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FAQs about Sea Star  Predators, Pests

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: Diagnosis, Environment, Nutrition, Genetic (poor species selection for captive use), Pathogenic Disease (Infectious, Parasitic), 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.

Crabs, shrimps, hermits, worms, cnidarians; several snails... and some fishes (puffers, triggers, angels...) will eat Stars if hungry and or the Asteroid is damaged

"Linckia" Star parasite?     4/19/13
Hello WWM crew. I have been frequenting your site for about 5 years now and I can usually find what I am looking for with no problem, just a lot of reading which is always helpful.
<Ahh, if you have ideas (workable of course) re how we/I might improve WWM, please do send them along>
Now, to get down to business. I acquired a small "orange Linckia star" approximately 2-2.5 inches across.
<Wow; tis small>

I am pretty sure it is not a Fromia even though it is very small. I couldn't get a good picture of him so I included one that looks exactly the same.
<Mmm, where is this pic from; as in do you have permission to use others property?><ergo, not posted>

There no visible signs of stress or discoloration and so far its acting...normal or as normal as a new star acts on day one of being placed in a tank.
<... oh>
 I noticed what appears to be...well tiny "bugs" for lack of a better word on it so I started looking of hitchhikers and parasites and all that keeps popping up is a type of parasitic snail and these are definitely not snails. They resemble some sort of "pod" and are very very fast and seem to almost jump/scoot around like amphipods on LR.
 They are so small I originally thought the stars skin was just semi coarse until I saw one move. They appear to be an orange-ish-red in color,(most likely due to the color of the star they are hosting) oval shaped and slightly domed. They do not seem to be focused in any specific area like around the feet or anything but just kind of scooting about. I cannot see any legs or antenna or anything like body parts, just too small.
I tried to remove one with a toothpick but it shot back under the leg of the star faster than I could even get remotely close to it suggesting it has either excellent vision or is extremely light sensitive. Unfortunately they are so small I can not get a photo of them and the sea star is pretty small itself so I hope the description is at least semi-helpful. Have you all ever seen or heard of anything like this before? The only thing that I found that is close is Periclimenes soror, the "starfish shrimp"
<... have seen all sorts of organisms living in and on Asteroids... they span the range of commensals to space parasites and more... T'were it me/mine, I'd do nothing here... However, to be clear I've made, am making the point, I would NOT have purchased such an unknown, esp. of such small size. I hope yours adapts to captivity, but the vast majority of such "misc. species", particularly when small, do not. Bob Fenner>
Re: "Linckia" Star parasite?      4/20/13

Thank you for the prompt reply as always Bob. Hey just an idea, how bout a link to a basic general photo id section or did I miss it?
<Did not post your lifted pic... again, that's stealing.... like gov't  taxes... taking other peoples' property w/o their express consent>
That'd Probably be too much work though lol.
<Not too much>
The star along with a few LPS corals came from a friends tank that keeps "crashing" and he is throwing in the towel on SW. (He severely overstocked and overfeeds his 40 breeder in my opinion.)
 This is my first star ever attempted mainly because it was free, small and I have a 5 year old, 100gal LPS softie tank with a ton of LR so I figured why not.
<Worth trying>
He probably has a better chance in my tank than at the PetCo he was originally going to give it to. So far the star has moved but it doesn't appear to be aimlessly wandering all over the tank like its looking for food but I know it is way to early to say anything's going right with it. If I still have him after 3-6-9 months I'll be sure to post it.
<Thank you, BobF>

Indian sea star has been attacked... reading  -- 1/04/08 hello WWM <Charles> I'm a novice in marine aquaria but seem to be doing quite well so far I have a nano reef aquarium, 58 litres. <Okay> I have 1 yellow tailed damsel, 1 humbug damsel, 1 blue damsel, <A poor mix of Pomacentrids in such a small volume> 1 banded coral shrimp, 1 red legged hermit, 1 blue legged hermit, 1 purple coral <What is this? Specifically> and until this evening (3rd Jan 2008) 1 Indian sea star. <A Fromia indica... or Fromia sp. at least, likely> Now this is what my email regards I came home from work yesterday to find my sea star clinging to the spray bar with two lesions in two of its legs. I kept an eye on it for a while and it seemed to be moving around, slowly, but moving. Later that evening I checked up on it and one of its legs was missing and part of it on the sand at this point it was on the live rock and the closest animal to it was the blue legged hermit (which, may I add, I think is something else as it has black and blue legs rather than red and blue) but it wasn't attacking it at that point, although I assumed, that having powerful pincers, this was the culprit so I isolated it over night. <Mmm> In the morning the sea star was in the same condition but alive, then when I came home it was life less on the sand missing 3 whole legs an 1 badly damaged I think it is dead now as it hasn't moved at all. As the blue hermit was isolated and the red legged hermit is tiny I passed the blame onto the shrimp. I liked the sea star and it was the first animal in the tank and it was thriving I don't believe that water parameters are culprit, or reproduction, as there is nothing left of the legs. Can you help me with this, could the shrimp be culprit or maybe the damsels. <Yes, either could be... or no culprit/predator at all> Also is this common as I want to get a new sea star but don't want a repeat episode. I thank you in advance for any advice you can give me. Regards Charlie <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marind5_5.htm Toward the bottom... on Seastar Disease, Fromias... Bob Fenner>

