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FAQs about Sea Star Disease/Pests/Health Diagnosis 

FAQs on Starfish Disease: Seastar Disease 1, Seastar Disease 2, Seastar Disease 3, Star Disease 4, Star Disease 5, & Asterina Disease, CC Star Disease/Health, Fromia Disease, Linckia Disease, Sandsifting Star Disease,
FAQs on Starfish Disease by Category: Environment, Nutrition, Genetic (poor species selection for captive use), Pathogenic Disease (Infectious, Parasitic), Predator/Pest, Trauma, Treatments

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

...re-check all water conditions in your tank to make sure that environment did not play a factor in this problem, or think about the animal's companions in the tank..

Worried about red starfish... Is there a full moon?     3/23/12
<7.5 Megs pic? What is it w/ people not reading/following directions...?>
I just purchased this starfish yesterday...the owner said it was it good condition and that it was just shedding its skin, but now I am not so sure.  I acclimated it to the take using a drip method and moved around fine but red stuff is coming off from it..and it has this spot on it and I have no idea what it is...it had to yesterday when I bought it, but now I am not sure if it is healthy.  If it isn't I want to get it out of the tank quickly so not to kill my other fish.  nitrates and ammonia is 0 salinity level is 1.025.  Please help me.
<... this animal is dead. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

Re: Worried about red starfish    3/23/12
Thanks for the quick reply :)  The crazy thing is...it is very active...I don't think I can remove him from the tank yet..because he has wedged himself have in and out of a rock....should I wait until he comes back out and put him into a bowl?
Best Regards,
<Read where you were referred. B>
Re: Worried about red starfish    3/23/12

How can I get him out of the tank...he is seriously stick on my rock and will not let me take him out...I am afraid I might break him into pieces
<... read... siphon out when decomposes...>
Re: Worried about red starfish    3/24/12

Thank you so much...starfish is safely removed from my tank and is now in a bucket....my daughter really wanted a starfish....after getting this one I really did not know what I was in store for.  Is there any particular starfish that is more hardy?  She originally wanted a purple beaded starfish.
Best Regards,
<Stop writing... and read where you were referred; the linked files above.>

Help... Star(fish) Trekkin' Across the Universe...its Worse Than That He's Dead Jim  7/29/07 <Hi Joe, Mich here.> My red starfish I got yesterday hasn't moved <Mmm, not good.> so I put a bag on my hand and lifted him up in the water never taking him out. <Good.> He is still bright red but has a brown substance coming from his mouth. <Mmm, not good.> I put him on his back and nothing I think he's dead <Me too.> but don't want to take him out and flush if he isn't <No, that wouldn't be good either.> any help would be great thanks. <Seastars will usually upright themselves relatively quickly when placed on their back, if there is no movement he is likely dead I'm afraid.> PS I acclimated him for 2 hours by adding a cup of my water to the stores water every 5 to 10 min. Also let him just sit in bag for 20 to let the water temp be the same. <Generally the slower the acclimation period the better... drip acclimation is more gradual.> Thanks as always JOE <Welcome as always, Mich>

Sand-sifting Starfish... dying   5/12/07 Hey <Hello!  Mich here.> Have a problem... <OK.> Got a sand sifting star fish from the LFS about two weeks ago.   <Mmm, these typically don't do well in captivity, often dying from starvation.> He has a hole in his back now!?   <Uh-oh, not good!> Whitish greenish stuff is coming out of it!   <Yikes!> He has been acting normal until this morning, still alive but not very active.  What is wrong with him? <Sounds like he's dying.> Is there anything I can do? <It is likely too late.  I'm sorry.  Mich>
Re: Sand-sifting Starfish... Dying... Make That Dead.   5/13/07
Well thanks for the reply, he died sometime after midnight. <I'm sorry for your loss.> He continued to move around the tank like everything was fine and that hole just kept getting bigger.  In less then 24 hours he went from being fine to basically a decomposed ball.  Why do they die this way?   <I'm not sure, but it is typically the way it happens.  Possibly because the tissue in the center is softer than the legs.>   Is there some biological advantage? <Hmm, an interesting question.  Generally there is no biological advantage to death.  Although, in this case, there would be more likelihood of reproduction if each leg had a small part of the central disc, which in nature, might allow for regeneration.  So one intact Seastar could theoretically, produce more than one Seastar, if physically divided.  Perhaps, a part of the reason that physical deterioration often starts at the central disc, as each leg would need a part of the central disc to regenerate.> I did a 20 <gallon> water change about 4 hours before this started, so I'm pretty sure I killed him some how by doing that.   <I don't think a water change alone would cause his death.  There were likely many contributing factors, perhaps the biggest being stress from being shipped/relocated several times over a short timeframe.  Do not blame yourself.> I did check the salinity before adding the new water... <The salinity needs to be matched closely, and Seastars are sensitive to changes in salinity, but it is unlikely this was the sole reason for his death.  Again I'm sorry for your loss.  Mich>

Pisaster disease   4/21/07 Hi,   I have a Pisaster brevispinus in a large temperate system <Yes, a coldwater species> and recently it has developed what look almost like blisters all over its skin.  I am having trouble finding information on what this could be and how to cure it.  I have others in the same system that are doing just fine.  I am attaching a picture - hopefully this will help.  Please email me back with what this could be.  Thank you.      Sincerely,   Allicia S. <Have seen, read of this sort of symptom on Asteroids... tropical and not... but no definitive "cause"/effect, nor cure... I would isolate the affected individual/s... possibly necropsy ones that perish... Maybe a call or email to folks at some of the west coast public aquariums... Fernando Nosratpour at the Birch Aquarium, folks at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, the Monterey... Likely they have seen this in other Pisaster and Patiria species. Bob Fenner>

