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FAQs about Chocolate Chip Sea Star Disease/Health

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

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

Chocolate Chip Sea Star Deaths
Hi -
I'm a student in an Oceanography senior research lab (high school) and I'm keeping some CC stars under the supervision of my lab director - I personally have no experience keeping sea animals and only get to be in the lab 2-3 times a week, but he cares for all the students' animals in between classes (we also have sea hares, crayfish, trout, oysters, turtles, and an assortment of other fish in the lab).
I started out with 8 CCs, 2 per 30gal tank. I fed them twice a week with shrimp pellets and they have algae and live sand in their tanks. I've had them for about a month now (the tanks were started a little over three months before that) - I have no idea how they were acclimated to the tanks since I wasn't there but my lab director was aware they needed to be acclimated slowly. I also have no idea what kind of stress they could have undergone during transport.
<... very common animal in the ornamental trade; and also often easily lost. See Marco's piece here?: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm
and the loss FAQs re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm
Other than the "heterotrophic bacteria" alluded to, the tie in w/ poor environment (and nutrition), "stress", I don't actually know re definitive sources of mortality w/ this species>
The first death was two weeks ago - all the stars were perfectly fine when I left them (or so I thought - one of them was having trouble sticking to the walls of the tank and had a soft body when I touched it, but I didn't realize at the time that these were causes for concern; I thought I had just annoyed him. It also had what looked like orange pus leaking from the center disk but it retracted when I touched it so I figured it was just its stomach - it was quite a bright orange, though.) but when I got back from a long weekend, one was dead (I'm assuming it was the same one that had been having trouble before).
I removed the body and tested water parameters - none of them were ideal, but also didn't seem high enough to be causing the death (ammonia = 0.1; nitrates = 40ppm)
; temperatures ranging from 75-80F; salinity from 36-40)
<Both too variable... echinoderms REALLY suffer for varying spg>
especially since they were the same across all tanks and the rest were healthy. I treated the tanks with Amquel to get the ammonia and nitrates to zero - the next water quality test showed that the levels were lower but still not zero; by that point, there were more deaths, though.
The deaths have always happened over weekends when I was not in the lab and the stars seemed perfectly fine beforehand; over one long weekend, I thought I might have starved them since I missed a feeding, but they had algae and microorganisms in the sand. I also should note that the shrimp cubes take a long time to sink to the bottom of the tank, so I guess they could just be dissolving and festering instead of being eaten - I have recently switched to feeding them by transferring them to a shallow container (scooping them up from in the tank w/ the same water and not exposing them to air) and placing a bit of shrimp beneath them.
At this point, three stars have died and one seemed like it was going to die but then stabilized and was still moving around so my director told me to move it to a different tank where the stars were still doing fine (in case it was a tank-specific problem). I still have that star, one star with some small white spots on it but seems otherwise okay, one star that fell off the tank wall when I touched (and was also a bit soft but went rigid again once touched) but then was able to flip itself over and climb back up pretty quickly, and two completely healthy stars.
The only other thing I can think of is that two of the tanks have tons of green algae and the other two have none (besides a piece that I transferred from the other tank to see if the stars would eat it) - there have been two deaths in the algae tanks and only one in a non-algae tank.
I wanted to study stars because their water-vascular are fascinating, but I *really* do not want to be killing these stars like this - what can I do?
<Read where you've been referred; poss. do a computer biblio. search to find other researchers who have had better fortune keeping this asteroid; switch to another test species... See my review piece on the subclass on WWM. I rate some other stars as higher likely to survive. Bob Fenner>
Thank you,

Chocolate chip star. Dying? A dearth of data       11/26/17
I've had my chocolate chip star for about 6 years now in the last couple of weeks he's been flipped over and can't seem to write himself and he won't eat at all is he dying should I get him out of the tank body looks fine no
<If your system is large enough... to prevent outright pollution from this animal dying, dissolving, I'd leave it in place and try to fix what the issue is here: Likely water chemistry... do you have test gear? DO present useful information... re the system, livestock, foods/feeding. Bob Fenner>
Re: Chocolate chip star      11/26/17

Thank you so much for the quick response I don't have any test stuff here I can get the water tested tomorrow it's a 40 gallon tank he's been in for about 4 years with one Domino damsel two conchs and a hermit crab I had to take the starfish out of my bigger tank because he's eating my Coral
<I see. I do hope you have read what we have archived re Protoreastor on WWM. BobF>

Chocolate chip starfish     /Earl        12/10/15
I bought a CC star a couple weeks ago he is in a 30g with all normal 0 readings,
<Heya. As a heads-up, in the future it's best to give us whatever specific readings you have done/can test for rather than a general "normal" assessment. It's also helpful to know, especially for invertebrates that rely on small sand bed organisms and possibly algae to survive...what we call an "aged" system...well established as opposed to recently set up.
Good live rock and a very live sand bed are greatly desirable.>
the only thing in the tank with him are 3 very small blue legged hermits.
<What is its diet thus far? Environment is everything for these little guys.>
He had a piece of segment come off of his underbelly....I'm not really sure if that is totally normal or should I be doing something to help him heal.
I'm worried about the little bugger, thanks in advance for help
<It's impossible to diagnose this from your brief description. Could be an injury (scraped itself on rockwork, damaged from rough handling maybe).
Could even be breaking down from some factor or other such as disease.

Definitely keep a close watch on it (a couple times a day), make sure it's getting food, and keep water quality pristine... again, environment is everything. Stability is as always mandatory i.e. no swings in pH, temp, salinity. These starfish can recover well from pretty severe damage but only with your help keeping its diet and surroundings up to snuff. Also definitely read the following excellent article on WWM about these animals:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/choc.htm  Keep us posted,
best of luck. -Earl>
Re: Chocolate chip starfish.... using WWM /RMF        12/10/15

I have 20lbs of live rock with about 2 inches of live sand the readings in the tank are 8.2 pH 0 nh 0 no2 0-.5 no3.....I have had the tank for about a year with 2 spotted puffers until they decided to fight one day and killed each other....so I started over with just the sea star and hermits..I have seen him eating some of the algae off the tank and rocks but have yet to
get him to take any "meaty" foods....every time I try to offer to him he closes up...I have seen him fall from the glass a couple times and with my rock being porous he may have injured himself on the rock....here is a picture of the missing piece
<READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm
and the linked files at top. Bob Fenner>

Re: Chocolate chip starfish        12/10/15
He looked a little slow today but still moving.....now where the hole is it looks like it's covered (scab) is he starting to heal? When he gets back on the glass I will send a pic....I don't want to disturb him if I don't have to...is there anything I can add to the water to help him?
<Ah yes; iodide-ate might forestall the spread. But, even though I tried to shock you w/ my proclamation of "Doomed", you have not read where referred?
Please do so. BobF>
Re: Chocolate chip starfish        12/10/15

I did read the article, it was helpful,
<Ah good>
I feel bad now because his chances are slim, even if he was healthy, if I end up losing him I won't replace him with another.
<I agree with your apparent empathy and plan. This species is all-too often easily lost. Takes a beating through too casual collection damage and handling, starved, and then placed under unsustainable conditions>
I wish I had come across this page before I had gotten him.
<Ah, me too>
I didn't realize that they have little chance in captivity...I know LFS are out to make a buck, but they shouldn't be selling animals that are ultimately going to have a poor quality of life in a tank.
<Concur... and this is not the most egregious example... by far>
To be honest the only reason why I have a saltwater is because of the green spotted puffers I used to have and while doing research on them found that they are not fresh water....same point...stores just want $$$.
<Mmm; will disagree here. ALL viable stores have owners, managers, staff that REALLY want folks to succeed, enjoy the hobby, grow with it. The field pays poorly period; the enjoyment of sharing is a large part of the "pay off">
I'm very great-full that you responded as quickly as you did and I will keep you updated as to how he progresses, and if he does make it I'll be starting a bigger tank just for him.��
<Thank you Crystal. B>

Re: Chocolate chip starfish; using WWM         12/22/15
Well it has been 2 more weeks and he is holding out....
<Ah, great news!>
I've been diligent in my water param.s for him....now I have read a bit about their diets, but I would like to offer him anything possible to create a healthy diet for him...what can I get for him to keep him full and happy....
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstarfdgfaqs.htm
and the article on Protoreastor....>
and how often should he be fed...right now he has been eating green seaweed and krill and fresh uncooked shrimp all offered on a veggie clip....is there more I should be offering him?
<Yes; and different. PLEASE people, learn to/use WWM AHEAD of writing us. The lag time in reviewing what is archived is likely causing folks their livestock. There are some 30k users of WWM per day....>
And his spot has grown back that he lost so I'm assuming I'm doing something right....thank you for all your help.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

CC Starfish; dead; rdg.    2/18/14
I just recently purchased a chocolate chip starfish; he is tan colored with black spikes/cones.
<Ah yes... Protoreastor... I'll refer you to WWM's coverage soon. Most all die easily and soon>
 After two days of being in the tank, I came home from work and found him to be entirely white, chips and all. It looks as though he was spray-painted white.

It's scaring me as I am a new saltwater tank owner. My other fish is thriving well. The salinity, ammonia levels, nitrate & nitrite levels and PH range are all great. I even had them re-checked at the store where I purchased everything. Is this normal? What causes it? I thought that maybe is was from being transferred from one tank to another. Can anyone help me?
Is the starfish dead? Thank you very much!
<Here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: CC Starfish    2/18/14
So, he died and began decomposing to that extent so quickly?? This was in a matter of a couple of days, two at the most. Why would that happen? My tank has perfect levels and there is only one fish in there, a clown fish which
is thriving.
<... keep reading. B>
Re: CC Starfish    2/18/14

Thank you for all of your time and help. I am completely new to all of this and I have read everything from the link you sent me and all of the links posted on that link. I understand some of it, but I would appreciate it if you could simplify it for me. Basically, Are you telling me that my CC starfish is definitely dead and should be removed immediately? Do you know
why this would happen? If I purchase another, will it die as well? Thank you so much! :)
<As you've read... this species is a poor choice for aquarium use. Yours, as I stated initially is decomposing. Do a bit more searching, reading re better livestock choices. B>

Re: CC Starfish    2/19/14
Thank you very much for your help! I wanted to send you some pics. Not because I doubt your professional opinion; only to show you what it looks like. The first is an image depicting how he looked when purchased and the others I just photographed of how is looks right now. I don't know, maybe you could use the images for future references or as information photos....thanks again for everything!
Sincerely, Amber
<Welcome. B>

Chocolate chip star health     12/22/12
Aloha Bob and crew!
About 1 month ago I acquired a Chocolate Chip Sea Star. I have a concern.
There is a whitish colored patch on its underside. I have included a picture.
<I see this...>
Area of concern is on the right of pic, right arm of star. It is the size of a dime and looks granular/ bumpy. The stars behavior seems normal. It moves around a lot and I have observed it eating the mussel and shrimp I offer. 50 gallon tank, 1.023 spg,
<I'd raise this to 1.025-6>
420 calcium,
<Mg w/in ratio?>
 8 KH, 20 ppm nitrate. I run a small Remora skimmer. Please advise and Happy Holidays!
<Please review the Health FAQs posted on WWM re this species. I don't know what the cause of this bumpiness is here. Bob Fenner>

chocolate sea star got partially eaten  6/26/12
I work for a Science Center in Allentown PA. My job is animal care, I take care of the critters including the touch tank. We have a 500 gallon salt water tank, that has: 2 horseshoe crabs, star fish, such as chocolate chip, forbes,  and one Bali. We have 2 yellow angel fish, several hermit crabs, clams, snails, living rock, spider crabs, a regular standard crab, and other small fish and a small rock lobster.
<The crabs, lobster... predaceous>

There are 2 charcoal and 2 paper element filter sets that are on 2 pumps, along with a UV light for each set. The water temp is at 64F,
<... too low for Protoreastor, the angels, tropicals period>

 thanks to the 2 chillers,(the temperature I was told, prevents parasites and diseases, by the previous caretaker) and the biological filter(?) is a glass tube that's about 5 foot tall and filled with sand.
Currently the parameters are:
PH: 7.8
Ammonia: none detectable
Nitrites: 0.0
Nitrates: 10
I do a 100 gallon water change every other week.
Recently I had a black angel fish die, it was laying on the bottom of the tank gasping, until I took it out and put the poor thing out of its misery.
The fins of the fish were ragged, similar to torn cloth. Is this a sign of disease?
<... likely environmental, social in origin>
Yesterday the chocolate chip starfish looked like something tried to eat it, one arm is completely missing, one arm is half gone and overall it really looks bad.
<Eaten... see above>
  The first thing I did was separate it from the rest of the tank by putting it in an open container and put it back into the tank for the night.
<? Of no use>
 Today I got permission and set up an emergency hospital tank and placed the sea star in it.  As I was placing the sea star in the new tank, I noticed that there was some kind of white webbing material covering the wound, I'm hoping this is some kind of scab.   What are signs of healing or death in a sea star?
<The prognosis is very poor... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
  What do I need to do to try and help it to heal? Or is it too late?  If at all possible, can you respond to my email address, as I am at work and need the info ASAP, I can't access the web from work, but I can access my email on my phone. Thanks.
Photo attached of the sea star as seen last night.
<... Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Starfish Concern     2/23/12
Hi, above is a picture of my Chocolate Chip Star Fish. Recently I have taken over a salt water tank of my sisters and I believe it to be a 20 gallon tank but it could be a 30.
<About 231 cubic inches per gallon...>
The levels have always been ideal-Ph is usually about 8.2-8.4 but recently dropped to 8.0 which doesn't concern me. Nitrite is typically 0 ppm and still is so it doesn't concern me. Ammonia is usually 0 ppm but has increased slightly to .25ppm which concerned me a little
<It should>
 and the nitrate is usually 0ppm but also recently increased to between 5.0 and 10 ppm, it's hard to tell the difference but it had me concerned a little. When I checked the salinity it usually is around 1.024-1.025 and today it was at 1.032
 so I added water and brought it back down to 1.027 and left it for 3 hours then sifted the sand really good and added another gallon to the tank and the readings were 1.024 for the most part. I need to add more water but I will wait until tomorrow and re-check the 4 levels and salinity again and determine how much salt to mix and add to the tank. I usually have a red-back shrimp, green crab, 8 line wrasse, a blue/yellow damsel, chocolate chip starfish, watchman goby/blenny thing(I don't know what it is but it blends with the rocks and cleans). I found my green crab dead upside down under the rocks, my damsel has a white spot on its back but it doesn't look like Ich, and this is what is happening to my starfish in the picture I added to the e-mail. What is happening to it?
<Doesn't look good... Have you read here:
and the linked files above? Do so... Remove this animal when it is dead>
 The white balls or things you see on it's top just fall off every so often and he's lost 2 of his chips so far. Do you think I should get him out of there or leave him alone, he seems to be doing fine once they fall off of him, his color is coming back through but he is missing a little chunk from one of his legs and I figured the crab took a chunk off him, I also caught the goby thing picking the white things off of him earlier tonight so I don't know if the goby thing is the one that took the chunk from his leg either. I figured it was the change in salinity that killed the crab and the changes in my damsel and starfish, right?
<At least contributing causes; yes>
I know it is crucial to keep the levels correct but I never intended to take over the tank much less have no education on it, so other than teaching myself, what do you recommend I do to save the tank?
<"Teach yourself" See WWM re small systems, maintenance...:
scroll down...>
 I also have various things growing in the tank like 3 anemone's, mushrooms, feather dusters, and whatever else is growing in the rocks. And could you also tell me what these white looking pod things are, they have long tentacles that come out and touch things but I sucked them all out because they were taking over my tank rapidly?
<A well-resolved photo please>
 And also I used to have these huge looking snails but they died too and when they were living they left these white looking shell things all over the walls and rocks and on my crabs back, what is it they were doing?
<Reproducing likely>
 I believe this is the only concerns I have, if you could, would you please try to answer them the best you could and if you need pictures I can try to find what you need (what I haven't sucked out of the tank so far). Thanks.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

 going, going...

