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Aquatic Fantasy Blog

Stars of the Cleanup Crew

Posted on June 24, 2015

3 Excellent starfish to add to your saltwater aquarium cleanup crew.

Stars of the Cleanup CrewHaving beautiful creatures in your saltwater aquarium is all well and good. But when you can find creatures that are at once fun to look at and actually useful to the tank environment, that’s a real win-win situation.

This is exactly what you will find with the following 3 types of starfish that will quickly become the “stars” of your cleanup crew.

Micro Brittle Stars

Looks: It’s fascinating to watch the bristly, serpentine arms of a brittle star exploring its environment. Micro brittle stars give you the ability to keep this interesting creature even in a small aquarium.

Cleanup Crew Role: This type of starfish is an excellent sand cleaner. They will sift through the top layer of sand, clean up any food debris they find there, and also help to aerate the sand so your beneficial bacteria can thrive in there.

Care Requirements: Micro brittle stars are very easy to care for. The little ones will happily eat whatever food scraps they can find, and as they get larger they will begin to take whole frozen brine shrimp as well. They are also very good at matching their population size to available food supply—they will multiply quickly but you don’t have to worry about them overpopulating your tank.

Asterina Stars

Looks: This variety of starfish comes in a tremendous variety of colors—there are actually over 30 described species in the genus. While the asterinas with blue or red spots are generally the most attractive, they should be avoided if you have SPS corals in your aquarium. The brown-and-white-spotted Asterina anomala may be less colorful, but it is still quite attractive and, most importantly, less likely to feed on your coral.

Cleanup Crew Role: Asterina stars are excellent algae cleaners. They will eat any kind of algae off any surface from the aquarium glass to the rocks and sand. They have even been known to climb into return hoses and clear the algae out of there.

Care Requirements: Asterinas are easy to care for, and will manage their own population to match available food. The biggest challenge may be spotting them—they are typically just ¼ to ½ inch across.

Red Tile Starfish

Looks: This is probably one of the prettiest starfish you could ask for. The center of the body and sometimes the tips of the arms are red, while the rest of the arms are white with a lacy red pattern. It almost looks like a red starfish wearing white fingerless lace gloves.

Cleanup Crew Role: Red tile starfish will eat both algae and organic material from all parts of the tank, making them nice cleanup crew generalists to have on your team.

Care Requirements: Caring for red tile starfish is easy. They will eat a wide variety of supplemental foods if you don’t have enough algae or organics, and they don’t seem to bother corals.

Shopping for a New Starfish?

Come to Aquatic Fantasy. We’ll be happy to show you our selection and help you pick out a healthy specimen that is a good match for your aquarium.


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