Another Sea Star Gone Missing! - 10/20/06 I need your help please!!! <<Let's see what I can do>> Hi my name is Monica. <<Hello Monica...Eric here>> My husband and I have a 100-gallon tank where we have about 50 lbs of live rock, (2) anemones, (2) clown fish, (1) yellow tang, (1) Naso tang, (1) blue tang (yes, my yellow tang is a bit aggressive towards my Naso but is getting better ), <<Mmm...would suggest you have too many/inappropriate tangs for this size tank.  The Naso can reach 18" in the wild...the Blue (Hippo?) can reach 12".  Both are robust, active critters and will be susceptible to developmental retardation in this system...in my opinion>> (2) Chromis, (1) scarlet cleaner shrimp, (1) Marine Betta which by the way he is the sweetest thing ever ... <<Indeed, very passive fish...unless it can get the other fish in its mouth <grin> >> We got lucky on this one, he just hangs around his cave and comes out to eat, doesn't bother our shrimp. <<yet>> These are all small fish, the biggest one being our Naso tang and next comes our marine Betta.  We also have red mushrooms, green hairy mushrooms, spotted mushroom, few bunches of different polyps, a beautiful tree coral, candy coral, and I think that is it ... oh yeah and a clam... <<Sounds very nice>> What was my question? <<Hee!>> Oh yeah, well a few months back we bought a beautiful star fish it was an orange-red star fish (I think this is its scientific name "Echinaster" species) it was a small one.  It was very active for a long time maybe about a month or so ... and then suddenly it disappeared one day. <<This is not an uncommon tale>> Since it was so small we thought maybe somehow went thru the filter but we literally turned the tank upside down and we could not find it at all. <<The scavengers in our systems usually make quick work of mortalities>> We assumed it really went thru the filter and decomposed. <<Likely just died within the structure of live rock...and likely completely consumed in less than 24-hrs.>> Few months went by and about 3 weeks ago we purchased another orange red sea star, but this time we went much bigger it was probably about 5".  It was doing really great, moving around the rocks, we did notice it went up to the surface a lot probably to get some oxygen, <<No, likely just "exploring" its surrounding...or...if you have water quality issues...trying to "escape">> but one day ...actually couple days ago we notice it was missing and we really don't know how long it has been missing.  We have looked all over, we purchased a few polyps recently along with the tree coral and we moved some rocks to have the correct placements of these items recently purchased and keeping in mind that the star fish might be hiding in one of these rocks but absolutely nothing ... our 2nd starfish is MIA.  What do you think happen to it? <<These animals are easily injured if mishandled/acclimated improperly.  Quick changes in salinity can cause injury to their vascular system, exposure to the atmosphere can cause air entrapment in same.  Some starfish (Linckia sp.) seem to do very poorly no matter how carefully handled...perhaps Echinaster is one of these.  Even many of the hardier starfish can be unknowingly starved to death...seemingly doing well only to mysteriously "disappear">> Where is my starfish? <<Likely gone/consumed>> Do you think something in my tank ate it? <<Not before it died>> I know it didn't escape; we do not have any pets (other than our fish) so if it did we would of found it on the floor or on top of the tank.  So this is a mystery to us now.  If you think you can help us in anyway please do so.  This is the second starfish that goes MIA. <<Most of the "reef-safe" starfish require a "mature" system with ample live rock on which to graze.  You don't mention the age of your system but, I would suggest you add another 25-50 pounds of live rock and try one of the small "Fromia" species of starfish Thank you so much, The Garths <<Happy to assist.  Eric Russell>>
Re: Another Seastar Gone Missing! -- 10/25/06
Eric - Thank you so much for your help. <<Is my pleasure to assist>> I am sad to hear that our starfish got consumed by someone else in our tank. <<But likely after its demise>> And I am sorry to hear that I will have retarded fish ... :o( <<Indeed>> Eventually we will upgrade our tank to a bigger one. <<But sooner rather than later...or find other homes for the Naso and Blue tang>> We have had this one for 1 year and actually have about 70Lbs of live rock ... since I forgot to mention that last time. <<Mmm, you did mention you had 50 lbs of rock>> But thank you so much for your help. <<Quite welcome>> FYI our Marine Betta is not doing well at all, it stopped eating for 3 days and has a big bite on his tail and this morning he was breathing very hard, I am scared to go home and find it belly up. <<Doesn't sound good...>> Not sure what happened, because he was just fine!  :o( <<Hmm...perhaps look to the afore mentioned tangs for harassment issues here>> But again, Eric, thanks so much for your help ... next time we will try to get the other type of starfish species! <<Excellent>> Thanks, Monica <<Regards, EricR>>