CC starfish and invertebrate loss?  Needing to look ahead of leaping stock wise     2/10/12
 <Hi there>
    A month and a half ago (Christmas) my family set up a 36 gallon salt water tank FOWLR.  I cycled 38lbs of live rock and a store bought bag of "live sand" (about 1/2" thick) and then introduced two acclimated mollies to help establish some bacterial growth. 
All was well so over the next few weeks I introduced a juvenile tomato clown fish, a Dottie back, and another damsel, the exact name of which escapes me now.  For cleanup crew I (over a few weeks) introduced 8 small snails, 8 small hermit crabs,
<Mmm... I wouldn't have done this>
 a male and female emerald crab,
<Nor these... too predaceous>
a blue fiddler crab,
<What species? Most fiddlers aren't totally aquatic>

and two Turbo snails.  We were really interested in purchasing some chocolate chip starfish,
<A poor choice for aquarium use period... and in such a small, new volume... not likely to be successful (living long)>
so about a week ago, I purchased one, and slowly acclimated.  He seemed very happy and would move very fast all over the tank.  We went back to the store a few days later and purchased a stunning reddish color CC star (I read from your forums now that my tank is to <too> small...)  This second star did not have quite the gripping power as the first one, but none the less was very active for many days.  The last few days I have noticed chunks have been taken out of the reddish CC star, exposing his white flesh underneath.
<Very bad>

 Today I awoke to find my female emerald crab dead, and fearing the worst, moved a bunch of live rock around to find that the blue fiddler had also passed on.  I have yet to find a dead hermit crab or snail, but my turbo snails have appeared to be a lot less "turbo" so far today.
<Touché©. Well put>
    I have a few questions... has anyone known a Dottie back to eat parts of a starfish?
<Nah; not at all likely. These organisms likely died from one of many environmental reasons/insults>
 My Dottie back has a history of attacking brightly colored things (namely red or orange, however the tomato clown will not take his crap).  I have personally observed the Dottie back knock the red starfish off of the glass,

 he pestered and nipped the fins off of my bright orange molly until it eventually died, and has knocked red hermit crabs off of the live rocks they were trying to climb up.  He is kind of like a bull, attacks anything red he sees...  Also the last spot that the red starfish was seen in was near the Dottie back's "lair."  My original, brown starfish shows no signs of deteriorating, and goes through phases of extreme activity to not much activity at all.
    My starfish and fish diet has been Formula 2 frozen food (a meat and algae) and tropical flake.  I read on your forum that my stars require more of a meat diet, however in the short period of time I have owned them, could that be contributing to its demise?
<Mmm, yes>
  Is it possible that I am starving my clean-up crabs?
<Can't tell from here; but crabs are not cleaner uppers... they're decidedly eater uppers>

 I occasionally drop a few larger chunks of formula 2 to the bottom.  Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
<Store bier in cool, dark places>

 I also have been changing two gallons of water every other day for a week and a half to try and drop some nitrate levels (from 15ppm, my tap water tests at 5ppm) and have been using water conditioner.  I have added a SeaChem Purigen Filter to my filtration system a week ago to try to remove more nitrates, but to no avail...
A few hours after removing the dead critters I tested the water parameters at 12 noon (day cycle is from 7:30am-8:30 pm, on a timer)
Salinity:                         Just over 1.022
<... see WWM re... Needs to be nearer natural water conc.>
Temp:                            76 F
PH:                                8.0
Ammonia:                      0 ppm
Nitrite:                          0 ppm
Nitrate:                          15 ppm   (Still a daily frustration)
Copper:                         0 ppm
Calcium:                        440 ppm
Thank you for your time and expertise....  
<You appear to have a pretty good grasp of what is needed as a beginning aquarist, but I'd have you read one or more survey books on the topic.
Borrow these from the library or friends... Bob Fenner>
PS: CC stars    2/10/12

Hello again... few more questions i just thought of.   Do I need to remove my deteriorating CC star from my system?
 Will he adversely affect my other tank mates if his condition worsens?
I currently have his separated from the other tank mates in hope he will get better.
Thanks in advance
<Yes and yes. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm

question about CCS    11/21/11
Hi -I have a question/concern about our Chocolate Chip Star. We added him to our 50 gallon tank
<This species... and system size... not really suitable...>
about a month ago. He was slightly active for the first week or two, but oddly, in the last two weeks he has been missing in action.
<May be dead, decomposed>
We simply cannot find him anywhere in our tank. Granted, there are a few blind spots in our tank considering all the live rock. However, if he has not been seen for that long of a time, that must mean he is simply not moving around at all. Does this mean he is dead, and if so, did he just disintegrate?
<Likely so. There's not much to these stars protein-wise... and if you have sufficient filtration/circulation/aeration... might go unnoticed>
I haven't seen the other fish, inverts, etc. feasting on anything and I would think if he had died, then the others would be going nuts eating his remains. Any thoughts as to what could have happened to him?
<Died or hiding>
I know this sounds very odd...but I am a bit concerned. If he is dead, I want to get him out of the tank; however, if I can't see him, I'm not sure how I would even begin to go about removing him. Help!!!
Thanks, Nicole
<Mmm, I wouldn't look... if got into a nook, can get out. If dead... nothing much to find or worry re. Do read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm
and the linked files above, esp. re health. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Starfish, 3/31/11
I have had a 12G tank for approximately 3 years with a Clown, Damsel and Chocolate Chip Star.
<This tank is too small for that starfish, see here for details,
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm .>
I recently added a Fire Shrimp which lasted only one day. I acclimated the shrimp for 2 hours. I then noticed the star was upside down in the corner.
<Not good.>
I let him be for a day, but he did not move. I turned him over, however, he has remained motionless for another three days.
How do I know if the Star is alive or not?
<Most likely dead, is there any movement in it's tube feet?>
I can not detect any motion in the tentacles, nor do I see any of them for that matter. I had my water tested at the LFS today, and they said it was in great shape. Lastly, if the star is dead, is it potentially harming the remaining two fish by leaving it in there?
<Yes, it could cause water quality issues in such a small tank if allowed to decay.>

Chocolate chip star fish   1/16/11
We just bought a chocolate chip star fish today.
<Hmmm, not easily kept...>
29 gallon reef tank. Chip immediately buried himself into the substrate.
<A bad sign>
We removed him
<Don't do this>
and placed him onto a rock,
<Don't live on...>
where he made his way off of and back onto the sand, burying himself once again. He is still there, hours later. Is there a concern I should have?
<Ah my friend. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm
and the linked files, particularly Behavior, Health FAQs, above>
From what I have read they are pretty active, and mine is not.. so far. Do I give him time?
<I encourage you to return this animal whence you purchased it. Bob Fenner>

sharing pic   7/27/10
Hi guys hope everything's going Good With you, I'm just going to share a picture of my precious chocolate chip starfish, because thanks to your team I been succeeding in keeping her alive for over 5 months now, just when everybody said it was going to died because of my new aquarium, she is alive, eating well and very fat :D
Ingrid Leija
<Ahh! Thank you for the pix, and good report. Bob Fenner>

Chocó Chip Starfish, hlth.    7/3/10
Hi, hope you guys are doing well today.
<And you Ingrid>
I have a salt aquarium FOWLR 95 gallon and I bought a chocolate chip starfish along other fishes around Mid March, and I asked your web for information what to fed my starfish.
At the beginning I used to feed her dried Mysis shrimp and she would go to the top to eat, but now since approximately 1.5 months ago she doesn't go to the top, instead I see her around the whole tank but she's big, like chubby from the top, I believe that its because she's eating well from the tank. I feed my fishes frozen Mysis and brine shrimp along with pellets and I always make sure some of that goes to the bottom because I have crabs and they eat it along with my scooter, and sometimes I see the starfish eat that too.
Is it normal for my star to be chubby from the top where all her chips are?
<Not as far as I'm aware, no>
Thank you
Ingrid Leija
<Perhaps a re-read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Not sure if Chocolate Chip star fish died -- 12/15/09
I've had my 12 gal tank set up for 6 moths now; have a Clark's clown(doing great for 1 mth so far), Nitrates 40, Nitrites .5,
<The last two are quite high.>
Alkali 300, and PH about 8.4. Two days ago I added a Fiji Rock, 1 blenny and the CCS fish. The star moved around to the back of rocks and hid there and had not moved. Today I tried to move him and he was hard as rock.
<Normal, their skeleton consisting of calcium carbonate lies directly under a thin skin. When touched they become rigid.>
So I assumed he was dead.
<I'm not sure.>
While removing him he had some white film coming off the top. Do you really think he was dead or should I have done something else?
<To test if a starfish is dead you can put it at an oblique angle to the glass wall of the aquarium. He should start to move into a more comfortable position within half an hour.>
The fish store told me my water was fine.
<Can't agree with the values you give above. The tank is too small to support a Chocolate Chip Star long term. Please see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm . It will also become quite tight for the Clownfish in the long run. Cheers, Marco.>

Chocolate Chip Starfish/Health 9/28/09
Dear Wet Web Media,
I see that you have helped so many people with their aqua lives. It is a great treasure that we're able to keep these items away from their salty ocean homes and inside our miniature sewage systems. Thanks for teaching and helping us clean up after ourselves.
<You're welcome.>
I've run into a predicament. I have a Chocolate Chip Starfish that is pretty active. She walks around my 80 gallon FOWLR tank, and I've kept her happy for a couple of months. However, a spot has developed on her backside. I am guessing it is some type of parasite, although I have no expertise. She still eats fine.
My question is, do you know what this cyst is? Is it cancer?
<Do not know at this stage.>
Is it contagious to the other fish in my tank? Did she catch it from the other fish in my tank?
<Very unlikely on both counts.>
Should I remove her immediately into quarantine?
<I would not.>
Would you recommend that I treat her with any medications?
<Would not treat with any medications, but continue to observe the starfish along with maintaining regular feedings. These starfish do much better in systems with high water quality. Do concentrate on this aspect. Poor water quality could lead to a heterotrophic bacterial infection, and this could be a possibility.
Dosing weekly with an iodine supplement may be beneficial in this regard.
Do read here for more information.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Truly yours,
<Mmmm, I don't know if I like that sign off, my last one was love and kisses too:)
James (Salty Dog)>

Re Chocolate Chip Starfish/Health 9/29/09
Thanks so much James (Salty Dog ??)~~~!!
With love, and a kiss on the cheek :*
<You're welcome, Sally, and thanks for the smooch:) James (Salty Dog)>

Chocolate Chip (pic attached); Marco's go - 09/29/09
Dear Wet Web Media,
<Hi Sally. I'm adding some small notes to James' answer.>
I see that you have helped so many people with their aqua lives. It is a great treasure that we're able to keep these items away from their salty ocean homes and inside our miniature sewage systems. Thanks for teaching and helping us clean up after ourselves.
I've run into a predicament. I have a Chocolate Chip Starfish that is pretty active. She walks around my 80 gallon FOWLR tank, and I've kept her happy for a couple of months. However, a spot has developed on her backside.
<I bet this spot was there all time long.>
I am guessing it is some type of parasite, although I have no expertise.
She still eats fine.
My question is, do you know what this cyst is?
Is it cancer?
Is it contagious to the other fish in my tank?
Did she catch it from the other fish in my tank?
Should I remove her immediately into quarantine?
Would you recommend that I treat her with any medications?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Truly yours, Sally.
<What you photographed so nicely is the so called madreporite, a starfish organ. You'll find it briefly explained and also illustrated in the article James linked you to. This is no sign of a disease. Cheers. Marco.>


Re Chocolate Chip (pic attached); Marco's go - 09/29/09
Thank you for your input and my further learning experience. Hopefully, you too will get a kiss on the cheek from Sally:).
James (Salty)
<James, You are welcome. I could not resist, the madreporite was jumping right into my face. Cheers. Marco.>

Re: Chocolate Chip  - 10/05/2009
Thank you Marco and James (Salty Dog)!!!I started treating my tank with an iodine supplement (some drops per day as the instructions says), and she (my chocolate chip starfish) is looking healthier than ever! Her spots have darkened to a deep brown color (darker than I've seen before). And she's moving around, happily as ever. I even caught her eating a snail (it was dying I think because a hermit crab was trying to have his way with it previously). Thanks again!!! Hugs & Kisses :* :* Sally
<Hi Sally. Thanks for the update. Sounds good. Cheers, Marco.>

