Something is eating/attacking my sand sifting starfish ?

DarkReefer

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Hi All,

Added a starfish last weekend and have been monitoring it the last few days as I didn't think it seemed too active.

It appears something in my tank is eating the starfish but I've never seen anything really go near it.
This morning I woke up to see one of it's legs eaten up or something.
Can anyone help me to ID who the culprit may be based on fish type ?
Anything I can do to help the little guy recover?

Current livestock is;
2x Occelaris Clowns
1x small blue tang
1x foxface rabbitfish
1x Flame hawkfish
1x yellow coris wrasse
1x cleaner wrasse

I know the foxface likes to nibble on all sorts (keeps ticking off my duncan coral thats for sure). Would any of the others do damage?
 
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DarkReefer

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Either or. There's not really any treatment once if starts other than crossing your fingers.
Oh well, fingers will be crossed then. Poor thing.
Having a very quick read online it looks like they can regenerate themselves quite well... we'll see I suppose.
 

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Oh well, fingers will be crossed then. Poor thing.
Having a very quick read online it looks like they can regenerate themselves quite well... we'll see I suppose.
Yes, provided the bacterial infection doesn't spread to the head/center of the starfish - then the legs will definitely grow back in time.
 
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ISpeakForTheSeas

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The iodine dip is an interesting idea - no idea if it would work, but I’m curious to find out.

That said, if (it’s a big if) your star’s bacterial infection is similar to Sea Star Wasting Disease (which you can decide by looking at the symptoms for it yourself) - where bacteria on the starfish’s surface actually suffocate the star an iodine dip may actually be helpful in treatment by killing off the surface bacteria and allowing the star to get oxygen again (Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium used antibiotics successfully on their stars to cure the disease a few years back, and this would theoretically have a similar effect). Unfortunately, Google seems unable to provide me any information about other starfish illnesses and diseases right now, so this is the only one I can seem to find any info on for the moment, but if the symptoms are similar, giving the star a somewhat cooler (probably ~75F vs most tanks being kept at 77-78F), low nutrient environment with high oxygenation after the iodine dip could potentially help with recovery, as the bacterial species that cause SSWD are copiotrophic (they like high nutrients), so the cooler water and low nutrients would slow bacterial growth while the oxygen helps the star recover from suffocating. The cooler temp might also slow the star’s healing though (many marine organisms grow more slowly in cooler temperatures), so that is something to consider before trying any of the above potential advice.

Beyond that, from what I’ve heard, depending on conditions and the individual species, a healthy sea star should be able to start recovering from serious injuries (like lesions or lost limbs) within ~3 months. Depending on severity and water quality, though, I’d guess a timeframe of ~6-9 months wouldn’t be too unrealistic.

SSWD or not, though, let us know what you end up doing for treatment and how it goes. I really am curious if the iodine would help or not.

Also, out of curiosity, what is your starfish? I saw one of the comments mention a sand sifter, but I don’t see any specifics in your post.
 
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The iodine dip is an interesting idea - no idea if it would work, but I’m curious to find out.

That said, if (it’s a big if) your star’s bacterial infection is similar to Sea Star Wasting Disease (which you can decide by looking at the symptoms for it yourself) - where bacteria on the starfish’s surface actually suffocate the star an iodine dip may actually be helpful in treatment by killing off the surface bacteria and allowing the star to get oxygen again (Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium used antibiotics successfully on their stars to cure the disease a few years back, and this would theoretically have a similar effect). Unfortunately, Google seems unable to provide me any information about other starfish illnesses and diseases right now, so this is the only one I can seem to find any info on for the moment, but if the symptoms are similar, giving the star a somewhat cooler (probably ~75F vs most tanks being kept at 77-78F), low nutrient environment with high oxygenation after the iodine dip could potentially help with recovery, as the bacterial species that cause SSWD are copiotrophic (they like high nutrients), so the cooler water and low nutrients would slow bacterial growth while the oxygen helps the star recover from suffocating. The cooler temp might also slow the star’s healing though (many marine organisms grow more slowly in cooler temperatures), so that is something to consider before trying any of the above potential advice.

Beyond that, from what I’ve heard, depending on conditions and the individual species, a healthy sea star should be able to start recovering from serious injuries (like lesions or lost limbs) within ~3 months. Depending on severity and water quality, though, I’d guess a timeframe of ~6-9 months wouldn’t be too unrealistic.

