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FAQs about  Brittlestars 2

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

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

Ophiothrix sp. on a soft coral in N. Sulawesi. 

Yellow brittle star 12/30/03 What a great site...full of wonderful information!  Hoping you can help.. <Thanks!  Me too!> I have a yellow brittle star that has been living in my 80 gal tank for nearly 2 years.  It has grown significantly and is about 18+ inches tip to tip with the body being about 1 3/4 inches across. <Yowza!  Your biggest concern should be that it will crawl out of the tank at night and make off with the neighbors dogs, cats or children!> I haven't changed anything or introduced any new fish in many months.  5 days ago I noticed a small hole in the back of my starfish that is getting bigger daily.  It is about 1/5 the size of his back.  His arms look fine at this time.  He has been very active and appears to be feeding.  My water quality is good and I faithfully do 15-20 gal changes 3 times monthly. <I'm not really sure what this could be, but it is a good sign that the animal is active and feeding.> I do not have another reef tank, but I do have another 30 gal salt with only 2 fish I could possibly move him to in order to medicate if needed.  Any suggestions for me? <I would tend to try to let this run it's course.  Echinoderms are so sensitive that I would only use antibiotics as a last ditch.  There is also the problem of knowing what your are treating and if antibiotics would be effective.  The use of antibiotics is not to be taken lightly!> Thank you in advance for your time, good help is so hard to find! <You're welcome, and I am sorry for not having more definitive or optimistic advice, but invert diseases are extremely difficult to treat.  Adam> Sherri Melting Brittle Star 2 Hello Steve, Please take a look at this photo, should I leave the star in the aquarium? Will treating him separately help in regeneration? He is currently hiding under a rock. Regards, Samir <Samir:  Sorry to see that your brittle star looks so terrible. I would say there is virtually no chance it will survive because of the severe damage to the central disk. I would not leave it in the tank because its gradual death will degrade your water quality. If you want to try to treat it with antibiotics in a QT, you can; but I'd say it's chances of survival are minimal at best. Sorry, Steve>

Every Event a Lesson (12/29/2003) Thank you very much, I do really appreciate your input. I guess I just got a hard learnt lesson. <I was sorry to hear/see your troubles with this Brittlestar. The tough part is that it's hard to say what caused it. Do read up on these creatures. I heartily recommend Bob & Anthony's "Reef Invertebrates."> I hope it makes me a better aquarist? <Every lesson learned from experience or reading will make each of us a better aquarist. The painful ones are the longest remembered.> Will keep looking at WWM <Believe me, you will learn something every day that way.> Thanks again Happy Holidays regards Samir  <Same to you. Steve Allen>

Brittlestar control 12/5/03 Hey crew, <cheers> I have noticed that my population of Brittlestars is getting to a fairly high level.   <harmless... and a clear indication of excess particulates/food from overfeeding... or simply inadequate water flow> I have heard that to lower the numbers you should try lowering the feeding level, but if I go any lower my fish will die from starvation.   <understood... in such cases when feeding is low, it indicates that the water flow is too weak and/or sand sifting is inadequate (perhaps you have too coarse of substrate, or it is of a challenging intermediate depth of 1-3".. in which case you need to gravel siphon or sand stir weekly)> Do you know of a fish that controls bristle worms that would be ok with the current inhabitants? <larger wrasses... although they can be aggressive and are not usually reef safe> Current inhabitants are a false percula clown (male) and a scissortail goby. <hmmm... perhaps instead you can bait them with a sunken jay (a bit of food inside) and give them away to a LFS or aquarium club. Wonderful creatures. Anthony>

Green brittle star diet (O. incrassata) 11/18/03 Hi Gang, <howdy> Love your site.   <thanks kindly> I have read that green brittle stars can be fish eaters.   <indeed... they are opportunistic and uncommonly predatory for a brittle star> I was not aware they might eat corals too.   <not likely... more a predator on motile invertebrates like small shrimp... also will eat Tridacnid clams that fall and squirm to right themselves> This evening, while doing a water change I notice that my Xenia, normally waving in the current up front, was missing.  I swear I had just seen it.  Upon further inspection its rock had been pulled from the crevice I had it lodged in.  After some searching I found the rock, with just a tattered fragment of Xenia flesh still attached, in a cave under my green brittle star.   <interesting> I am assuming he (?) ate the Xenia.  Can I expect more of this behaviour?   <their attacks are somewhat random... but honestly they are an unsafe long term species for reef aquaria. Most any other brittle or serpent star is very safe though> A large mushroom which yesterday had nearly worked its way free to begin drifting about has also disappeared.  I cannot find it at all.  Thanks in advance, Scott Bartlett. <remit this star to a fish only tank perhaps... very fine scavenger as you have noticed. Seriously :) Anthony>

-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 SWF.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

Brittlestars - 10/2/03 hello, I saw something pretty amazing yesterday in my reef tank that I was hoping you could comment on. <OK>  About a year ago we had a brittle star (only one) that eventually wasted away and died (i.e. tips of its arms falling off first and then disappearing). <Sounds horrible (if you were a brittle star)>  Last night there were three tiny brittle stars about the size of my fingernail (from one tip of an arm to another) between the front glass and the crushed coral. <Not sure of the species per se but these are quite common. Likely close to full size, my guess>  Their body is about a millimeter across!  They look exactly like the original brittle star. <are they white or colored? Usually white in color. They seem to bury themselves in mud and eat detritus. Mine seem to find various homes in my liverock structure>  I was wondering if there's a simple explanation - i.e. how do brittle stars reproduce and have these 'babies' been in my tank for the last year? <Maybe in the tank the whole time but you are just noticing them. Have you added live sand recently or even recently added rock or coral. This is how I received mine>  Can brittle star eggs remain unhatched for an extended period of time? <I believe it is possible.> I'm very surprised that they would be so small considering at least one year has passed. <Again, likely full size. -Paul> Thanks, Ben