Help with our Chocolate Chip Starfish! 05/20/09
We need advice on our Chocolate Chip Starfish...This is the background on our aquarium....
We recently set up a 90 gallon salt-water aquarium in November; there is no live rock in the tank, only acrylic rock and dead coral. Over the last 6 months we have gradually added fish to our tank, we do have a maintenance service that comes in to clean the tank monthly and to add new fish. A few weeks after the tank was installed we started off with 7 blue-green Chromis (they didn't fair well), within the first 2-3 weeks 4 of the 7 died. Two blue devil damsels were added after the blue-green Chromis died as well as 5 more blue-green Chromis. One damsel died shortly after and I believe 2 more blue-green Chromis died.
<Already enough reasons to change the service for me.>
The blue-green Chromis were developing one to two red spots on their stomach or fin (it looked as if they were bleeding internally) and ended up dying. Anyways at this time we have 5 blue-green Chromis and one blue devil damsel that are all doing well (my fingers are crossed)! Next we added 2 false percula clownfish, they did great. A regal tang was added and at the same time a chocolate chip starfish. The tank was going great, there was a lot of bright green algae growing on the rocks and the fish were good. The starfish stayed sucked to the glass of the tank but moved around, he ate the algae sheets put in to the tank as well kept the tank clean (there wasn't as much algae on the rocks) Lastly, we added a Copperband butterfly, and after a long nose Hawkfish, as well as, 10 reef-grazing hermit crabs. About a month ago the starfish just stopped moving, it was on the bottom of the tank and would not suction to the glass. We called our maintenance service and they said it didn't appear that it was dead, as we would know because it would get "soft and stringy." It stayed in the same spot for 2-3 days when one morning it was on the other side of the tank still on the bottom. He started curling up at this point. He has been in the same spot for the last month. He doesn't move, he is curled up, some days are worse than others with how much he is curled up. The starfish will not suction to the glass, is not eating, but our maintenance company is telling us they don't think he is dead because he is still firm to the touch. Is there anything that you can think of that could be wrong with him, or anything we can do??? The fish are fed two cubes of frozen food daily, supplemented by dry flakes once a day. We attach an algae sheet to the glass 3 times a week, which they love. And recently we are putting in 2 frozen clams 2 times a week. The fish have all come from the same 2 stores, as well, our aquarium maintenance service said they tested the water and everything was fine.
<Need some hard numbers'¦ ammonia, nitrates, pH, salinity 'don't let me guess.>
We need some advice, please!
<Sounds like this starfish is doomed in this setup if he is not moving at all for a month and curling up. You can still try moving it to another aquarium. For the needs of this species please see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm
Cheers, Marco.>

Question about Chocolate Chip Starfish -- 03/29/09
I have a chocolate chip starfish who has been pretty lazy. But when we talked to the person we bought it from they said he was very active.
<Generally they only get fast when smelling food.>
So we turned off the light to see if it would de-stress him and he curled up into a ball. So we turned the light back on and he flattened back out. He did this a few more days. And then stopped. So today we decided we were going to change our stupid rock to Natural Coral Sand. And so he curled up and now he wont uncurl. While he was curled he rolled over so we saw his underside(stomach?) and something was coming out of it...Is he dead or just VERY stressed?
<Need more information about your setup, how old is the system, what is in it, what are the water parameters (e.g. ammonia, nitrates, pH, KH), how was the star transferred into the new tank, did you give him the time to close its vascular system? It is possible the star is dying, especially if this curling up remains unchanged for several hours, but they also lift the ends of their arms to smell the new environment. Indigestible parts of their prey are expelled by the mouth in the center of the star. >
Thanks, Michelle and Michael
P.s. The pictures are of him after he was moved. And he SEEMS to have uncurled a bit...
<Please see here for further information and the environmental parameters to keep them thriving: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm
and the linked FAQs. Cheers, Marco.>

Question about Chocolate Chip Starfish II -- 03/30/09
I have a 10 gallons tank. There are two live rocks in it, two maroon clown fish and a coral shrimp. The parameters all read fine(ideal) we tested them this morning. When we were transferring him, we just placed the bag he was in and let it sit in the water for about 2 hours so he could get used to the different temps. The system is about two weeks old now.
<The system is too small for this sea star species. It is also very young, which makes it very difficult for a Chocolate chip sea star to survive. Please also see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcrllgtfaqs.htm for proper acclimation e.g. drip acclimation. Adjusting temperature is fine, but not enough for many invertebrates and aside the young age of the system likely a cause of its curling up reaction. Nonetheless, I do wish you luck with your star, hopefully it is possible to get him and the clowns into a bigger home in the long run. Cheers, Marco.>

HELP!! My Choc Chip Starfish...1/21/09 My ccs looks rather white and his one leg is starting to curl up..the last two days I've come home from work and he looked dead, after checking him he is still alive but looks rather ill. Our nitrates are high but we are working that out and our ph is a little low...please help, I've become rather attached to him. He's about 3-4" <We need more information about your water quality (actual numbers), system composition, inhabitants and feeding to do much here.> thank you <Welcome, write back with the above info or better yet read through http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm and the above linked files. You will likely find your answer quickly there. Scott V.>

Chocolate Starfish/Health. fdg.   11/26/08 <Hi Peter> I have read thru the FAQs and have seen some mention of white spots and other problems combined, however, I was not able to find exactly what I was looking for. I have had a 25 gal tank set up since June and have had my CCS since the beginning. Yesterday, I noticed it started to develop white spots all over it and he is still active in the tank. Water change done 3 days ago and all tests where good. I have never feed him anything but what he has found on his own (as per the pet shop owner). Any idea what could cause this and is there any help for him? <Nutrition is more than likely what caused this. The pet shop owner misinformed you of the care needed in maintaining this starfish. This starfish needs to be fed at least once a week. Read here and related FAQ's. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Peter

Choc Chip Star... Lying...Dying, env.     9/29/08 Hello <Hello Mary, Mich here.> and thank you in advance for your help. <Hope I can help.> I've not found my "issue" on the website and hope you can help. I have learned that my five gallon tank is too small for my 2 inch star and the three damsels <Ahhh... yeah. Lots of reading in your future if you stay in the hobby. Please consider picking up a book like the "Conscientious Marine Aquarist", by Robert M. Fenner, the new volume is out or "The New Marine Aquarium" by Michael Paletta. You need to educate yourself and get a better understanding of what works and what doesn't. Perhaps there is an aquarium club in your area. Some there would likely mentor you. You need some practical advice and guidance.> (plus a live rock for the bacteria, according to my not-seeming-so-knowledgeable-now petstore employee). <Heehee! You're learning.> OK. Salt and water temp is ok. <Real data is always preferable.> My star has always been lazy i.e. I have to put him on the food for him to eat. <I doubt this is "laziness".> He moves around fine on his own, just avoids the food. <Their diet is not well understood. I'm sorry to say that this creature will likely slowly starve to death.><<... diet for this species is VERY well known. See WWM re. RMF>> Can you have a dumb star? <I suppose, but I doubt this is the case here.> Sorry. OK, so now he won't eat the food, actually moves off it and avoids it. <Is likely not a natural part of his diet.> And, here's what I'm really trying to find out: it's like he is ejecting a nasty brown dye in our tank. <Mmm, not sounding so good. Could be a last ditch effort at reproducing.> Very odd. I just cleaned it last night and it is already a mess. We have sea sand rather than the rocks and... let's see. I guess that is about it. Do I flush the guy or what? <I never recommend flushing. If euthanasia is the best option, flushing is not the way to do it. It doesn't sound like your star is long for this world. You might want to see if anyone in your general vicinity is keeping Harlequin Shrimp, which feed on starfish. At least your star might provide sustenance for another creature. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.> Thanks for any info you might give me. <Hope this is helpful. Regards, Mich><<Referral? RMF>> Mary

Re: Choc Chip Star... Lying...Dying 10/3/08 Mich, <Hi Mary,> Thanks so much for your advice. That guy is still hanging on, somehow. <I must apologize. The information I gave you about diet was incorrect. I guess I shouldn't have been answering queries with so little sleep in the wee hours of the morning! Their diet is well understood and they are rather predatory, but I still question his health. More reading for you here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstarfdgfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/starfdgfaqs.htm > I've been in contact with someone with a huge tank that is supposed to get it, but nothing since. <Would be better.> Otherwise, we are just going to stay with our tiny community of damsels which have not given me a bit of trouble. <Your tank is much too small for one of these fish let alone three. Please consider getting a bigger tank or re-homing these fish.> My daughter is getting sick of her birthday present dying!! <You are still at high risk here with these close quarters.> Thanks again and I'll keep watching and reading your site! <You're welcome Mary, keep reading, learning.> Mary <Mich><<Ahh, excellent. RMF>>

Chocolate chip starfish... deaths    8/29/08 I am having a problem with one of my chocolate chip starfish. <Uh-oh...> Here is my tank set up: 30 gallon, 5 chocolate chip starfish, 1 baby horseshoe crab, 2 pencil urchins. <That is a lot of opportunistic invertebrate in a pretty small space...> Everyone is separated (literally) by species, since some were trying to eat each other. <Yes...and do bear in mind that horseshoe crab will grow very quickly, to a very large size> Ammonia and nitrites are zero, nitrates are about 0.6 ppt. <<Deathly toxic!!! RMF>> The problem is that one of my starfish is loosing his chips. Two of them turned white, then fell off yesterday. He is acting as usual, still eating, still moving around. The other 4 haven't changed at all. Do you know what it could be? <Probably a stress response to viral disease, surface trauma, water conditions...something amiss in general. Do watch for signs of decay or further illness.> And should I separate him to protect the others? <I doubt is readily communicable. Benjamin> <<Mmmm, this system, these animals are doomed unless moved to much larger quarters, stat! I would read here immediately: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> 

CC Star... on its way out   4/22/08 Hi, <Hello> My CC Sea Star has developed an approximately 8 mm by 20 mm grayish-green patch at the intersection of two arms, on the ventral surface. The deeper creases look whitish within the patch, and the pads a little more tan. I'll attach a photograph. I did a 10-20% water change in my 75-gal aquarium a week ago with tap water from my well (using tap water conditioner), and noted the discoloration perhaps 3 days later. When I added the new water, the animal curled up all 5 legs for an hour or so, but readily took krill (while his legs were still elevated) and seemed to recover. I used Reef Crystal salt. I'm certain the temperature fluctuated downward during the change. There is about 25 lbs of live rock, live sand, bio-wheel filtration, and a protein skimmer in the system, which has been up about 15 months and stable. The other inhabitants of the tank (a Yellow Tang, a Foxface, two Clownfish, two Damsels, a blood shrimp and hermit crabs) all appear happy and healthy. All the inhabitants, including the Sea Star, have been in the system together since the beginning. The temp today was 82-84 (usually runs about 80), specific gravity 1.023-24, pH 8.4, ammonia zero, nitrites zero, nitrates 80 ppm! <Too high, but...> I'm afraid I have been negligent in my water changes prior to this one. The lady at the fish store suggested I pour reef iodide over the area daily for 5-7 days to "disinfect" the presumed bacterial infection, which will require removing him from the tank and pouring iodide on the area. Can the animal be saved? <Doubtful. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dave

Re: CC star...on its way out 4/23/08 Bob and crew, <David> Thanks for the quick reply. AMAZING site and project you have going. Kudos to you all! The one bright spot in the illness of my CCS is discovering your site/information and coming face-to-face with my ignorance/negligence. <Huzzah!> I'm busy following your advice and educating myself, and will have some additional questions soon. For now, no change in the spot, and the animal still is eating/moving well, rights him (her?) self quickly when placed upside down, so I am not giving up yet. <Good... and good signs/behavior> I'm starting regular small water changes, and will at least rinse the bio-wheels if you think this is part of the source of my chronically high nitrates (along with insufficient water changes). <Yes> I'm not getting as much skimmate, either, as sounds appropriate, so have adjusted the water volume upwards through the protein skimmer. I have at least 50 pounds of live rock (I inherited the system from my nephew and am a neophyte) and about 2 inches of live sand, so probably could use more sand toward a DSB. <Also affirmative> Unfortunately, with my last water change I vacuumed deeply, and will go more shallowly next time. <I'd just do side to side, half the tank bottom, alternating each time> I do have a small RO source in my house, but used regular softened tap well water for the last change. <Yikes... a good practice to drain/save your RO a few nights... store in a designated salt-mix bucket/trash can...> I'm getting a trash can to start preparing water ahead of time and have a 20 gal tank standing by for QT/hospital. <Ah, great> I'm guessing that my CCS is not contagious, <Correct... just can be trouble if suddenly dies, dissolves...> so have left him in the main tank for now... If Vibrio species are presumably the opportunistic bacterial culprit (along with poor husbandry), it looks like Kanamycin/Nitrofurazone (Spectrogram) may be indicated (in the hospital tank, of course). It don't have any of that yet, but I do have access to Doxycycline and Baytril (a veterinary Fluoroquinone antibiotic). Have you ever heard of using such compounds topically in a case like this? <Yes... not with great success... but with the Iodine lavage, perhaps of some use> Thanks again for the great work, Dave <Thank you for your thoughtful, carefully written follow-up. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

CCS question... hlth., no useful data   3/15/08 Dear crew, I have taken time to look through all your FAQ's and previous questions, but I still need help. I have a 65 gallon tank with 2 Perculas, 1 pajama, and my CCS. I have had the tank for over 3 years. I have had all the fish over 2. The CCS is about a year and a half old. I typically feed him 2 times a week, frozen krill. <... needs more than this> He usually eats well and is active. I was just in the hospital for a week and he wasn't fed.(the person feeding said they looked everywhere and couldn't find him). When I arrived home, it took me 2 hours and rearranging the tank to find him. For the last 3 days I have been trying our usual feeding routine to no avail. He has never hidden in the tank like this. Tonight I tried everything I could find on feeding tips on your site. All water levels are exactly the same as normal. No nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, ph is normal, etc. He is thin, pale, and has all four legs slightly curled up. When brought out and placed on the glass, or near food, he quickly runs and hides. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help, Shannon <Sure... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/starfdgfaqs.htm And the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: ccs question... hlth. 4/8/08 Thanks for your help. "Chip" didn't eat for about a week, then one day he seemed to wake up and started looking for food. He seems pretty much back to normal? Who knows, maybe he was having a bout of ccs depression ;) thanks for your suggestions. Shannon <Mmm, not unusual for Seastars to go on periodic food strikes... I do hope yours rallies. Thank you for the update, BobF>