Sick sea star  8/26/05 I have had my orange sea star <Fromia sp.> for 1 week, on Tuesday I noticed the tip of one of its arms was hanging on by a thread, I think this may be because of my coral beauty angel fish. After phoning my local aquatic shop they suggested that the nest course of action would be just to place it in a breeding trap until the wound healed to keep it safe from fish picking at it, on the first day it seemed quite happy in the tank and moved about a bit, I placed a small amount of  Mysis shrimp in with it, however now it is just sat at the bottom and hasn't moved for 2 days, and appears 2 be shedding mucus, please can u help a concerned fish keeper will Hitchcock <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Clown vs. Seastar  9/22/05 Mr. Fenner, some advice please? Would a clownfish attack/kill a sea star?   I have one orange clownfish in an 80 gal tank * I introduced a blue Seastar, which died sometime within 48 hours.  When I noticed it was dead, it had been chewed on by the clown.  Before I put anything else in there, is there any chance the clown fish is responsible for the sea star's demise?  What other creatures are a good match for this clownfish?  Thanks in advance for your help. <Natural reaction for the clown as some stars do dine on their eggs in the wild.  But we can't discount the fact that the star may have died first.  Drip acclimation is almost a must when introducing Seastars as they are very sensitive to changes in water parameters.>  James (Salty Dog)>

Bali Sea Star Hey, <Is for horses> I have an orange Bali Sea Star in my 55gal aquarium. <What species is this?> I only introduced him three days ago. When I woke up this morning there was a chunk missing out of the center of his back. He is still alive so I haven't removed him yet. I was wondering if this is some sort of decay or if one of my other fish could do it. There is one Foxface Rabbitfish, three reef Chromis, and one Banggai Cardinalfish. Also there are some hermit crabs, snails, a cleaner shrimp, and a peppermint shrimp.  Thank You, Joe Lace <Read... on WWM Joe... help yourself, your livestock... turn off the teevee... Bob Fenner> 

Bristle worms harmful to starfish - 9/29/03 I have two starfish currently. <very good. Hopefully in a very large tank> a chocolate chip who has been thriving for as long as my tank has been up, <OK....How long is that?> my "Bali" star <???> was up until I noticed many bristle worms in my tank. <Not unheard of at all> I have never seen any worms up until now and mine come out all hours of the day. <As do mine. Usually when I feed the tank> they are orange in color, and I have noticed many what look like little grey shrimp swimming around eating the shrimp I place in for my stars. <Amphipods likely. Very nice to have in the tank. They are more or less scavengers. Eating detritus, scraps, even algae at times. Good to have. Sort of closer to the bottom of the food chain. When a description of an animal states that "animal eats crustaceans" they sometimes mean these little amphipods (in some life stage)> The problem I am having is my "Bali" star <Not familiar with what is being called a Bali star these days. Is this a common name for Fromia species? Can you positively id??> has always come out at night and has never climbed on the glass, but now he is out during the day and is all over the glass, his leg now looks like it is going to come off. <Hmmmm. Something is not good here. Any aggression between starfish? What else is in the tank? How big of a tank? What water parameters have you checked? Without knowing what kind of star we are dealing with I couldn't even tell you if the nutritional needs of the animal. How long have you had this starfish? Any other new additions?> I have checked the water perms and they are fine. <Uhhh OK> So I am wondering if the bristle worms could be causing this? <Not likely. Especially if you feed the tank fairly often> thank you for your help....this site is wonderful <Thanks. You are helping to make the site better with your question. So....thank you, too! WE have a wonderful site. -Paul>

