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Old 04-28-2003, 02:34 PM   #1
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Deadly Chocolate Chip Starfish?

My adult CCS died a year ago, so I decided to get a new one. I just introduced a new CCS to my tank. I've had the tank for 3 years and haven't had problems like this before. The new CCS was brought in yesterday and is doing just fine, however I woke up to find my Spotted Mandarin, Yellow Fin Blue Damsel, Yellow Damsel, and Lizzard fish dead this morning. Those fish have survived in this tank for 3 years, 2 of which they were with an adult CCS so I am wondering if the new CCS had anything to do with them dying. Can CCS emit harmful chemicals? I doubt it attacked the fish. Please help.

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Old 04-28-2003, 03:02 PM   #2
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however I woke up to find my Spotted Mandarin, Yellow Fin Blue Damsel, Yellow Damsel, and Lizzard fish dead this morning
That just sucks!! I'm sorry for your loss. I am unfamiliar with the lizard fish, do you have a pic, or a scientific name? Did you test the water, if so what were the results? I have never heard or a CCS being toxic, but I suppose it could have stressed out something that was, like a cucumber maybe??
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Old 04-28-2003, 03:17 PM   #3
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Here is a pic of the lizzard fish. I'm not sure what their scientific name is but they are pretty hardy fish and have been fine for 3 years until now. My water levels and temps are all within normal ranges and I don't have any cucumbers or anything like that...I am really stumped about this whole episode.
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Old 04-28-2003, 03:43 PM   #4
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Did you test the water? What were the readings, I am unfamiliar with the fish in the pic so I have no idea whether it could have released a toxin and killed the other fish. I have pm'd someone that is very knowledgable on starfish and hopefully they will get bck with me.
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Old 04-28-2003, 04:37 PM   #5
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Yes I tested the water. Ph: 8.2, Alk: 2.2milli equivalents/liter, Ammonia: .10ppm, Nitrite: .05ppm, Nitrate:.8ppm. I'm not a big chemistry buff but I've been using this kit for a long time and those readings are pretty normal for what I usually get.
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Old 04-28-2003, 04:55 PM   #6
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Well, the first thing I would poit to would be the ammonia, but if that is a normal reading then I would suggest that you have the results verified and either buy a new kit or do a water change.
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Old 04-28-2003, 04:58 PM   #7
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Will do. I have had the kit for some time so maybe the chemicals aren't as accurate as they used to be. Please let me know if the star expert you PM'd has any info on the posibility of the CCS having bothered the fish I lost. Thanks for your help.
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Old 04-28-2003, 05:51 PM   #8
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Greetings.

I have read that CCS are not reef safe.

Do you have any corals or inverts in your tank?

Anything else missing? corals? inverts?
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Old 04-28-2003, 06:48 PM   #9
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That is horrible, I hate to think that a CC starfish is killing out of pleasure and not for food. I do not think that is in their nature. We definitely need to help figure out what this was.
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Old 04-28-2003, 07:15 PM   #10
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No, I don't have any other corals or inverts in the tank to be missing. I don't think the star attacked any of the fish that were dead because he wasn't moving around a lot and was in the same general location of the tank that he was in last night. Just roaming around the rocks eating algae. I just wondered if CCS can emit any kind of toxins that may have fouled the water for the other fish. I still have 6 fish in the tank that have survived and are feeding regularly, I just don't know what happened to the other 4. If one of my larger fish (the trigger maybe?) killed them wouldn't it have tried to eat one of them? When I took them out there weren't any bite marks or anything. I've changed a good percentage of the water so hopefully the others will make it. If anymore die should I quarantine the remaining fish away from the star for a while in a seperate salt tank or just take my chances?
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Old 04-28-2003, 08:42 PM   #11
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29 gallon saltwater tank. Mono Argentine Angel fish, Tomato Clownfish, High Fin Cardinal, Trigger Fish, Firefish, Scissors Gobi, Chocolate Chip Starfish.
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I still have 6 fish in the tank that have survived and are feeding regularly, I just don't know what happened to the other 4.

