc and four legs (two legs are still connected, two are not, and the disc is almost not recognizable, all legs are still moving, they are in a small jelly jar in the bottom of the tank, so they're isolated. but I just want to help him more!  You guys are absolutely wonderful, thank you so much for your time! Sincerely, Rachael Loose <As mentioned above, do keep him in a clean, well aerated environment, change water regularly, and hope for the best...With a little luck, and the passage of time- he may make a full recovery...Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Fallen Star... Rudy died. I was able to remove him from the tank before he dissolved (just before- gross). After scouring your site I am still not quite sure what happened. He did not fall apart bit-by-bit; it was an all-at-once kind of thing. Is it possible that he was injured internally from a fall? I witnessed him falling onto his back on a small rock 4-5 days ago (no noticeable wound). He self-righted fairly quickly, but I think that is approximately when he started slowing down. It seems farfetched though. <Well, starfishes tend to decline quickly due to bacterial infections when injured. It is a possibility- as is the chance that the animal simply acquired an infection from some other source...Unfortunate, but not uncommon> Should I do a partial water change? We have a water filtration system (Aqua-Safe Systems – testing at 1/million) and there is some water all salt-prepared to replenish the tank. How much would I change- 25%? This is my husband’s reef tank. I am just the innocent and naive babysitter! I cannot test the water and am frustrated at the idea of losing more critters. <If an animal dies and "dissolves" like this, I'd surely change some water...I wouldn't go overboard, though, and potentially cause more problems...Try a 10% change> The soft corals are most important to my husband, but I didn’t name them. <Yep- they are hard to find good names for...LOL> How do I check the brittle star to see if it is okay if all I ever see are legs? He is very shy and stays in a “cavern” with small caves. This is too much pressure! :-) <You should see regular signs of movement with these starfishes...They are surprisingly active!> Thanks for being out there in cyber-land to help! Crystal <My pleasure, Crystal...Sorry to hear of your loss...Sometimes these things happen despite our best intentions...Don't be too hard on yourself- you're doing the best that can be done! Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

-Brittle star infection- Hi All!! I am wondering about the different types of diseases for green brittle starfish.  I have one that is having some major problems right now and don't know what is going on or how to treat it.  Two days ago, I noticed some brown fungus looking "stuff" on the body of the star.  I paid no attention as I figured it was algae that happened to settle onto it.  The next day however, there was a chunk of skin missing from the star. <Ooo, sounds like it's getting an infection> I could see the orangish red coloring of its insides and to top it off, today was worse.  It has since lost one arm which is wriggling about the aquarium and I can see down to the bone of the star. It still has the brownish colored stuff on it, but the chunk seems to be getting bigger.  I don't know if some tankmate has been beating on it or if it is some sort of disease.  Any type of help would be greatly appreciated.  Star is quarantined, but I don't know how to help it. <That's great that it's quarantined, but unfortunately, it's very rare that they survive infections such as you're experiencing. Attempting antibiotics would be risky at best, so the best you can do is keep the water quality in tip-top shape by removing any dead/half-dead parts of the star should they begin to fall off. -Kevin> Thanks again, Todd

