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FAQs about Chocolate Chip Sea Stars 2

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: Chocolate Chip Stars 1, CC Star Identification, CC Star Behavior, CC Star Compatibility, CC Star Selection, CC Star Systems, CC Star Feeding, CC Star Disease/Health, 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,

Bad water quality? No 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 starfish      7/16/18
I have a chocolate chip starfish which I purchased July 10. He ate some raw shrimp the next couple of days.
I tried feeding him today and yesterday, but he would not take the food. I has a fifty five gallon tank been set up cycling for six to seven weeks with no fish in tank. When tank finished cycling, I purchased him and a Dottie back and a lawnmower blenny. All water parameters was tested and checked out good. I have current in tank.
I wonder is the current in tank bothering him. Other animals doing fine.
What am I doing wrong?
<Ah mate....>
First time having a starfish. Thanks for your help.
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Choc. Star fish question? Rdg.      1/10/15
Got a little chocolate starfish not to<o> long ago
it looked as if it had been bit a little but I brought it home any way to try and recover it but it seems it's just falling apart. Even the little spiky (Hershey kiss) looking like spike are falling off. I also heard if they do die they take the tank to which worries me . Any suggestion thank you
<Doomed. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm

and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate chip starfish... not using WWM      4/1/14
Hi I'm concerned about my starfish could you tell me what this could be as I have not seen any pics similar to what mine looks like, I've only got a clown fish w him and been together since day 1He's got 2 legs that look like a piece was just taken off and skin hanging but its just the tip. Thanks
<Dying; dead. See WWM re. Bob Fenner>

chocolate chip starfish.... jokester?    3/19/14
Hi, I've had my chocolate chip starfish for about 6 months now in a 10 gal tank.
<You are fortunate... incredible this animal has lived this long>
My tank has always been healthy and only has a clown fish and a turbo snail until 1 week ago when i got 4 dwarf seahorses.

Anyway, my starfish has always been all over my tank up until about 1 month ago when he stopped moving, I know he's still alive because i can see him moving his little things under him and sometimes even curl up one of his arms. I do feed him under the sand now so I can try and make sure he is eating as I was not doing that before since he was always everywhere. i am very concerned why wont he move anymore? he is still stiff when i pick him up but he does seem to be losing weight :( what can I do for him? My LFS has not been any help the last times I've attempted to get suggestions, they just say there is not anything i can do. Please help! thanks
<.... are you joking? See WWM re Protoreastor... or... BobF>

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 starfish and white growth around chips... "You know it's serious..."  10/12/13
We have a 65 gallon FOWLR tank,
<... Protoreastor... space... Need much larger, long-established reef setting>

 parameters have been stable and positive for last couple of months (see bottom for specific). We have one chocolate chip starfish in our zoo, purchased about 1.5 months ago. He moves actively around the tank, spending much of his time at the surface with one leg skimming the surface.
<A bad sign>

I feed him every 4-5 days, a small piece of krill set on his outstretched arm.  His behavior indicates health (so far as I can tell, based on CCS readings, including this site), but today I noticed some chalky white growth around one of his chips.
<This too>

 From what I can tell, the growth is on top of the "skin" and it doesn't appear to be rot or deterioration. Any thoughts on the cause?
<Same ole... not a good candidate/species for such use; this setting, nutrition...>
 Thanks so much in advance, your site really is tremendously helpful.
Water is checked weekly, water changes occur every 3-5 days, 10 gallons at a time (salinity of new water matched to current parameters).
Most recent parameters:
Salinity: 1.025-1.026
Temp: 76-78
Ph: 8.2
Calcium: 420 ppm
Alkalinity: 9 dKH
Phosphates, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia: all at 0 ppm for last 1.5 months
<... HPO4 and NO3 should not be zero... search, read on WWM re>

Again, thanks so much,
<... I'd have you read/re-read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate chip sea star... hlth., reading on WWM      1/5/13
So it was fine when I got it now it isn't moving at all one leg looks as though something has bit a chunk off it and around that it's white what is it can u help me please
<.... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> 