Chocolate Chip Starfish/Health 1/25/08 We have a CCS and its turning pink on the top and one of the spines is white? The tip of one leg is also turning pink and white? Any Ideas? <Yes, though hardy when handled properly, most starfish are sensitive to changes in specific gravity, temperature, pH and oxygen levels encountered during shipping, and can succumb to rapid bacterial infections that cause necrosis of the legs or whole body for that matter. Stable water conditions and keeping them well fed with a good diet will help in reversing the process. Read here and related articles and FAQ's above. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm James (Salty Dog)>  

Please Help! Reading re CCS, alkaline earths and alkalinity  10/16/07 Hello! This is the first time I have had to ask a question, I usually find what I need on here through other questions asked. I have searched all over through the FAQ's and I have found a few similar issues but nothing exactly what I am looking for. I am sure you can help. Before I get into my issue let me give you a run down of my tank. I have a 125 gallon fish only tank. It has been running for about 4 -5 months. I have been having a problem with being able to keep my fish, for whatever reason they seen to die. I have been lucky with my 'Cookie' , which is a chocolate chip star fish. I have had her, 3 snails and 2 algae eating crabs for about two months, even though everything else had died. I recently placed one female maroon clown and one four striped damsel in the tank, they have been in there for about a week, and after such bad luck with my fish these two have seemed to be doing fine. My levels seem to be stable and have been that way since it went through its cycle. My Ammonia - 0, Nitrites - 0, Nitrates - 20 ( which have been that way since my cycle that I have not been able to lower anymore) and my PH - 8.2.my temp is 78 during the day and falls to about 76 at night. My salt level has always been at 24 <Likely 1.024> but my LFS told me to lower it to 19-21 because the problem I was having with the survival of my fish. It is currently at 21. Has been that way for about a week. (I hope this is enough info for you) I have two questions. My first is about my clown. And my damsel. Its not a big issue at this point but basically just a information concern. They seem to live in the air bubbles from my air stone. The damsel sleeps in a ship that I have in my tank and my clown seems to sleep in the upper corner of my tank. Is this normal for her to sleep there? <Mmm, yes> And is it normal for them, as soon as the light comes on to head over to the bubbles and stay and play there until the light goes off? <Yes> Question two is my main concern. I have sent a picture of my CC starfish, hope it helps. I woke up this morning and I have noticed that 3 of her chips are gone, and I can see white where the chip is gone. I never noticed then falling off, or any of my other 2 fish bothering her. She stays on the side of the tank so I don't have to worry about the crabs. She seems to be fine besides that. She did have a problem eating, I use to feed her every other to every 3 days, I piece of frozen krill. For about 5 days it seemed to not take any food in, but I have gave her a piece yesterday morning and she ate it. So please help me! Why are the chips gone? <Likely some imbalance in your alkalinity and/or biomineral concentrations... Calcium and Magnesium mostly...> And what can I do to help her? <Read...> I don't have a hospital tank, but I do have a 10 Gallon tank that I can set up if I have to. I have MelaFix, which I have read you talking about, so I am guessing you don't like this product. But will it help my Star? Thank you for whatever help you can give me! <Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above and in-text where you encounter them. Bob Fenner>

Going, going...

Chocolate chip starfish is doomed, I fear, unless rapid knowledge is gained by owner  - 3/12/07 I got a chocolate chip starfish about a week ago, (after doing tons of research) and now he has these weird... <weird?> ...spots on his central disc and I have no idea what to do!! <OK, first off, a bit more info. on your setup would be very helpful. How large is your aquarium, how long has it been established, what else is living in there, how much live rock, type of filtration and skimmer, etc. are all very useful for us to be able to help you.> I tested the water for alkalinity (high), <High is subjective; what is the actual measurement?> nitrites (.1), <Nitrites must be at zero. What about ammonia (which also must be zero), nitrate readings?> and pH (8.4). Neither temperature or salinity are registering (but I just put the meter in). <OK, this is not helpful at all. Perhaps you could have waited until you had a measurement? In any case, you should have a thermometer in the tank to monitor temperature on a constant basis...> The spots are two right next to each other, they're very small and the arm they are closest to is drooping. This star fish is also missing one arm, and has been very active (in fact, he climbed... on some of the plants in the aquarium!) <Perhaps I'm being judgmental, but this doesn't sound like a good marine aquarium setup...> PLEASE HELP!!!!! -scared... ...in Iowa <My friend, I know you claim to have done "tons of research", but you obviously haven't been reading the right materials. This sounds to be a water quality issue; inverts such as the chocolate chip starfish, Protoreastor nodosus, are extremely sensitive poor environmental conditions. Here's a good place to start reading for info. on this creature in your care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm Also, I would suggest you "start from the beginning", as it is evident your knowledge of marine aquaria is sorely lacking. Of course, none of us is born knowing these things, but you've taken it upon yourself to become the primary caretaker for this invert, and you must now "step up to the plate" and give it a suitable home. Please read here, for starters: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm Good luck, Jorie>

Chocolate star fish disease?  1/25/07 Hello: First time on this. I have a problem with a choc Starfish. I've had chippy for a little over a year now. He lives in a 75 gal tank with scooter blenny, sailfin blenny, dragon gobey,2 blue damsels, yellow tang, black striped damsel, coral banded shrimp, brown bar goby and a neon damsel. All fish, feather dusters hermit crabs are fine. Water temp stays at78. ph at 8.3, salinity 1.23, <No> nitrate/nitrite 0, ammonia 0. Chippy secluded it self to under the live rock cave and has not moved in days. I picked him up and it looked like he had chunks taken out of him and his outer skin is missing in some spots. one leg looks like there are these box shape cartilage exposed. Would you happen to know what this is? and how to treat it? <This animal is decomposing... perhaps causes per accidens including actinomycete activity, internal parasite/s, nutritional, environmental components... Not treatable unless one of these categories is found to be deficient, remedied. Read on WWM re CCS, Asteroid Hlth, and follow directions re size of files/images... BobF>

CCS sickness... actually, initially over and mis-stocked system, medication killed Seastar   - 11/13/06 Hello,    <Hi there>   We have had our 75 gallon tank up and running for a good month. All the fish (2 clown, 1 Niger Trigger, 1 Coral Beauty, 1 blue tang, a blue damsel and the CCS) seem to be doing well with the exception of the Coral Beauty who has Ich. <... too much life here... too soon... the system has ich/Crypt...> We have been medicating with anti-parasitic food (Jungle) which we started last week (as we were told was fine for all our fish in the tank and not needing to quarantine the Coral Beauty). <... incorrect... as you will soon learn> Just over this weekend the CCS had developed a white puffy cluster area underneath on the inner end of one leg. <This species doesn't fare well in new settings, and is sensitive to "medications"...> I've read a lot on this site which is loaded with great information but had trouble finding anything related to the effect of this medication on a CCS. If we take out the CCS, is there anything we can treat him with or will the removal from the tank be affective to save him?      <Mmm... actually... we need to "start back" a bunch of steps... with your not stocking the fishes you list entirely (the Niger is incompatible, all should not have been placed in such an age setting...)... At this point, you really need to (have) remove/d the fishes to some other setting/treatment system, allowed the main/display system to run fallow (sans fish hosts), not have poisoned the Seastar...>   Thank you in advance!  I am very concerned because this white cluster area developed rather quickly, just over this weekend and we need to start the 2nd 3 day stretch of the medicated food for the Coral Beauty.       Thanks,   Lisa <You really would benefit from reading the articles and FAQs files on Marine Parasitic Disease... Stocking... the species you list and want to keeps Compatibility, Systems... Please see the indices, search tool... and soon. You're soon to lose your livestock I fear otherwise. Bob Fenner>  

Sea star (Choc. Chip) Health... Ophiuroid comp.    10/3/06 Hi there, I was wondering if you could help me out. a few days ago I bought a brittle star and he's doing great he's about 8-10 inches from leg to leg and his body is about an inch in diameter. my question is is there a great chance that he will eat any of my fish. <Mmm...> I know that large green brittle stars eat fish and I'm hoping that this guy won't be quite so dangerous. my fish are pretty small 2 yellow damsels, a blue damsel, and a blue mandarin. I've attached a picture he's brown with white spots. <Think this is a relative safe species in terms of fish predation>    also this is completely unrelated but happened just days after purchasing my brittle star. my chocolate chip star, which has surprisingly been reef safe for about a year, had one of it's legs eaten by my tongue coral. about half his leg has been stripped to his skeleton and I'm wondering how long it might take for his leg to heal, if it doesn't get infected, and is there anything I can do to help him along. thanks. <... Though it's highly unlikely this Star will recover... If possible, I'd place it in a separate system for observation, and to avoid pollution in its probable demise. Bob Fenner>

Live/dead cc starfish  7/14/06 Hello Bob, <Zimmerman! Bobby Dylan's namesake!> I have had a choc. chip starfish for probably 6 months.  Recently my nitrates went high <As we used to ask in the sixties, "how high is high?"> and since then the starfish has become less and less active. <Good bio-indicator eh?> He often looks as though he is dead.  Tonight he is laying on the bottom and all five of his arms are curled up at the ends.  How do I tell if he is actually dead? Lisa <Mmm... you have taken ameliorative action I hope/trust. I would move this animal to better quarters if you have them... Flip it over on its back... if it's alive it will re-right itself. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Sea Star ... health   7/3/06 Dear Bob, <Denis> I've had a couple of Chocolate Chip Sea Stars for over 8 months; they were doing fine until a 20% water change earlier this spring. <Yes... sometimes it takes very little to "off set", "push over the edge" these stars> They never seemed to have any issues with water changes before, but this time the larger one stopped eating a day after the water change. He also only moved at the bottom of the tank where he normally was always at the top of the tank. He also held up the tips of his feet up most of the time. <Good observations, bad signs> If I put food on the bottom of the tank, he would run away and then stop. I moved him to a quarantine tank where he just moved slowly walking over fresh food at the bottom for about three weeks before he started falling apart and died. <Mmm, not atypical> Changing 20% of the water in the main tank the other day resulted in the other CCS to start the same behavior. He no longer climbs the glass, but he is still eating. I would like to save this one. I have read a lot of article and FAQ on your WWM site, I see that a broad-spectrum antibiotic or fungicide might save him, but I cannot find any references to a particular brand or type of antibiotic/fungicide. Can you advise me on an antibiotic/fungicide to save my CCS that has had good results? <Mmm, perhaps Kanamycin, but most any broad-spectrum, gram-negative type is worth trying... NOT in your main/display system... and I must admit (if not done emphatically enough previously) that the chances of "success" (i.e. recovery) are dismally small. Bob Fenner> Thanks in Advance   Denis

Sick Chocolate Chip Starfish... env. induced  - 05/10/2006 I bought a chocolate chip starfish about 3 months ago. I fed it every few days. It looked really healthy all along until last week when I noticed he had about half his tube feet missing on 2 legs and beside it on his skin there is a bit of white. He still eats and moves around and the top of him looks okay. I just bought a camelback shrimp a week before that. Could this be caused by the shrimp eating his arms? <Yes, possible> Also I topped off my tank with 1 gallon of water because of evaporation. <Conditions in this starfish's world need to be constant...> Its just a 25 gallon tank. Could that have been too much of a salinity change for the starfish and caused the problem? Thanks <Oh yes... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Chocolate Chip Starfish... don't write... read  - 5/11/06 My questions now  are.........will the starfish live?  What should I do to help it if anything?  And should I keep the shrimp? <... read... where you were referred. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Sea Star Question ... loss/health  - 5/8/2006 Hi!  I love your book and read your site almost every  day and still have a question about my star, "Patrick".  (The kids  named him.)  I can usually find my answers on your site, but I'm stuck with  this one. He was doing fine in a 47g tall tank with a yellow eye tang  ("Brownie"), 2 PJ cardinals ("Sally & Alley"), a decorator goby ("Lucifer"),  4 small blue legged crabs (un-named) and a bunch of Nassarius snails (too name  to name).  I have an Eheim wet/dry 2227 running and all my basic  (nitrite, ammonia, nitrite, ph, Alk) tests come back fine except for nitrates  which come back around 10-15ppm.  I have about 10lbs of LR for now, I plan  to get more, though, as finances allow.    Anyway, the star used to come up to the top and I would  place some food on an outstretched leg. <Good technique> He would get to the top and flop a  leg out and I could lay thawed shrimp or krill or whatever and he would eat it  right up.  But after a while, he stopped coming to the top, and with the  tank being soo tall, it's hard to reach him when he's at the bottom.  It  seemed as though he got lazy and stopped eating.  The crabs never bothered  him until he got lazy. <...> Then one day I saw a crab nibbling at one of his  legs.  It didn't seem to heal so I took him out and put him in the  QT/Hospital tank.  That was about a week ago.  Since then the leg  seems to be getting worse.  What was a nibble now seems to consume almost  the whole leg.  It's "fuzzy" looking.  I've read a lot of articles on  your site and I've read that many stars do not recover from this. <Correct. The vast majority> My LFS  suggested it was an infection, and amputating the leg to remove the infection to allow a new leg to grow?!?! <Mmm, have them try this on themselves first>   Is that a good idea? <No>   And also, in this QT/ Hospital tank I keep a percula clown, ("Nemo" ya never woulda guessed,  right?) can he 'catch' this infection? <... no... but might perish from other consequence here> Should I treat the whole tank with an antibiotic or anti-fungal?  Or is this infection limited to the  star? <Likely the star alone> Thanks for your help!!  I love all the information you guys  and gals provide!!  I depend on you all to help me with my saltwater  adventures!! ~Melanie~ <Likely the same sort of environmental vacillations, lack of steady, useful biomineral at root here in the loss of this animal. Bob Fenner>

