Sand Sifting Starfish (Astropecten polycanthus)
Max Size: 1 foot
Reef Compatible: Yes
Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons
The Sand Sifting Sea Star may not catch your eye immediately with its seemingly drab coloration, but a closer look reveals the true beauty of its alternating bands of brown and beige that adorn its thick, spine-covered arms. This invertebrate, belonging to the Astropectinidae family, is highly efficient at consuming large amounts of detritus and uneaten food. Being nocturnally active, it burrows into the substrate in search of food, making it an excellent cleaner for even the largest home aquariums.
As a peaceful omnivore, the Sand Sifting Sea Star is adept at cleaning detritus and leftover food from the aquarium. It also consumes small invertebrates such as shrimp, urchins, mollusks, bivalves, or other sea stars. To maintain its health, it should be fed a varied diet consisting of natural food sources, especially in well-established marine aquariums. Otherwise, it may quickly clean the aquarium of detritus and then begin to starve and decay as it burrows into the substrate.
To support its feeding habits, the Sand Sifting Sea Star requires an aquarium with large, deep sand bottoms, several inches in depth. Due to its slower movement compared to most fish, it should not be housed with natural predators, including Puffers.
Similar to other invertebrates, the Sand Sifting Sea Star is highly intolerant of sudden changes in oxygen levels, salinity, and pH. It cannot tolerate copper-based medications. When introducing new specimens to your aquarium, use the drip acclimation method to ensure a smooth transition, and avoid exposing the Sea Star to air during handling.
Breeding the Sand Sifting Sea Star in a home aquarium is extremely challenging as there are no distinguishing characteristics to differentiate between males and females.