Chocolate chip starfish   12/30/12
Hi, I just purchased a Chocolate Chip starfish and the guy at the store told me to feed him frozen krill.
<... have you searched, read on WWM re Protoreastor? Most are lost easily, soon in captivity.>
I did that today while he was on the side of the tank. I noticed that there is this gooey looking stuff on the underside of him (still attached to the side of the tank.) It has been out for about an hour. Is he still digesting it or is there something wrong? He also has string-like things on the front of him that looks like a spider web. Is this bad?
<Trouble... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Hey! Questions! Choc. chip... star... incomp., gen.     4/18/12
<Hi Jamie!>
 My friend just bought me a Chocolate Chip Starfish for my 90 gallon tank and after looking at your site I am terrified to have it in the tank due to the large amount of soft corals I have!
<Soon to be had!>
 She bought me 3 snails on top of it, although I am not sure what kind of snails they specifically are.
<Always a good idea to know what is in your tank.>
 Anyway, I keep lettuce in my tank for my adorable slug<???> and the Chocolate Chip Starfish has a huge piece and due to its suction and I cannot get the lettuce away from it.
<Pull gently, it will release its grip>
 Is it okay for him to eat lettuce and if I continue to keep large amounts of that in the tank is it possible my corals will be safe?
<It is going to find the coral eventually. What are you feeding lettuce?>
 Also, I see a lot about hermit crabs eating the starfish and I have red claw and blue claw hermit crabs, with the blue species being a lot bigger than the red, do you think they may try and eat the starfish?
<Only if it is dead/dying.>
 In the 4 days we have had the starfish he has not left the glass of the upper tank; he moves about the upper tank very often and so far hasn't gone elsewhere but if I catch him near my beautiful corals he is gone!
<Sooner or later it is going to find the coral. It's what they do.>
Re: re: Hey! Questions! 4/18/12

Thanks so much for the reply!
<Not a  problem.>
I will be donating my Chocolate Chip Starfish to my local pet store soon. To answer your question, I feed my slug lettuce. He LOVES it. Yesterday, I watched him eat a piece of lettuce for over an hour, it was adorable!
<I'm not a fan of using terrestrial plants as a food source. They have little nutritional value and contain large amounts of phosphate and nitrate because of the fertilizers they are grown with- both of which are going to end up in your water.  Dried seaweed is a safe option and can be found in Asian marts or LFS at an inflated price. Growing macro-algae in your sump
or refugium is another option. It will provide a constant supply of food while removing nutrients from the water. I'd recommend Gracilaria parvispora aka Ogo or Ulva aka Sea Lettuce. >
I don't know what species my slug is or my snails,
<This is somewhat important as not all snails are beneficial algae grazers and I'm not sure what you are referring to as a "slug".>
 I know, I'm the worst. P.S., your comments make me laugh hysterically. I know, I need more to do with my life! :)
<Don't we all.>
Re: re: Hey! Questions!     4/18/12

Oh! I forgot to mention, most of my soft coral are mushrooms, but I'm guessing that won't make a difference and the Chocolate Chip Starfish will probably still find them and eat them? Boo.
<You got it. More on Chocolate stars--
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/choc.htm >

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

Chocolate chip star fish sunken in   12/27/11
Hello. My chocolate chip star fish is looking lifeless we have had him for 4 years now, he has always  been extremely busy. Today he was lifeless and his body is all sunken in. Is he ok?
. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Star   12/22/11
I have had a 30 gal tank running for about a year and a half with no problems. I added two chocolate chip stars together about a year ago, and they have been fine in my aquarium together.
<You're to be congratulated. This is no minor feat>
Now, I have noticed one, when on the glass, it seems one arm right above the mouth has become white, except at the tip, and it looks like I am seeing right through him.

 I have not changed anything drastically, I usually do 10 gallon water changes but none recently, I have decreased my salinity because it was too high, but that was about two weeks ago... Is this something to worry about?
I don't want him to die!!
<Much to ask re other aspects of water quality, foods/feeding. But your animals may well be dead in the meanwhile. Let's have you read here:
and the linked files above, "quick like a bunny". Bob Fenner>

Another CCstar on the way out 12/9/11
Hey Bob, just a quick off-topic question. My Chocolate Chip Starfish, Chip, has something wrong with him. He still eats squid like a pig.
<A very poor strict diet. See WWM re Thiaminase>
 I have had him going on about 4 years. He currently lives in a Eclipse 12
<Too small a world...>
 with a Falco Hawkfish. He did have a bite mark on him from when I had a 6-Line Wrasse, and a couple of months ago the tips of his legs started to turn brown and rot away so to say.
 I did a little water change, and it got better (the rotting places actually got better and were just about completely filled in. Well, I noticed last week that his legs were doing it again with one looking worse than the others. Just so you know, the tips of his legs are a grayish/white color. I'm going to do a water change and see if that helps again. Do you have any advice on what could be going on with Chip? He is my second oldest inhabitant. I am attaching a picture so you can see. If Chip was a clock, look at the #2 and you can see some healing from the last episode of this.
If you believe the Falco Hawkfish is the reason than I can move him to my 10 gallon and put my blue damsel in the Eclipse 12 with Chip.
Thanks for the great advice,
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. B>