- Brittle Star ID - Hello, My question is, the other day I bought a piece of live rock and there was a star fish inside. It's yellow smooth, soft skin on top with a little white horn/spine on top of body. It has lots of tiny little feet on the under body and moves fast, and it seems to like the dark. I think it's a type of brittle star. <Does sound like a brittle star.> I was wandering if you could help me in naming this species and also what is that little horn used for? <I have to admit that I don't know on both counts - any possibility you could send in a picture. It would help a little bit.> And if you could what does it eat? <Probably anything it can get its arms on - brittle stars typically will eat meaty foods when they can.> Thank you so much for your time and this Web site, Tara C. <Cheers, J -- >

-Seahorse compatibility- Lol...I just got done writing you about my blue/green Chromis in with my erectus seahorses!  But, alas, I need your help once more... <That's what we're here for, fire away!> I went to a marine store near where I live in Ohio today (was supposed to buy some small crabs and such for both my 30 gallon tank of seahorses and for my 5 gallon of dwarf seahorses).  Well, when I was in there I picked up a nudibranch ...Phyllidia arabica I realized tonight from reading on here.  I am wondering now if I should not have bought this little bugger! <Well, do you know what it eats? Unfortunately, these things are incredibly hard to identify, and if you didn't collect it yourself, you have no way of knowing what it ate in the wild (they are usually specific feeders). Nudi's similar or the same as this one have been know to release toxins when damaged. All that said, it probably was not a smart buy.> I talked to the owner of the store and he told me it would do just fine in my tank with the seahorses.  I also went in looking for a chocolate chip starfish, which I thought would make a wonderful addition, well....sigh...I let not only the owner, but my friend as well, talk me out of the chocolate chip and in to purchasing a green brittle star instead. <Hehe, come armed w/ info!> Again, the owner of the store said that it would do well in with the seahorses and I had nothing to worry about. <Green brittle stars are notorious for chowing on unsuspecting fish at night, I doubt that your seahorse would be immune from this.> I am now shaking my head and embarrassed to say that after reading up on both of my new purchases that it seems neither is right for my tank! <Hehe, unfortunately it happens to everybody. Try to learn from these mistakes and come into the store knowing what you want and how to keep it. If something is really cool and you're not sure about it, put it on hold and research it.> Am I just over reacting?  I LOVE my seahorses and do not want to introduce them into harms way because of my lack of knowledge on these two specific species.  Will my guys be okay with these two new additions, or should I remove them pronto?  Any help on this quandary I have made for myself at the risk of my seahorses (wondering if I should start kicking myself now) would be gratefully appreciated! <If your LFS guy is cool, he may let you return what you've just bought. If you LOVE :) your seahorses, you'll want to remove them. Good luck! -Kevin> Thank you again,  Jena

Brittle Star Hello Crew, I picked up a used aquarium setup yesterday and noticed that there was a red brittle star in the sump which I wanted to throw in my main tank but I'm a little concerned since I've heard of these brittle worms eating fish. I thought it was only the green one's that would hunt and eat fish but just want to make sure. The brittle star is about 6 - 7".<I have heard of very large brittle starfish eating small fish, but its not very likely to occur, I would not be too concerned unless you have small 1" fish. Good luck, IanB>

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-sifting 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>

-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

Serpent Starfish (baby) I found your site by complete accident and found that it has a lot of great and useful information. I do have a question that you can hopefully help me with.  If not, that's okay.<sure its fine> I am a complete novice at this whole salt tank thing, but am completely fascinated and would love to learn more and do it right. I purchased a 55 gallon tank with the works from a friend.  It was already set up and going.  It contains live rock, anemones, 2 snail "things", 4 blue legged hermits, 1 red legged hermit, 1 sea cucumber, 2 serpent starfish and a skunk shrimp.  A couple of days ago I was watching the tank and the shrimp when I noticed a teeny tiny thing that looked just like a serpent starfish.<probably is a hitchhiker one that came with the live rock>  It was smaller than a dime (5 legs and all) and white.  Its legs are just like strands of hair.  Could this be a baby one??<probably so>  I have looked all over the internet but can not seem to find any links regarding this or a starfish this small.  I have been trying to get a picture of it but it doesn't come out of the rock very often and when it does it stays towards the back making it impossible to capture a picture of it. Any help or ideas would be grateful.<yeah... it probably is a baby starfish, good luck, IanB> Thanks and have a good one Michelle

Serpent starfish (babies) Thanks for your reply.   As of this morning, I have now located 2 possibly 3 of them.  Wonder just how many there are....<you tell me lol> Any idea how long it takes them to mature or to get their color?<months> The adult ones that I have are red and brown with dark brown bands.  Interesting creatures.<they sure are> Again, thanks for your help.  There just isn't much out there on them. At least not that I can find.<yeah they are very young, enjoy> Have a great one. :-)<you too, IanB>

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-sifting 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>

-Food for a brittle star- Hi Crew, This is a quick one.  I have a new brittle star in my tank and I don't know what kind he is, or more importantly what I should be feeding him.  There are no fish in the tank yet so the scraps a minimal to non.  Just LR, snail, copepods, bivalves of sorts, algae and what ever else is on the LR.  Unfortunately I cannot get a picture of this guy since he hides all the time.  I assume he is coming out at night.  I can describe him though if you can help. He is a brittle star...no doubt.  Center disk body with long very spiny legs.  he is dark brown to almost black with a rust colored underside.  his lower spines and underneath him are rusty in color.  He is similar, not the same, as the star in the attached picture.  Colors are very different and the arms on mine seem to be much thinner, but with similar spines. I hope you can offer some feeding advice.  I really don't want this guy to die of malnutrition. <Check out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm . The care for all these guys is incredibly simple. I would toss in any type of meaty seafood (frozen or pellet) several times per week for him to chomp on. They can smell the stuff pretty good so simply drop it near it and watch the fun. Enjoy! -Kevin> Thanks, Louis Rizzo