Red Fromia star has hole in its head! Help!   4/1/07 Hello all, <Hi Luis, Mich here.> Thanks for all the incredible info on your website. I just bought a red Fromia star about 4 days ago. Everything seemed to be fine, but this morning it's there is a hole right in the middle of the starfish, opposite of where it's mouth would be. It looks like something attacked it overnight. <Possibly, but often these stars just don't acclimate well and promptly begin to disintegrate.> I have a skunk cleaner shrimp, a fire shrimp, six Mexican hermit crabs, a wrasse, an ocellaris clown, a psychedelic mandarin, a purple Firefish and a teddy bear crab. When I added the starfish to the tank I also added 2 different sponges to the tank (the teddy bear crab hitch hiked in on one of them). <Oh!  Do watch these sponges, if they decide to die they can take out your whole tank.> Do you think that one of these could have attacked it? <Teddy bear crabs are not reef safe.> The starfish has been hanging out on the glass on the top of the tank, so I don't think it could have been one of the crabs. <May not have been.> Could one of the shrimp have done this? <Also a possibility, but I think is more likely a transport/acclimation issue.> Also, do you think the starfish can live through this? The hole is not pretty, it looks like its tentacles are coming out of the top if it's "head". <Not likely, but is possible.> It is still alive right now, but don't know if I should just take it out of the tank so that it doesn't end up fouling my water. <I would give it a chance but keep a close eye on it.  If it stops moving remove it.> Any insight would be appreciated. <Hope this helps.> Thank you! <Welcome!  -Mich> Luis
Re: Red Fromia star has hole in its head! Help!   4/4/07
Mich, Thanks for the reply. <Welcome!> The star ended up dying. <I'm sorry for your loss.> I believe it to either be an acclimation issue OR the teddy bear crab. <Either are possibilities.> I went back to the shop where I had acquired the star and there was a star from the same batch that disintegrated also. <Unfortunately this is not terribly surprising.> But, to my horror, I caught the teddy bear crab eating my sand-sifting star the next day! It ate a whole arm before I knew what was happening. <Yikes!  I would not recommend the sand-sifting star (Astropecten spp.).  These stars decimate your sand bed removing beneficial organisms and typically starve after a few months in captivity.>   Needless to say I have removed the teddy bear crab from the tank. <Mmm, hopefully to a suitable home and not an untimely demise.> I had searched online about the teddy bear and various sites said it was reef safe and a detritus eater so I thought it was safe, thanks for the info that says otherwise....wish I would have known. <Not every source hold equal value.> Hopefully the star will live and regenerate a new arm. <It may.> Unfortunately, none of my corals are happy since adding the sponges. The tank at the store that one of the sponges was in was being cleaned when I bought it (water was really cloudy). I'm starting to think that I introduced a lot of toxins since I had to introduce that water into my tank. <Yikes!> I am going to do a few water changes daily for the next few days to get any toxins out. <Do watch this carefully.  Dying sponges can really do a lot of damage.> Green mushroom won't open up, gorgonian won't come out and my torch is losing tentacles! <Ho buoy!  Not good!> I'm about to do a water change right now. <Good!> I changed it yesterday and the gorgonian came out for a while. <You may need to do several large changes here!> Wish me luck! <Good luck my friend!> Thanks again for the info, <You are most welcome!  -Mich> Luis

Sea Star Fromia disintegrating  3/23/07 Hi, <Hello> I, like many of your readers, have had a Fromia Sea Star for about 1 week and one of his arms is disintegrating starting at the tip.  I feel that it is an acclimating issue. <Mmmm, not likely. Perhaps collateral damage (collection, handling, shipping) and maybe unsuitable environment> I need some guidance regarding a couple of treatment plans I've read on your website.   First of all, I do not have a QT.  One suggestion that I read was to "swab a reef strength dose (of iodine) directly onto the affected portion with the intent to stain it.  Questions: 1) What is a reef strength dose of iodine? <As in "straight out of the bottle"... product/s made for supplementation>   2) How do you swab on the medicine without exposing the starfish to air?   <Can't as far as I'm aware> Second suggestion: On your site I read that to save such a starfish, consider dipping it in a dilute antibiotic bath.  Questions: 1) What antibiotic, 2) How long to dip, 3) Where to dip the animal <Usually Furan Compound/s... e.g. Nitrofuranace... folks use a bit of the system water, dissolve the contents (usually) of a 250 mg. capsule...> Thank you in advance for your help.  You have a great website. <I wish I could be more positive here... This genus does better than most all others, in captive settings... but does require matching, stable, high quality water ("reef") conditions... Plenty of established live rock... Almost all, once they show such deterioration, perish soon thereafter. Bob Fenner>