Chocolate Chip Starfish   7/6/11
My daughter embarked on the journey of a salt water aquarium. We didn't know much about much about aquariums as our only encounter with fish have only been at the local public Aquarium or at the dinner table so we relied heavily on the information given to us at the local Tropical Fish Store.
<At times, good; others...>
They gave us general knowledge that we thought was enough to get us started as they advised us to get a 10 gallon tank
<It's very hard, exceedingly, for even "advanced aquarists" to successively keep such small marine systems... Too unstable, prone to issues...>
for the type of fish that she desired.
They informed us the type of fish she desired were hearty fish and would be nice starter fish for a 15 year old to maintain with only 15% water change 1 per month.
She would be an expert in no time.
<Not likely at all... Too much so that she would become disappointed, give up... A VERY common fate in our interest>
She named them before we actually purchased them. "Chocolate Chip Starfish" named "Cecil" and a bright orange Clown Fish named "Sebastian"
The salesmen at the store were extremely nice as they lead us through each step. Step-up of the aquarium, making sure the water levels were perfect before bring the fish home, we set up the tank as instructed with daily checks of the water level until they said it was safe to add the fish.
We bought the fish and took them home. We added the fish to their new home with 45 minutes of getting them home as instructed by the salesmen.
The fish were fine from April until June. Sebastian swam all about the aquarium around and around. Swimming faster when the light was turned on, playful like and Cecil moved about the tank climbing the walls, putting his little limbs to the top of the water. We even thought it would climb out of the tank,
<A sign...>
although it has a lid. Peace and harmony. We took water samples to the local tropical fish star about every 2 weeks. They assured us the water levels were fine, PH was fine; ammonia was low,
<Has to be 0.0... any present is debilitating>
nitrates under control.
Then during Memorial Day weekend my daughter decided that Sebastian was lonely and needed a friend. So off to the local fish store we went...
"Bartholomew" another orange came home with us. He was not as bright as Sebastian and a little smaller.
<This system is too small...>
I hadn't noticed how much Sebastian had grown in the small time that we had him.
Within 2 days my daughter noticed that the 2 clown fish were never near each other. Sebastian resorted to remaining in the lower 1/8 of corner of the tank mostly under a little bridged decor; while Bartholomew swam most of the rest of the aquarium.
She found Bartholomew on the bottom of the aquarium on the 3 day. His eyes were all filmed over. We removed him from the tank and took him back to the fish store for an explanation of what happened. The salesman informed us that the fish was stressed, possible because he was smaller than the other clown fish or possibly because he was not the exact species as the other clownfish thus; they may have been territorial causing too much stress. He now has informed us that clown fish as extremely aggressive and sometimes become confused when there is only 2 of them, stating that maybe we should have stuck with either 1 of them or 3 but for the size of our tank 2 was the most we should put in there.
<Not so>
This was confusing... So we turned to the internet
that night. Reading all about clownfish, NOTE: we should have done this prior to going to the fish store... Lesson learned. Sebastian died that night. 1 day after Bartholomew.
Cecil was still doing fine; moving all about the 10 gallon tank. Now the salesman has informed us that the clownfish possible died because the sudden changes in water temperatures as the weather is hot one day and cooler the next so he sold us a water-heater, "Please get water between 84 and 86 degrees." Use this sand cleaner at the next time you do the 15% water change.
Cecil was fine; still moving about the tank.
4 days after Sebastian died; we noticed some darkening of the sand in the area where we found Bartholomew. The spot grew bigger, wider; along the edge bottom right edge of the aquarium.
So she cleaned the sand.
Now Cecil is not moving about the tank. He is lethargic. We bought him some brine shrimp and put him on it as instructed by the local fish store salesman. Now we realize how not knowledgeable the salesmen really are so we resort again to the internet.
<Some times useful, others...>
Last night we noticed, Cecil has a small clear bubble on one of his limbs, it almost looks like a clear blister. My daughter pressed it and it seemly went away; this morning it's back. Cecil has barely moved in 3 days. Today my daughter wants to do a deep cleaning of the aquarium; hoping to remove any bacterium that was left by the ill clownfish. Please let us know what you would suggest.
<That you talk with your daughter, have her read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm
after you do... The ten gallon won't work for this "touchy" species; nor for most any saltwater selections commonly offered in the trade...>
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm
scroll down to "Small Systems"... peruse the articles linked there, and the many Small System Stocking FAQs files... You will find your situation is not uncommon. Bob Fenner>
Re: Chocolate Chip Starfish   7/8/11