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>

- Headline: Brittle star eats Greek Goddess! - Hi, My beautiful Greek Goddess nudibranch has disappeared overnight.  I have had it for several weeks, and it is not one to hide, so I am worried.  Is it possible that my red brittle star got it? <Could be, more likely that it simply died of natural causes (most Nudis only live a year, yours may have been 50 weeks old!), or even more likely starved to death. Nudis are specialized feeders, and I'm not familiar with the common name of "Greek Goddess".> (I had a good size camel shrimp disappear a couple of weeks ago, right after we got the new star, so I am a little suspicious of the critter.) <Could have been the star, although a full range of water tests are in order, as well as a review of your acclimation procedures.> Aren't nudibranchs supposed to be too bad tasting for predators? <Yeah, as in TOXIC. Gonna need more than Pep to to calm your stomach after one of those! -Kevin> Thanks, Eve Towns

Brittle star reproduction/infestation - 6/21/03 I have a huge number of small starfish, apparently brittle starfish.  I am wondering if they are reproducing?  I find them on live rock, in the sand, in the skimmer, in the filter.  My guess is there are a ton of them around my tank.   <many Ophiuroid brittle starfish commonly reproduce> Is this safe?   <they are reef safe, but their excessive proliferation may indicate a lack of water flow or excessive feeding on your part to support them. Perhaps a poorly functioning skimmer or weak water change schedule. Look at nutrient export issues> Are they adding anything to my tank?  Are they beneficial?   <they are excellent detritivores/scavengers> They are all about ? inch in size and there are a TON of them.  Thoughts? Thanks, Tony Jopling <enjoy them... many aquarists pay good money to get these creatures. Kind regards, Anthony>

The Death Star? (Is His Brittle Star A Killer?) I've got a 72gal FOWLR tank that I am currently stocking. I purchased a red (with black spots) brittle starfish a few months ago and I suspect that he caught and killed one of the three Chromis in the tank.  The star is about 3/4" in diameter with arms about 3" long. <Well, I suppose it's possible, but I've never had that happen, in my experience...Usually, they will consume a dead fish or invert...but I have not observed outright predatory behavior before.> I was looking in the tank this evening and saw the starfish and three of my hermit crabs munching on him. Is there anything I can do to prevent another one being eaten? Should I extract the starfish or is there something I could feed him (other then four week old quarantined Chromis) to keep him from hunting? Jim <Well, Jim- I'd start by just observing this guy for a while. Again, typically, you'll see them consume dead animals, so see what this starfish is up to. I'll bet that the Chromis was already dead when he was eaten...Again- it's not impossible that the starfish could "hunt", but is seems a bit unlikely to me...Keep observing! I wouldn't just yank the starfish out yet....Regards, Scott F>

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

Brittle star and coralline algae question... I've poured over your site and the net for a little bit o brittle star ID.  i was hoping you could direct me to a website that has a nice thumbnail listing with pictures.  I've tried http://home.att.net/~ophiuroid/home.html, but that didn't work either. <I suppose you've checked here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm. Although I had no luck locating a site either, the Modern Coral Reef Aquarium volume 4 has excellent information and species descriptions w/ pictures.> i have 3 brittle stars all black or grey colored.  one was sold to me as a midnight crawler.  i plopped em in before i became a daily reader of your site as i am now 'enlightened'.  I'm lucky enough to have a job where I'm online 90% of the day (and i still can't find that precious ID site)  I've spent the last 2 weeks trying to read all your faq's (I'm beginning to think it's impossible to read them all).  i pulled my green brittle star (damned assassin took a sally lightfoot crab and an emerald crab).  he payed a heavy penalty.  I'll spare you the details. <I hope that means you returned him to your LFS, otherwise there's no reason to kill it for your mistake.> ok, one more easy question for you, o great and mighty aqua gods! <lol> what are the benefits of coralline algae.  does it soak up nitrates and/or phosphates? <Not to any practical extent.> does it release much needed oxygen into the water column?? <Well, it is an algae so it would.> are there any other benefits that you know of?? <It's really purdy. It is harder for hair algae to get a foothold on it, so it is an excellent thing to have your rocks covered with.> i can't imagine there are any detriments, are there? <Well, if you have enough growing it will deplete your calcium and alkalinity levels. This could be a problem if you don't test for them.> I thank you in advance for your replies and for previous replies welcoming me into the brotherhood (and sisterhood???) that is....aquaria...my new love.  <Haha, enjoy! -Kevin> hopefully i won't need too much therapy later.

Sleeper Goby (Valenciennea puellaris) eating Serpent Star? >Good day Mr. Fenner. >>Greetings, Josh, Marina this morning. >After losing a wrasse in my system, I did some reading and came to the conclusion an Orange Spotted Sleeper Goby would be a good addition to my system when considering current inhabitants and other factors. Within a day of placing him in my tank I noticed a small chunk missing from the top of my Red Serpent Star, which had been otherwise healthy for a few weeks now. Thinking he might have just torn himself against a rock or some other accident not caused by another inhabitant, I didn't see any need to isolate him.  Today I witnessed the goby, who to my surprise was eating from the water column from day one rather than needing to be coaxed into it and thus something I would like to keep, in the act of tearing a new hole in the star and promptly isolated the star in hopes of getting him to heal up over the next few weeks. My question lies in if these two are in fact inhospitable together as nothing I've read indicated such (aside from gobies sometimes being light nibblers of the leg tips of some stars, but not doing any damage).  Is this a common occurrence between the two species or did I just get very unlucky? >>This is something entirely new to me, Josh.  As yet, I am unable to find a single reference to these fish eating sea stars.  I must wonder if the timing was simply such that, upon addition of the fish (or for some other as yet to be determined reason) the star was already somewhat stressed, and was pushed over just enough to begin degradation.  Animals such as the sea stars are very sensitive to basic issues such as specific gravity.  They can be treated if it appears to be a bacterial invasion, but this absolutely requires NSW (near sea water) quality parameters.  If you've got that, and want to try, I suggest using Spectrogram in the q/t tank.  So, no, I don't think the cause of the sea star's demise was the goby.  Best of luck!  Marina Thank you in advance,      Josh