-Holy brittle star! Literally :( - I discovered you website while searching for solutions to my sick starfish.  I want to thank you for such a great resource.  My problem is that I have purchased a brittle star from WWM.com and acclimated him as directed with the drip method in the dark. <I would have suggested a 3-4 hour drip for this guy.> He was in great shape when I released him into the aquarium and promptly found himself a rock to hide under.  This rock also happens to be the favorite for a large population of bristle worms, some as large as earthworms.  I did notice him moving around a little while the worms were peeking in and out.  After the lights went out last night I took a small flashlight to check out all the new inhabitants and noticed the starfish had a gaping hole on his back (see photo).  Could the bristle worms have done this, or is it stress related? <Likely has something to do w/ acclimation. I doubt the bristle worms could have inflicted this damage on a healthy star.>  All my water parameters are good, the nitrites were a little high this morning, <EEEK!!! Bells and whistles should be going off, having a nitrite spike is a very big deal. This means that something is potentially wrong w/ the biological filter, somehow. Do a full range of tests (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, salinity, etc) and review your maintenance habits, feeding, and equipment function to pinpoint the cause of this spike. Nitrite spikes crash tanks, bottom line.> but a quick water change fixed that.  All the other creatures, shrimp, crabs, corals and 1 damsel are doing great.  The starfish is still moving and in a new hole this morning when the lights came back on.  He also moved around a little when I fed this morning.  Is this going to be fatal or can he heal himself with a hole this big? <However he got the hole, they generally succumb to infection. Keep the water chemistry in tip top shape, and hopefully it will heal. Keep an eye out for further deterioration, because that will put an excessive burden on water quality.> Is there anything I can do to help with his recovery? <Not much besides figuring out where that nitrite came from and how to fix the problem. Good luck! -Kevin> Please help me with this problem, thank you

A sick brittle Star We have a green brittle starfish. He came in an aquarium that we purchased. He was doing fine for a while then we realized our fish had ick. After treating the ick, we noticed the starfish's legs were falling off in pieces. We were afraid one of the fish were eating him so we moved him and our other brittle star to our invertebrate aquarium. Now more of his legs are falling off and most of his bristles are falling off too, but he's still alive. What can we do? Is there any antibiotics that we can give him? Will he infect our other starfish? Will he hurt or infect our invertebrates? Please help!! Sarah <Hmm, not much can be done at this point... this animal (Ophiarachna) will either self-heal or perish. No to the antibiotics question, and likely no to it affecting, infecting your other starfish or other invertebrates... just remove it (the carcass) should the specimen pass on. Bob Fenner>

Sick Seastar I have a green brittle star that i just recently purchased...his legs are starting to fall off...first they are turning pink and then the spines are falling off and then his leg falls off. he is still alive but i want to make sure there is nothing wrong with him...i do have a horseshoe crab but the star is in a hard to reach cave...is there a bacteria eating him or is this normal. please help i am very worried. Thanks >> Not normal, and not a good sign... I suspect your brittle star was/is infected and its health impaired from collection, shipping and handling... It will either self-heal or perish... if the latter, do try and remove the remains from your system. Bob Fenner

Brittle stars hey , I have a green brittle star, i bought from a pet store, about 4 days later he started losing his legs in little pieces until finally all he has is five stubs, he is still alive, you think he will grow them back , The guy at the pet store picked him up for me by the legs, it says on the net you are not supposed to touch them , is this the reason he has lost them <Maybe regenerate... shouldn't be pulled, lifted out of the water... Please read the following section of our site and related FAQs file: http://wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm Bob Fenner>

Red Serpent Star Needs Help Hello Bob, <Hi there> While surfing around trying to find some information for a friend's Red Serpent Star, I happed upon you site, and thought that just maybe you could give some suggestions that will help this poor fella out. <Okay> Here goes: The star is in a 20 gallon quarantine tank and has been there since his arrival around 5 months ago. It was noted at that time that this sweet fellow had some white (what appeared to be deteriorating patches) on his legs. They have multiplied : ( She feels it is a bacterial infection and has of yet to find a medication to alleviate the problem. She has had Blue Linckia who have arrived with he same problem but have never made it this long. <Yikes... five months? Likely if this is something infectious it is "not catching"... I would place this specimen in a permanent, stable, live-rock containing system> When last tested : PH - 8.2 Salinity - 1.0215 Temp. - 80 degrees Filter Rate: 301-350 gph Lighting low to natural light Heater size 75 watts Do you know of any treatments? <As stated... really no treatment per se... as in "medicine". Do simply move this animal (underwater, subdued lighting, in a bag, specimen container... into the main/display system. If conditions are favorable there it will improve. If it should perish, there is not much chance of trouble with pollution... and very unlikely any from pathogens> Any information, direction, encouragement, treatment, anything, anything will be appreciated. Sincerely Nina Daniel <Will "move up" on my writing schedule a better Serpent Star article. Thank you for your query. Bob Fenner>

