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Sand Sifting Sea Star
(Astropecten polyacanthus)
Quick Care FactsCare Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Maximum Size: 10"
Diet: Omnivore
Aquarium Level: Bottom
Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
Reef Compatible: Yes
Water Conditions: 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025
Supplements: Iodine, Trace Elements
Coloration: Tan, Brown
Origin: Fiji, Soloman Islands, Pacific
Family: Astropectinidae
Species: Starfish
Species Information
The Sand Sifting Sea Star (Astropecten polycanthus) is a highly sought after sand sifter for hobbyists with well established reef aquariums or community FOWLR aquariums. Sand Sifting Sea Stars are excellent at keeping a deep sand bed turned over so that anaerobic bacteria and pockets of toxic gases do not form in the sand bed.
However, they are fairly voracious eaters that often wipe out the food sources that they prey on when housed in aquariums that are too small or not well established. Hobbyists who utilize refugiums with their aquarium, have larger aquariums (greater than 75 gallons) or who have well established aquariums will be better able to house Sand Sifting Sea Stars as their system will support higher levels of the critters that Sand Sifting Sea Stars feed on.
In addition to a plentiful food source, Sand Sifting Sea Stars need stable water parameters including: salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and nutrient levels.
Aquarium Care
Hobbyists looking to keep Sand Sifting Sea Stars need to have a deep sand bed in the aquarium both to provide cover / habitat and to provide plenty of habitat for the small organisms that the Sea Star preys on. The beneficial nature of the Sea Star occurs as its moves through the sand bed in search of food, which serves to loosen debris from the sand where it can be either consumed by other organisms or removed from the aquarium via the mechanical filtration.
Sand sifting also servers to release pockets of gas that can build up in an aquarium with a deep sand bed. Most hobbyists under estimate the effectiveness of the Sand Sifting Sea Star in its ability to clean the aquarium of small worms, detritus and small crustaceans. This often leads to aquariums that are over stocked on Sea Stars or Starfish being added to aquariums that are too small to support them.
Tank mates should consist of peaceful community fish species, corals and other peaceful to semi-aggressive invertebrates. Natural predators to Starfish like Sharks, Pufferfish and Triggers should not be housed with the Sand Sifting Sea Star.
Feeding & Nutrition
Sand Sifting Sea Stars (Astropecten polycanthus) feed on small organisms like worms, copepods, amphipods and other small crustaceans found living within the sand bed of an established aquarium. It is extremely important that aquariums housing Sand Sifting Sea Stars have a deep sand bed of 3 inches or more and be well established.
In a well established reef aquarium, hobbyists can expect to successfully keep one Sand Sifting Sea Star per 75 gallons or so. This should provide enough food for the Starfish to survive and the creatures that it feeds on to flourish in numbers large enough to support both their colony and the Sand Sifting Starfish feeding on them.
Additional Photos