The starfish is one of the most popular marine life all over the world. Because of the starfish’s star-like appearance, many people have been fascinated to know more about its biology and feeding habits.
This article aims to give you information on the types of food that a starfish eat and answers some of the basic questions regarding these amazing creatures, such as:
- What do starfish look like?
- What do starfish eat in the ocean?
- What system helps starfish catch food?
- What do starfish eat in aquariums?
- Where do starfish live?
Stay tuned as we discuss these starfish topics one by one.
What do starfish look like?
Starfish belong to class Asteroidea of Phylum Echinodermata. Echinoderms such as starfish species are sea animals that do not have backbones (marine invertebrates). Because starfish are scientifically classified as Asteroidea, experts choose to call starfish as sea stars. There are around 2,000 species of starfish known by science. Starfish generally have five limbs or appendages, but some species can have as many as 42 appendages.
Here are some of the characteristics that defines a starfish:
A starfish sizes ranges from 5 – 9 inches or even more. They can weigh as much as 11 pounds in their natural habitat. The color of the starfish will greatly depend on their habitat or the place where they hunt their food. This adaptation is called protective coloration that help them in hiding from their potential predators.
As we have mentioned earlier, starfish species with 5 arms are the most common type. However, do you know that there are starfish species that possess 40 arms? Yes! And their eyes are situated at the end of each and every arms, so if the starfish has 40 arms, it also has many eyes! These eyes are photosensitive meaning it can perceive and respond to light.
Also located in the end of each arm you will see a suctioning tube feet that helps a starfish to roam around the sea floor, hunt down and consume its food.
What do starfish eat in the ocean?
Starfish are known to be fierce predators of mollusks, such as oysters, mussels and clams. These organisms are usually slow moving or attached to rocks so hunting them are easy for starfish.
Starfish also hunt snails and devour injured fish when it available. Some species of starfish eats detritus or dead sea plants and animals. Other starfish food includes corals, planktons and sponges.
What system helps starfish catch food? Starfish has the ability to extrude their stomach, so will the stomach is out its tubular feet hold its prey while the stomach devours and digest the food. After that the stomach will retract back to its body.
What do starfish eat in aquariums?
Because of its habit of roaming around the ocean floor, starfish is great for your aquarium because it will surely move around your aquarium while getting a lot of attention from you and from your visitors. If your aquarium has sand, this starfish behavior will benefit all creatures inside your tank because it will help in oxygen circulation and getting rid of nitrate and ammonia production.
Because starfish are scavengers, they will consume the food in the bottom of the aquarium. So if you have leftover flakes of fish food and or even algae on the sand bed, they will munch on those things.
Spongers are also included in the starfish’s diet. It may sound peculiar, but it would definitely help if you include some sponges in your fish tank. While others put frozen sponges in their aquarium, it would be better to not freeze it for these animals prefer food that are not frozen.
So, in other words, these aquatic pets are not picky eaters at all. You can feed them whatever food you have, toss it on the fish tank, but make sure that it reaches the floor of the aquarium. Sand bed is the usual spot they obtain their food from so you should see to it that it is clear and they it is spacious enough for them to graze onto.
Caring for Starfish
Unlike any other domesticated pets who really needs your utmost attention and care, starfish doesn’t need that. Of course, aside from its inability to walk and run away from the aquarium, you will not spend a lot of time thinking about what they would eat or if they would eat the new fish flakes you bought. The only issue that you are facing when you have a starfish as a pet is that you should take care of the cleanliness of the ecosystem inside the aquarium.
Make sure that the sodium level in your aquarium is enough to make the starfish live, because they can only survive in aged saltwater fish tanks- in other words, before you have put them inside your fish tank, make sure that the other fishes have already established a biological order first. Only then you can introduce your new aquatic pet to its new home.
Matured Fish Tanks
You might be wondering, why does it have to be an aged aquarium? I just bought a new one, so does this mean I have to wait another month to place a starfish in it? Well, if you want your starfish to survive, then you definitely should. Aged aquarium has fishes that have already established a balanced biological order with its environment. Algae would then be abundant and ample for the starfish to graze on if there is an absence of food swarming down the sand bed.
It would also be important to note that a starfish is highly sensitive to its environment. Hence, they will be sick if the water quality, the pH balance or even the temperature has abruptly changed. Although they help in controlling the nitrogen present in the water, which also help other plants and fishes obtain enough dissolved oxygen inside the aquarium, these starfishes are sensitive when exposed to air. The key to have a thriving starfish then is to have a well-conditioned water in your fish tank. A good water conditioner can be of help in attaining this.
Where do Starfish Live?
Starfishes live in all oceans and seas in the world. The widely-known form of starfish is the five-armed species that earned the species its ‘sea star’ nickname. However, there are versions of this marine invertebrate that have up to 40 arms.
What’s Special About A Starfish?
A starfish, in spite of being an invertebrate, is highly resilient and can thrive amidst extreme situations. Its keratinized outer covering makes it less vulnerable to tear and predators. One distinct characteristic of starfish which helps them get by is the fact that they could regenerate and regrow their lost parts. They only need 1/5 of the central disk that makes up their body and one arm so they could regrow their whole body.
It is true that an aquarium will never be complete without the ‘star’ in it, and we could not deny how magnificent these creatures are. However, if we want to domesticate starfishes, we should also be aware of the do’s and don’t’s to make sure that we never harm them. However, if you are not willing to know the basics on how to take care of these animals, then just let them live in their original habitat.