Re: Red Serpent Star Needs Help Morning Bob, Thank you so much for your response. I will forward your suggestion to her immediately and will continue to frequent your site as the information I am finding there is wonderful. <Real good my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Again, thank you ~ Nina Daniel

Sick Serpent Star Hi, I read your responses to other peoples questions and they were very helpful. <Ah, good> I have a green Serpent Star named Pepe that is about 4 years old and he has recently become quite sick. I noticed that one of his legs has detached from the socket and then later that day, a piece broke off of another leg. <Not good signs> I recently had an algae problem and my water quality is not the best right now. I have a 33 gallon hex tank with only have one other fish in the tank with some live rock. I thought if I slowly changed the water over a period of time to improve the water quality, it may help him. I vacuumed and changed only 4 gallons of water. The next day he broke off half of another leg and the next day another half. He is still trying to eat but he is having a hard time getting food. I also noticed that he has two large vertical openings underneath his disc on each side of one of his legs where I can see his insides. I can't tell if those are the only openings. Also, where he lost is full leg, now there is an opening to inside his disk. <Time to make much more concerted attempts at improving water quality...> I read all of your responses to related questions and was hopeful that he may recover but now I am not so sure. Should I continue to change a few gallons of water everyday to help improve his conditions or will that make matters worse? I also don't know what to do with the detached leg pieces. The are still moving and although I know they can't live forever, it seems weird to flush them when there are still alive. <I would make a massive (like half) water change if you can be sure the new water is "okay"... better if it were pre-made up and stored ahead of use... but I wouldn't wait even if it had to be made now and used... And do gravel vacuum the bottom in removing the present water. Also, I would add some activated carbon to your filter... And clean out whatever filter gear you do have in the process. Do you have live rock?> I'm sorry to send you such a lengthy e-mail and I appreciate any information that you can give me to help save Pepe's life. <The length of these messages is of little concern. Supplying enough information, expressing yourself is. Good luck my friend. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Gina

Re: Sick Serpent Star Wow - I can't believe you responded so quickly. You are so sweet for sharing your knowledge with me. <An honor m'lady> I do have live rock in my tank. What percentage of water should I change at a time without hurting my other fish but still helping my Serpent Star? <Perhaps 20-25 percent.> You're the best. Thanks, Gina <Again, good luck my friend. Be of good life. Bob Fenner>

Serpent Star I bought a Serpent Star for my 55 Gal Tank about 2 weeks ago. This is my first attempt at keeping seastars. He has been eating fine and seemed happy until today. Yesterday I did a 20% water change. The temp didn't spike either direction. The salinity was almost a perfect match. Water quality is great with a slight rise in nitrates. I had to move all my live rock around in the process a very small piece of rock (maybe (1/8 lb.) tipped over and landed on my serpent's disk. I checked him out and he looked fine, not damaged at all that I could see. Today he has lost 2 arms and there is a hole in his disk. White "tissue" and some small green ball shaped things are visible inside him. Some of the green balls have come out and floated into my tank. Is there anything I can do to help him? <Best just to do what you can to keep the system optimized and stable...> He is still alive and moving, although I haven't been able to get him to eat yet... Can you offer any suggestions? Thank you! Phyllis <Spiny-skinned animals have remarkable powers of healing, regeneration... hopefully yours will persist. Bob Fenner>

HELP!! EMERGENCY!!! I have a 90 gallon tank, all the tests are in normal range, My serpent star is loosing it's legs. What do I do??? <Nothing without knowing more... they will regenerate if all else is okay. Bob Fenner> Thank You Tanya

*Serpent Star Hello Good Sir, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a green serpent starfish and the end of it's arms have either broken or rotted off. Just the very tips are missing and you can see the flesh. I have been adding some iodine and calcium to the tank for my coral. I hope it is helping with the healing process of the starfish. <yes... focus on good water quality and the iodine sounds nice...perhaps helpful> Any info would be appreciated. Also what types of food should I be feeding this guy and how often. <assorted meaty foods several times weekly will be fine (shell on for shrimp/crustacea). Do be warned that the green brittle star (O. incrassata) is predatory and will eventually catch and kill small fish and some other desirable reef invertebrates on occasion (like Tridacnid clams!). One of the only bad reef stars. Might behave itself for months but do keep an eye open or don't risk it at all. Anthony> Thanks, Chad

