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Tiger Brittle Starfish

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The Tiger Brittle Starfish is one of those reef invertebrates that is often hidden away during the day. The brittle stars come out at night and scavenge all over the bottom of the tank and on the live rock looking for bits and pieces of things to eat. The brittle stars for the most part are rather good tank mates with fish, corals and other inverts.

Starfish in general are very sensitive to changes in water quality and conditions. If temperature, salinity or other water parameters change quickly, starfish cannot regulate the change and are often damaged or killed. Be sure to acclimate carefully and while doing water changes, make sure the "new" water is as close as possible to the "old" water in its parameters.  

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. 

Like many other starfish, Brittle Starfish and Serpent Starfish will sometimes break a leg off if stressed or harassed. This is seen even more in these types of 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. These starfish often may have asymmetrical legs where they have broken off and begun to grow back. 

Some are quite cool looking, including the Tiger Striped Brittle Star varieties. Colors vary quite a bit with some being light brown with darker stripes and some are dark brown with even darker stripes.

They are called "brittle stars" because there arms are easily broken off as some sort of defensive mechanism.

Scientific Name : Ophiuroidea spp. (over 1600 species)

Common Names : Tiger Striped Serpent Seastar

Care Level : Moderately Easy to care for in the home aquarium.

Life span : If well cared for they can live for several years in a saltwater aquarium.

Size : 12 inches and sometimes a little larger (30 cm) when measuring from arm tip to arm tip.

pH : 8.1 - 8.4

Temperature : 72°F - 80°F (22°C - 27°C)

Specific Gravity : 1.020 - 1.025

Carbonate Hardness (dKH) : 8 - 12°

Origin / Habitat : Found on many reefs from Southern Japan to Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Temperament / Behavior : These brittle stars are scavengers that should feed on detritus, dead organisms, etc. They should leave corals and fish alone.

Breeding : Unknown if breeding has been achieved in the home aquarium.

Aquarium Size : 20 gallon minimum

Tank Mates : Many given their behavior and feeding habits. Watch out for any stars labeled "green brittle stars" though. These are known fish eaters.

Reef Tank Compatible? : Yes, they should be fine in a reef tank setup.

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