Thank you so much or your fast response. I talked with daughter. We read the articles that you suggested. Thank you so much for the great advice.
We cried together as yesterday my daughter made the hard decision of returning Cecil to the LFS as much as she wanted him, she wanted him to be healthy and happy.
<Ah, good>
The salesman there understood, he did not refund our money but we are okay with that. It was a hard lesson to learn but, we are confident that we made the best decision for Cecil.
Again thanks for all your help, wisdom and advice. We will definitely keep up on your website and all the happening with that as we will venture down this path again after much research.
Tracey Hazel,
<Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Starfish Problem, hlth., sys./env.    2/21/11
I've had a Chocolate Chip Starfish for almost a year now. It's been kept in a 10 gallon tank with 2 small snails, 1 large snail, a clownfish, a live rock, and there WAS a Firefish Goby.
<I fear this is tank is much too small to offer enough food.>
Everything has been fine until the past week or so. Our Firefish goby disappeared. (It was normal to not see her. She usually hid inside the live rock and jumped into a filter compartment once. From which we rescued her unscathed.) A few days after she disappeared our starfish started behaving differently. He doesn't move as much and his legs are slightly curled up at the tips. The tips are also turning white and his "chips" have gotten longer and pointier. Is this normal?
<Turning white is no good sign. Likely an infection.>
I was wondering what you might think it could be. I had a dream that the starfish ate the Goby.
<Possible, but the goby was likely already dead/dying.>
Could that make him sick?
Is he dying or is he doing a weird shedding thing? I've never heard of a starfish shedding.
<I fear it's going to die sooner or later unless offered an adequate environment. Please see here for more details: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/choc.htm>
Thank you for your time.
<Good luck. Marco.>
Re: Chocolate Chip Starfish Problem, non-fdg.    2/21/11
We also add in liquid invertebrate food 3-4 times a week.
<Most probably useless for this species (see the linked text in the last mail for their food). Also, in a 10 gallon tank it is highly unlikely that there will be enough small benthic invertebrates to feed a Protoreastor no matter if you try to support the benthic fauna or not.>
This is a picture of the starfish. This morning, I found him on his back and thought he was done for, because it didn't look like he was trying to get back up. After a while I checked on it again and he was moving a tiny bit, so I pushed him back to the wall and he stuck to it.
<Nonetheless, I do wish you good luck. Marco.>

starfish skin problems, no reading    2/15/11
My chocolate chip starfish has several open sores.
Two weeks ago, we had an ice storm, and lost power. It was very cold. I tried to keep the (29 gallon)
<Too small...>
tank warm by siphoning out water, reheating it and returning it to the tank. I also used a straw periodically to blow in oxygen (pet store suggested). It appeared that the power would be out for many days, so after a day, I moved the tank to a friend's house, where it stayed for 3 days before I returned it home. In spite of my efforts, I'm sure the temperature was not very stable during the day, though I did manage to keep it in the 70s. The tank also has a clownfish and a damselfish. I have had this starfish (and the other fish) for several years. I feed the fish dried flakes some days and freezer food others (Prime Reef 1 and 2).
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: starfish skin problems- 2/16/11

Thanks for your response. Is there anything I can do for it, or should I do the freezer mercy killing you mentioned in another post?
<... read where you were referred to... B>
Re: starfish skin problems   2/17/11

Sorry to be dense--I have tried--read most of what you have on the site re:
CCS. Not sure which thing you're getting at--that the tank is too small?
But you say it is dying...would moving it to a larger tank help it at this point?
<Yes, yes; and no, not likely.>
(I actually bought it at the suggestion of a specialty pet store employee
when I was looking for interesting, easier to keep alive, non-expensive creatures for the 29 gallon saltwater tank I inherited from friends.) Or are you getting at the stress aspect, or the target feeding aspect? Not sure. I would ask at the pet store for help, but it sounds like maybe I got bad advice from them in the first place, and there is no longer a saltwater store within 30 minutes of where I live.
<Welcome. B>
Re: starfish skin problems   2/17/11
> (I actually bought it at the suggestion of a specialty pet store
> employee
> <So?>
They knew I had a 29 gallon--didn't say it was too small. (that's my excuse! :-)
<<... am not interested in excuses; only what I can do to help. B>>