Need help with my sea star, sand-sifter (Astropecten spp.)   3/3/07 Hello, <Hi Nikki!  Mich here.> I'm really new to the reef tank world, <Welcome to the briny world.  I would like to recommend a book to you titled "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert M. Fenner.  I think it is the best book out there for a new hobbyist and belongs on the shelf of every marine aquarist>  and I notice a couple days ago that my sand sifter had cut off part of one of its "legs".   <Hmm, unlikely he "cut" it off.> I checked it out and everything else seemed fine.   <Everything being???> I just got home tonight, and I notice that it's not missing another part of another "leg". <It's...  ?not? ....missing?  I'm confused.> I don't have a clue what's going on.   <Not sure I do either.> It's also on top of the sand all arch up.   I'm worried that it might be dying, not getting enough food.   <Both possibilities here I'm afraid.  The position is not exactly normal for a sand-sifting star (Astropecten spp.).  These aren't really appropriate creatures for most home aquariums.> Please help.. Thanks for your time.. <I'm not sure what to tell you here.  These stars typically don't fare very well.  I'm not sure how big your tank is but they should be kept in a minimum of 100 gallons, even then the odds of survival aren't very good.  Same story for your Flame scallop (Lima scabra) these don't do well in aquariums unless you can provide a significant quantity of very fine plankton, best if you can culture your own phytoplankton.> Also here are two pictures. <Got'em.> Nikki J <Sorry I don't have more positive info for you.  -Mich>
Re: Need help with my sea star, sand-sifter (Astropecten spp.)   3/3/07 Thank you Mich.   <You're welcome Nikki.> Sorry I was really tired, and then really worried.  I tend to get scatter brained.   <I understand, I have been guilty of all too often.> It didn't have another missing "leg"  It was just buried in a way that looked like it was cut off.   <OK.> I'm thinking that a coral I have might have fallen on him to cut off the arm/leg.   <Possible.> The arching up it's still doing.  I think it might be doing this to get more food?   <Seems unusual to me.> We feed every other day the DT's and the frozen cubes..  I also make sure I put some into the sand, as I am worried that it's not getting enough food.   <Yes, unfortunately the nutritional requirements of these creatures aren't well understood.> The everything being amonia-0 n-rate-0 n-rite -0 hydrometer-31 cal-390 Thank you for your help.  Also might the arching be it trying to feed?   <I don't think so, typically feed by sifting the sand.> Thanks again.
<You're welcome.  -Mich>

Damaged Red Fromia Hi Bob! <Q> Disappointed to report that a red Fromia introduced to 40 gal tank approx 4 weeks ago isn't doing so well. Before buying specimen I did all the right things (selected a health specimen, observed for about 2 weeks, closely examined underside of sea star, etc.).  Used drip acclimation procedure... <Good> Fromia appeared to be doing very well (moving around tank, seemed to be eating). <Hard to tell with this group and most all other invertebrates... re damage before receiving, internal complaints... the time frame for these is quite delayed...> Last Thursday morning (about 2 days after 10% water change) I noticed that the star appeared to be distressed.  It had moved to the top of the tank and "bending" 2 of its legs back so that they were almost parallel with the water surface. <"Trying to get out"> At that point I did 2 things'¦ checked WWM and called LFS.  WWM indicated this was most likely a stress response; LFS said this was 'normal' behaviour (sea star filter feeding by dangling its legs). <?... No... Please... have you ever seen such a thing? In the wild, in captivity? This is not a filter feeding species>   Not being clear on what was happening I decided to wait it out. The next morning the specimen was in BAD shape.  One leg was extremely damaged.  Almost looked like the 'skin' covering the leg had separated from inner tissues. (basically the damaged leg had split in 2 -- orange outer skin sheath and inner white body tissue). <Decomposing... I do hope you removed the specimen> Weird thing, damage was completely restricted to that one leg.  The damaged leg has since completely dissolved into a small nub. (I noticed coral beauty angle picking at dead tissue). <Not atypical behavior> I assumed this problem was caused by a reaction to the water change but now I'm not so sure. <New water needs to be carefully matched... slowly added... done not too in/frequently...> I find it strange that only one leg was affected.  Throughout this ordeal the sea star has maintained its colour and has begun to move around the tank the last few days.    I considered moving specimen into a hospital tank but given what it has already gone through I wasn't sure if this was prudent.  I honestly didn't think the sea star would make it this long. <Me either> I'm frustrated by the fact that I was aware, prior to performing water change, that Fromia are sensitive to WQ changes.  I tried to match pH, temp and sal (in particular) to tank water. <Good> Is the damage to my specimen consistent with WQ 'shock' or could this have been caused by something else. <Either>   I'm fairly certain I've got a mystery crab living in my LR.  The previous owners of the tank had observed a nocturnal crab.  When I purchased the tank and LR, I noticed the body of a crab in a little pocket in the LR.  At the time I assumed that this was the nocturnal crab and that it was dead, Since then, I've been through a couple of molts with my cleaner shrimp and now realize how lifelike their molt can look.  I also noticed a couple of crab molt fragments in the tank that weren't there a few days ago.  The pieces appear to be white with orange dots.  The complete carapace I observed after purchasing the tank was about 2 --3 cm in diameter'¦.  Could this be attacking my sea star? <Yes, could> Any thoughts on what this crab might be (based on my crappy description'¦). <A Decapod...> What are the chances that my star will be ok? <Not too good> Thanks a lot! q <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sand sifting sea star Hi. Just want to say your site is the Best!! I read your FAQ as a favorite pastime of mine. Wish I had found it before I purchased some of my equipment, though. Guess that's why we always upgrade, huh? Okay, now to work. I have a 92 gallon saltwater aquarium, Filstar Xp3 canister filter, protein skimmer, power sweep power head, 2 large bubble wands, 400 watt heater, 30 lbs. Tonga deep water live rock, 3 inch sand bed..1-2mm grain size, Coralife 192 watt light fixture, with 10000K and Actinic bulbs. Water parameters are excellent.. Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrates are all 0. Salinity is 1.023, pH. is 8.2. I have 2 True Percula Clowns, 1 yellowtail Damsel, 1 Bicolor Pseudochromis, 1 Regal Tang, 1 Yellow Hawaiian Tang, 25 Cerith snails, 30 small hermit crabs, 2 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner shrimp, and 2 sand sifting sea stars, which are about 3-4 inches in diameter. About a month ago, I added the stars to sift the sand, and now after reading your site, I have probably made a mistake. They have acted fine until yesterday, one of them came to the top of the sand, and has yet to bury himself. He is staying pretty well in the same 5 inch area, and assuming some weird "hunching" position. I have tried placing food under him, worrying he is starving to death, and he moves away from the food (very slowly), but not far. Just 1 or 2 inches. What is wrong with him? <Maybe parasitized, damaged in shipping, collecting... One thing though, I would slowly raise your spg to 1.025 for most of your invertebrates here, and endeavor to keep it there... using pre-mixed, matched water> He looks very healthy, but isn't moving from this one spot, and hasn't went underground for 1-2 days now. The other star is still active, coming up every hour or so to find a new spot to clean. I may have made a mistake getting these guys, but I do like them, and I sure don't want them to die. Please help me. Thanks so much, in advance. I have attached a picture of the "hunching" position for you.  Christy <Bob Fenner>