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>

- Brittle Star -- friend or foe? - Hi Guys, <Good morning, JasonC here...> I have a question about the 2 brittle stars in my tank that I have as part of my cleanup crew. I have a 100 gal FOWLR tank that I set up about 2 months ago (upgraded my old 55 gal tank to this one). I have 2 brittle stars that normally hide in the live rock. They have black bodies and dark red hair-like bristles. Their arms are about 2 inches long. They're usually very shy until they sense food. Then they get pretty aggressive. The other day I lost one of my small green Chromis when he got into the sump and sent back into the tank in 4 pieces through the pump (bummer, good thing my 4yr old daughter wasn't watching that!). One of the stars found the largest piece in about 10 minutes and took it back into his crevice with him. Within a half hour everything was cleaned up. My 3 inch purple tang seems afraid of the brittle stars. Whenever he sees them he freaks out. This time his body went pale and he started darting back and forth in the tank. He calmed down after about 10 minutes. This isn't the first time he's freaked out when he sees the stars. Are these brittle stars OK? <Yes, it's the green ones that are suspect.> Are they really safe for my live fish or is my tang trying to tell me something? <Your tang is trying to tell you something, but I'm not sure that this is it... I'd look for other factors, perhaps the color shirt you are wearing... I had a Tuskfish once who would react badly to a bright yellow shirt I had.> Thanks, Kris Laguna Niguel, CA <Cheers, J -- >

Did a worm kill my starfish >Hi my name is Bill and I have had my 40 gal reef setup for 6 mo now.    >>Hi, Bill.  Marina this morning. >Last week I noticed a pink caterpillar looking worm in my live rock.  It was about 2 inches long and went back into the rock.   >>Sounds like a bristleworm from this initial description.  They are eaters of detritus and leftover foodstuffs.  Not harmful at all, except to you should you be so unfortunate as to let yourself be stuck by one (yep, I've been there, done that, ain't fun). >A couple of days ago I saw one eating some of the Tetra tips i feed to my green serpent star.  They were kind of sharing.  A day later I saw one small one which i caught and killed and a big one around 5 in long.    >>Do be VERY careful doing this!  We are as yet still unfamiliar with all the possible residents in our tanks, and I'll relay two stories revolving around the ubiquitous zoanthid.  One man was doing some rearranging of his tank, removed a bit of live rock with zoanthids and his poor beagle licked it.  The dog was dead by that evening, and nothing could be done.  The other was a man who keeps a nanoreef at work, found some nudibranchs he didn't want eating his zoanthids so he squished it, with his thumb (no cuts, either).  In less than 15mins his heart was racing and he was not able to breath, and soon after began to lose feeling in his extremities.  Please, don't just go squishing things, you really could end up in the emergency room, and most doc's know NOTHING about the toxins found in much of what we keep.  Sorry so long, but it's quite necessary.  Let's do continue.. >My problem is this.  When my tank was 1 mo old after cycling I put a brittle star in and one week later it started loosing tips from his arms first, a little then down to the body and he died. It happened over a two day period.  I thought it was my emerald crabs so i removed them.   >>No, it wasn't the crabs.  Have you got any books?  If not, please begin building a library.  Sea stars are among the most delicate of inverts to keep, and you should not have made them among your first additions.  Your sea stars died because of improper water conditions (much of what makes or breaks it for a sea star we, as hobbyists, simply CANNOT test for--heavy metals and the like, for instance).  I believe that you are too new to the hobby to take on delicate inverts, and a few good books will help you through this and help you sort what you can keep and expect to live. >Then I had about 3 other stars that all of a sudden would have wounds then die or I removed them the latest of which being a burgundy star who looked great for 5 mo but after the worm sighting he got bit up and died also. >>If these are bristleworms, they just come and clean up after the fact.  I believe that it is more likely than not that conditions are not quite right to keep sea stars. >If the worm was the reason what can I do about it?   >>I really do not believe the worm(s) is the cause of the trouble.  Let your tank be for a bit, don't add anymore sea stars at this point, get yourself some really good books and move on from there.  The possibilities are so vast that I cannot make a dent in what there is to know via email.  (Yes, they can be even more sensitive than corals!)  I hope this helps somewhat.  Marina 40 gal 60 lb LR 2 55 pc on 12 hrs timed Astrea snails blue and red hermit crabs gr serpent star hammer coral frogspawn star polyps ,plate coral mad goby 2 percula clowns and one large feather duster.

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 >

- Algae, Starfish, and Crabs... - <Good morning, JasonC here...> Before I ask my questions, here's some background info... 90 Gallon Tank Canister Filter 27oc Salinity: 1.023 95lbs live rock 2" livesand (ya, I know it should be 3") <Unless you want a deep sand bed, 2" is fine - 3" can cause trouble - 4-6" is best for deep sand beds.> 2 Percula Clowns 1 Fire Goby 2 Watchmen Goby Coral Banded Shrimp White Striped Cleaner Shrimp Pistol Shrimp 1 Emerald Crab 45 Blue Legged Hermits 20 Snails 1 Black Brittle Star (5-6" in diameter tip of leg to tip of leg) Just a few questions for ya guys today...  it's been a while: 1.  I have a nice rusty looking red algae growing on everything.  Looks kind cool on the liverock, but it is also growing on some big fancy sea shells and on the hermit crab shells.  It's growing on my fake plants in the tank and on my power heads too.  I've heard that all this algae is good, but it is turning my tank red.     a)  Why is just red algae growing? <The prevailing conditions support it.>     b)  Is this ok for my tank or should I have more of a clean-up crew (crabs/snails)? <Or look to things you may be doing to encourage it - over-feeding, phosphates in source water, high nitrates, etc.>     c)  How do I limit the growth instead of it taking over my tank? <See my answer to B.> 2.  My hermit crabs keep disappearing. It seems as though I have 3 spots in my tank that are just littered with broken, cracked, vacant hermit crab shells.  I see my Pistol Shrimp pulling them into his lair from time to time. As well, I see my Mithrax picking them up and pulling them out of their shells.  Is it usual to see a huge collection of shells in various spots of my tank? <Sure, when someone is eating them...> Not sure if they are all eaten or if they have just outgrown the shells and moved into some bigger ones I provided. <Uhh... you just explained the whole thing. Someone is eating your crabs. No mystery here.> Perhaps a combination of both?  P.S.  Their shells are going all red algae covered as well. 3.    I have a very nice large black Brittle Star that stays in a little hole in my live rock.  I have only seen a few legs out of the hole in the last month.  I did notice that one day he moved to another hiding spot on the other side of the tank.  Therefore, he has moved out of the small hole once that I have noticed in a month and more or less stays there with a few legs hanging out.  My Coral Banded Shrimp tends to hangout right by his hole.     a)  Do you think my CBS may be preventing the Brittle Star from leaving? <No.>     b)  Does this sound usual?  Will my starfish starve in that little hole? <Probably not.>     c)  Anything else sound a little fishy?? <No.> Thanks for your help guys... Dave <Cheers, J -- >