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>

Starfish Help  3/13/10
Hi there -
My boyfriend and I just set up a 10 gal salt water aquarium.
<Near impossible to keep optimized sufficiently to keep a Star>
We went to our local tropical fish store today to pick up some cured live rock to add.
After getting home and setting everything up we realized that we had an uninvited guest! He is an (approx 2 inch) starfish.
<Oh~! Bonus!>
After much Googling I cannot decipher what kind he is. He is sort of a greenish-yellow color.
I'm sorry the picture is of his underside - I could not get a better picture.
My biggest concern is that he has some spotting on him (like on his lower left leg in the photo) that I am worried about. I am not sure if it is ich or something else or is this normal?
<Not "ich"... likely normal>
Also - Do you know where I can find out what kind of sea star he is? Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks!
- Lauren & Chris
<Sure... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastaridfaqs.htm
and the linked files in the series above. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Starfish Help  3/13/10
Here is a better pic of our starfish. Thanks.
<Ooooh, see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastars2.htm
This Protoreastor isn't likely to live in this setting... If you're concerned, I'd be returning it to the LFS, giving it to someone with an older, larger, established system. BobF> 

Chocolate chip starfish eaten by worms 19.01.09
Our chocolate chip star fish is being eaten by tiny little worms!
We've had him for about 6 months. We went on vacation during December for about a month - we had someone caring for the saltwater aquarium while gone. They only fed the marine life & did nothing else - we had left very specific instructions on how to feed. (We trust our friend when she says she did nothing more, nothing less) We have one fish, one hermit crab, 2 live rock (about 3-4 lbs each) & one shrimp. We have had the tank for close to 10 years with no significant problems. When we came back from vacation we noticed that the starfish was not very active - very unusual since he usually crawled all over the tank walls. We cleaned & changed the tank water out and then noticed that he had a chunk of his leg missing.
We initially thought that the crab might have chewed on him, but doubted it since we have never seen any of our creatures be aggressive with each other.
<Is a possibility... even the shrimp>
Later we noticed that there were little worms on his leg and this morning when I checked on him I saw many more tiny little white worms on him & since he is up against one of the walls, they are also on the wall. More of his legs is gone - really sad & gross. He sits there with his legs curled up. What do we do??
Where did the worms come from & why are they eating our starfish?
<Likely in the tank, opportunistic...>
Please help us! We are really sad & disgusted by these "new" unwanted inhabitants & the damage they are causing.
<They're cleaning up... after the fact>
Lisa & Jayps. our other creatures do not seem at all affected by the worms.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm
and the linked files above; particularly Health. Bob Fenner> 

Chocolate Chip Starfish -- 12/16/09
Hi, I have a chocolate chip starfish. I have a few questions. Currently I have a maroon clownfish, a blue damsel, and a three striped damsel in the same tank as the chocolate chip starfish. I got it a few days ago, it was very active. I noticed today that it had two of its limbs curled up, and doesn't move much. So should I be worried?
<Depends on what you offer him in terms of tank size, food and water parameters. Please see
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm for the proper conditions to keep this animal.>
also how can I tell if its a boy or girl?
<Only by dissecting it and knowing a lot about sea star anatomy. Cheers, Marco.>

Melting chocolate star... no data, reading    6/26/09
Your website was the only site with any helpful information about what was happening to our star. we did everything that your site said pristine hospital tank, antibacterial added. i have only one question has any
chocolate chip star recovered?
<? Rarely>
three of his legs are nearly completely melted the other two on their way.
this morning it was only one leg. it was so fast. he still raises his legs, should we try to feed him? usually when he raises his legs he wants to eat.
thanks Pam c
<A poor species for aquarium use... and you proffer no useful data. Bob Fenner>