Starfish Disintegration (4/29/05) Hi I recently bought a Fromia indica and had to transfer it from my tank to another tank. It now has a cut in its leg with bits coming out of it.  <Bad news for .>  Would it be advisable to cut this leg off and allow a new one to grow or not? Regards, Kim  <Interesting question for sure Kim. Do you have a hospital tank you could put it in. Did you acclimate the star to the water of the tank you transferred it to over a period of a few hours? Is there anything in the new tank that might have inflicted this wound and thus poses an ongoing threat? Starfish do have remarkable restorative powers. The big risk with any open wound is bacterial infection. This is why a hospital tank with antibiotics and pristine water conditions is a consideration for treatment. I would expect that a more ragged wound is more likely to get infected than a clean cut. Therefore, I'd say that if the wound appears to be getting any worse, it might work as a last-ditch treatment to cut that leg off a bit in toward the center from the wound with a very sharp knife. If you do this, be sure to cut only the leg and do it without exposing the starfish to air. And don't accidentally cut yourself. Good luck, Steve Allen.> 

Starfish is sick Hi Bob, <Carmine> I don't know if you can answer this question, but I have two tanks set up and last week I bough a small red starfish for each one from an online website.  Checked the FAQ but no luck, maybe you can help. <Will try> Starfish seemed to be fine, moving around, finding their spots, etc.  Then went out of town for two day and when I came back, they both look sick but not like described by other posters.  Their legs look fine but they both look thin or deflated, are they starving to death? <Maybe... perhaps internal bacterial, and/or parasitic involvement...> Water test seem ok except in one tank had slightly higher nitrates but other tank 0.  Left small piece of seaweed in tank for other tank mates, lights off for 2 days, any of this be a problem?   <No> Did 20% water change at 2am as soon as I checked tank, please help. Thanks, CS <What species of Star is this? How large are their tanks? How long set-up? Do you have knowledge of their nutrition? You may have read the Seastar FAQs, but you didn't understand what you read. Bob Fenner>