Starfish/Chocolate Chip/Disease    4/12/06 Hello Bob!   <James today.>   I am new to salt water aquarium.  We have had our 55 gallon aquarium set up for about 3 weeks. We test the water daily and try to keep it in the safe zone.  The salt level is at 24.   After we set the tank up We waited a week before putting any fish in the water. <Ah, sounds like no knowledge here of proper set-up.>   We got 5 damsels, left them in for 2 weeks tested the water.   We changed 25% of the water yesterday.  My Daughter bought 2 chocolate chip starfish. One is doing fine going everywhere and stealing food.  The other one has lost 3 of its chip thingies,   and about to lose a fourth,  and it is not  is not active.    We was wondering what  we can do to save the starfish. <Your tank is much too new to keep starfish.  They are sensitive to water parameter changes such as pH, salinity, etc.  And, an improperly cycled tank such as yours will lead to more problems.  I would return both starfish, perhaps the dealer will hold them for you until your tank is properly established. If you know someone that has a healthy established system, ask if you could put the stars in there temporarily.  Not too much can be done with the ailing star but will post a link below with FAQ's on subject.  Just removing it from water, which probably happened, can cause problems such as what you are seeing.  I'm going to post some links I'd like you to read and give you a better understanding of marine systems as I feel you knew very little about this before you started.  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog)> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm Please help!   Tina

Starfish/Disease    3/29/06 Hi again  <Hello> I just wanted to say I love what you guys are doing here. <Thank you.> I searched through your information on CC starfish and couldn't find an answer so I am   writing you.  About 6 months ago I purchased a cc starfish.  He was  completely white and the guy at the LFS said he was ok. <Ahah, mistake number one.> About a month into  having him he started to develop a spotty blackish green fungus on his the  tips of his legs.   The fungus is spreading up his legs now, and some  of his chips are turning black.  He is very active and moves about the  entire 90 gallon tank.  Is this a disease?  Is there anything I can  do, and will it spread to my snails, crabs, or fish?  <Wouldn't worry about any disease spreading here.  I'm guessing what is happening is due from poor shipping/handling.  Starfish are very sensitive to water parameter changes and exposure to air can cause problems also.  Do read through our three part starfish disease FAQ's.  Others have had similar problems and suggestions can be found here.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm Thank you  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> WBM

Starfish/Disease   3/25/06 Hi, <Hello.> I have read all of the FAQ's about the health of the chocolate chip star, but I didn't see one of the problems I'm having with mine. I have a 60gal. tank that's been set up for 6 weeks now. The pet store I've been getting most of my fish from have not been giving me enough/accurate information on anything. About 3 weeks into the cycle, We purchased what they said was a red ccs (he is white with red markings and chocolate chips). I have had him for about 3 weeks now, and up to 2 days ago he was acting perfectly fine. He's been eating shrimp pellets and frozen fish daily, and even comes to the top of the tank for us to hand feed him. He has now been at the bottom of the tank for the past 2 days in the same spot. The hairs on his back and arms are reaching out a lot more than normal, he won't eat, and it looks like several of his little suction cup feet are swollen and do not move. It looks like he cannot move his little feet enough to walk at all. His arms move fine though, sometimes his toes will curl up for a short period of time. When I gently rubbed one of his swollen suction cups, it came right off. He also gets really puffed up like a balloon (at first I thought he could have been digesting the big piece of fish he was fed 2 days ago). I didn't want to do a water change half way into the cycle of the tank, so I just cleaned it for the first time today. I tested the water, and everything is fine except the nitrites are 0.5ppm. The temperature of my tank is 80, and the SG level is between 1.022 and 1.023. My ccs was acting fine until I had to treat the tank for ich. I used "Ich-Attack" because I was told it wouldn't harm my invertebrates. All of my other fish and invertebrates are fine. <Shouldn't treat tanks with sensitive inverts such as starfish.   They do react negatively to water parameter changes, and, especially being put in a tank that is not quite cycled.  Do consider quarantining your fish for three weeks prior to putting them in your display tank.  Problems such as these can be avoided by doing so.>  I was told by someone to turn off my protein skimmer while treating the tank, as well as take the carbon out of my canister filter via the directions on the bottle. The star isn't deteriorating, there are no sores on him, and his color is fine. I turned my protein skimmer back on yesterday to help remove the nitrites, <Skimmers will not remove nitrites.> but have not put the carbon back in. Is there anything I could do to help my star? I would really hate to lose such a beautiful starfish. Could the medication be what's affecting him? <Certainly didn't help matters any.  Do search our site on starfish, especially the FAQ's, and while you are at it, search quarantine and read as well. I suggest you do a 50% water change, it may improve the health of the starfish. Sorry for such a long post.  <Do search/read about animals you may intend to buy and learn their needs/requirements for maintaining.  James (Salty Dog)>

2 sick starfish...  CC health, beh.   2/14/06 Hi i am a new saltwater tank owner. I have had my bigger cc starfish for awhile now, but here lately it is acting strange. It curls up, it takes his legs and like puts them all in the air. What does this mean? <Usually either that it's looking for food, oxygen, or taking a dislike to conditions> My other star looks like its decomposing the little things inside its leg are turning white and some of its skin is coming off what should i do? <Look to improving the above> sorry for the lack off terms i am new to the hobby <No worries. Have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm The linked files... in blue. Bob Fenner>

Another dying ccs and non-reader  1/22/06 Hello, I have a  question about my ccs. I have approximately a 20gallon tank and I have a small ccs and  also have another type of starfish although he is big and am not sure of the exact type that he is. The question is I need to know if he is dying. His chips are all white and have been falling off, and now part of his leg is falling off. Should I put the poor thing out of it's misery?? I really think I should've done more research before buying the baby ccs because the bigger star keeps moving over it and attacking it.  Any of your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.  Krystal <... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above... and learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Yet another dying chocolate chip starfish and WWM non-reader!  1/22/06 Hello there! My name is Andrea and i own a chocolate chip starfish. I have him in a 20 gallon tank, which i was told was okay because he is the only fish in it. <... not a fish> His salinity levels are right, and so is the temperature. I have noticed something wrong with him lately and I am really concerned. <I've noticed you haven't been reading WWM> He hasn't been taking food well (I feed him krill), and for the past night he's been in the same position and hasn't moved. Even more so, I've noticed something odd about him; it almost looks like he's bleeding at the centre of his disk. It looks like a smear of red. With nothing in the tank to bite him, I can't figure out what it is or what's going on. Now for the bad part....like I said, I've been putting krill in the tank but he doesn't eat all of it. I didn't have a way of getting the krill out (small pieces, nothing too large) and I noticed that it took on a bad smell (the left over krill) I finally got it out, and then the star started to get his red splotch. Help me! Is he dead? Sick? What on earth is going on?! Please write back! <Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm and the linked files at top. Bob Fenner>

Choc-Chip Star Death  12/9/05 We have a 30 gallon salt tank here at work with a chocolate chip star and a Potteri angel. <The potteri is a tough specimen, best kept in a large reef tank'¦30 gallons is much to small long term to say the least.> For weeks, the two got along. One day, about a week ago, I noticed the angel "nibbling" on the starfish. <Not unheard of, but the nibbling usually does not occur until the Seastar already begins to degrade in health.> His chips starting falling off whole and was exposing what almost looks like Styrofoam. It's getting worse daily, until we could see the star "substructure". We have netted the starfish to keep the other fish off him, but even in the net, pieces of "Styrofoam" are accumulating in the bottom. Is there any hope? <Unfortunately sounds like the animal has gone past the point of no return, I would remove it before its decomposition degrades your water quality. Also you might want to pinpoint why it dies if you plan on another in the future, here are some possible reasons: Improper acclimation, Poor diet, Water quality and long term air exposure to name a few.> Everybody else is happy. Beverly <Adam J.>  <<Yesterday I posted an answer of quarantine/treatment of invertebrates from Ryan Powers of the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific (really great guy, I very, very much enjoyed working with him.. and really everyone else there, GREAT group of people!).  Follow the link at top taking you to the FAQs to be placed, find there.  Marina>>

Chocolate chip star problem... are problems  8/14/05 We have had our tank up and running for about 3 months.  All of our fish are thriving beautifully as well as our sponge and 2 anemones.  Our chocolate star however has been developing white spots in the last week and a half or so and today I noticed a "film-like" substance on his underside, covering his mouth and a lot of his feet.  It has veiny looking lines in it an looks like it might spread.  I was wondering if you could help me out, if you had ever seen anything like this and if you could give advice.  He is my favorite of our stars and I would hate to lose him.  Also, if you don't think there's much I can do, how should I "put him out of his misery" so to speak? Thanks for your time. -Courtney <... up to you. Please read here re this species, use in our interest: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Chocolate chip starfish We have 3 CC starfish in our tank (sorry I don't know the size my husband's the one who set it up and maintains it).  One of the starfish recently started looking shriveled on two of its legs , eventually he looked so sick we removed him from the tank.  Any ideas what caused this and should we be concerned about the other two?  We have had all 3 for about a year and no new fish or other creature have been added to the tank recently.  Thanks , Kim   <<Kim, a common problem in tanks where 10% weekly (or equivalent) water changes aren't being made to replenish the trace elements most animals require.  I'd also add an iodine supplement weekly.  Starfish are sensitive to changes in pH, oxygen, and specific gravity.  This tends to cause rapid bacterial infections that cause necrosis of the legs or whole body.  I'm thinking this is what you are seeing.  It's a good idea to place small bits of crab/clam meat under the star weekly to make sure it is getting enough food.  James (Salty Dog)>

Dying CC starfish I have had a cc star for about a month.  I have a 12 gal. <Too small for this species...> Eclipse system that has been up for a year.  I have 2 yellow-tail blue damsels, 1 hermit and a  Strawberry Pseudochromis.   One of the chips has fallen off of the cc star.  I placed him in a wire dome in the center of my tank to keep him from biting. <What?> Is he going to die anyways? <Maybe... please read on WWM re CCS... they rarely "make it" in captivity> In your opinion, should I avoid adding another starfish (of any kind) in this small environment? If I did can it eat regular fish food? <... please read re asteroids period... on WWM. Bob Fenner> Sorry for my ignorance- Mel

Star dying and clownfish purchase Hey crew, I must first off say that your website is a godsend and I use it all the time.  Two quick questions.  One my CCS has not been doing good and some of his skin had been opening. I know that Starfish diseases are almost always irreversible but to make matters worse this morning when I turned on my lights I saw that my poor CCS had two legs stuck in my powerhead water intake and he is in bad shape. Infection is imminent I believe from the looks of him and I was wondering what could I do with him. <If possible, isolate this specimen...> I don't want the possibility of unneeded infection in my tank. Are there any ways of peacefully "putting him down"? <Place in a plastic bag with a small amount of water, put in freezer...> Also, question number two.  I was interested in purchasing a clownfish for my LFS but there are two small regular clowns, I cannot remember whether they are ocellaris or percula.  They are tiny, probably not more than and inch in length.  Would they be too small for my 29 gallon tank (30"long x12"wide x18"deep)? I currently am housing a 2 inch Banggai and a 3-4inch engineer goby, which is doing good and I noticed that its coloring is changing from the horizontal stripes to the vertical bands %        Coloration I believe).  I also have a Mithrax crab, 2 turbo snails, and 4 hermit crabs. I feed my fish the San Francisco Bay Brand Saltwater multipack, which I soak in Selcon nightly before feeding. Any thoughts or suggestions on these two topics would be greatly appreciated. Cheers, Aaron Loboda <The clowns are not too small... I would keep an eye on the Mithraculus and Hermits... Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Seastar Size (2/1/04)  How big will my chocolate chip starfish get? It is about 3 inches from tip to tip.  <The references I found suggest around 6 inches. Steve Allen.>

Chocolate Chip Problem (8/22/04) I have read through your site on sea stars with special attention to the chocolate chip.  Mine had a little black bump on one of the chips that make up his crown last night.  Today when I got home from work  one of the chips on his leg had a white spot like the tip (of the chip, not the leg) was sliced off, very very small piece.  I touched him, he is still very firm, very active, and as always <Good signs>, wanted to climb on me as soon as I put my hand in the tank.  Background info: 29 gal tank w/ coral substrate, tank up since June 13th, water is very stable ph 8.2, temp 79, s.g. 1.022, amm 0, No2 0, No3 around 12.  Currently fallow (except for Cookie) to kill velvet outbreak, last fish died 8/1.  <Be patient and wait 8 weeks to add fish again--the prolonged time will reduce the risk of recurrence.> The only change I have made since then is to add a piece of live rock (cured, no change in any tank numbers, checked daily) 4 days ago.  I have started doing weekly water changes of 3 gal. He eats well, 1/4 in piece or shrimp or scallop (defrosted in tank water) every 2 or 3 days.  I want to act fast since he is still firm. Is there anything I can do  to help him (I am scheduled to change 3 gal   water tomorrow) My QT/Hospital tank is just in start up and still hasn't cycled. <It is tough to say what is the cause of this. The white spot seems more concerning than the black bump as it sounds like more of a deterioration. Since you have no fish in there, you should be able to keep excellent and stable water conditions in the main tank. I'd do that and keep an eye on things. If this seems to progress, then I'd move it to the QT and consider antibiotics there. This is about all you can do.> Thanks, Beth <Hope this helps. Keep us posted. Steve Allen.> Knobby Seastar health Hi Bob, I am writing you this short note hoping it gets to you , I have a question on my chocolate chip star fish, over night we have noticed he has a white tip on one of his arms also a small bump on it and also curls it up.....can you give any ideals? maybe on how to treat it?.....need help..... <Unfortunately these stars do often fall prey to cumulative stress (mainly from collection, holding, shipping from the wild)... and subsequent infection. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner> Debbie