Six-legged Chocolate Chip Starfish - 05/14/09
<Hello Savanna.>
I have a few questions concerning my 6-legged chocolate chip starfish.
First of all, is it common for them to have 6 legs?
<No, very uncommon for this species.>
I happened to find mine while I was walking through a pet store, and he caught my attention because of his extra leg and very distinct chocolate chips. I have him housed in a 29-gallon tank that also has 2 false
Perculas, one red honey damsel, a mandarin goby, a couple very small hermit crabs, and a few turbo snails. I've been giving him one frozen krill 2 times a week, along with a mixture of flying roe fish eggs, marine cuisine, and formula 2. Is this a good enough variety or should I be adding something more to his diet?
<Should be sufficient. For its natural diet please see
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm .>
One last thing is I am considering getting either an electric flame scallop or a clam and am wondering if my ccs is going to be a threat to them.
<Yes, as well as a possible threat to corals and other slow or sessile invertebrates.>
If you could please get back to me on these questions, that'd be great! :)
Thank you, Savanna
<Welcome. Marco.>

Star fish... CC, reading, gen.    4/9/09
I have a starfish that I have not been able to identify. He is shaped exactly like the cc star but is a beautiful red/ orange color.
<Mmm, could still be a Protoreastor nodosus... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastars2.htm>
If you can help me identify the guy I'd truly appreciate it.
<A photo? Need this... >
Also, I have been reading through your site looking for more information about the white patches that
have appeared on it's body. He/ she has been falling off the glass lately and been unable to get back upright.
<... very bad>
It is eating frozen krill (which is all I've been able to locate in our area to feed him/ her)
and is very active once I put it back in the upright position. The tank which houses him is 80 gallons or so and all the levels are good.
I typically give ¼ water change every other week and also supplement trace elements weekly. I feel that I am an experienced aquarist and have had little to no problems maintaining aquariums for 18 years however this guy has me stumped. Please help us.
<Help yourself. Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: star fish, ID plus, P. lincki    4/10/09
Here's a pic of the star fish in question.
Water conditions in 80 gallon tank
Salinity 1.025
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10
Ammonia 0
PH 8.2
Temp 76
Feeding him 3 times a week the krill and sea veggies.
Thanks again for all your help
<Oh! Another of the same genus... Is where you were referred previously to read. Go there. BobF> 

Chocolate Chip Starfish... gen. bio. questions... no reading  4/7/09
I am doing a biology presentation for my university's General Biology Lab.
There are a few questions that I could not find on the Internet, so I was wondering if you all could help me. I was wondering if the Chocolate Chip Star had an obvious history, what exactly defines echinoderms
<See any good biology book or even Wikipedia for echinoderms or Echinodermata and their symmetry and organs.>
, what exactly defines a starfish,
<See above.>
why do the stars climb to the top of the aquarium and bend over the edge but yet they don't climb out of the tank,
<Most likely eating biofilms at the water surface.>
where can you find these stars in the wild (ex. range map?),
<See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm .>
and what animals are they prey to?
<See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipstars.htm too.>
I know that is quite a few questions but those are the main ones I have yet to find research on. If you could help me out at all, I would be forever grateful. I like to get my answers from accredited people (or I could be shallow and make them up, but I am not so I am asking). Thank you, Halee
<What you ask is mostly already answered on WWM, I hope you find the references above useful. For more details see the literature at the end of our Protoreaster nodosus article. Cheers, Marco.>

Re: Sick Maroon Clown... Now CCstar hlth.   4/17/08 Would you suggest putting the star back in the tank where he came from? I had him in a 8g bio cube and he did great. How do I help him? I read that page you sent to me and there is nothing about a brown balloon looking pin head on the outside of his body. Spencer <Keep reading... re CCstar Systems... B>
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 sea star... reading    10/6/06 Hi, <Salud> I have a Chocolate chip sea star and he seems to be getting lethargic and skinnier.  He also has a tear between two of the legs. <Bad indications> its pretty big  and I thought he was dead but when I moved him he was moving his legs.  I  am not sure what to do with it.  None of the other fish <?> seem to be  bothering it.  Can the tare heal itself?  What do you think?  Let  me know.  Thanks. Sandra <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. BobF>