Starfish Worries Hey guys <Just guy tonight, PF here.> I am working on a cleanup crew for my 29 gal (soon-to-be) reef tank.  Currently, I have 1 large hermit, one small hermit, <You might want to get a bunch of empty shells for your hermits to move into, they're notorious for killing snails and stealing their shells, > 5 turbo snails, and I just got 2 green brittle star fish.  Other live stock are 1 convict damsel, one yellow damsel, and a clown fish along with about 25lbs of LR. <You do know that damsels are highly territorial, if you ever plan on putting any other fish in, I would get the damsels out now,> I am concerned that the stars might feel like feasting on my little fish or snails if I don't feed them properly. <Yes indeed, the infamous green brittle is known to eat fish (I saw photos of one that ate a small mantis, the mantis objected and reenacted the dinner scene from Alien).  I have been feeding flake food for my livestock; do I need to feed something else entirely that they can all share, add something else for the stars, or just use more flakes?  <For the stars, I would recommend something meatier, say frozen (thawed of course) krill, small (like 1"x ?") strips of fish or squid, etc.  Be aware, these guys can get big, like 12"+ across big.> Thanks for the help! <Your welcome, sounds like a nice little tank so far.> Kenneth in Houston <PF in Eugene>

Brittle star what astronomical event signals the advent of mass spawning underwater? <Principally the position of the moon, secondarily the sun/temp. Bob Fenner>

Yellow brittle stars 3/27/03 I recently stocked my new 55 gal cycled tank (Berlin system, protein skimmer, and refugium) with the janitor crew...several hermit crabs and snails and 4 starfish from LiveAquaria.com.  I?m new at this and have been reading through your site for the last few hours so, I have a few questions. Two of the stars are Fancy Brittle Sea Stars, Yellow (one of them is fairly large with about 1 1/4 inch disc) and one is a tiger striped serpent star.   <yikes... a very beautiful star, but one of the few predatory brittles like the green variety (O. incrassata)> I?ve noticed already a few empty snail and hermit crab shells in the tank (3 near where the largest star hides).  Are these supposed yellow stars really green (their disk has green spots on it) that I have read are predatory?  Or are the yellow brittle stars also predatory?   <the latter if so> My water tests out at the right levels but could something else be killing the snails and crabs?  I also have a burgundy sea star (Tamaria sp).  He was very active the first day but now he just sits in basically one place, moving only slightly.   <heehee... its tummy is too full to move <G>> He looks like he?s drying up, although he hasn?t gotten thinner and he has small burgundy colored bubbles on his skin.   <hmm...odd> Is it just stress, is he sick, is he just hungry?   <not sure without photo/sight. Be patient with it in the meantime> Last question, do you think that Emerald Mithrax crabs are truly reef safe? <Mithraculus sp... and they are fairly safe, but they are still crabs. And most all crabs are opportunistic. They may attack small fishes or other invertebrates in time but are generally well-behaved> I imagine some of these questions are answered on your site but, I was starting to get brain overload...there is sooooo much information!  Thank you so much! Heather <best regards, Anthony>

A star by another name - 3/10/03 Gentleman: <Gentleman Paul here to assist>   I have been reading up a bit on green stars, and have a question on mine <Go for it> - seem to be what you're describing anyway, his central body is about dime sized, with extended arms being about 4 inches… dark, dark green, almost black in color.  Anyway here's my question:  Is he a danger to my current livestock at that size? <Depends on what type of starfish we are talking about. Is it a common green brittle star that goes by the species name Ophiarachna radiata or a brittle/serpent star type with the name Ophiuroids (i.e Ophiothrix sp.) Use the species name and do a search on your favorite search engine and gain a positive ID. In any event if it truly is a green brittle (Ophiarachna radiata) then I would keep an eye on it and your fish inhabitants. I have a very large specimen in one of my tanks (almost 3 years now) with no fish and he seems to leave all my hermits and few snails alone. (They are all accounted for) but that is not to say that he may decide he needs an extra snack in between feedings. That being the key, feed them directly! Frozen foods of choice here! If it is of the species Ophiuroids then they also should be fed directly, but they are much less likely to take on a more aggressive role for food> Livestock being: 2 Perculas (2 inches long each) (Which are NEVER below the halfway mark in the tank.) <Regardless, a large Ophiarachna will wait out a fish if hungry enough, not to mention they are quite resourceful and fast when they need to be!> A Hippo tang (about 3.5 inches long) a yellow tang (about 5 inches long) 2 cleaner shrimp and about 25 Nassarius snails. <The shrimp may be in trouble here with most any starfish in the brittle/serpent star class. There is always a chance they will see them as a meaty in between meals snack. <VBG> Keep an eye on them.> Tank is a 55g FOWLR. <Keep an eye but worth experimenting as I get the most response from visitors who see this large green brittle star moving about the tank. Fascinating to watch! Good luck. Pablo> Thanks! <Thank you.>

