Home / Invertebrates / Echinoderms in Aquaria… by Ronald L. Shimek, Ph.D. – Reefkeeping.com

Echinoderms in Aquaria… by Ronald L. Shimek, Ph.D. – Reefkeeping.com

The below article is one I’ve referred to many times over the years. It highlights some common misconceptions about sea stars and really explains just why proper acclimation is so important for them. The video is on Asterina which are a common star fish found in aquaria that some people worry about but really shouldn’t. The article is from Reefkeeping.com which is a great resource which is why I link to it. The article is by Dr. Ron Shimek who has made a lifelong study of invertebrates. The short of it is that sea stars have a really wild body structure that can literally fall apart if if the salinity changes too rapidly. The other difficulty with them is that most sea stars (asterina and chocolate chip are NOT among them) require odd diets so don’t often do well in aquaria.

Watch the video and read the article for all the details if you really want to dig into the subject. If you don’t have time for that just remember:

  • Acclimate sea stars slowly. Take your time and use a drip. If the salinity changes too fast they literally fall apart. This takes the form of the tips of their limbs turning white, then slowly disintegrating. That disintegration moves up the limbs and eventually destroys the entire animal.
  • Most sea stars have odd diets like sponges, bacteria, or biofilm
  • A sea star isn’t something you get for algae control. They won’t do that job for you.
  • Most Asterina are harmless. If you see them on a coral remove it if not, let it be.

Despite their success in nature, which is fostered in no small part by their odd organ systems and strange body structures, relatively few echinoderms are appropriate for aquaria. This lack of suitability is due, in part, to their strange internal morphology, which makes them particularly sensitive to changes in salinity.

Source: Echinoderms in Aquaria… by Ronald L. Shimek, Ph.D. – Reefkeeping.com