Sand Sifting Star, Archaster typicus fell apart! Howdy guys! <howdy> Once again, thanks for the awesome site Bob and Crew! Hours and hours and hours of excellent reading! Always an education. :-) <for us as well> I have a 70g new-ish reef (<1yr), 90lbs of excellent live rock, 60lbs live Carib Sea Sand, Pro Clear 150g wet/dry sump w/ skimmer, Eheim pump (700gal/hr), Current USA Orbit Quad Dual (10000K White / 6700K, Dual Actinic - 7100K Blue / Actinic 03) power compacts, Ebo Jager 250w heater. I add ESV B-Ionic 2-part Alk/Calc buffer system and Magnesium daily. Water: Ammonia/Nitrate/Nitrite - 0, SG: 1.0245, Calc: 460, dKH: 11, Alk: 3.1, <easy on the calcium my friend... 460 is too high and the very reason why your ALK is low/flat. Aim for more even keeled ranges. 350-425ppm Ca and 8-12 dKH ALK... but neither high at the same time> PH: 8.3, Phos: <0.1, Temp: daily low/high: 79.4-80.2. I do about a 20% water change monthly currently, but have thought about doing 10% twice a month instead. <much better... or more> Livestock: 2 False Clowns (Amphiprion ocellaris), 1 Scooter Blenny (Synchiropus ocellatus), 1 Rainford Goby (Amblygobius rainfordi). That's it fish-wise. Inverts and other stuff: 3 Emerald Crabs (1 BIG one; ~2.5-3" across including legs), 1 Sally Lightfoot Crab, 3 Hermit Crabs (1 red-legged), 2 Fire Shrimp, 10 various snails, 1 Abalone, 2 Sand Sifting Stars (Archaster typicus). <yikes... your tank and sand bed (depth) is not large enough to sustain even one Archaster sand star for even six months. They will starve to death... needing DSBs of 4-6" and tanks over 100 galls minimum (over 8 sq. ft of open sand min.) to have a prayer of surviving> I had 3 Stars, hence this email. About 3 or 4 days ago, one started visibly "falling apart". A chunk of a leg, then the whole leg. Today it started coming apart from the center and would not turn over when flipped on it's back, though it's "feet" were still barely moving; I thought a sure sign it was dying so I removed it immediately and put it in my QT tank. It died (at least I think it did) shortly there after; went rigid and non-responsive. I, of course being as paranoid as I am, panicked and checked all of the water, filtration, my fish, the other stars and all the livestock I could see (the crabs like to hide during the day). As far as I can tell, everything is hunky-dory except for that Star. I hadn't had it for long, a few months tops, but it seemed fine up until a few days ago. <they are poor shippers... it could be that simple> There was no necrotic or dead/hanging tissue, so I was really puzzled. Immediately I blamed "Hulk" (the big Emerald crab) as it seemed like the only critter capable of doing it. <this is true/possible> Just wondering if you guys could lend any insight here. Thanks! :-) ~Jeff <many possible reasons... without knowing how long you've had any of the three stars, I cannot say if it was attrition or not. I can say that you need not buy any more. Arriving healthy, they WILL starve to death in a short while. Most Asteroid species need 100-200 gall tanks min. Without them you get stories like this one or hear the blue Linckia stars are "hard to keep". Ahh... not so. Just not adaptable to small/home sized aquaria. Best regards, Anthony>
Sand Sifting Star, Archaster typicus fell apart! II 10/29/04
Thanks for the quick response, Anthony! :) <always welcome> My sand bed is about 4" thick uniformly. The tank is a 70g tall: 36x18x251/2. I bought extra sand just to have a thicker bed. <good depth as a DSB for NNR... but still too small for a sand sifting starfish. The footprint here is VERY small... and rocks cape covers even more of it. There is absolutely no way a single Archaster could live in this tank long term> The stars are have been in the tank for ~3.5 mo.s tops. I will not get anymore, as I don't think I could support them and have no desire to buy things I'm just going to kill due to malnutrition. <good to hear my friend. Bob and I do cover this subject (Asteroid stars) in great(er) depth in "Reef Invertebrates" (2003)> The one that died was (I think) full-grown; approx. 3.5" across. The two remaining are much smaller; 2-2.5" across. <please do trade or sell them ASAP. They really cant see more than 6 months if that on a bed this small> I had concerns about my calcium, so I've been working on getting it down with water changes. <good move> I was shooting for 420ish (or is that still a bit too high?). <no worries... 420 is quite fine... and expect ALK to run8 at 8-10 dKH> I figured my inverts must be loving it, the Fire Shrimp and Sally Lightfoot have both molted numerous times in the last six months. I use Oceanic Instant Ocean salt. <this sea salt "cheats" in giving the illusion of high calcium with really quite poor ALK in many folks opinion. Do test your ALK on a new batch of seawater and you will see.> There's a few spots that I allow some hair algae to grow on some of my live rock for my Blenny and Goby (as they enjoy nibbling in it). The stars occasionally seem to enjoy it as well. Is this a sign of starvation or they're just expanding their palette a bit? <tough to say... perhaps the latter as many/most are adaptable and not obligate> Also, on a slightly different yet related note, I've had a semi-recent explosion of Copepods. Well not explosion, but quite a few (hundreds probably) are easily visible on all glass surfaces. I have some Caulerpa mexicana and Caulerpa racemosa attached to fist sized pieces of live rock that came from a mature refugium to jump-start pod production for my Goby and Blenny (among other things). The majority of my live rock also came from a mature reef system that was torn down and sold. I had some pods immediately, but it seems in the last two weeks or so, the growth has been exponential. <very nice> I guess I just wanted to make sure that there's nothing wrong with this and I shouldn't worry about it. <no problem at all... a benefit, indeed> My fish seem to be enjoying it. They are both noticeably growing and somewhat "chubby". Thanks in advance for all your time, Anthony! :) You guys rock. :) ~Jeff <kindly, Anthony>
Re: Sand Sifting Star, Archaster typicus fell apart!
Ah, a nightcrawler like myself! ;) <actively writing... nicely quiet time :)> Thank you again, Anthony for the reply. I appreciate your time, indeed. <always welcome> Unfortunately, another one is starting to shed the tip of it's leg. I contacted my friend at the LFS (they generally have outstanding stock) and he said he'd be happy to give me store credit on the healthy one (as this one is shedding it's tip, it probably isn't considered "healthy"). So I guess I will just have to ride it out with this last one that's losing it's tip. I can't very well give it to someone when I do not know what's wrong with it. <you might consider rotating specimens between friends/tanks in the local/regional hobby club> I tried to take a picture of it, though it's difficult to focus that small. This is about the best I could do:  You can see the tip of one arm starting to "pinch" and come apart. That's how it started with the other one. <a very bad sign indeed> I cannot put it in QT at the moment either. My old QT tank sprung a leak. I picked up a new combo setup (stand/tank) and plan on taking the 20g out of my main tank when I do the water change this weekend and putting it in the QT tank. So it would be at least Sunday before I could QT it. <Ack... no, mate. Anything that holds water can be a QT tank. Tupperware, Rubbermaid containers, etc... hang the power filter on or drop the sponge filter in, etc. Place heaters inside of PVC tubes so as not to melt the sides of the vessel, etc> I tested my Alk/DKH again this evening and it came back as such: 3.77/10.6, using the Salifert test kit. Is this closer to my target? I am doing a water change Sunday (my change water has been circulating with a powerhead in a Brute garbage can since Wednesday). I have about half a bucket of the Oceanic Natural Sea Salt (had the name wrong) left. If this is an inferior product I have no problem ditching the remaining and getting something else. What would you recommend? <like most salts... it requires water testing and adjusting to suit your specific needs. I'd recommend Tropic Marin sea salt above at currently> I'm also preparing my water with the Kent Marine Ammonia Detox. <I would not recommend this... not needed> I know a lot of people do not like Kent Marine, <bingo> but I've thus far had no problems. <OK> I will likely just use up this bottle and move to Seachem next. I do not have an RO/DI unit, but I do have a central water softener (Potassium Chloride). The water where we live is outstanding (very rural area) as it is drawn from an enormous aquifer deep underground here (the Edwards Aquifer). <very nice... the water softener may not even be needed> I plan on getting an RO unit eventually, though I'm not sure I need it. <agreed> What should I be looking for when I test my plain water pre-additives? <look for phosphates and get a bead on hardness for adjustment> Not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but I am using the ESV 2 part B-Ionic buffer for Alk/Ca. <very fine... but be sure to shake all such supplement vigorously before every use... else they may get dosed imbalanced> I've backed off on the Ca additive until I get it down to where I want it (not sure if that's the right thing to do or not, but it made sense to me). <correct... or simply add some calcium hydroxide or Chloride to get on par then carry on with balanced 2-part mixes> I also add a little Magnesium (per the dosage req.) and Iron once a week (very small amount, the min recommend, which is 8 drops). Both are ESV products. <a fine company> Thank you again, Anthony! I need to send you guys some Xmas presents. :D <your success with healthy animals is the best gift of all. Anthony>
Sand Sifting Star, Archaster typicus fell apart! III 11/1/04 Thank you again for the thoughtful and insightful reply! :) <always welcome> One thing is different with this particular specimen. The other Archaster lost the tip, then the rest of the arm very quickly. This one has not lost the tip. As a matter of fact, the "pinch" has been reduced. It almost seems to be re-attaching (if that's even possible)! Could this indeed be an injury from a full-grown Emerald Crab (approx 2.5" across)? <yes... most crabs are ultimately not safe in reef aquaria. They are opportunistic> I have found homes for both of them and will be moving them in the next week. One is going back to the LFS where my buddy Jason has a large tank that they grow Caulerpa racemosa and mexicana in (close to 400g I believe; the tank was damaged high up on the glass, so they fill it about 1/3 of the way and cultivate Caulerpa in it now). It's got a fairly DSB (probably 2-3") and I'd imagine they'll be happy in there. He agreed to take the possibly "sick" one as the tank is isolated from the main system in the store. <excellent> Can you recommend a Calcium Hydroxide or Chloride product for Ca balancing? <many good ones out there. Seachem for quality overall. B-Ionic too... very good> Once I am through with this bucket of Oceanic, I will give Tropic Marin a shot. <TM is the top shelf brand and well worth it IMO> I've not had any problems with Oceanic and it seems to dissolve really well, but I'm always game for improvement. :) Thanks again, Anthony. :) -Jeff <kindly, Anthony>
Re: Sand Sifting Star, Archaster typicus fell apart!
Actually, that would be a relief really. :) <Good to hear/read> I was starting to worry about all these Archaster's. As an update, the one with the "pinched tip" on it's arm is still fine! The tip has not fallen off, it is still appearing to mend. :) Thanks! <Good. Bob Fenner>