Brittle Star Fish Good or Bad? I have a 44 gallon pentagon tank with a number of polyps and a few soft corals. I also have a few fish which include 1. a fairy wrasse that I can't identify, a coral beauty dwarf angel fish, a purple Firefish, and a blenny that is dark grey with yellow side fins (note that the blenny when excited gets almost a camouflage look to body with light and dark patches of grey), and a yellowtail damsel (who is a hellion)  The tank has been up and running for 4 months (it has been cycled completely).  PH is 8.3, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates stay almost immeasurable.  Salinity stays at around 1.023 to 1.024.  I have a cleaner shrimp, and a camel back shrimp.  I also forgot to mention my snails and hermits.  I have 4 red leg hermits, and 3 blue leg hermits, 4 large turbo snails, 2 or 3 bumblebee snails, and 2 margarita snails.  I have around 70 lbs of live rock.  Anyway back to my question.  Two days ago I saw what appeared to be a brittle star on the front glass.  This was white with spines on it's legs, and it was smaller then a dime with it's arms all the way spread out.  It appeared rather quickly and with the same speed that it was noticed about (2 minutes) it was gone out of sight.  Is this one of those miniature brittle stars that scavenges for food?  I also am going to be getting a brittle star from a friend who tells me it is not a green brittle star but doesn't want to risk keeping it with his recently purchased epaulet shark egg.  He told me that before the shark egg was all the way in the water the starfish had come out of the sand as if it were coming after the shark egg.  Should I get this brittle star from my friend or have him trade it in at the LFS for something else?  My main concern on this is will my snails and soft corals be ok with a brittle star?  Would it be a big risk adding one of these to my tank or would it be worth a try?  I know I have posed a large number of questions but I just want some really solid advice before I put this star in my main tank.  The star is in a quarantine tank at my friends place awaiting my decision.  I know that I will qt the star before he goes in my main tank but am wondering whether it is worth all the effort or if the star would be better off getting traded at the LFS.  Thanks again for any advice.  John O Glendening III <Hi, John, Don here today. I don't recognize the starfish you describe, but here is a link to a starfish that has been identified as an SPS eater: http://www.garf.org/STAR/starfish.html. Hope this helps. As far as what to keep/not keep, I would say, if in doubt, leave it out. Just not worth taking the risk. Don>

Starfish Compatibility Hi,<Hey there!> I was wondering about the suitability of adding a brittle star to my tank. I have a 125g fish only with over 100lbs of live rock.  The concern I have is due to two tank occupants: a couple of Heniochus singularius, about 3-4" each.  I saw them visibly picking on (sampling) my sand-sifting star. Sadly, he was not able to withstand their continued assault.  His demise was 3-4 months ago.  I'd like to add another starfish of some sort.  Am I right in thinking that Fromia & Linckia are both susceptible to similar treatment? What about a brittle star?  They appear to hide during the daytime and scavenge detritus at night, right?  How safe do you think a brittle (non-green) star would be with two henis?  Before buying one, I want to make sure I'm not giving him a death sentence.  :-) Thanks!  I look forward to your input, John <Well John.... I really think that adding another starfish will be a death sentence.  In the wild this fish does feed on inverts, so any invert in this tank is a possible meal!  Hope this helps!  Phil>

Detritivores - 2/12/03 Oh boy - "Detritivores" now I have to go back wetweb and find out what THESE things are! <be sure to place serpent and brittle starfish (Ophiuroids) at the top of the list (excluding O. incrassata with invertebrates... all others are completely reef safe). Anthony>

White sea star - 2/12/03 Thanks for the info - I'll start my research - the only thing I knew about the sand sifting stars (white) was that they supposedly kill DSBs... <That's a matter of perspective and one that I would actually disagree with. I'm sure I could guess where you've read that tidbit. A controversial author or a post from one of his followers. At any rate, I'll say that the white sand burrowing stars can be extremely useful and hardy for larger aquaria (100 gallons and more) and will preclude the need for many or most other diatom feeding animals. Far and away they will serve the greater good in large tanks. In small aquaria, however, they will simply starve to death for having been put in an inappropriate position. Claims that they deplete micro-crustaceans and other motile organisms are pretty far-fetched. They are deposit feeders that do a fine job of keeping diatoms off the sand surface. Still... I was not referring to the such sea stars, but rather an entirely different family (The Ophiuroids) which are just incredible, safe and hardy> Would my tangs eat the stars? <that would be rare, bud. Best regards, Anthony>

Mini-brittles and SPS coral I've had an Acro that seems to be slowly bleaching. It's been confusing because none of the others have this problem, and the tank parameters are perfect. <perfect for what?> So I wrote it off as "one of those things". <OK> Then this weekend, the LFS, which has a rather large selection of Acro frags and colonies, cleaned out one of their Acro tanks almost completely, apparently chucking a large amount of stock. When I asked what had happened, they said they had tons of mini brittles in the tank, and had seen them going after and eating polyps on the acros. <what a load of crap. Ahhh...no. I assure you that no Ophiuroid starfish you and I will ever see eats healthy coral tissue> The infestation was so bad that they decided to chuck any pieces that had brittles hidden in them. <wow... amazing> And last night, I saw several mini brittles around the base of the withering Acro, and none on the other acros (yet). <no worries... you found treasure :) > I've decided to dump them, but is there any "good" way to get them out? <they are beneficial... do send a picture and I'll confirm> I can't take them out by hand, since they hide rather well. I've heard that a harlequin will eat them, and I don't have any other starfish right now - <huh?!?! Please... don't dare put a harlequin shrimp in this tank unless you plan to farm starfish for an endless supple of echinoid tube-feet> I originally had some green brittles, <they are the only predatory Ophiuroid in the trade and even they do not eat coral tissue> but caught one arching and eating a fish a few months back and got them out a few weeks ago; haven't replaced them with red or brown ones yet. I suppose I could get the harlequin, let it work for a few weeks, then get it out. <and send it where? Such behavior/buying decisions hurt are hobby by creating a demand for inappropriate livestock. Few people, like yourself, are prepared to keep such shrimp properly for a full captive lifespan.> Any other ideas? Thanks for any help...Arthur <no worries bud... the starfish are non-predatory. The worst thing you have to fear is that the LFS simply had sick coral. The stars were scavenging the dying tissue and the lack of QT for the new coral has infected you tank. Else, all will likely be fine. Do QT all livestock (plants, algae, live rock, sand, corals, etc) in the future to prevent these problems. Regards, Anthony>

