Aquarium Livestock Pet Care Guides

Starfish for the Home Aquarium

Natural Habitat

Indo-Pacific, Atlantic

Tank Temperature




Specific Gravity



Varies with species. Most are scavengers while some are carnivores and will eat some inverts. The precise diet in some species is unknown but they are thought to feed on detritus and certain sponges or inverts.


Regenerates limbs; Brittle  and Serpent Starfish species may eat snails, other invertebrates or dead/dying fish and are some of the best scavengers; Sand-sifting starfish species bury themselves in the substrate and sift it for food matter; Some other species may prey on snails, corals and other inverts.


Some are Reef Safe/Invert Safe and can be kept in reef aquariums, others may eat some inverts like snails and corals. Research all choices carefully to avoid conflicts.

Species Overview

Starfish are some of the most popular and recognizable sea creatures today, both within the aquarium hobby and without. While the generic picture of a starfish is of a thick, five-legged star with suction-cup-like tubed feet, the appearances of different starfish can vary. They can have any number of legs, the legs themselves may be thick, thin, stiff, flexible, featherlike or leathery. Every color, color combination and pattern can be found somewhere on a starfish. Hundreds of different species of starfish exist and their care can vary from species to species. Research your individual choices carefully.

Most starfish are scavengers. Some may prey on snails and invertebrates while others eat detritus, leftover food, and tiny organisms in and on the substrate and rockwork. Fromia and Linckia starfish are among the group of stars that are considered safe for corals (although Fromia starfish are thought to feed on sponges) and invertebrates while thicker-bodied stars like Chocolate Chip and Bahama stars will prey on snails, corals and other stationary inverts.

Most brittle and serpent starfish are scavengers. Some may prey on snails and invertebrates while others eat detritus, leftover food, and tiny organisms in and on the substrate and rockwork. These starfish do not have the suction cup-like tubed feet common in other starfish. Their legs are instead often covered with small spines or hardened scaly plates. The names "brittle starfish" and "serpent starfish" are often used interchangeably, but "serpent starfish" usually refers to smoother-legged "brittle starfish". These starfish will usually hide in rockwork or caves and come out only to feed. Some may prey on live inverts or small fish if underfed, and they may also prey on sick, dead or dying fish. Brittle and Serpent starfish can be fed by placing a piece of clam, shrimp, scallop or other small, meaty foods by their mouth.

Starfish will sometimes break a leg off if stressed or harassed. This is seen even more in serpent and brittle starfish than in many of the thicker-bodied starfish (hence the name "brittle" starfish). As long as the starfish is otherwise healthy, these legs can regenerate and the starfish can continue to grow and thrive. Starfish often may have asymmetrical legs where they have broken off and begun to grow back.

Starfish are sensitive to poor water quality and to changes in their environment. Acclimate new arrivals carefully and use caution during water changes and if changing conditions in the aquarium. Avoid large swings in temperature especially.

We always suggest that you do further research before adding a new pet to your tank. What we have provided for you are guidelines and suggestions. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact our fish room at 717-299-5691 ext. 1213 or

Recommended Items

Wave Maker
LED Lighting
Coral & Invertebrate Food
Aragonite Sand
Calcium & Reef Building Supplements