Sea Star Query I have had my Pentaceraster cumingi starfish for about 4 months and he has been doing fine.  However for the last few days he has been at the bottom of the tank moving around very little and his arms do not seem ridged anymore. I have tested the water and everything has tested in normal parameters and there have been no drastic change in the water.  I have a chocolate chip starfish and a brittle starfish and they have been doing fine.  If you can help me at all I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Mike >>>Mike, Echinoderms are EXTREMELY sensitive animals. Also, the diets of many of them are either not fully understood, or difficult to replicate in an aquarium setting. They are also very susceptible to acclimation stress, and often take weeks to die. Any number of things could have killed/be killing your animal. Once they reach the point where you can SEE obvious signs of trouble, they are impossible to save. Chocolate chip stars are very hardy, as are brittle stars. Most other species, much less so. Cheers Jim<<<

Starfish ID and health 10/14/04 Hello Crew  I am an avid reader of your site and have benefited greatly from your advice.  Honestly,  everything just sort of came together and started working for me when I read and followed the suggestions on your site for frequent small water changes.  It is truly nice to have someone to turn to for help who is not taking your money.  For some reason, an open cash register seems to magically change a tanks stocking limits and fish temperament /compatibility.  Thank you. <Basic care and a little research prevent and solve a lot of problems!  Glad you have benefited from what is here.> On to my question... I am trying to get a positive ID of a starfish that I have had for over a year.  I was told by the LFS that it was a common red star.  But mine doesn't seem to match pics that I have seen on the web.  Hopefully you can help.  Here's a couple of pics. <Looks like Fromia sp.> Also what information do you have about the life expectancy of this animal? <Should be many years, but it is impossible to know how old the animal was when captured.> He has started acting "weird" and I am wondering if he may be nearing his golden days.  His appearance has not changed but I noticed him lying on the sand with all of his legs pointing up several times lately...something he has not done in the past.  Also, he was hanging by only one arm from the glass at the top of the tank and just sort of let go and fell to the bottom.  I have seen this before but this time he just laid there all crumpled up for a long time before ~slowly~ righting himself. <Could be age, but it really sounds like a water quality issue.> All water parameters are in spec and I have not deviated from any of my normal maintenance routines. <Always list the results of your testing.  Trace ammonia, and pH or salinity slightly out of range (especially if sudden) can be very harmful to delicate echinoderms.  Salinity in particular should always be near NSW values (1.024-1.026)> I am sure he is not being picked at. <With that big mean harlequin tusk, I wouldn't be so sure!> Any help is greatly appreciated.  Thanks again. Kirk <Hope this helps!  Please do reply with water quality tests and the brand of salt that you use, and perhaps we can get to the bottom of this.  Best Regards. AdamC.>

