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FAQs about Chocolate Chip Sea Star Systems

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 Systems, Chocolate Chip Stars 1, Chocolate Chip Stars 2, CC Star Identification, CC Star Behavior, CC Star Compatibility, CC Star Selection, 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 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 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.>

CCS - interesting survivor   8/6/06 I don't really have major questions at this time, as most of what I was looking for I found in the section on the chocolate chip starfish. I would like to say that my husband and I adopted a 55gal salt tank through a very popular free mailing list. My husband keeps a 75gal, 30gal and 10gal fresh tanks, and had expressed an interest in salt. When we got the tank, it had no skimmer, no sump, and had only the same type of setup as a fresh tank. The bottom is crushed coral/sand mix with regular colored rock for fresh tanks mixed in (for color). It was more brackish, with the salinity about 1.016. The guy said he had just "let it go" for about 6 months before giving it away. <... "If a man would be unkind to his parrot... then why not his country...?"... "Know thyself, then love..."> The animals it came with were two (5" & 7") bright orange toadfish, some mostly dead live rock, a hermit crab, and a chocolate chip starfish. We have made the following adjustments- salinity first. Then my husband built his own sump out of a spare tank we had and Plexiglas with aquarium sealer. We finally have all the nitrites, nitrates, ph, temperature, light (Corallife 50/50) and salt where we wanted it- and added a blue damsel and two very small live rocks (1/2lb total) after about 2 months, we are at almost 3 months now. The healthy toadfish are no surprise, as I read up on them and they are super resilient. <Yes. This is so> We could probably let this tank turn to muck and they'd be fine, lol. What I'm most surprised about is that the CCS seems active and healthy. It eats the dried shrimp we give it as well as bits of fish we feed the toadfish. Its color is good, and it has no patches or slime. This is through the move, super high nitrates when we got the tank, low salt, and dubious temperature maintenance. <Ah, yes... "cleanliness is not sterility"> I am even wondering if we can add some shrimp <The toadfish will consume in short order> or urchins <I would not... see WWM re> and a larger grouper or a larger angel fish <No... a 55 gallon is too small for> (so the toadfish can't eat them, the damsel hides in the rock). <Smart> One of the local aquarium stores said they would take one of the toadfish off our hands and give us store credit, so we are thinking to do that in order to make room. <This latter is best... I'd trade both in, be studying re your options, searching WWM, elsewhere, making a "dream list"... Thank you for relating your experience. Bob Fenner>