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>

The Goby and The Mystery Star! Hello all! <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I wrote a while ago about a golden headed goby that wasn't eating, and soon after that email (in an act of desperation, and in hopes of getting to keep the little guy) I bought some dried blood worms and whole frozen mysids.  He loves them, he darts out of his hole every time I open the fridge to get out the mysids or pick up the bright red can of worms, he has filled out quite a bit since he started eating the things I put in, but he's still too skinny to stop worrying, will he fill out completely on this diet or is there something else I should start offering him that will fatten him up faster? <Well, I think frozen Mysis are one of the best all-around foods for many marine fishes. You can "enrich" the Mysis with additives, such as Selcon, which provides highly unsaturated fatty acids, or VitaChem, which (as it's name implies) provides extra vitamins. There is also brand of frozen Mysis by Piscine Energetics, that is already enriched. Other foods to try would be foods like Hikari "Mega Marine Angel", which does have some marine worms as part of it's formula, and is actually "extruded" during the manufacturing process so that it resembles worms. It's very high in vitamin content, and many fishes like it, despite its "Angel" title. > I was told to put him in a friend of mines more established tank, but I'm really fond of this character, with him eating like the other fish will he be ok now or should I still pass him on? <Well, I hate to give up on a fish, myself...Since he seems to be coming around now, I'd stand by this little guy and watch him begin to thrive!> I have one last question.  I have a starfish that was labeled as a "sand shifting star"  but my problem is that all the pictures I've seen of the sand shifting stars aren't pictures that look much like my guy, and unlike the descriptions that say they can't climb, he can.  He has suckers and although he doesn't seem too interested in climbing, from time to time he'll camp out at the water line.  I looked through one of your pages of starfish identification and he wasn't there either, he's cream colored with darker brown stripes, but he doesn't have those longer spines edging his rays that the sandsifting stars in the pictures have, his are very short.  Do you know of any sites that have pretty complete lists of the species that are sold in pet stores? <Well, based on your description, it sounds like this might possibly be a brittle star (genus Ophioderma)...I have one that is cream colored with dark bands...On the other hand, if it does not have other characteristics of a brittle star, it might be any one of dozens of possible species. I'm not aware of a web site, off hand, that specializes in Echinoderms, but you could certainly do a search on one of the larger search engines on the 'net, to see what's out there. You also will definitely want to order a copy of Bob, Anthony, and Steve's upcoming book, "Reef Invertebrates", due out in March!> I was just curious, I didn't know if this guy is maybe different from the sand shifting species altogether and maybe he'd take a liking to a special diet instead of the leftovers he's getting now.  Thanks for all your help!                                    Sincerely, Rachael <Well, Rachel- I think it's great that you're hanging in there with the goby. Your tenacity has paid off for both the fish and you! And I love the fact that you're concerned enough to be researching the dietary requirements of your animals! What a great habit to get into! Keep up the good work! Regards, Scott F>

- 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 -- >

- What kind of Brittle Star is this? - Hello to the WWM Crew and Happy New Year! <And happy new year to you. JasonC here...> I just returned from my LFS with a brand new bristle star? <?> I went in for a sand sifting star for my new DSB, they couldn't locate it in the tank and proceeded to tell me and my wife that I didn't want one of those anyway as they eat all the good stuff in the sand base. <That is true.> The next choice and ONLY $5 more was a great lil' "bristle star", We were told they much more animated and entertaining and will not harm anything in your tank. <Uhh... is that a money back guarantee?> I came home and of course started to look him up on the FAQ's, care and feeding and such. But I did not find a "Bristle star" but I did find a "brittle star" faq and now I'm wondering if I brought a green brittle star. <That is indeed what you have, and these seastars can be quite predacious on smaller fish.> I've attached a photo, would you be so kind as to help us identify this little creature. <Yes, a green brittle star for certain.> Judging from what I've read in the FAQ's here, if it is indeed a green brittle star, it will be returned tomorrow along with a few comments toward the LFS manager. <That's exactly what I would do.> Thanks again for the WONDERFUL SERVICE (Yes I'm shouting it at the roof tops) you guys provide for us. Dave
<Cheers, J -- >

- More on the Green Brittle Star - JasonC; <Hi...> Thank you for the help with identification. <My pleasure.> I promptly returned the creature to the LFS, they proceeded to call it a Green Serpent and said it would be fine (leave other fish alone) for at least 2 or 3 years, but did admit that it would eventually attack smaller fish. <I doubt it would take that long.> They did however refund my money. <Ahh, good.> What would your recommendation be for my next tank inhabitant? I do not have any immediate (with-in the next 1-2 years) plans for buying any expensive fish or corals. I'd like to start on the low end of the money scale, prove I can do this and then move up. I'd like something for maintenance of the DSB, debris clean-up and such, but I'm pretty much open at this point. <I'm a big fan of Nassarius snails.> I have a 55g with liverock & 4" DSB. It's been running for 45 days. Currently only 1 Domino Damsel living in the tank. Thanks again for all the help, Dave <Cheers, J -- >