Two-fer on Chocolate Chip Seastar health Dear Crew Member,     I purchased a chocolate chip, Protoreastor nodosus, about six months ago. After becoming enamored with it, I purchases a partner for it about a month later; it is about twice the former's size and appears to be of a different species.  The former then began to act lethargic and look sickly, then it began its normal constant moving about the tank, and both seem to be enjoying each other's company by "hanging out together" on the glass walls of my 10 gallon tank.  About five days ago, I noticed that the former had lost a chip on one of its legs; now, one can see into its leg - it looks like little rows of cotton balls with a ligament down the middle of them.  What's wrong, and is it curable? Sincerely, Maura Staker <Unfortunately these stars do often fall prey to cumulative stress (mainly from collection, holding, shipping from the wild)... and subsequent infection. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Star! my chocolate chip star fish is still not moving or letting its suction cups out or stomach out but  I just don't know if its dead or not cause I put a heater up to the tank and whenever I pick it up it just seems like its dead cause nothing moves even at night  so do you have a way of telling if its dead or not  its not falling apart or disintegrating. thank you very much < Just give him time if he is not disintegrating there is still hope.  Also make sure your salinity is between 1.022-1.026 as they are sensitive to salinity. Cody>

Chocolate Chip Star Hi, I just bought a chocolate chip star fish.  It was doing fine when I put it in the tank, but I didn't know it needed a heater.  So in the middle of the night I put the heat light close to it and the next day it moved some in the morning, but when I got back from church it wasn't sucking on to any thing and it wasn't moving its suckers at all.  Do you think it's dead, or do you know anything I can do for it?  Please email me back please ASAP Thank you, please hurry. >>Well, not knowing what temperature it got down to, as well as not having other parameters, I'm shooting in the dark here.  But I can tell you this much: the thing to watch for is disintegration.  If the parts of the sea star appear to just be falling apart/disintegrating, then I'm afraid your chocolate chip is doomed.  Otherwise, if that is not the case, then if at all possible get a heater in the tank and try to keep it at 75F minimum.  Assuming it lives and you get it warmed up, you may want to set some food out for it, a piece of shrimp, squid, or krill--but do not just leave it in the tank to decompose. Let us know how it goes, and good luck! Marina

Chocolate chip star I've had a chocolate chip starfish for about 2 weeks now.  He has been moving and eating fine.  We added a second one a week ago, also eating and moving fine.  This last weekend we lost two of our damsels to some unknown reason.  I did a 20 percent water change and cleaned the inside of the tank to get rid of the algae.  I fed them this morning and the newest one, the smaller one, wouldn't eat.  I was told by my LFS to treat the tank with an antibiotic to try to save the other fish.  He said MelaFix was a pretty good general antibiotic. <... an antibiotic to treat what? Melafix is not an antibiotic... but a liquid preparation of Tea Tree (Melaleuca) leaves... does have anti-bacterial effect... but so does soap, detergents...> As soon as I poured it in, both of the stars lifted their arms and curled them back over themselves and all of the fish started to swim around a lot.  The smaller one has gone back to normal and moved around a little while the bigger one keeps his arms curled up even when it  moves.  The bigger one has gone through dosing of MelaFix before and was fine.  Now the main part of its body looks kinda bloated, thicker than it was a couple of days ago.  I don't think I gave him a piece of shrimp that was too large.  Can you feed these guys two much. <Yes>   I feed them about every three days, usually shrimp.  Also, these stars seem to do the curling thing when the lights go out.  Is this normal?  Any info would be greatly appreciated. <The symptoms mentioned are signs of probable poisoning. I would move the stars and any other invertebrates to a separate system (if you can) or barring this, start a series of large (25% or so) water changes, add activated carbon... to reduce the toxic effect. Please see here re these stars: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the linked FAQs pages... and perhaps use the Google Search feature on our homepage, indices to learn about Melafix. Bob Fenner>

Re: chocolate chip star I was told to treat the fish for possible fungus infection.  All damsels and clowns faces turned a grayish color and the remaining damsel has a big grey patch by his right pectoral fin. <Fungus infections are rare in captive marine settings> I have left the charcoal in the hang on filter (Emperor).  Now both stars have completely curled up and the larger keeps falling off everything and ends up upside-down without righting himself.  Neither will eat. <Did you change water as instructed? Stop medicating?> Good news is, that the fish are becoming more active and eating more.  Shrimp, snails and hermit crabs seem totally unaffected by the Melafix. Although, they do move around a little when it goes into the water.  Will try to pick up a small QT, budget allowing.  Is there anything I should think about treating the starfish with? <Just optimized, stable conditions. Bob Fenner> Re: chocolate chip star Have moved the starfish into a five gallon bucket with a small 60 gph filter with charcoal.  SG is about the same at the tank about 22.  Is there anything that I should do for the fish to keep anymore from dying? <Do slowly (about .001 per day) change your specific gravity to near seawater level (1.025)> What about the grey patch.  And do you know of a place to see a good picture of ich.  Not sure what the damsel has. <I would not be worried re the patch. Please read through our root web: www.WetWebMedia.com for the picture, further information. Bob Fenner>

Starfish I have a chocolate chip star <This is a great starfish for fish only systems. They're too ravenous for a reef tank> which I have had for about six months. <Okay> He has been very active. In the last few weeks he seems to have trouble holding onto the sides of the glass 75 gal. tank. At times falling off. <That's not unusual. I had one for several years and he was never able to really hold to the sides of the tank. He finally got so large I had to trade him in at the LFS> The last week he has not moved. <Doesn't sound good. That's way too long for him to remain in one place. These guys forage for food constantly> His color seems the same and he is flexible. Not stiff. <Not a good sign. Every starfish that I've ever handled felt more or less stiff. They will also try to bend their bodies away from you> The other fish, angels, clowns and one triggerfish seem to be doing ok. <Triggers are likely to prey upon starfish> How do I tell if this animal is dead? <Pick him up and look at the tube feet: They should be wiggling. Then look at its mouth. You should see it trying to close or in some way, it will be making an adjustment...and give it the old nose test.  Sorry, but I don't feel good about this critters' well-being> Thanks, Tim <You're welcome! Chocolate chips are normally very hardy.>

End of the line for Chippy? Bob & Crew: We have a Choc Chip Star for about 4 months now - we've recently had to move him to a hospital tank. It was suggested that he be removed by our LFS because we were treating (lower salinity, up temp) for ick. They said he wouldn't like the change in salinity. <I agree> He been in the hospital tank for about 2 weeks now - yesterday morning - I noticed that the little tips of him were odd looking, almost white. This morning - I see that it almost looks like he is deteriorating. I fear it may be because of a deteriorating water quality in the hospital tank. Is it too late to save him? <It sounds like he has already begun to turn into mush. Yes, too late then.> Will a major water change in there do any good? <It cannot hurt.> thanks! ~Bill <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Chocolate ship starfish I have a new chocolate ship starfish and he sick. Something is eating away at his arms. Any suggestions? My other two seem to be just fine. <Not a good sign... the problem is likely internal and not easily stopped... but there is a chance that "something" is eating it during the night... that you might be able to discover and remove. Please read through the 'Seastar' section and FAQs stored on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for more here. Bob Fenner> Shane Hardin

My starfish My starfish is sick, I think. I hope you can help somehow. I have a 55 gallon, with damsels and 3 crabs. I bought a chocolate starfish to help with cleaning. He worked very well, so I bought another. The second one is doing great, but now the first one looks absolutely terrible! I think two of his legs have totally fallen off. They're still kind of there, but hanging on by these boogery threads. Very mucous looking. He's still eating, and still alive, but half his innards are trailing behind him. He doesn't move a lot. I am almost positive the damsels have been leaving him alone, and the crabs too. I have him separated now to be sure. They have regular water changes every 3 weeks, they are all fed 3 times a day from a good mixture of green lifeline, red lifeline, Mysis shrimp and krill. They only get 8 hours of light a day, and I keep the filtration system clean. And on top of that, everyone else looks great, and is doing fine. I've tested all the levels recently, and they are all within normal levels. Can I give him Zoe? <Yes, a good idea... Soak the foods this animal is eating for about fifteen minutes> Or should I just hope he gets better on his own?  <This species can be hard to keep, hopefully yours will recover. Please do consider other hardier species like Archaster, Fromia... as detailed here on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and read the FAQs section beyond. Do remove the damaged individual if you become aware of it no longer being alive. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Krysty

Re: My starfish Thanks for your response. I guess I waited too long, he didn't make it through the night.  <Not atypical... be satisfied that you did your best> When I gave him to the porcelain gods, I noticed in some of the slimy boogery stuff, I saw some worm looking things. I've noticed these in the tank itself before. They live in the crushed coral, and always seem to be heaviest in the green algae, and they are always heaviest right before I do the water changes. Did my starfish pick up a virus from my tank itself?  <Doubtful. If it had an infectious or parasitic disease, it was likely "imported" with it... and through weakening in transit, acclimation to new surroundings, succumbed> Is there something I can add to the water? I just thought these worm things were bacteria.  <Mmm, nothing I would "just add"... and not bacteria... if they're moving... something/s bigger... likely some type of "bristle worm"... and likely not the direct cause of trouble here> I have found a lot of information on your website and plan to do a lot more reading. Very informative. I hope you don't mind all my trivial questions, my local fish store's employees are less than competent. Thank you again, Krysty <No worries my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Injured Chocolate Chip Starfish Hello, I purchased a chocolate chip starfish two days ago. The starfish is about 2 inches across. Also in my 45 gallon non-reef tank is a Banded Coral Shrimp, of moderate size, and several dwarf hermits. The starfish was fine for the first day, then I noticed a small chunk had been taken out of one of his legs. I'm not sure if whether the hermits or the shrimp should be my prime suspect. I've since isolated the chocolate chip star with a divider, and noticed the small chunk has gotten larger and the wound looks worse. Why is this happening? Is it some type of infection, and should I worry about that affecting the other animals in the tank? How long, with proper water conditions, would it take for the star to grow that leg back? And finally, is there anything I can do??  <I'm suspecting shipping is what caused this wound as there are very touchy shippers.  There is not much you can do for him except keep him isolated and keep your water quality good.  Also make sure your salinity is ok since they are sensitive to low salinity.  Cody> Thanks. a.h.

Chocolate Chip Star Problems (4/5/04) Hi, <Howdy, Steve Allen covering echinoderms today.> I have had my chocolate chip starfish for 2 years, and he has always been healthy.  Yesterday I noticed white ragged spots on his legs.  The areas are near the dark "chips" that are furthest from his central body, there are three affected legs - one that looks pretty bad, the other two legs have smaller spots.   Nothing has been altered in the tank, and all other inverts and fish are fine (none are showing spots). <Do you have any nippy fish that might be taking a taste.> He is also still very active and interested in food. I would greatly appreciate it if you could help me I'm quite attached to the little guy! :) Thanks, Beth <This may be a bacterial or fungal infection. I'd be a little concerned about it possibly being contagious. Even if not infected now, these wounds easily become so. Unfortunately, such conditions are usually ultimately fatal. Do consider putting it into a hospital tank with pristine water for observation/treatment. Consider a broad spectrum antibiotic if this seems to be worsening at all. Hope this helps.>

Crumbling Cookie (4/5/04) <For future reference, please capitalize the proper noun "I" and the first word of each sentence and spell-check your e-mail. We post all queries and replies on our site for permanent reference. They need to be readable. Our volunteer staff will have a lot more time to answer queries if we don't have to proofread too.>   About a month ago me and my mom bought a chocolate chip star fish, there is a picture of him like two days after we put him in the tank. The 1st two pictures are him before we saw him getting funny looking, and the last pictures are when we notices something wrong. <Only one picture came through.> His one arm is kinda turning white and crumbling, and you can see in the 2 pictures that I marked off. And also 2 of the chip tips are falling off like you can also see.   I couldn't get picture of these but these got a gray spot on him and that has 2 little black dots inside of it, and he's got little brown polka dots on his bottom side, he still moves around the tank, he doesn't like to  be stuck up against the side though. What is wrong and how can I save him? please Help! Meghan <Well Meghan, I'm sorry to say that it is not very likely that you will be able to save this star. Once they start to "melt," there is little that can be successfully done. The best bet would be to put it into a small, separate hospital tank (see WWM for details) and treat with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Still, I'd be surprised if you can save it. Starfish seldom recover from degeneration/infection. Read more about them on WWM and elsewhere or in "Reef Invertebrates" by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner. Steve Allen.>

Chocolate Chips are Falling Off! >I have had a chocolate chip starfish for a few weeks and yesterday I noticed one of its chips fell off.   >>This is not good, it sounds kinda funny, but it is not good. >I had it in a tank with a spotted moray eel, but the eel never bothered it.   >>Eels wouldn't be a concern, but certain shrimps (that WOULD be eaten by the eel), triggers, and puffers are known to munch stars. >Today it is keeping 3 of its legs curled up and it seems to be losing more chips and turning white.   >>Bad signs, my friend.  If it appears the animal is disintegrating, there are only a very few things that can be done for it.  These creatures are among THE most sensitive to water quality, salinity, and acclimation.  I doubt it's an acclimation issue if it's been a few weeks.  Water quality, especially in a tank with an eel is another story entirely.  It is imperative to keep the water as pristine as sea water. >Is it just sick or is it dying?   >>It very well may be dying, especially if it appears to be disintegrating.  If the central disk appears to be falling apart at ALL, I'm afraid there is, for all intents and purposes, little to no hope. >I have already separated it from all my other fish so it doesn't ruin the tank.   >>This was a very wise decision. >If it is sick what can I do to cure it and when can I put it back in my other tank?  Melissa >>Melissa (now I feel as though I'm talking to my sister), water quality issues aside, the only method I know of to help a sick sea star is to try an antibiotic called Spectrogram.  I would treat for a week, using FRESHLY made up water, not tank water.  I would make certain that the water in the tank is perfect and make certain that I have the best test kits I can buy - Salifert and SeaChem are two excellent kits for the money.  (Salifert is often out of stock, Dutch company - SeaChem is in Georgia.)  Many times correcting the water quality is all that is necessary if necrosis is very limited.  Marina