I didn't see anyone mention a lot of fish for a 29 gal tank. With feeding regularly, and the amount of fish, you must do a lot of water changes. with the size tank you have, I wouldn't have any more than 5 inches total of fish. This might be the cause of the readings never dimenishing. I haven't read anything yet, ( I am still searching) about CCS being fish eaters or killers. IMO, it sounds like the fish died because of stress...I might be wrong though...I am sorry for your loss...
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Old 04-28-2003, 10:56 PM   #12
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Thanks for the advice Tim. I think that I am going to transfer a few of those to another tank to give them all some more room. I change about 1 gallon every day when cleaning out the uneaten food in the evenings, and then do a 5 gallon water change once a week. You're right about them possibly dying because of stress, I jsut don't know why it would kill all 4 within the same 8 hour period when they had been doing well fo so long. I don't think that CCS are carnivores either. My old one jsut ate Algae tablets and the occasional freeze dried shrimp if placed under him. I never hear of them attacking such an active fish but I jsut don't know anymore. Going to wait and see if I lose anymore tonight. :|
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Old 04-28-2003, 11:21 PM   #13
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One thing I noticed was that the alk was kinda low @ 2.2 meq/l. If that's where it's been for a long time then I suppose that wouldn't have anything to do with it. I wonder if the alk has been creeping down over time? It might allow pH swings...especially at night. My alk usually stays at about 5.0-5.5 meq/l. I'm thinking that ammonia/nitrite should be 0 also. Although I don't know anything about CC stars, I do know that some stars are VERY sensitive to changes and require a long acclimation. I have read that CCS are not considered to be reef safe, but I can't remember where I read it . If you're having to siphon out uneaten food every day, it might be a combination of too much bio load and some overfeeding.
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Old 04-29-2003, 12:53 PM   #14
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Thank you all for your advice. I don't think I'll be having too many problems from now on. Unfortunately my trigger fish devoured the new CCS last night. Poor little thing was spread all over the tank. I guess the one I had last year was a little more hardy against the fish attacks. I am thoroughly discouraged at my attempt to keep a new invert and have decided to wait to get any more and set up a new bigger FO tank instead. Thanks for the help.
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Old 04-29-2003, 02:29 PM   #15
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I dont think this article will have any benifit really but I figured I would post it here anyway. It talks about toxicity in the aquarium.

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issu...3/feature1.htm
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Old 04-29-2003, 08:38 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by loganj
I wonder if the alk has been creeping down over time? It might allow pH swings...especially at night. My alk usually stays at about 5.0-5.5 meq/l. I'm thinking that ammonia/nitrite should be 0 also. If you're having to siphon out uneaten food every day, it might be a combination of too much bio load and some overfeeding.
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I wholeheartedly agree with this. The fact that you need to do that much of a water change so often is a problem, IMO. In a mature, properly stocked tank, you really should not have measureable ammonia, and certainly not to the extent that it would be considered the 'normal' reading for the tank. I definitely think it is time to remove some of those fish, and get a new test kit which should be used regularly.

I do not believe the chocolate chip star had anything to do with the demise of these fish. To my knowledge, they are not able to secrete any poisons...and if they were, it would kill all of the fish in the tank (similar to sea cuke toxin). Though predatory (and certainly open to eating dead fish), they are not capable of bringing down so many healthy fish. I think you definitely need to look to water quality and overstocking as possible causes for this loss. Were there any marks on the fish at all?

I agree with the possibility of a pH drop, or other fluctuation that may have caused trouble. Did you do anything out of the ordinary with your water change? Stir up anything? Did you add anything other than the star the other night? Any other fish?

As you learned (the hard way I am afraid), seastars and triggerfish do not make good company. Triggerfish are a natural predator of seastars and brittlestars in the wild.

FWIW, these stars are not reef safe. In the wild, they are rather opportunistic, eating algal films, sponges, mollusks, etc. In tanks, they will often eat corals, anemones, snails, clams, dead fish, etc in addition to 'grazing' on LR. They do quite well in some FO tanks that house messy fish, which result in a lot of wasted food for the star to scavenge. Their braod diet make them relatively hardy and popular choices for hobbysists, but there is definitely a risk that they will eat something valuable. They are not the best tank mates for FO tanks with triggers, puffers and large wrasses (all of which are natural predators).
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Old 04-30-2003, 03:55 PM   #17
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I know that stars are not good with trigger fish, but I had a CCS in that same tank with that same trigger for 2 years and never had a problem. I have heard that they aren't reef safe. I just have some live rock and plants in there. The old star grazed on algae from the rocks all the time and when he was really hungry he would climb to the top of the tank and I would give him an algae tablet. There weren't any marks on the fish. The new star was eaten to pieces though. Anyway I have moved half of the remaining 6 to another tank to give them some more room. I'll have to wait and see if the eater levels get better.
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Old 05-06-2003, 05:30 PM   #18
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I to have had problems with CCS. Although they never ate any swimming fish they quickly devoured anything that they could get on top of. Snails especially (five or more in one day, once) Hermit crabs seemed to get away from them, but I had an anemone die and it was gone in a few hours.

I quickly took them to a pet store and gave them back. I wouldn't recommend them to any one.
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Old 05-22-2012, 11:28 PM   #19
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Thanks for the warning! I got one at the pet store tonight. I told them everything I have in my reef tank and they assured me that it would be compatible. I have lots of snails, live coral, and anemones — he would have had a feast in there over night.
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