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starfish eaters


loanmaster

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I have a 12 gallon nano cube and want a pair of harlequin shrimp. I am prepared to deal with their eating habits but I want some experiences from fellow nano reefers on the subject. Please respond with pic's, sucess' and failures. All comments are appreciated thanks.

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r u getting the harlequin shrimp because u saw them on the cover of marine depot.....i was going to do the same thing but i know they eat starfish so i decided not to

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my tank is 5 1/2 weeks old and only has a few corals (green star polyps, zoo's, small ric's and a xenia along with a feather duster). I will wait at least a couple more weeks untill it is better established before adding a harlequin pair. I have a skunk cleaner shrimp and was wondering if there would be a conflict.

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Just a little FYI..harlequins don't just eat "starfish"..they only eat a couple of species. The common one you'll find sold that will pass as food is a Linckia sp. sea star. Just check out the cost of feeding before you buy..lol. (If you've never seen them eat..it's actually pretty disgusting..they'll feed off the same starfish, tube foot by tube foot, for days at a time. Very gruesome sight and what I can only imagine would be a painful death for a starfish...if they really had a nervous system to feel that pain.) Other than that...just be careful with the starfish..they can be delicate and I'm not sure how keen harlequins are on eating already-dead prey. If you want to brush up on your echinoderm care and handling..there's a great couple of articles by Shimek in the past couple of issues of Reefkeeping Online Magazine (over at reefcentral).

 

Cheers,

Fred

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Also. there are ethnical issues with constanly buying collected stars to feed them. There is a species that you can rear yourself, but I forget the name right now. Its in my invertebrate book, I can get it if you want to know.

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as far as the cost I am ready to bear it. Ethics wise if it happens in the wild it can happen inmy tank. I am more concerned with the nitrates from the decaying starfish harming my other fish and corals. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

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wouldn't that pollute a nano cube very fast. A dead or dieing sea star constantly decaying in 12 gallons of water. sounds like a mistake, make sure you know what your getting your self into.

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I currently have 2 Harlequin shrimp in my 12 gallon JBJ Nano, I have had at least 3 or 4 of them over the years, back in my fish only days. I agree that it is a rather gruesome thing to feed a living starfish to them, but I also agree that if it happens in nature, then it can happen in my tank. About once a month I purchase a 2" to 3" Chocolate Chip starfish from my LFS, (about $6.00). I acclimate the starfish to my tank for several hours, just as I would any other thing I add to the tank. After acclimating, I release the star into the tank. Within 4 to 5 minutes the Harlequins come out from their hiding place and climb on top of the star and begin the attack. Within 2 to 3 minutes the star is turned over on its back and acts almost as if it is paralyzed. It remains on it's back the entire time that the shrimp feed on the feet, and never attempts to escape. After several hours of feeding on the star, the shrimp will drag the starfish underneath a rock or overhang and proceed to eat the entire starfish, leg by leg, it takes several days. I have never seen them eat the central disk of the starfish, and as horrible as this sounds, I think the starfish is alive the entire time. I test my tank all the time and have never had a Nitrate / Nitrite or Ammonia spike, so as far as decay, I'm not really sure there is any? It's hard to believe anything as beautiful as these shrimp are, that their natural behavior is as horrible as this sounds....but it's nature...this is what they do in the wild. I love my harlequin shrimp.

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I had a pair in a 10 gallon tank for a few months, they didn't seem to do that great. After one of them died, I removed the other one and put him in my 65 gallon and he has done great.

 

H%20shrimps.jpg

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Thats actually quite horrible...feeding live starfish. True it happens in the wild, but the starfish has a much greater area to roam and the likelyhood that a starfish will come across a harlequin shrimp is much less as compared to your 12 gallon tank. I find it difficult to compare a beautiful starfish to a feeder goldfish....although I am not really slamming anyone that decides to keep them. They are incredible looking shrimp but I just cant imagine watching them strip a live starfish of its feet and then its arms in my tank. Just my two cent now flame away if you would like.

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  • 3 weeks later...

it sounds really awful that Harlequin's eat the starfish alive but because it does this feeding a harl can be easy if you plan ahead.

 

starfish regenerate the parts that harl's eat first, so if you stop the harl from eating the entire starfish and killing it you can put it in a different tank and it will regen it self back good as new. my lfs guy keeps a tank with non reef safe stuff (like choc starfish), all you gots to do is get a few of those and constantly switch them out for feeding the shrimp, that way you get a never ending starfish buffet.

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ottoman,

 

That wouldn't really work. You would have to have 50+ starfish to even start thinking about doing something like that for just one shrimp. They go through them really quickly.

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Also. there are ethnical issues with constanly buying collected stars to feed them. There is a species that you can rear yourself, but I forget the name right now. Its in my invertebrate book, I can get it if you want to know.

 

Ethnical issues? keke. Anyhow ...

 

What ethical issues are there and how is it any different than feeding my mantis shrimp live snails. Or feeding some type of angler fish live silversides? Or feeding living phytoplankton to filter feeders? Or feeding mice to your python? Or eating a hamburger?

 

IMO, there is no difference.

 

However, I think it's important for you to know that the harlequins actually only consume an echinoderms little feet tentacles. Sometimes they will tear up a bit of the leg too, but generally they do not consume the whole starfish, and they do not prey on smaller stars which are easily culture-able in an aquarium. That many dead stars would foul your water ...

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