Tank Fluctuations And Chocolate Chip Stars  - 5/2/2006 Good Day Ladies & Gentlemen! <Hello to you> As always; your site is an invaluable resource and it has helped me in so many ways I can't count them all. <Thanks for the kind words from all of us> It's because of your site that I decided NOT to give up my aquarium when I first started this hobby.  If it hadn't been for you guys and gals, I would have cut my losses at the $1500.00 mark and gotten a dog.  Today I have a beautiful tank; healthy fish and am thoroughly enjoying my new endeavour and I owe it all to your advice. <More so your hard work and dedication>   I'll be making a donation to the site this upcoming pay period just to say thanks for all the help.<Anytime and thank you> In the meantime, I have a tiny little question about my tank that I cannot seem to locate an answer to (if it's there on the site somewhere; I've obviously missed it, please accept my apologies; slap my wrist and point me to the page and I'll read every word and take a test).<No worries, lets see if I can help, but a pop quiz may be imminent>   I have a 45-gallon FOWLR tank with two damsels; three turbo snails; two cleaner shrimp, an Astrea snail and one chocolate chip starfish (part of the subject of this mail).<Sounds nice> We read up all about them (chocolate chip starfish) on your site before getting him and decided that he'd make a great addition to our tank despite the delicateness of his care.  We take great care of our tank: the Flu-Val is cleaned twice per week; the water is changed twice per week (three gallons each change) and the substrate is vacuumed at the same time as the water changes to remove detritus and any leftover food that might contribute to nitrate levels.  The tank is replete with UV Sterilizer, skimmer, two power heads and giant piece of dead coral for hiding places. <Sounds like you have maintenance down> All that said, we take great care of the tank and keep a VERY close eye on the water parameters.  Because of all this, we felt we'd get on great with the starfish and so far (he's about a week and a half into the tank) he's doing extremely well:  He's all over the aquarium, eats like a small horse and has great colouring.  He even seems to be getting on well with the shrimp. <Good to hear, just keep a close eye on him, they are delicate as you stated earlier> Now to the question.  My partner and I live in San Francisco where we don't have (nor do we need) air conditioning.  The temperature never gets bad enough to warrant A/C use but the room temperature obviously fluctuates with the weather because of the lack of A/C.  As I've said, I keep a very close eye on all the tank water parameters and I've noticed that temperature seems to fluctuate a few degrees during the day (especially with the absolutely BEAUTIFUL summer weather we've been having - you know the kind of days that make you happy to be alive). <Nope, I'm in Chicago, goes from freezing to 95 within a week> For example, yesterday it started out at 77.1 degrees and finished up the day at 81.7 degrees (That happened over a roughly eleven hour period) and obviously what goes up must come down so by midnight the temperature had returned 78.8 degrees.  This morning it was back 77.2.  The variances don't seem like much to me and it's still within normal parameters (at least that I can find) but I'm concerned Chip.  The temperature tends to only fluctuate a few degrees and it's always in the upper direction. <A 3 degree swing is starting to push it a bit> I have a 250W heater that keeps the tank nice and balmy at 77 degrees all through the night.  But during the day, the temp in the tank adjusts up to room temperature which usually goes above 80 degrees.  I know from the FAQs and articles that Chocolate Chip Starfish are extremely sensitive to most parameters and I'm worried that this might be too much for him but can't find anything that confirms or denies what a bad shift in temperature is.  Again, right now he's fine with his moving and his eating and just general good nature.  But these changes do worry me.  I can control all the other parameters and they are as solid rocks (knock on wood) but I can't control the weather (yet :).   So I guess my main question is what is an 'extreme' temperature shift for a starfish?  Are the temp fluctuations going to be detrimental to him and if so do you have any suggestions for stabilizing the temp?  I've thought about putting a fan pointed at the outside of the tank to dissipate some of the heat from the glass, but that's obviously very difficult to control and I'm afraid it'll drop too low for him not to mention putting a great load on the heater.   Any ideas would be extremely helpful. <3 degrees is about as much as you want for fish, and probably pushing it for the more sensitive stars, however the answer is quite simple, just run the tank warmer.  80-81 degrees is quite normal for reefs in nature and your star and fish will have no trouble handling it.  I run my tank around 82 and everyone seems happy.  If you are worried about overstressing the heater I suggest running 2, which also gives you redundancy if one should go out for ultimately a minimal expense.  Just remember to try to make the temperature increase as gradual as possible> Many Warm Regards, Dennis <And to you> <Chris>

CCS During Tank Cycle!? - 02/20/2006 My boss just got a new aquarium about a week ago, and so far it seems everything has been running fine, but recently I noticed our Chocolate Chip Starfish hasn't been as active as usual and he's taken to curling up his arms and just staying like that for hours. <This tank hasn't even been cycled yet! This starfish is doomed.> I removed him from the tank and in the net he straightens out his arms but when we set him back in the aquarium he curls up immediately. For a moment the tank was too hot so we lowered the temp, but nothing has changed. All of our other fish (eel, puffer, wrasse,) have been just fine. <This will change.> Please help. Thank you! <Wish I could! Please review WWM on tank cycling. These fish should be removed if they are to live. - Josh>

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 Starfish II Hi Bob. <Not Bob now or previously. Bob is off in Australia and the rest of the WWM crew is picking up the pace.> Thank you for your quick response. Why do you say chocolate chip starfish should not be acclimated to brackish water? <I would not recommend any animal be kept in unnatural conditions. Even though aquariums themselves are unnatural, but...> And, are their any starfish that I can acclimate to brackish water? <Not really. Do you have some reason for wanting to do this? -Steven Pro> Thanks, Ashley