Green serpent starfish (and copper removal) Dear Bob, I purchased a green serpent starfish about 2 months ago. 3 weeks ago I had an outbreak of something that the pet store recommended that I treat with copper. I removed all my invertebrates during the treatment. I put new carbon filters in my filter set up after the treatment was finished (I had removed them during treatment.) After 6 hours with the new carbon, I put my invertebrates back in. My snails died within 48 hours, (I found out after that they don't tolerate copper). My hermit crabs are doing great, but my starfish, Stretch, is having trouble. His spines are all falling off, and he lost a small section of 1 leg. Are stars sensitive to copper?  <Yes, most are quite> Should I remove him from this tank. I have heard that once you use any copper treatment that you can never fully remove it from your system. I don't want to lose Stretch, what can I do? <Use a product called PolyFilter (tm) to assure the bit of copper that may be being "re-released" in your system is removed. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaqs.htm and beyond. Test to see if there is any discernible copper left... if this animal is not overly-toxified, it will regenerate its lost parts. Bob Fenner> Kathy

Re: Green serpent starfish Thank you for your help. Will try to find this PolyFilter in my area. Is there anything else that could be used? My pet store has a product called "Cuprisorb". Do you know if this is any good? <Do know this product. The Poly-Bio-Marine (PolyFilter) item is better... and will change color with absorption. As you will see. Etailers listed on WetWebMedia.com carry the PolyFilter product. Bob Fenner> Kathy

Brittle Stars Spines Last night I noticed the spines falling off 3 of my brittle stars legs. He was moving around this morning, when I got home tonight apiece of one of his legs has fallen off, about 1 1/2"s. My ammonia, ph, nitrites & nitrates all check out. I hope you can help. Pat <if the seastars were not new (less than a week), then I suspect shock from a physical parameter...most likely salinity. A big batch of freshwater dumped in for evap top off or an inaccurate water change could have shocked them. The symptoms sound very bad... be prepared to remove the stars for fear of pollution promptly. Anthony>

Brittle Star My precious Weed (aka Brittle Star) quickly and embarrassingly devoured a mass of Mysis shrimp yesterday. <<They are pretty voracious eaters.>> I am guessing approximately 10-12. Later I noticed a bump on his back - or a lump in his belly [I don't know brittle star anatomy]. 24 hours later the lump/bump is still there. I did a quick under water examination and the mass does move. Should I be worried? <<Not at all, these seastars have an odd habit of doing this, I'm not exactly sure what they are doing, perhaps moving things around internally, but it is normal - mine do this too from time to time.>> Are B.S's 'A' sexual and he/she might be preggers? <<Also a possibility, but I don't think so in this case.>> Should I do some massage therapy and make him yak up the mass. <<No.>> Is this just a BS thing? <<Exactly.>> Any help would be greatly appreciated. I will be devastated if I loose Weed. He is too cool. Rhonda ~ Bend Oregon <<Cheers, J -- >>

