Although the fish you choose are the attraction of the simulated ecosystem of any aquarium, they’re usually not the only ones there. To emulate a healthy and aesthetically pleasing environment, you will need decorative aquatic lifeforms as well. And, of course, none are more appealing or interesting than the chocolate chip starfish.
If you’ve never owned one before, then you might be wondering what does a chocolate chip starfish eat? Although this marine creature isn’t picky, you will still need to know what to do come feeding time if you want it to be happy and healthy in its new home. Here is everything you need to know on the topic.
A Practical Feeding Guide for the Chocolate Chip Starfish
What Is the Chocolate Chip Starfish?
The common denomination of chocolate chip starfish may refer to a variety of related species. Nevertheless, the fish tank-friendly variety is Protoreaster nodosus, which is native to the shallow and warm waters of the Indo-Pacific region. Its color varies from a neutral tan to vivid orange, and it has brownish-black spines all over its body.
These are what makes the marine creature resemble a chocolate chip cookie, which is how it gained its name. But their role is more than just aesthetic. They are a heavy armor that deters predators when the starfish is out in the wild. When you put in the tank with the right mates, they don’t do much else besides looking cool.
Thus, this species is mostly integrated into aquariums for ornamental purposes. The chocolate chip starfish is a peaceful aquatic lifeform that cannot coexist with predatory fish, as it moves rather slowly. Avoid placing them together with pufferfish, triggerfish, and large hermit crabs. Other than that, most smaller and non-aggressive fish are fine, as are shrimp.
Because it can measure up to 15 inches in diameter once it reaches maturity, the chocolate chip starfish is best kept in larger aquariums, so it has room to develop and roam. As long as there is a sand bed on the bottom, it will live happily. Although it is a tough little guy, it is especially sensitive to water of poor quality with high nitrate levels.
Therefore, you need to pay extra attention when you clean the tank regularly, and never skip a day. Other than that, it is a beginner-friendly variety of sea star, as it is affordable and doesn’t have too many special needs. As long as you feed it right, it will do just fine. Of course, it needs the right food in order to prosper, just like any other living being.
A Practical Feeding Guide
It’s important to open this section by mentioning that chocolate chip starfish aren’t suitable for reef aquariums, as it eats corals, sponges, and other starfish as well. Their preferred nibble is actually soft corals such as corallimorphs and zoanthus. If you pay attention to this, your tank’s décor should be just fine.
Other than that, they aren’t too picky when it comes to food. Starfish are natural scavengers, so they will eat pretty much anything that falls to the bottom of the tank. However, they sometimes require meaty supplements, and the best choices in this category are mussels, squid, or pieces of shrimp.
To get them to eat these morsels, you will have to place the pieces directly in their path so that they can crawl on top of them and consume the nutrients. However, this method isn’t always successful. As previously mentioned, starfish are slow creatures, and they’re not the brightest aquarium dwellers either. Thus, they might be unable to find the food.
When this happens, other fish will gladly consume it and not give the little guy a chance to claim its prize. Thus, you might want to pick the animal up and place it on top of the food yourself. If you are careful enough not to damage it, then everything will be fine. To ensure this, you need to have a light grip. They aren’t as fragile as they seem, but it’s best to be cautious.
The Bottom Line
Adding a chocolate chip starfish to your fish tank is an easy choice to make, as they are peaceful and play well with most aquatic creatures. As long as you don’t put them together with large and threatening predators, they will be fine. What is more, their scavenging nature makes feeding them rather simple, as they simply munch on whatever they find on the sandy bottom.
Still, if you want their nutritional needs to be fully covered, treat them to a few bits of mussels, shrimp, or squid every now and then. Just be careful they get to it first, otherwise, it becomes a free game to their tank mates.