- Need Help ASAP! -  We need your help ASAP! We set up a 20 gallon quarantine tank and it has an Emperor 280 Bio-Wheel Filter and we have an air stone and heater and a couple PVC pipes in it. We are keeping the temperature at 81 degrees. <You do know you can keep that a little cooler - perhaps 78 degrees if possible.> We bought two clown fish and a chocolate chip starfish about two weeks ago and put them in to quarantine. The problem is today we noticed our chocolate chip starfish is on the bottom he is moving a little but not like he was and his arms are all curled upward.  Our nitrites are reading at 3.0 and we can't figure out why they are so high. <Nitrate being the end of the line in the nitrogen cycle, the leading way to eliminate them is via export - water changes.> The ammonia tests are reading 0 and the nitrates are reading 0. Do you think this is why our chocolate chip starfish isn't doing well? <Probably not... does it have anything to eat? I wouldn't bother quarantining a Seastar and would go ahead and add this to your tank.> Also, what can we do to bring the nitrites down? We do a 25% water change about twice a week. <Three parts per million of nitrate is not high, and not a danger to much that I can think of. I wouldn't be too concerned.> Help! Also, our starfish has like a white mucus floating on one of his chocolate chips. What do you think that is? <Hmm... not good, get it into the main tank where it can find some food.>  Your help would be greatly appreciated!  Thank You, Bret  <Cheers, J -- > 

- Need Help ASAP! Follow-up - We will go ahead and turn down the temperature on the quarantine tank. We give our starfish shrimp pellets twice a week  and he does sometimes eat them.  He is now looking a lot better after much more frequent (almost continuous) water changes. Our Nitrates are still reading 0  it is our nitrites that are still reading at 3.0 12 hours after a 50% water change. <Yeah... someone on the crew pointed out to me that I responded to your last mail by saying that a nitrate reading of 3.0 is not high. My bad, you said nitrites, and this most certainly is bad news for the Seastar. You really need to get that animal out of there and into the main tank - no need to quarantine it.> Since the last response from you we have done a 75% water change yesterday and we just completed another 50% water change.  Once we did the 75% water change the starfish is doing better.  The funny thing is our clownfish seem fine during the high nitrites. <Clownfish are an order of magnitude more hardy than seastars... but still, any tank fresh/salt/quarantine will need to have the nitrogen cycle firmly established, or made insignificant by regular [daily] large water changes, there is no other way. The presence of the nitrites is just he nitrogen cycle becoming established.> We decided to quarantine our starfish for the only reason that our main tank had ich (and our LFS suggested it). <Seastars don't carry Cryptocaryon and would be fine to leave behind as long as you're not treating the main tank with any chemicals.> That was Dec. 11th.  The only thing we have in our main display is live rock (65 lbs.) and hermit crabs.  We had about 9 snails in the tank as well and they died off one by one till the last died around the 22nd of Dec. We were wondering if we could add a little live rock to the quarantine tank to help cycle the tank (and if so how) so we don't have to do 75% water changes every day to keep the nitrites down. <I would not add the live rock to quarantine - better to just work with daily water changes of about 25%, perhaps 50% every other day.> What would you suggest? Thank you very much for all your great and valuable advice. Thank You, Bret <Cheers, J -- >

Inside-Out Sea Star (1/6/2004) Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> First Of all I would like to thank you for all your help. Having said that. I have a Chocolate Sea Star in a 180g fish only tank. The reason I am writing is because it is doing something that I have never seen or heard of before. It sits on the side of the tank and it looks like it is grazing but it looks like its stomach is on the outside, its a mucus- like blob under it then a while later its gone. I have looked through your pages on Sea Stars and can't find anything about this. Thanks for all the help. Tom <Good observation on your part, Tom. In fact, this is how many Asteroids feed. They evert their stomachs over their prey and begin to digest outside their bodies as they pull the partially-digested item back in. Actually rather interesting to observe from the ventral side through glass. I have several sea stars, including a Chocolate Chip and an African Red-knobbed (Protoreastor lincki). I often feed them by placing a chunk of seafood under them on the front glass of my tank. It takes several hours for them to completely ingest the chunk. They seem to like being fed that way. I know they want food when they come to the front wall several time per week.> <Most Asteroid Sea Stars need direct feeding. In their excellent "Reef Invertebrates" book, Bob and Anthony advise placing food close by in their path rather than handling them because that might provoke a fright response. I was not initially aware of this recommendation, so for a long time I have been feeding mine by placing food directly under their mouths and then placing them against the front glass. They attach themselves to the glass and go merrily about eating the food. They are used to this and associate my touch with feeding. BTW, it is very important not to lift them out of the water, which may damage their water vascular system. Personally, I think all echinoderms are truly fascinating creatures--enjoy.>

Injured Chocolate Chip Star (10/21/04) Hi! <Hello. Steve Allen tonight> I am still very new to saltwater systems but learning more every day, thanks to your great site.  I have had a Chocolate Chip Starfish since almost the beginning of the 75 gallon set-up but have since learned that he will not be reef safe :(  <This is true, but they are cool to have in a proper system.> In any event, I recently purchased a Dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish and was told that they would be compatible.  Two days after putting them together I noticed that my CC Star looked shriveled and one leg was white and deteriorating...he was at the time attached to my powerhead and my husband surmised that he must've gotten his leg "stuck" somehow <Possible, this does happen and can result in injuries that easily become infected.>...24 hours later when I woke up the Lion was aggressively checking him out as the CC star was attached to the front wall of the tank.  All levels in the tank have been perfect, a protein skimmer is running, and all the other fish (copper banded butterfly, velvet damsel, who I realize is not a great choice now, and a Protoreastor lincki sea star, <Another beautiful star--also not reef safe.> also live rock about 50 lbs.) are doing o.k. but the other star is not as active as the choc chip ever was.  Is the lionfish the problem with the CC star and is that the reason that the other star is not as active too? <I doubt the lion is the problem. A Trigger yes, a Lion no. Did you quarantine the lion first? I'd be suspicious of some bacterial pathogen introduced with any water that got in there from his bag. Are your water parameters proper and stable? I would consider removing the star to a quarantine tank and treating with a broad-spectrum antibiotic.> Thanks a lot you guys are the best! Carol <Hope this helps.>

Chocolate Chip Starfish Disease <Hello! Ryan with you> Got a very weird problem occurring with a chocolate chip star. It started last winter when it was one of very few survivors of a power outage that resulted in a devastating temp drop, killing nearly all of my reef animals. (All of the live rock & hermit crabs lived as well) But it was left with a bright white tip on one of it's limbs. <This is a common stress indicator among seastars.> This white tip, over the last 9 months has eventually proven to be some sort of rot, as this one appendage is now mostly gone, and the nub still tipped in white. The animal other than that, is very much alive, healthy & eating. Any idea what it is? <Have a look: http://wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm> Is it treatable? <Only with improved water quality, diet> and is it dangerous to the other animals in a now replenished system? <Likely no.>  Thanks for your help. <Best of luck! Ryan -Pat

Falling Stars?  Hi,  <Hi there- Scott F. at the keyboard today!>  I have a 55 gallon aquarium that has been running for about three months. It is completely cycled, very little nitrates, no ammonia, nitrites, copper, salinity at 22. It is occupied by Bar gobies, Chromis, Horseshoe crab, and one Damsel. My water is resin filtered. I bought one Chocolate chip star and he seemed fine for about a month. I had a sudden temperature drop from 78 to 70 degrees and he died. I assumed this was the reason.  <Well, it certainly could have contributed...Dramatic environmental shifts are not well-tolerated by these animals>  I bought a second one, and it was only active for a brief period and then stayed in one place. After a few days, it died. I had the water retested and found that the PH had dropped to 8.0 and the Phosphates were high ( I hadn't been checking them before). I have other friends with thriving star fish at 22 salinity, so I didn't consider that to be a problem.  <In and of themselves, these factor are not problematic...But when you experience a sudden shift, it becomes a problem...>  Question: Could the rise of phosphates kill a starfish that quick? or is there some other unknown substance lurking in my water?  <I doubt that the phosphates could do it, but the rapid changes in the environment could...Stability is very important. And, yes, there could be some pathogen or other toxin at work in the tank.>  There is no algae to speak of growing except some diatom which is receding after I treated for phosphates, I feed the fish brine shrimp with Spirulina everyday mostly, the star would have eaten that mostly. Did it simply starve to death? Thank you. Randy  <That would take a rather long time. I think what you're seeing is a reaction to unstable environmental factors, possibly combined with some other problems. My thoughts for future prevention would include careful selection of very healthy animals at the dealer, combined with initial quarantine and environmental stability. Continued use of activated carbon and/or Poly Filter, as well as frequent small water changes, aggressive protein skimming, and continued good feeding practices. In the end, this should do the trick...Keep up good husbandry practices, and I'm sure that your luck will improve! Regards, Scott F>

Chocolate Chip Star Problems (11/3/04) Hi, my name is Cathy, and I recently got a chocolate chip star. I have had it for about two weeks, and it looked great when I bought it. But now, its skin is not as hard as it was, and when it is on the glass, it looks like the top legs are too thin, and the bottom ones are too fat. Like it is sagging. It also curls its legs upwards when it is sitting on the bottom of the tank. Now I have noticed that one of its chips has broken off. What could be causing all of these problems? <Hello Cathy, Steve Allen tonight. Did you acclimate the star slowly over a couple of hours? Are your salinity, temp and pH stable at normal seawater values? Stars are very sensitive to fluctuations. They are also sensitive to ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. That said, the loss of one "chip" may not be a problem. Anything in your tank that might have bitten it off? Their skin is not always hard, though will firm up as a reaction to being touched much. It may feel a little soft when first touched. The tube feet that are higher on the glass sometimes stretch out and the lower ones may be shorter and fatter. I have seen this with my own and suspect it is related to gravity-induced sag. Curling the leg tips up is also common. Thus, nothing at all may be amiss if it is moving and eating normally. Does it react to food and eat? The key here is to maintain stable and optimal water conditions. Do feel free to write back with more details. Hope this helps.>

Chocolate Chip Starfish Hi, I have a CCS and I am not sure what is going on. I have read through the FAQ's and some of them answered my questions but my starfish goes a little beyond those. For one it looks like it is disintegrating on its arms which is the part on the FAQ's that I read but everything else I could not find. If you look at him on the bottom there are holes in his body you can see right through to the other side and he has some very big white spots all over his body. The other problem is in between two of his legs it looks like he is splitting apart. He has a very large split (basically if you took a piece of paper and cut a slit in it at the edge at the bottom) and has some white mucus looking stuff coming out of the split along with white balls dropping from the same place. Can you please help me try to figure what is going on and is there anything I can do to fix him or save him. Also the last time we check the water everything was fine in the way of ph nitrate, nitrite and anything else. Thanks Jackie<I believe your starfish is on his way to starfish heaven.  Most starfish do not last too long in a closed system.  Nutrients is usually the biggest downfall.  Have you every offered it food?> James (Salty Dog)

Sick CCS Hi <Hello> My name is Kai and I have one Chocolate Chip Starfish for about one month and CCS was fine until our tank has ICH. I saw my CCS's skin rot...and I can see the white thing...(is that CCS's bones?) <Likely part of the exoskeleton, yes> What should I do? (I am changing the water because of the ICH but I don't know how to cure the CCS) <If you have an older, established system, move this Seastar to it... quickly. If not... Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Thank you very much Kai Sore on Chocolate Chip Star (5/15/05) Hey crew, quick question. My CC star looks like it has a sore on one of its limbs. It looks like skin is missing b/c it is white where the sore is, almost like bone.  <Yes, the non-bony interior of stars is whitish-brown/gray. Of course, echinoderms have no bone.>  What could be causing the problem and are there any ways I can get heal it?  <Do you have any nippers in there? One suspicion is a bite from something. Another possibility is an infection or some deterioration in water quality. Stars need very stable pH, SG, and temp. Ammonia and nitrite at any level can be a problem and excessive nitrates are also a no-no. I'd check all of these.  If you have a fish nipping at it, one or the other has to go. If not, the best treatment is to maintain pristine and stable water conditions and hope for the best. Your water change regimen requires that you carefully match the pH, SG and temp of the change water to the tank to avoid harm to this and any other sensitive inverts.>  I have a 29 G tank and I am doing 25% water changes weekly. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks again and as always good luck with your fish and endeavors. Aaron  <You're welcome and thanks to you too, Steve Allen.> 

Chocolate chip star  problem Hi again, Sherry here. My problem is a chocolate chip starfish. I hope you can see from the pics what I am talking about. <No pix attached>  The reddened circular areas around the center disk of chips and then around each chip. What is this? <Necrosis> He did not look like this 3 days ago. Last ate three days ago when he stole the Porc. puffer's king crab leg in shell piece. I use the same clip for both and the star covered the clip in no time. It looked really cool because he inverted his stomach inside the shell ends of the crab leg. I didn't give it any thought though and after he finished, he went to hide under a rock ledge. I had a scheduled water change planned for today (my nitrates had been up a little...50ppm) and when I did a head count I noticed these spots around his chips. Could the crab legs have done this? His meal 3 days prior was a tiny purple octopus. I cant remember if I did on this occasion but sometimes I add garlic juice from soft gels to the puffers food. His [star's] normal diet is shrimp, mussel, squid, clam, octopus, krill and silversides. He has been in tank....130gal. for over a year and has always been healthy and active. water test out fine except for the nitrates being a little high. I had planned on moving the star once my puffer got a little bigger although he leaves it alone. The star has no white areas, feet still moving, stiff as a board...not soft any where. Looked on the site and can't find anything similar. Have you ever seen this before? I moved him to a bucket with aged SW, heater, and airstone. Wasn't sure if he was sick and didn't want anything to affect fish. 1 9" Foxface Rabbitfish 2 4" three stripe humbugs 1 lg. hermit crab 6-9 bumble bee snails 1 lg. turbo snail 1 5.5" Porc. puffer 1    pink damsel 1   Blue/yellow tail damsel 3 3" Chromis Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanx in advance. <Please read on WWM re this species, other Seastar disease... Bob Fenner>