Injured Brittlestar? (2/27/04) I had sent this message a couple of days ago: Hey crew, <Steve Allen tonight>   Thanx for all the help so far.  You guys take a lot of the stress out of caring for a new tank. <Our pleasure.> This one is going to be hard and unfortunately I don't have a digital camera.  Either way I can't see much of the new creature anyways.  I looked through the inverts section and didn't come across anything like this little guy.  Today I noticed to antennae sticking out of a hole.  At first thought they were just a tube worm but I noticed that each one split into two at the ends.  I also noticed that there were to little "eyes" looking around.  The shape of the eyes were oval and very dark.  I didn't get to see any of his body as he is to timid to come out of the hole in the rock.  I noticed an empty hermit crab shell next to the hole....hopefully the crab wasn't eaten....and it definitely isn't the hermit in the hole.  I got home tonight and noticed that the hole had been filled in.  Being curious and maybe not altogether smart I poked it the handle of a net.  At this time a piece of shell, clump of sand (not sure what) fell into the hole.  The little guy poked his head out and looked around and then put the piece back in place. Unfortunately it can't describe him much better than that as I haven't been able to seem out of his hole.  IF you can identify this or even point me in the right direction to try and identify him that would be great. Thanks again, Todd Hawman   Today (Feb. 26/04) I fortunately figured out what it was...a bashing Mantis Shrimp. <Why am I not surprised. They're wiley little buggers. I thank my lucky stars to have never had the "pleasure" in my tanks.> I heard him attacking 3 or 4 of my hermit crabs.  He came with a piece of live rock that I had for about a month and a half, lived inside in a little hole then just came out on Tuesday (Feb. 24/04).  In the process of trying to catch him <did you succeed?> he swam to the rock where my brittle star was hiding and I heard four or five clicks.  I noticed that the brittle star has 3 red spots on the center disc and 2 white spots on one of the arms.  Is this damage from the Mantis Shrimp or is the Brittle Star sick?? <Probably injured, but at risk for infection. Keep your water pristine and watch him closely.>   I was also wondering if I have to worry about eggs from the shrimp since it had been in the tank that long and had gone unnoticed. <Probably not unless it had a mate. Also, something is bound t eat any larvae long before they grow into anything of concern.>   Finally I was curious about what color of green (bright green, dark green, probably all sorts) are the Green brittle stars. <Kind of a drab almost olive if it's Ophiarachna incrassata - pix on WWM at Brittlestar page.> I am having a hard time identifying mine.  He isn't very green...more grayish, but he has stood up on all arms like a tent waiting for fish to swim underneath <scary if you have small fish--read more on WWM>, and most of the day he just sits under a rock and isn't very active. <Typical. They mostly come out at night. If bold, they'll come out in low light if food is placed near them.> Tank parameters are: pH 7.9 (just recently dropped about .3) <Why? Very important to look for & correct the problem. You really want 8.2-8.3 range. Fluctuation is especially hard on echinoderms.>, ammonia 0ppm, nitrate 15ppm, nitrite 0-0.25ppm (closer to 0) <definite zero always is best>, temp 26 degrees C, SG 1.0215. <You should think about keeping it higher if you like inverts. More like 1.023-1.024 and stable. Again, fluctuation is hard on echinoderms.>   Thank you for the help, love the site, Todd Hawman <Happy to help.>

It's The Water...(Unfortunately)! Hello Wet Guys, <Scott F. dripping here today> I have 2 brittle stars and both have a cut on their body. I battled a condition in my tank a week ago with not washing out a sump before I bought it and I think a chemical got introduced into my system. The starfish don't move much anymore and it looks like some of their guts are hanging out. I have made 2 large 50% water changes with 2 smaller 50% water changes. The fish breathing heavy but have recovered. I have worked my butt off on this tank for the last week but I suppose my work isn't over. What do you think this is a result of have you heard of starfish doing this before? <Well, usually when a starfish appears to be eviscerated, it is an extremely serious problem from which the animal may not recover. The best suggestion I could make is to keep outstanding water quality, keep an eye out for possible infection (use antibiotics if necessary), and observe the animal carefully> Also I have run about 64 oz.s of carbon over the last week. I hope I don't have to replace all of my live rock and live sand. any help would be appreciated. Jason <Well, Jason, it's hard to say. It really depends what the chemical introduced was. Compounds like copper can be removed with chemical filtration media such as PolyFilter, aggressive water changes, and the passage of time, although it may be bound up in the rocks and substrate for many, many months. Testing would reveal the possible extent of the problem . Other chemical compounds, such as household cleaners, etc., can be removed through the aforementioned methods as well. Just be patient, and keep working at it. Don't give up. Regards, Scott F>

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