Melting Star (8/31/04) Hi crew, <Hello! Steve Allen today.> I have a sand sifting star in my QT, that's losing an arm per day (it's down to 2 now). It's still alive (I turn it over, and it turns itself back). Oddly enough, another sand sifter I have in the same tank is perfectly fine (I also have a maroon clown in there too). I do 20% water changes from the main tank every other day, water quality is fine (all zeros nitrate/nitrite/ammonia, ph 8.2, 1.024 specific gravity). My questions are:  what's causing this, will it affect the other star, and will it effect the clown, and, frankly, should I just remove the affected star? <Hard to be certain, but it is often a bacterial infection or "rot" that is seldom reversible.> Also, I'm running a UV sterilizer in the QT (which I only use for the QT when I'm quarantining, otherwise it's off, so bulb life hopefully shouldn't be an issue), and the affected star in question had a white bead embedded in its center disc (best way I can describe it) ever since I bought it. <Uncertain what this could be.> Not sure if that information will help, but figured I'd add it anyway :) Thanks in advance, Rob <Well, most of these problems remain a mystery. Whatever it is, the UV isn't helping. I'm impressed that your water quality remains high. (Of course, there may be other toxins in there.) Stars do need very stable water conditions, especially pH and SG. Personally, I'd remove the star. At this point, there is little hope of it recovering, and its ongoing disintegration is a constant threat to water quality.>

Sea star contagion? 5/24/04 My name is Bridget Hiller and I work in a facility that has just opened a brand new touch tank. Unfortunately, 3 weeks after the opening, our Common Sea Stars have started to perish. They (sea stars) have started out with canker sore like spots on their aboral side, then it seems as if they eviscerated (like a sea cucumber would) from the areas that were infected. I do have another sea star right now that is starting out the same way. I have separated it to "hospitalize" it but, I can't seem to find out what is going on. I am wondering if this in individualistic to each sea star or is it endemic to our tank? <hmmm... perhaps neither. As a commercial/scientific facility, you surely have quarantined all new arrivals for a standard/minimum 4 weeks before adding them to the display. If so, the chance of such a virulent and indiscriminate pathogen lurking in the display are unlikely. Predation is much more likely. A parasite on Echinoderms or simply a macro-organism (snail or crab) are strong candidates> There are horseshoe, spider, hermit crabs as well as sea urchins and whelks in the tank and I would not want anything to happen to them if it is not an individualistic matter. <the whelks and hermit crabs in particular cannot be excluded as predators. If the stars removed to QT heal promptly, and were clean in initial QT, it sounds like a predator to me. Peep them at night if possible> Please, if you have any information or re-direct me to a place that would, I would be quite appreciative. Thank you for your time and help. <best regards, Anthony>

Upside Down Starfish (4/12/04)  I have had my Red African Starfish <Protoreastor linckii> for approximately 4 years now and just recently noticed that it has been spending a lot of time upside down. <Strange> While upside down, his tentacles <tube feet> are moving (searching for food maybe?). <More like trying to find something to grab on to and move around. These tube feet are the star's means of locomotion.> I have put his food in and sat him atop it, only to find him upside down a few minutes later. He does eat the food, but goes back to the upside down position -- and stays there. <This is highly unnatural behavior for a star. An upside-down starfish should right itself very quickly as this position makes them highly vulnerable and they should avidly seek to right themselves.>  I have 1 blue line puffer, 4 blue damsels, and copepods, as well as live rock and green algae. The water has tested fine, salinity is 21, <Stars prefer higher (1.024 range)> temp is 78. I turned him over tonight to find that he is losing one of his points. Is this normal? <No. In fact, any break in the skin can serve as an entry portal for an eventually lethal bacterial infection. It probably got rubbed off on the substrate or bitten-off by the puffer.> Will the points regenerate? <Not likely> Thx! Angi <Well, this is a strange behavior problem indeed. I can't think of a good explanation. Perhaps it is old or ill. Perhaps the puffer is knocking it over. When you have time to observe, right it and watch for a good long while. You may want to set up a quarantine tank using water from your system an place the star there for observation. --Steve Allen>

Falling Star? Hello gang, <Scott F. your man tonight!> Our sand sifting star lost the tip of one of its legs. He is healthy and happy. I have not taken the tip of the leg out of the tank yet. I was wondering will that little bit of leg regenerate into another star or is he not the species that does that? <Well, most starfishes display remarkable regenerative processes, and with steady, high water quality and careful observation, the animal should be okay...If it really starts to decline, you will want to remove the animal to a separate aquarium for more intensive observation and possible treatment with antibiotics to avoid infection as a result of the damage. Also, re-check all water conditions in your tank to make sure that environment did not play a factor in this problem, or think about the animal's companions in the tank...could any of them have harassed the animal to the point where it suffered this damage?> I know he will regenerate his leg if we take good care of him. Thanks Very Much. David and Christy Evans <I'll bet that it will, too! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> David W. Evans

Purple starfish splitting up  Hey Bob, we've appreciated your help in the past, and normally wouldn't  bother you except we have a purple starfish 6" in dia. or so. that is  splitting in many pieces, which remain stuck and still moving a little on the  side glass of our tank. Is this an asexual repro. process, or is the thing  dying? So far our chem. tests don't show any evidence.  Thanks, Mark & Shelly <<Might be both... This is probably a Linckia (laevigata most likely)... Do keep your eye on the "bits left behind" and the parent animal... and remove it/them if there is no sign of life, obvious decomposition going on...Bob Fenner>>

