Monday, 16 February 2015 18:48

A Hitch Hikers Guide to the Reefs - Starfish & Sea Urchins Featured

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hitchstarbannerBy Charles & Linda Raabe
Mactan Island, The Philippines
© 2009  All Rights Reserved


   While it is not usualy important to identify a starfish or sea urchin down to the species level, it is important to determine its family or genus.  The starfish groups have a large diversity with most of them not being suitable for our aquariums.  The same can be said of the sea urchins. 


Interested in Starfish? Then the below linked website is a must see!

The Ophiuroidea

    Linckia laevigata- Please note that while Linkia starfish come in a variety of colors, they are most likely of this species, but beware, identification of any starfish that appears to be a linkia is extremely hard for us to do. As such, if you do find a hitch hiking "linkia", it would be wise to keep an eye on it to determine if it is of a species that is reef safe or not.
  bluelinkia   redlinkia    
                    Blue form                                                Red form  

      Linckia multiflora  -  While the below specimen is not a common coloration for this species, it is however an example of the many differing patterns and colors that the Linckia can be found in. Please see the above linked article concerning the Linckia family. 

  multiflora   Photo by Linda Raabe   Photo by Linda Raabe

     Protoreastor nodosus - Commonly called the chocolate chip starfish. As with the majority of starfish, this family group is predatory and is not to be considered reef safe, consuming a wide variety of prey including corals and inverts, most notably clams. I would only keep this species as part of a fish only aquarium. They also come in a wide variety of colorations.  In the last photo shown below, a starfish extending its stomach to consume small shrimp that were fed to it.  This is how such starfish consume clams by forcing open the clam, however slightly, and injecting their stomach into the clam's shell to consume the clam's flesh while still inside its shell. 

  chocchip1   chocchip   chocchip2         
     Fromia Imdica


      Mithrodia clavigera  -  Nothing is known about these animals but it would be safe to assume that it would not do well within a typical aquarium as its food source is unknown. 

  mithrodia   mithrodia1   mithrodia2

     Asterina Anomal - Typically a harmless herbivore, members of the Asterina family are all but impossible to identify down to a species level. Since as with most marine families, there are members whose diets vary greatly, which can lead to confusion as to which species is reef safe or not.  

  AsterinaAnomala   asterina   asterina1

     Unidentified Coral Predator - Found consuming an entire Lithophyllon coral colony within my system. While it seems that this species is a member of the Asterina family, it is a different species and not to be confused with the harmless Asterina species shown above. 
  starpredator   starpredator1   starpredator2   Below, yet another coral predator as it was found consuming a Pocillopora spp.
  starpredator3   starpredator4   starpredator5

     Archaster typicus    The so called sand sifting starfish, please DO NOT buy them. They will starve to death.

  sandsifting   sandsifting1   sandsifting2

     Echinaster luzonicus  ( predator )

  echinaster   Photo by Charles Raabe   echinaster2

     Acanthaster planci   (crown of thorns starfish)  Shown below is a 1cm juvenile

  crownthornstar   crownthornstar1   crownthornstar2

    Unknown at this time, possibly a Pentaster species.

  pentaster   pentaster1   pentaster2

    A Culcita species

  starfish   starfish1   starfish2

     Crinoids   ( feather stars ) and please, do not buy one. 


     Basket Starfish  -  All basket stars are feeders on, rather large, zooplankton that they catch with their divided arms. Most are nocturnal feeders, and they are often reclusive during the day. Generally, they are difficult to keep, requiring specific currents and relatively large amounts of food. The prognosis for this animal, if it is a hitchhiker, is not good in most tanks.
   Below specimen is a Gorgonocephalidae sp.

  greenserpent   Photo by Charles Raabe   Photo by Charles Raabe
           Ophiarachna incrassata                           Ophioplocus imbricata                        Ophiarachnella gorgonia 

  brittlestar1   brittlestar4   brittlestar7            Yet to be identified                       A Juvenile Ophiomastix variabilis                  Ophiomastix variabilis

  brittlestar5   brittlestar6   brittlestar8             Ophiarthrum elegans                            Ophiomastix annulosa                            Ophiolepis superba

  brittlestar2   brittlestar9   brittlestar10           Ophiocoma erinaceus                          Ophiomastix caryophyllata                        Ophiarachnato sp.

  foveolata   Photo by Charles Raabe   brittlestar12            Acanthophiothrix sp.                                   Unidentified                                           Unidentified




   As interesting as they are, I do not allow them to remain in my reef aquarium simply because they are just far to effective in their rock cleaning ability, if you value your coralline algae and other small life on your rocks, then do not add or allow an urchin to remain in your aquarium.

          Black Long Spine Urchin                          Rock Boring Urchin                              Rock Boring Urchin

  tuxedourchin      ShingleUrchin             Blue Tuxedo Urchin                           Indo-Pacific SandDollar                              Shingle Urchin

  sandurchinhitch   sandurchinhitch2   sandurchinhitch1      A sand dwelling sea urchin , also known as a sea biscuit, of which I have two seperate species.

  rockurchin   urchin1   urchin2       Cidarid Urchin ( predatory )                 Tripneustes Urchin   (Juvenile)                Tripneustes Urchin  (Adult)

  urchin3   Photo by Charles Raabe   urchin5

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Used by permission.  Many thanks to Charlies and Linda Raabe for their support.

Read 3291 times Last modified on Tuesday, 16 June 2015 01:51
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