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Old 07-08-2010, 10:03 PM   #1
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Can I add a starfish?

I have a 30 gallon tank, with about 20 lbs of live rock. The bottom is sand, and I am thinking about adding some plants, but that's another thread altogether, I'm afraid. Right now, I'm thinking about starfish.

I have 2 snails (of some unknown and pedestrian-looking variety) and 2 emerald crabs in the tank. My daughter is fascinated by starfish ("Purple ones!" she squeaks.), but I have no idea if it would be wise to try one out or not.

I have been told that starfish require very special and expensive lighting, and I have also been told that they don't require special lighting, but that they can be difficult to keep alive. What's true?

Will the emerald crabs eat the starfish?

Will the starfish eat the snails?

I imagine that the answers to these questions depends on the kind of starfish, but there are so many that I don't even know where to start. Can anyone give me some guidance?

I see that some of the linkias can be blue or purple. Might that be something that I could add?

Let's assume that my lighting is nothing special. Which it isn't.


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Old 07-09-2010, 01:16 AM   #2
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Starfish dont require lighting but they do need food. Once that food is gone they will die. Starfish ususally work out better on larger tanks because there is more food. The starfish will not eat your snails. The emerald crab will eat the star once it is starting to die. Since it sounds like you dont have coral there are several different stars you might be able to keep.

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Old 07-09-2010, 08:19 AM   #3
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:02 AM   #4
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Bige pretty much covered it, but just wanted to second the comments.

If you were to add a star, a linkia would probably be your best bet. That would allow you to add corals at some later time, assuming the star was still alive by then. Linkias are "reef-safe". Many other stars are not.

BUT... I really wouldn't recommend adding one. Unless you have a 70+ gallon tank, you really don't have the room to keep one alive - it will eventually starve. This might be a good learning opportunity for your daughter that not everything in the ocean is appropriate in certain tanks.
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:08 PM   #5
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Thanks, Kurt (and everyone else).

I have been reading a lot about how starfish need a pretty big tank, in order to avoid starving. Even then, a lot of the anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that their survival rate is actually pretty low, at least from the articles and forum discussions that I have run across lately. I think I will plan to avoid starfish for the foreseeable future.

I'l probably just add a couple of horseshoe crabs, or maybe a small epaulette shark, and call it a day.


As for my daughter, she also wants a pony. To this point, she has had to learn a fair amount about Daddies, and their love of not buying things for their daughters, because they are mean and unreasonable. It will be nice to fall back on tank size for a change.
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:31 PM   #6
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I have a serpent starfish in my tanks, I'm not sure if you're farmilar with them, they have thin long legs (don't match the traditional starfish look) It probably isn't a starfish your daughter would want anyhow, since it stays in hiding some of the time. I've never had either of mine stuck on the glass for any amount of time. I'll put a piece of prawn at the bottom of the tank to coax it out. It'll run out, wrap a leg around it, then drag it back in its hole.
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Old 07-11-2010, 03:07 PM   #7
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you could get a sand sifting star fish,they are out of sight 80% of the time but they do surface and move around
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Old 07-11-2010, 03:42 PM   #8
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I would avoid the sand sifting sea star. These sea stars do not last long in our tanks because for one thing, they are constantly scavenging the sandbed for microorganisms to feed on.. and once they clean out your sandbed.. they will starve. I wouldn't even recommend a sand sifting sea star for larger tanks either because they wipe out beneficial organisms in the sandbed.. and then they just die once they eat everything. You would also need a very deep sandbed to accommodate the sea star as it grows.. assuming it lives long enough to grow.

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