Chocolate chip starfish help Fish Stocking   4/21/06 Hi,    My chocolate chip starfish has been in my 29 gallon tank for a couple of months now. It is fed properly and everything... I feed him tuna chunks. <... just like in the wild...> I noticed this morning when I fed him that he is peeling off his underbelly. It is white underneath and i am worried. Is he sick or is this normal. He crawls around the tank as normal but I don't know what to do. I have a 12 gal. tank with nothing in it but cycled water. Should i put the starfish in there....and if so what should i treat him with? Thanks a bunch!! Clarissa <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate chip sea star   2/26/06 Dear Mr. Fenner, <James with you today Linda.> I have had my chocolate chip starfish since April '05. He is currently in a 16 gal aquarium with  a Rusty Dwarf Angel, a tomato clown, and one turbo snail. <Much too small a tank for these fish.>  At first, the starfish was very active - moved all over the tank - sides, rocks, filter, plants, anything at all.  When I dropped in food, it moved quickly toward it. For about 2-3 months, I have noticed a drastic decrease in his activity, and lately, he hardly moves at all - what I would call "failure to thrive."   His appearance used to be okay, but this week he looks smaller, and his arms are curled up at the tips. He "appears" to eat - shrimp pellets and pieces of cooked shrimp that I place right next to him.  The water quality seems OK - pH, alkalinity, nitrites, and nitrates are in range, although I do keep the sg a little low - about 1.019 - 1.020.  I would greatly appreciate any help you could offer to save my sea star. <Well, since you have had him since April 05 it appears he was shipped and acclimated well.  I'd get the SG up to 1.024-25 for starters and ensure food is available on a daily basis.  The size of your tank doesn't help much since starfish are very sensitive to water parameter changes which will occur in a 16 gallon tank, especially one that is overstocked with fish.  Read here for more info on starfish.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm Thank you, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Linda Kozlowsky <Ahh, the co-star in the Crocodile Dundee flicks.>

Chocolate chip star fish in my reef tank... comp.    2/3/06 Hello,          I was looking through some postings on you site about the Protoreastor nodosus sea star, and noticed that no one thinks the can be reef safe. I have my CCS in my reef tank for 2 years now with a leather coral, torch, hammer, xenia, many Corallimorphs, snails hermit crabs and a burgundy star with no problems. My secret is to keep it well fed. <Ah, yes> My CCS is about 4 inches across now. I feed some white fish flesh such as frozen smelts or Julian Sprung's sea weed at least 3 times a week. So far it has not bothered any of my corals or other inverts in my 125 gallon reef tank. I know to watch it more carefully as it gets larger but for now I will enjoy it and its behaviors. Attached are some pics for others to view. Let me know what you thinks of the photos...thanks <Thank you for this data point/input, and very nice pix. Bob Fenner>

I just started a S/W/ tank (about two weeks ago), today I bought a CCS,  - 01/12/2006 <Chocolate Ship Star? Not easily kept...> I read a lot of the Q & A that were posted about CCS.  Now I wish I would not have bought him, <What would your granny say? "Look before you leap?"> sounds hard to keep them healthy.  The pet store where I buy all my stuff has been very helpful, but they did not tell me that I have to feed him anything special.  Do I?   <... posted> I have a 46 gallon tank with two clownfish, 3 damsels, a tang and a sea urchin.   Is just the algae enough for him!!  I feed the tank flakes and shrimp brine? <How would I/we know what you feed?> Thanks, Melissa <Will likely perish... go, read "small sweet one"... on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Chocolate Chip Starfish  12/12/05 Hello, <Hello Penny> I was wondering, I have a chocolate chip star fish for about 6 months now, he has always moved about, but now for the past 4 days he has not been moving but maybe an inch. I picked it up and the bottom was all closed and I started to rub him a little and it started to open up and the little feet started to come out, so I put it back on the coral and its still not moving.. what could be wrong and what can I do?  Please help..<Penny, have you placed some food under him such as a small piece of prepared food (frozen variety)?  I'm thinking this guy could be starving.  Am posting a link on the chocolate chip starfish for your reading.  http://www.google.com/custom?q=Chocolate+chip+starfish&sa=Google+Search&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com  James (Salty Dog)> Penny

Chocolate Chip Star Fish  9/26/05 I have three questions 1st question is: Can small hermit crabs be a threat to Chocolate Chip Star Fish or can the hermit crabs be kept with them? <Yes> Second: What is the minimum size tank suggested for keeping one Chocolate Chip Star Fish in? <I'd recommend a minimum of 10 gallons, reason being that starfish are very sensitive to changes in water parameters which can occur easily in smaller tanks.> and my 3rd question is :  Can Brittle Stars be kept with the Chocolate Chips ones? <Yes> If you can get back with me on these questions I appreciate it a lot...just having a lil difficulty and need few answers on what I asked Email back A.S.A.P and thanks a million !!! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

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>

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