- Injured Fromia - Hi, My wife and I bought a Fromia star the other day. All legs ok no injuries. Monday morning I noticed the tip of one leg was almost completely cut off. I caught a box crab last night and removed it from the tank. The leg seems to be crumbling. But the star is as active as before and moves around the rock and tank quite fast for a Fromia. I notice some reddish feathery tissue at the open wound and my flame angel occasionally goes by and takes a bite. <This is probably where the tip of the leg went originally.> I was wondering if I could put super glue over the open end to seal it. <I would not do this.> Super glue has been used for wound closure on people, even eye surgery. <True, but I'm not sure a Seastar would react the same way a human would - have you ever put super glue in a cut? It hurts.> Should I cut the end clean before I start? <Clean cutting the edge might help, but I'd be looking for other causes/culprit. Do check your nitrates to make sure they are within reason, as well as keeping an eye on that angel. Unfortunately, there's not much to a Seastar and they frequently voice protests about their environment by dissolving into thin air... or actually water in this case. Again, I would not go the glue route as this might expedite the Fromias departure.> Thanks for your help.  Joel and Karen <Cheers, J -- >

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

Starfish Missing A Few Legs? Dear Crew: We have a reef tank that has had in it for several months some snails and hermit crabs, one purple Linckia star and an emerald crab. Two weeks ago we added three corals and a fire shrimp and a brittle star. This week my Linckia star appeared with some of each of its legs eaten off. Any idea what could be eating it so I can remove it? Tracee <Hard to say, Tracee...Could be the crab, or it could be some sort of bacterial infection, which starfishes tend to be subject to now and then...In fact, I have a Centropyge angelfish that loves to "graze" on the tips of one of my brittle star's legs...this kind of thing may be happening to your animal. Keep up the highest possible water quality, observe the interactions between the animals carefully, and be prepared to remove either the offending party or the injured starfish if necessary. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Snails on starfish Hi Bob, Hope that this finds you well! Both tanks have been doing well, thanks to your guidance! Like the new improvements/layout to the site, btw. <Thanks. Will send your note to Mike/Miguel... who does the looks, navigation sides to WWM> Wanted to ask you a quick question. I have a sand sifting star in both of my tanks. I noticed last week the one in the larger tank had a tiny snail on it, but I couldn't find anything on the internet or in my books about them, so I left it be. This weekend when I looked again, it had more, so I grabbed him out of there and started picking off snails -- 8 in total. They were tiny, a millimeter or less in size, pearlescent white with pink on the top point of their shells, and a bit tough to get off the star, I had to use my nails and scrape. I couldn't find any elsewhere in the tank aside from on the star. There was also a bristle worm which was weaving in and out between his little feet, so I pulled him out as well, (resulting in about 5 pieces of worm -- yuck!) The star is now much thinner than the one in the smaller tank, and he originally had been the larger of the two. I just wondered if this was something you had seen before and what they were, if I needed to worry about checking him regularly for snails . . . he is moving but not as much as he used to. <Yes... reason to be concerned. Good move on your part... taking them off/out> I picked up a 6-line wrasse this weekend, hoping that s/he would help with the Bristleworm/snail issue, and also to try to keep my derasa clam safe -- wasn't sure if they would also go after the clam . . .Thanks Bob, Cari <Likely different species... but just the same... I would have extracted them. Bob Fenner>

Pyramidellid or siphon snails on starfish? Hi, I started my reef system based on your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and when I saw your name on the WetWebMedia page I jumped at the chance to ask you to help me solve this mystery I have been trying to solve. I have a dying white starfish (Archaster typicus) in my tank. He appears to have parasitic snails eating away at him but the only references to parasitic snails I have found are in regard to clams.  <Most popular... but yes, there are mollusk parasites known on/in most large taxonomic groupings...> Have you heard of Pyramidellid snails, or any other snails for that matter, attaching to starfish?  <Yes... though Protozoans and infectious agents (bacteria, funguses...) are much more often causes of loss... consequent to physical damage, chemical stress...>The snails I see in my tank and on the starfish are pure white and about 1mm to 3mm in length. The poor guy lost a leg today. Any info you can provide would be great. <Hard to reverse, remove at this juncture... in a quarantine tank with a few pieces of live rock, a "Lined Wrasse" species (genus Pseudocheilinus) would be my first, perhaps last chance/choice to eradicate the snails... no real molluscicides, env. manipulation that would greatly disfavor the one, not harm the other...> Thanks, John L. Allen, conscientious reef enthusiast <Very glad to have met up with you here... and sorry to learn of your Archaster's plight. Bob Fenner>

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