Chocolate Chip Starfish III Steven- Sorry about calling you Bob. <No problem, I just wanted you to be clear who was giving you their opinion.> I know its not the ideal situation but, can the chocolate chip star live in brackish water? <I doubt it. Most inverts do not tolerate temporary lower salinity treatments for parasites, so I do not believe it would handle long term conditions.> Unfortunately we already have one, the people at the store said they could be acclimated. <I would return it and ask them if and when they ever performed this feat. I always question the opinion of someone looking to profit from their advise.> It is a small one, less than two inches across. We have no coral in our brackish tank. If it does live what can we feed it. <Variety of prepared frozen foods.> Thanks for your time. Ashley <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Shooting For A Star  8/1/03 Dear crew,<Phil here to help tonight!> I am wanting to get another chocolate chip starfish.<A favorite of mine...> but I have had trouble with the past 3 that I have had. what all should I know about taking care of a starfish and its water? <I would start reading here.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm    How big is your tank?  How's the water quality?  What's in the tank?  What did you feed your last Seastar?  Just a few of the questions I need answered before I can give you a better answer.  Hope this helps and please get back with me so I can better understand your system.  Phil>

Chocolate Chip Starfish I'm thinking about the addition of a Chocolate Chip Starfish to my aquarium. I have read many posts regarding these starfish but I still have a few questions.  Is a 30 gallon tank with 2 clowns large enough?  Is filtration consisting of a power filter and protein skimmer sufficient?  What and how often should they be fed for best health and longevity? Thanks for any help and guidance, Blake <  The tank is large enough when they are small but he will eventually outgrow it.  The filtration should be good enough.  Every other day try slipping a piece of krill or other food in his path and he should be able to find it.  Also consider adding some live rock, I consider it one of the most important if the not most important component of a successful aquarium.  It acts a filter and a natural food source.  Cody>

Adopting a Chocolate Chip Star (2/23/04) I need some help please.  I will be 'adopting' my brother's chocolate chip starfish when he moves.  I only want a small tank (10 gallons) -- since it is basically just for the starfish.  I would like to know what else -- if anything -- I could put in the same tank.  I know he will eat other starfish (already has) and I know starfish can eat anemones and corals.  Is there anything you can suggest?  Thank you. <Unless you can do a bigger tank, you'd best not adopt this star. Better to give it to a marine aquarium store for sale to someone with a proper setup. Starfish require superb water conditions that are difficult to maintain in such a tiny tank, especially if you are a novice. They're also better off with a lot of live rock and live sand to scavenge. I have not heard of chocolate chips eating other stars of equal size, but they will consume just about anything they can get their stomachs around before it can escape. If you can get a bigger (say 30-40G range tank, you could set something up with the star and a shrimp and maybe a fish. You need to read a lot about the equipment and $$$ required for any marine setup. BTW, how do you plan to feed this starfish? Hope this is of some help. Steve Allen.>

Water Quality and chocolate chip star >I am about 6 weeks into my first SW endeavor.  I purchased a water test kit...PH, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite...and I already have a hydrometer...Are there any other things I need to test for on a regular basis? >>This would depend in part on what you plan to keep.  Seeing as how you've already got the chocolate chip stars in there, I see you aren't planning on keeping any corals (soft or hard), though you can keep some other invertebrates with these stars such as shrimps and the like.  The only other kit you *might* need (this isn't imperative) is phosphate, and possibly oxygen.  But really, for a beginner, this would be overkill. >Also...I have 2 small chocolate chip stars that I am attempting to feed clam...these guys are pretty slow, and have a tough time chasing down the food...should I be hand feeding them? >>LOL!!  You mean they can't chase down a clam?  I wouldn't worry too much about it, my friend.  They'll find the food bits, and if you think they really need to be fed, then wait till they're in a convenient place and simply place food very nearby.  If it's being stolen then just place a cup or the like over them until they've covered it, that should be more than sufficient.  Best of luck, Steve!  Marina

Nestle is new to the tank Bob: What is the ideal water temp. for CCS? <Mid to upper seventies F. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chocchipfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

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