One of the most interesting additions to any saltwater tank is a starfish. Starfish have a wide variety of colours and body forms and are echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea. There are 2,000 living species of starfish that occur in all the world's oceans, including the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian as well as in the Arctic and the Southern Ocean regions.

What is most unique about starfish is their well-known ability to regenerate missing limbs. It is common in the wild to see a starfish with 6 or more limbs as two limbs can take the place of the missing one.

Keeping a starfish is not a high maintenance task, as they are compatible with most fish species (but stay away from aggressive fish like puffers and triggers!) and relatively easy to care for.

It is important to find out feeding requirements for your starfish at the time that you buy it. Some are carnivores, but most starfish are opportunistic feeders, scavenging off fish waste. They need to be fed daily or weekly, depending on the species. Some are carnivores, however it is important for the health of the starfish to vary their diet. As with any marine creature, it is essential not to overfeed, as starfish have a slow metabolic rate. Additionally, make sure the tank is not too crowded, as this may cause stress and disease.

Starfish can grow very large, with some reaching up to 12 inches. Ensure you have a tank large enough to accommodate for this growth. Your tank will also require full spectrum lighting and good filtration. Water temperature should be kept at 22-25C (72-78F) and appropriate pH levels should be maintained. Check these parameters regularly as a health check for your starfish. Other regular maintenance includes changing 20% of the total volume of water once every month.

And one more important thing to remember – when you bring your starfish home, put them into the tank upside down and let them turn themselves over. Their mouth is on their underside, and placing them into the tank the normal way up can cause air bubbles to get stuck in their mouth and suffocate them.

Good luck & enjoy,

Paul Talbot