Fromia Star Could you please help me with the following I have a red star fish, Fromia indica I acclimatized the star for about 1hr slowly adding a bit of water at a time (for salinity and temp) For 2 days the star hardly did moved. On the 3rd day in the tank it was moving around a bit. On the 4th day I notices a type of lesion with stuff (pink fine tubes and brown matter) coming out of one of its legs (its still moving a lot). On the 5th day it has lost a leg (from where the lesion occurred) and it has a new deep lesion across the center of its body (its still moving a lot) Could you please comment. I have had my 300ltr tank up and running for almost 2 months now. I skimmer running consistently, 15WUV, large trickle filter (bio ball) + Over-under filter with a lot of super-ex (porous tubes) and some coral. I only have a cleaner wrasse and 2 common clowns (ocellaris), a boxer shrimp and a cleaner shrimp, 1 purple anemone (magnifica) and a green stripped anemone, mushroom coral (in the tank for almost 2 months) Everything else is happy and looks healthy, Andrew <Sounds like a very nice system... and I really like this species of Star...  The one you got likely "had problems"... an injury, perhaps an infection... that progressed while in your care... Because the matter is evidenced at its center, I would just wait and hope for the best at this point... even if there is a "Star" parasite or infectious agent... it will unlikely effect your other animals. Bob Fenner, who says don't give up on Fromia because of this one bad specimen.>

Cob webs on burgundy sea star This sea star is from Indo-pacific it seemed to be doing fine in my dealers tank.  <are we talking about a couple of weeks or a couple of days. Many sea stars do not succumb to shipping duress for a couple of weeks (ammonium poisoning, low pH, low oxygen, etc)> After acclimating it seemed to just lay there. I moved it a couple of times to see if it was even alive. I read that you could turn a star fish over and if it righted it's self it was thought to be healthy. I tried this on the fifth day and it did right it's self within 2 minutes.  <a good sign> I have a few questions:  #1 it forms some web looking stuff around it what is it and is this a sign of sickness?  <"sloughing": a sign of significant stress/duress. Not good but not necessarily death throes either> I have had it for a week now it is quite active when I first turn on the lights but with in two hours it is at the very top of the tank with two of it's legs hanging at the top of the water. I understand that they have been thought to be feeding on detritus floating in the water could this be what's going on.?  <possibly... indeed acclimatization is slow for many sea stars to aquaria. Most tanks are too small... don't have enough live rock/algae/bacterial slime...too low dissolved oxygen, etc> Do burgundy sea stars generally hang on the glass with two arms loose?  <nope> Also he had two arms that were gone when I purchased him. I looked at it closely and both areas had already began regenerating new arms that are about 1/2 in. in length but much smaller.  <that's fine> These two arms look great as far as I can tell . Is there anything I should be doing for it? the Salinity is 1.023-1.024,amonia 0 ppm., nitrites 0 ppm, nitrates 15 ppm., pH is 8.3 temp ranges from 75-78 depending on the lights.  <all sounds good except the temperature swings (more dangerous for Ich on fishes). Get a second or better heater and heat the tank to a more stable temp (that higher 78f if necessary will be fine)> My tank is 15 months old, I have a Prizm skimmer, <this skimmer draws a lot of heat on message boards and from us here for not producing daily skimmate. If yours does not yield dark skimmate daily and you are not doing good weekly water changes to compensate then you DO have high dissolved organics which ultimately will be problematic on many fronts> pump with bio bag and a Power head for extra circulation. 20 gal. w/purple fire fish, two blue streak damsels, small yellow tang , juvenile dragon wrasse,2 flower anemones, anemone crab, a strawberry crab, which I can not find anything out about,  <a lovely and uncommon omnivore, I believe> 1 blue leg crab, a Mexican turbo snail, and 1 Astrea. I some time think the star fish is doing great moves from the front glass all the way to the rear glass within 5 min. then it will stay in that position for hours is this normal?  <ahh... no. Not after a couple of weeks of captivity. Are you target feeding this animal should be fed at least several times weekly if not once daily. Else your animal is sluggish in part from lack of feeding starvation. Offer meaty and green foods. Place near arms (not under) and let the animal crawl toward the food. If not... it is in dire straits (the condition...not the band).> Thank you for your time and effort, Paula <my great pleasure. Anthony Calfo WWM>

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>

My star fish Hello, A week ago I bought a star fish, I think it's a Linckia or Fromia, <Looks like it may be a species of the latter genus> yesterday afternoon it was moving around the sides of the aquarium and this morning I found her dead, it looked like if her back had an explosion, it was open and little pieces around it. I'm enclosing 2 pictures so that you can see what I am talking about. Do you have any idea what could have cause this sudden death of my star fish?  <A few... most likely this loss is indirectly due to "poor handling" in the process of collection, holding, shipping before the animal got to your dealer, and you... physical and chemical trauma... perhaps malnutrition (or a total lack thereof) played a significant role... perhaps latent infection, infestation of parasites, bacteria...> Everything seams to be Ok with the water, I mean, PH and so on. I only have 2 damsel fish in there, the rest are 2 feather dusters and a couple of corals. Not much because I have a 15 gal. aquarium and I am trying to see how well it goes to have a salt water aquarium before I buy a larger tank. I thank you in advance for your input! Have a nice day, Berta <Sorry to hear of your loss, and so many like it. Seastars in general are not easy to keep in captivity... but there are ones that are easier, and some general suggestions for improving your chances. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm and the many FAQs (the linked blue files near the top) beyond. Bob Fenner>
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