SSWD or not, though, let us know what you end up doing for treatment and how it goes. I really am curious if the iodine would help or not.

Also, out of curiosity, what is your starfish? I saw one of the comments mention a sand sifter, but I don’t see any specifics in your post.
Thanks for the info. I ended up putting it into an iodine dip for about 20 mins.

Looks like my foxface and yellow wrasse are nibbling at some of the meaty bits that are coming off it. Not sure if they're the cause or not though.
Perhaps I'll chuck it under the sand or something a little to see if it helps hide it from sight.

It's a sand sifting starfish, not sure the exact name.
Here's a pic of the poor guy during the dip.

20220625_143728.jpg
 

ISpeakForTheSeas

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Oof, yeah that's not looking good. Assuming it's still alive and kicking, if the fish are still pecking at it, I'd toss it in a hospital/quarantine tank for a while, as the pecking is likely to stress it out and make things worse. I'd also make sure to offer it some food (clam on half shell is probably a good option) - as mentioned above, these guys usually starve in our tanks. Based on what I've been able to find about their diets, the quotes below are my current pieces of advice for how to try and avoid the starvation (no guarantees it will help, but - if your star survives this ordeal - I'd be curious to know if it helps your star survive long term):
With sand sifting stars, most people recommend waiting until your tank is established before adding them - however, you might be able to target feed it with things like clam on half shell, oyster, snail or conch meat (a lot of places offer these frozen), a good quality omnivore food (like LRS Reef Frenzy) etc. It should swallow any of these foods whole, as long as the food isn’t too big for the star. They generally feed on detritus in our tanks, but target feeding might provide enough of the proper nutrition for them, and these are supposed to be some of the kinds of food they eat in the wild anyway. Plus, they are known for eating all of the detritus in our tanks and starving to death, so target feeding them larger food pieces relatively regularly might actually help it do better long term. No guarantees though.

If you decide to get it and try target feeding it, let us know how it turns out.
Mussel and whelk could potentially be fed as well, but with the mussel I've heard that clams may be more nutritious.
 

vetteguy53081

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Pic looks like waste away and likely caused by bacterial health or poor water quality and lack of diet for this star. Sand sifting starfish mainly lose their legs when theyre not getting enough food and in essence starving to death. You should always make sure that there is enough food for your starfish which eat small inverts, shrimp, larger pods and even small urchins. When starving they will bury themselves into the substrate and disintegrate and eventually starve to death.
They also cant tolerate warm temps for lengthy periods above 79 degrees
 
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Pic looks like waste away and likely caused by bacterial health or poor water quality and lack of diet for this star. Sand sifting starfish mainly lose their legs when theyre not getting enough food and in essence starving to death. You should always make sure that there is enough food for your starfish which eat small inverts, shrimp, larger pods and even small urchins. When starving they will bury themselves into the substrate and disintegrate and eventually starve to death.
They also cant tolerate warm temps for lengthy periods above 79 degrees

When I picked it up I noticed a chunk out of one of the legs and thought nothing of it (first time getting a star so didn't really know what to look for) I believe it would've been bacterial infection as every day for the last week it looked worse and worse. LFS suggested these to clean up my very dirty looking sand (algae or whatever), no other CUC at the time. In past I've run snails and they've always done a good job but I wanted to try something different this time around (ie. shrimp and the like).
MY water temp is set around 76.6.

Unfortunately the star didn't make.
This morning it was looking much more worse for wear and on closer inspection, no movement from tentacles etc so it's gone.
 

vetteguy53081

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When I picked it up I noticed a chunk out of one of the legs and thought nothing of it (first time getting a star so didn't really know what to look for) I believe it would've been bacterial infection as every day for the last week it looked worse and worse. LFS suggested these to clean up my very dirty looking sand (algae or whatever), no other CUC at the time. In past I've run snails and they've always done a good job but I wanted to try something different this time around (ie. shrimp and the like).
MY water temp is set around 76.6.

Unfortunately the star didn't make.
This morning it was looking much more worse for wear and on closer inspection, no movement from tentacles etc so it's gone.
Bummer- sorry to hear. Sounds like it was already distressed at purchase
 
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