A magnificent starfish in both behaviour and looks, and a definite trap that is lurking for the unsuspecting budding aquarist. It is a trap that can be easily avoided and one that raises its ugly head every day in hobby. How easy it must be to go along to your local dealer, fall in love with and purchase this fantastic predator. Yes, it is a big, beautiful, eating machine that will go through your reef with delight, and before you realize it is the starfish and not something else lurking in the rockwork it is too late as half your stock has been consumed.
In the wild, it lives on the sea grass beds consuming shellfish, sponges, worms and most invertebrates unable to escape it’s speed and deadly intentions. So in a reef tank it is totally in an unnatural environment but will adapt readily and also change it’s diet and consume corals, fish, and others with ease. However in the large fish only aquarium, it will do a great job in cleaning up the detritus and uneaten food as long as it is fed some meaty foods such as cockle or mussel daily. It is a hardy animal but must not be exposed to air as this can cause damage to the water vascular system that works the tube feet, the damage will cause the death of the animal.
So to our trap, and whose fault is it? Yes, the age old trap of being sold an animal that is unsuitable for your aquarium. There is no excuse at all for the dealer, the animal should be labeled as not reef safe, or the dealer should ask what aquarium you have. Some experienced aquarists accuse the hobbyist of not researching and so claim that the hobbyist is as much to blame as the dealer. But the experienced should always remember that they too were once new to the hobby and made the same mistakes, oh yes they did. So the blame firmly rests on the retailer making a quick profit not only on the starfish but also the replaced stock which is purchased to repopulate the damaged aquarium.
It is a fantastic starfish, it is hardy and robust, beautiful coloration a real conversation piece and a great pet but only in the correct aquarium, as always ask in the shop or other hobbyists if you are unsure of any animals compatibility.
Name Protoreaster nodosus
Location Indo Pacific
Feeding Good range of animal meaty based foods
Size Commonly 6 – 12 cm but up to 25cm
Water Flow Moderate is best
Lighting None required
Difficulty Hardy as always very good water quality.