Caring for pets is a great way to animate any household. And if you simply don’t have the time to look after furry friends such as dogs or cats, then fish might be a viable alternative for you. The brightly colored and vivacious little friends aren’t that hard to care for, and they are rather fun to watch too.
Nevertheless, not every member of your aquarium has to swim around and put on a show. Some creatures serve ornamental purposes amazingly, and starfish are one important category in this respect. And out of all the existing species, the chocolate chip sea star is the most beginner-friendly choice, so let’s see what it is and how you can take proper care of it.
About the Chocolate Chip Sea Star
According to National Geographic, the chocolate chip starfish is a general term used to refer to a class of invertebrates that have a cookie-like appearance. Although marine biologists usually refer to Nidorellia armata when uttering this name, we are actually talking about the Protoreaster nodosus, which is its pet shop cousin.
Although many members of the Oreasteridae family handle captivity poorly, this little fellow is a very welcome exception to the rule. Its color palette is varied, with hues ranging from pale tans to deep and vivid oranges. But they all share one similar trait, and it is also what gives them their name and cookie-like appearance.
Regardless of their color, chocolate chip sea stars all sport brown-black growths that resemble Hershey kisses in appearance. For this reason, those that are of lighter coloring can look like crisp, star-shaped marshmallows. Needless to say, this makes them amazing ornamental additions to any aquarium.
Nevertheless, they are best kept as members of a fish tank that does not contain small reef formations because they have a tendency to nibble on those. Thus, a fish-only environment is most suited to their behavior. Other than that, they tend to be rather peaceful and play well with others, as long as they aren’t threatened.
The main marine threats that need to be kept away from the captive chocolate chip sea star are lobsters, large crabs, puffer fish, and triggerfish. Any other oceanic or freshwater creatures will coexist harmoniously with them. For this reason, they are a very popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts from all over the world.
How to Care for It Properly
Unfortunately, the chocolate chip starfish isn’t a viable option if you have a small tank. They are best kept in large aquariums because they grow as much as 15 inches in diameter. Furthermore, because it is quite the passive being, it lives best among mild-mannered fish. Predators will tear it apart because it moves quite slowly.
As long as the tank has a deep and welcoming sandy bed on the bottom, your new friend will do just fine. This is an exact replica of their preferred habitat, so make sure you offer it the appropriate living conditions. If it’s one thing that you must pay extra attention to, it’s the quality of the water.
Just like other invertebrates, the chocolate chip sea star cannot survive in a tank that is high in nitrate. Therefore, make sure that you maintain a healthy cycle in this respect so that every single member of your small marine family can leave a happy and healthy life. But other than that, it is a hardy species that is easy to keep around.
Come mealtime, this species of starfish is rather low maintenance. It has a scavenging nature, which means that it can munch on a variety of things it finds lying around in the tank. However, in captivity, it will require supplemental feeding in the form of algae and meaty foods. The best choices for this are scallops, mussels and small pieces of squid or shrimp.
One way to go about it is to place the morsel in its path and wait for the little guy to crawl on top of it. But this method isn’t exactly the best, because it won’t always find its way to it. This means that its tank pears (the wrasse in particular) will pull it apart and devour it before the poor thing has had a chance to get its daily dose of nutrition.
Thus, the best way to feed the chocolate chip starfish its supplements is by lifting it, placing the food on the bottom and then putting the fellow right on top. As long as you handle the animal carefully, this method will work wonders. Remember that they are fragile little creatures that need to be touched by love and kindness.
The Bottom Line
The chocolate chip sea star is a great ornamental addition to any large marine aquarium. Due to its scavenger nature, it will mostly feed off of food that falls to the bottom of the tank. Nevertheless, it does require meaty supplements, and you need to keep it away from soft reefs and predators if you want your emulated ecosystem to be harmonious.
Featured Image Source: Bernard Dupont