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.>

Reaching For The Stars... As always, thanks for the info... <That's why we're here. glad to help!> Hmmm, so what was your take on my Brittle Star??  Leave 'em out or keep 'em in?  Although my Auriga Butterflies were most likely the initial culprits of chowing on my star...  I think something still might be nibbling on him a little bit.  My Emerald Crab or Coral Banded Shrimp perhaps? My Clowns??? <Well, hard to say from here. I think that the butterflies may have done the initial damage, as you witnessed. However, once an animal is injured, there are lots of other animals that move in for the easy feeding. Perhaps the crab and shrimp moved in after the initial damage. If not further harassed, these animals (stars) do display amazing regeneration properties. Finally, some butterflies do behave as "cleaners" at times, so perhaps someone else injured the stars, and the butterflies were merely picking bacteria off of the injured digits? Finally, environmental factors cannot be ruled out. DO re-check them.> I like the stars... but don't want to make them someone's $10 lunch. <Agreed- however, if you are not going with the triggers, as discussed previously, I'd leave them in and do some more investigating for a while, as long as their health is not declining further> I read somewhere about adding bristle worms and such to a tank to provide more organisms for fish, shrimp, crabs to feed on...  is this correct??  In a nutshell, what are advantages and disadvantages??? <Bristleworms are efficient sandbed scavengers, and their function in the aquarium is analogous to the role of earthworms in terrestrial gardens. Some reef hobbyists implicate them in damage to corals and sessile inverts, but, in my experience, the risk is minimal in many cases. I have never experienced problems with them. Of course, just because I have never had a problem does not mean that they won't be a problem for you! Do read up on them on the wetwebmedia.com site, and maybe talk to some other hobbyists to get a better picture of the pros and cons of including them in your system.> Last question... what can I do to naturally spice up my tank?  I don't have lighting to support corals or anenomes yet... I think.  Is there anything I can grow in my saltwater tank??  How do I get my liverock to grow more algae and grassy looking greens??? <Wow- that's a first! Stop water changes, over feed, undercirculate, and discontinue protein skimming! :) Seriously, if you want to grow some macroalgae, you may want to try Halimeda, a calcareous algae that looks nice, and does not have nearly the potential for problems as say, Caulerpa. You will need reasonably bright light and "reef-level" calcium content in order for them to thrive, however. You could add some feather dusters as well, since they are not dependent on lighting. They do need supplemental feeding, however.> Again, Merry Christmas guys! <And happy holidays to you, too! Best of luck on your plans! Regards, Scott F> Dave

- 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>

Just wanted to share... Shrinking Shrimp, predatory Brittlestar? This weekend I purchased four small peppermint shrimp hoping they would clean up some pesky Aiptasia in my tank.  I read all that I could find to try to make sure they would be safe, but alas, they became the most expensive food I've ever put in my tank!  I believe the green brittle star is the culprit.  All of the shrimp were gone within a few hours.  They were fairly small shrimp, but all of my fish are smaller than 3 inches long, so I'm pretty sure the brittle star got them.  My husband keeps trying to convince me that maybe the shrimp are hiding, but my tank is only 55 gallons and I would expect to see at least one of them around feeding time.  Anyway, I just thought that I would share with other hobbyists that small shrimp are not necessarily safe with a medium to large size brittle star, regardless of what the LFS tells you!  Keep up the good work WWM crew! <Thanks for the encouragement! It is always possible that the shrimp are hiding. I put a very expensive fire shrimp in my tank on Saturday...haven't seen him since. Shrimp are experts at hiding. Keep watching around feeding time. Best of luck! David>

Lots of small, white starfish Hi Bob and Friends! <cheers!> About four months ago I added a spiny black brittle starfish (looked like Ophiocoma paucigranulata from your photos) to my semi-aged system (about 6 months along at the time). It seemed to be doing well: It was always moving around (mainly at night), arms active at feeding time, climbed on all of the live rock, etc. Several weeks after introducing it into my tank, it started to get very lethargic, and didn't move much. A few days later, I saw my Pacific Tang attack it. The Tang was biting off its spines, and carrying it around the tank. I separated them using a grate that came with my wet/dry filter. A few minutes later, I saw the starfish spitting up small brown spheres. It then picked all of the brown parts away, and there were baby starfish!!! It was remarkable to watch!!!  <wonderful!! Yes, some Ophiuroids are indeed brood spawners> After 15 minutes or so it seemed to be done and I counted 5-6 starfish. They were REALLY small (maybe a quarter inch in diameter), and completely white. That night, the babies all disappeared (I assume they crawled off under rocks). Within the next week, the adult starfish ejected its arms and died from its Tang-inflicted wounds :( So, about a month or two ago, I saw one of the tiny starfish in a hole in a piece of live rock. It was much larger (about an inch in diameter), but still completely white. After a few hours, I found two more. Every day or so, I would check on them and see if they were still around - They were. Then, a week or so ago, I noticed 4-5 starfish hiding in a clump of hair Caulerpa. Every day I would look and there seemed to be a few more. Tonight, I counted 40 of them around the tank (so I assume there to be at least twice that). They're all between a quarter and one and a half inches in diameter and completely white. Other than their color and size, they appear to be identical to the original starfish. My questions are: 1) Do you think they are all from the original black brittle starfish, or just coincidental hitchhikers on some of my live rock? <could be either... brooders expel many more babies than just 4 or 5. So you surely missed some of the spawning activity. However, there are quite a few Ophiuroid stars that arrive incidentally with live rock and sand> 2) What should I do about them?  <enjoy them... they are wonderful additions to the tank> 3) There's a lot of them - Should I be worried about them exceeding the tank capacity?  <nope... they will limit themselves by available food> 4) Is it possible that the Tang would attack them?  <yes, but unlikely... the tang attacked the adult because it was compromised> I haven't seen him take any interest in the small starfish, so I assumed that the original starfish was giving off some sort of hormone as part of the birthing process that sent the Tang into a feeding frenzy. However, I admit to having absolutely no background in marine biology, so this is of course purely conjecture. Any help/advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. And, as always, my sincere thanks for the IMMENSELY helpful website and books - I actually occasionally feel like I know what I'm talking about!!! <that makes two of us <G>> - Jes PS. Tank info: 75 gallons with at least 100 lbs of live rock (probably closer to 150).Amiracle protein skimmer, producing a lot of disgusting crap every day (and cleaned every day). Amiracle wet/dry rated for 150 gallons (with the pre-filter pad replaced twice a week to keep Nitrates down). Inhabitants are: 1 Pacific Blue Tang 2 Ocellaris clown fish 2 Neon blue gobies 6 blue-green Chromis damsels 1 Flamefish / Dartfish ~ 20 Snails (turbo, Astrea and red moon) ~ 10 hermit crabs (left-claw zebras and blue-legged crabs) ~ tons of starfish Lots of Caulerpa of 4-5 different species (trimmed regularly)(and they're all doing very well) Chemicals: 0 NH3/NH4 0 NO2 5-10 NO3 (depending on if I do a water change after 2 or 3 weeks) <Best regards, Anthony>

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> 



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