Update on chocolate chip starfish I just wanted to drop you an email on my chocolate chip starfish. I emailed you a while ago regarding him. You assumed I added livestock before the tank was cycled, but I didn't (just wanted you to know that :) Anyway, I started feeding him tubeworms and we did a small water change, he is all better. His spot is gone, his chips haven't grown back though (not sure if they will) but he is very healthy looking now. He eats well and I'm just very happy to see that I've saved him :) Thanks for the information on your site, I get cross-eyed from reading so much :) Thanks a lot!! Deana <Great news! Thank you for the update. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip - Not Even a Cookie Hola!!! <<Hola, como esta?>> Thanks for all your hard work. Your site offers great advice to help me with every aspect of my tank. I have a CCS that is not doing well. My 20-gallon tank is just over 6 months old, and Choco has been living there for just under 3 months. He shares his habitat with a bi-color blenny, yellow wrasse, tomato clown, and everything that lives on and in the 25 lbs. of live rock in my tank. <<Ok.>> Every time I have had a tank emergency, Choco has carried through like a little trooper. However, he now seems to be wasting away. Over the past week, he has started to act sick. He has started holding himself up against the glass with two of his arms distended away from his body. Being a fairly active sea star, Choco moves about the tank quite a lot, but when he stops he curls his arms up over his belly. When I try to feed him some shrimp, I put it under his stomach, but he just creeps away from it as fast as he can (to the great joy of the clown, wrasse and blenny who have a shrimp-a-palooza until I pull the chunk out of the tank). Choco has not been willing to eat for a week, and he used to eat a lump of shrimp every 2-3 days. <<That is odd. I see below that you've measured some parameters, but not all. What are your nitrite/nitrate readings? High levels will cause the feeding response to diminish, often significantly. Also, do you see ANY necrotic tissue? AT ALL? If so, it's time to act quickly, remove the star to a separate container (heated/filtered - bucket will do) and try treating with Spectrogram.>> The water conditions in my tank are very stable (pH is 8.3, salinity is 25, ammonia 0). All the other fish are doing well and excited at the prospect of moving into a 55 gallon tank next month. <<The other fishes aren't a good gauge by which to measure the parameters for any starfish, including the CCS. It's actually the other way around - starfishes tend to be the "canary in the coalmine". Assuming there have been no large shifts in pH or salinity, I can only guess at this point that nitrite/nitrate are an issue. Otherwise, the possibility of certain metals being built up exists, but have no way to test for at home. Large water changes are my usual action of choice in situations like this. Be sure it's aged, matched for pH/salinity.>> Please help me save Choco and get him to start eating again. Thanks, Seth <<At this point that's about the best advice I can give you, Seth. Do some water changes (do test those other parameters, ammonia's only one, and not the only one that's toxic). Have that Spectrogram on hand anyway, it's good stuff. Marina>> 

How Many Chocolate Chip Stars? & "Rant" on Aquarium Suitability of Starfish In General 4/15/05 Hello!  <Hi. Steve Allen with you tonight.> I love the website - it's been very helpful in the research I have been doing before I order my echinoderm.  <I do love those echinoderms. It's great that you are responsible enough to learn first and buy later. Thousands of animals would survive if everyone would do this.>  Now, on to my question: I have a 55-gallon tank set up and aged, and am interested in the Chocolate Chip Sea Star. <Protoreastor nodosus. Attractive and generally hardy.>  I was wondering if three specimens would be suitable for the tank size, or if I should only order one or two sea stars. Any information you could give me would be appreciated. Thanks again! Ashley <Well Ashley, I'd recommend only one. These are actually voracious eaters. More than one will be quite the bioload. They easily grow to 6 inches in diameter. Mine seems to be exceeding that after nearly two years (started out at about 4 inches). They can be difficult to keep alive due to nutritional issues. I hand feed mine a variety of chunks of marine fish, shellfish, and crustaceans fortified with Selcon and vitamins.  They are not reef safe--they will eat all sessile invertebrates and any mobile ones they can sneak up on and capture. Remember to acclimate over several hours. (Some starfish species, such as Linckia laevigata, need to be drip acclimated over 6-8 hours. All starfish require excellent and stable water conditions. All are very sensitive to fluctuations in pH, oxygen or salinity for example. They will also be harmed by excessive nitrate. Read as much as you can about them before buying. I've tried a lot of starfish over the past few years, and I've decided that most of them are best left in the sea. I would not recommend other species that you may come across in your research and shopping. Truth be told, the Chocolate Chips don't have such a great survival record themselves. Here's my short take on some of the others: The African Red-Knobbed Star (Protoreastor lincki) gets much bigger than the Chocolate Chip. I suspect they're harder to nourish too. I've had one just as long as my nodosus. I've fed it the same way, yet it has not grown at all. It does look healthy, but it won't grow.  The vast majority of Blue Linckia (Linckia laevigata) die either before anyone gets a chance to buy them or shortly after purchase. Most other Linckia species suffer the same fate. The Sand-Sifting Star (Archaster typicus) will "sterilize" all but the largest sandbeds by eating all of the organisms, including the beneficial ones.  For a reef-safe star, the rather small (3" or less) Fromia species are more hardy than the Linckias and are worth considering. However, Dr. Ron Shimek states that they often starve eventually after several months. My own personal experience corroborates this. I'd love to try a Double Sea Star (Iconaster longimanus), but they have a poor record as well. Same goes for Tamaria species.  There are a lot of other species that occasionally turn up in stores and on the net (such as Mithrodia, Pentaceraster, and Nardoa). I would not recommend these to anyone other than an expert aquarist willing to set up a large tank specifically meant to support the star. There are a number of oddball seastars that turn up at some stores, many of which you cannot even determine the species of. All are not reef safe and most get very large or have unknown needs.> 

Chocolate chip starfish Hello!! I've been reading through the information you have on the site and I've learned a lot. I am currently having a problem with my ccs and I know that it has been addressed on here, but I haven't really gotten the answer. I have a 75g tank with ten lbs of live rock. I plan on adding more live rock eventually. <Good... will help> I have the CCS, fire shrimp, coral banded shrimp, horseshoe crab and an emerald green crab along with one damsel. I added the inverts on the 24th of march, the damsel has been in there for a while. ON the 28th my tank spiked up with nitrites at .25 and nitrates at .10. <... you put the livestock in an uncycled system? Not smart> Tested the following two days and a 10% water change, everything went down besides the nitrates. They have stayed at 10, everything else is reading at 0, ph has been a steady 8.2 but did go down to 8.0 on the 28th as well. <Good... and good notes> Since then been back to the 8.2. SG is .22/.24 and the salinity has been between 30 and 32. <Mmm, take care to not let these vary this much... pre-mix, store new water, top off with just fresh often...> Temp is ranging from 78 to 80. Sorry to be so long winded. Anyway, everything else in my tank is doing fine, ( with the exception of my horseshoe crab that is in hiding right now). My CCS started twisting up his legs. He normally is at the top, with the two legs curled back, but the others legs started twisting up. He lost 2 chips and has some white stuff on him. He is looking more pink on the underside too. <Good observations, descriptions... this animal is in trouble...> He hasn't been moving much, but is still moving. I was target feeding him frozen brine every day, then switched to every other day.  <... don't live on Artemia...> He wouldn't eat at all yesterday and just now he has his stomach out eating...  <Mmm, not likely eating.... dying> ...but that doesn't even look like it was looking, but that could be because he is up at the top with the legs bent over, where he use to cover the food with all of his feet. I'm not sure what is going on with him, or why it happened. My water seems like it is where it should be and nobody is picking on him that I can tell. Is there anything I can do for him? I don't have a quarantine tank set up yet but will do it if I have to. (How small can I go with that?) Any suggestions. Thank you in advance. Deana <Please (re)read this part of our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/chocchipfaqs.htm and the linked files above... prepare to remove this animal... Bob Fenner> 

Re: chocolate chip starfish Thank you for the response. My tank had already been cycled. I was told that I would get small spikes after adding new livestock. <Mmm, generally not... if the system is not over-crowded, over-fed... adequately filtered, circulated, aerated...> I have kept a notebook (obviously) since I had started testing the water. We had live rock and damsels to cycle the tank. I will go back and reread and hope for the best. Deana <Do please read re these seastars... they are just not very suitable for the vast majority of marine aquariums... likely ninety some plus percent "just die" within a few weeks of acquisition. Bob Fenner> 

Cobwebbed Chocolate Chip >Hello, I have never submitted a question before; just read everyone else's, but now I have one myself.  >>Hello, Marina today. >I have a 55 gal. system that has been running for 2 years. It is incredibly stable and only houses a bicolor blenny and a yellow tang. Both fish have been in this set-up for 1.5 years.  I am conservative when it comes to my tank and that is why I have only had the blenny and the tang for so long.  >>I am going to assume that you are aware that eventually the tang will outgrow this tank. >However, the other night, I decided it was time to add some life. I went to the fish store and bought a chocolate chip star and some more snails and hermit crabs to add to my cleaning crew.  The star looks great. In fact, I added him to my tank and he has been quite active since then. He seems to prefer staying attached to the glass, but moves all over the place. (I will add that I only have owned him for about 24 hrs).  My point of concern is this: the star seems to have what I can only describe as a "cobweb" coming off of him. I touched some of this substance and it disintegrates upon touch. It looks like bubbles held together by a thin strand. The star has some of this hanging on to one of his legs and whenever he moves to a different spot on the glass, you can see the outline of his body on the glass made from this substance.  >>Sounds like a sloughing of sorts, may be caused by poor or inadequate acclimation. Invertebrates in general are sensitive to pH and salinity changes, starfishes tend to be even more so. >I did a search on this topic on the chat forum on wet web and found other people having similar issues, but no one had responded with an explanation. I am not sure whether I need to worry or not since the star seems to be doing fine.  >>I would watch very closely, and have a quarantine/hospital on hand (really should have q/t'd this animal in the first place, but what is done is done), as well as Spectrogram. You MUST ensure that all parameters are MATCHED (not "matched closely"). >When I finally released him after acclimatizing him last night, he moved rather quickly along the floor of the aquarium. As I mentioned before, he has been actively moving all over the glass in my aquarium. One further question, assuming everything could be ok with my new inhabitant and he continues to stay on the glass, what is the best way to feed him? I have read that if the star is laying on the substrate that you can lift it, lay the food down, and then place the star on top, but what about if the star prefers the glass?  >>Cripes, I wonder how the folks who wrote such things think starfishes eat in the wild? Just put the food down near the animal, and if the fishes go to eat it, give a little more. >The reason I ask is because he seemed to favor the glass at the fish store as well. Please let me know what you think. I have been skittish about adding anything to my living room ocean since everyone has done so well and I don't want to upset the balance now! >>I wouldn't want to, either.  PART TWO: >I wanted to follow up with what I observed on my chocolate chip starfish this morning. The star has continued to be very active. We fed him last night and he responded very nicely to the food; consuming it all. He continued his travel on the glass through the night and was in a new spot this morning.  >>Typical. >I noticed that he has 2 "chips" that are falling off and now I am incredibly concerned.  >>Good reason to be concerned. This is a bad sign, and it's time to work proactively. Get him out, into hospital, and start with PERFECT water quality and that Spectrogram I just mentioned. >I mentioned in my last email about the "cobweb" like material that he leaves on the glass and that also clings to his body. I'm not sure what do at this point. I've only owned this guy for a day and a half, but I don't want further issues. While I am encouraged by his moving about and acceptance of food, I wonder how "well" he may be. Thank you so much, Katie >>Katie, for a single starfish, even a bucket with a heater will do. Get him out of the tank and into hospital. The Spectrogram is the only/best means of treatment I know, and I've seen it used with amazing success with other starfishes (mostly Fromia spp.). Marina 

Cobwebbed Chocolate Chip Coming Back? >Marina, I think my chocolate chip star is improving.  >>Katie, that can only be good, yeah? >I did not remove him from the tank yet.  >>Alright, but do have the hospital bucket on the ready, most importantly have the antibiotic on hand. >I just can't help but feel leery about that.  >>No worries. >When I checked him today, I noticed he had continued his trek through the aquarium and the places where the "chips" have fallen off seem to be closing up.  >>And THAT, my friend, is what you want to see! >I want to give him until Sunday (my next day off) to decide what to do with him.  >>The don't "work" on our schedules, watch for further disintegration. If you see more, if you intend to keep this animal long-term, no dilly-dallying around, MOVE, and move immediately. Have everything at the ready. >I have been unable to find Spectrogram in any of the local stores so I hope he'll continue to improve.  >>Me, too. You may have to buy online (ask them to start carrying it, it's good schtuff!). >He doesn't look too bad and I don't see anymore "cobwebs" hanging on him either. I think I will try to feed him tonight and see how he responds to that. It seems to me that if he continues to move around the tank and eats that that could be a positive sign.  >>Mm... could be, but in my experience they may continue to move and consume, all the while dying. If they continue to disintegrate and it hits the central disc then it's a lost cause. I strongly advise NOT waiting until it gets that far. >I did call the place that I bought him from and they admitted that he hadn't been fed very much while in the store. Cross your fingers for me. I've read that they are fairly resilient so hopefully this guy will be ok. If he doesn't seem better by Sunday, I'll put him in the bucket and take him back to the store. They said they'd be willing to take him back.  >>Alright, no worries there. What's actually MOST important here is water quality, and NO shock via pH or salinity changes - I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. >Thanks again, Katie >>You're welcome, and I've got my fingers crossed for you (but not while typing.. tried it, doesn't work). Marina 

Question about starfish vs. hermit crab Bob, I have searched your site and have not found exactly the answers I need, so thus the need to bother you again with another email. First, thanks to your advice and site........ my second try at a FOWLR tank is doing wonderful except for my chocolate chip starfish. <Sigh... very often a problematical aquarium species> I noticed a couple of weeks ago one arm looked a bit "ragged" as if someone had bit him. I watched carefully and did not notice anyone picking on him and he was still eating well and moving around like normal. Then tonight I saw Crabby, our red-legged hermit crab, reach out and take a pinch out of our starfish. Chip moved up and out of the way quickly, but now he has two small ragged areas from his assault from Crabby. These are not big spots, but from what I have read on your site star fish can develop infections easily once they are injured. <Yes, this is so> So here are the questions..........can these two learn to live together. <Not likely> I really count on Crabby for cleaning purposes. Anything smaller and our Hawkfish devours it, is he hungry or just curious? <Perhaps a bit of both> Is there anything extra I can do for our star-fish to prevent infection besides keeping the water at pristine levels? <More live rock, hiding places... put it in a sump, other system> How will I know if it gets infected? What signs should I be looking for? <Very likely it will just be dead, but sometimes, with close observation, one can see vacuolations (missing, dimpled areas), fungal/bacterial growth markings, slowing-down, cessation of movement... Bob Fenner> Thanks for you help

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