Sand Sifting Starfish 101: Care, Appearance, Lifespan, Diet & All | 2022

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: June 2, 2022

Sand Sifting Starfish are beautiful creatures that are often found in aquariums. They are fun to watch as they sift through the sand and eat small pieces of food. The best cleaners in the aquarium, these starfish help keep the water quality high and the tank looking clean.

Sand Sifting Starfish are peaceful creatures that get along well with other tank mates. They are relatively easy to care for and make a great addition to any aquarium.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Sand Sifting Starfish care, including tank conditions, food and diet, and common health problems.

So let's get started and learn all about them!

Species Summary

Scientific name:Astropecten polyacanthus
Common name:Asterina Starfish, Cake Top Starfish
Family:Astropectinidae
Origin:Tropical reefs in the Indo-Pacific
Behavior:Sifting through sand and eating small pieces of food
Size:Up to 10 inches
Life span:3 to 5 years
Habitat:Living in and amongst coral reefs
Minimum tank size:Minimum tank size:
Water temperature:72°F to 78°F (22.2°C to 25.6°C)
Water type:Marine
pH level:8.1-8.4
Salinity:1.020 to 1.025
Water hardness:8 to 12 dKH
Activity level:Moderate to high
Compatibility:Peaceful, can be kept with other similar-sized fish and invertebrates
Tankmates:Many fish, inverts, and coral species
Breeding:Rare in captivity
Temperament:Peaceful
Care level:Easy
Diet:Omnivore

Aquarists with saltwater tanks actively seek out the Common Sand Sifting Starfish for several reasons. First and foremost, these starfish are voracious eaters of nuisance algae. They will help maintain your tank in tip-top condition without you having to do much work. They are also peaceful and make good tankmates for other similar-sized fish and invertebrates.

Sand Sifter starfish Species Summary

The name "Sand Sifting Starfish" is relatively self-explanatory. These starfish spend most of their time sifting through the sand, searching for food. They are equipped with tube feet that help them move through the sand and two long, slender arms that they use to scavenge for food.

The one drawback of these merry maids is that they sometimes eat small invertebrates, like shrimp and crabs. If you have smaller tank mates, you may want to consider another type of starfish.

The cost of a Sand Sifting Starfish will vary depending on the specimen's size, color, and age. Juvenile starfish are usually less expensive than adults. Prices range from $15 to $30.

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Sand Sifter Starfish Appearance

The Sand Sifter Starfish is a beautiful creature with a broad, disk-shaped body. They have long, slender arms that they use to scavenge for food. The tips of their arms are often fringed with small, white bumps.

Sand Sifter Starfish Appearance

These starfish come in various colors, including orange, brown, yellow, and red. The most common color is orange.

The underside of the Sand Sifter Starfish is white or cream-colored. This helps them blend in with the light-colored sand on the bottom of the ocean. They have a small, central mouth located on the underside of their body. They also have hundreds of tiny eyes that are scattered across their arms.

They do not have a brain. Instead, they have a simple nervous system that runs the length of their body. This nervous system is responsible for its essential functions, such as moving and eating. So, don't be surprised if you see your starfish moving in a jerky, uncoordinated manner!

Males and females are complicated to tell apart. The best way to sex these starfish is to look for the gonopores located on the underside of their bodies. Males have two tiny pores, while females have one large pore.

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Sand Sifter starfish Size & Growth Rate

The Sand Sifter Starfish can get up to 10 inches in the wild, but they are typically much smaller in captivity. Their size will also depend on the size of their tank. These starfish grow relatively slowly.

Sand Sifter starfish Size & Growth Rate

However, it is not uncommon for them to double in size within the first year of life.

Sand Sifter starfish Lifespan

The lifespan of a Sand Sifter Starfish is typically 3 to 5 years, but they have been known to live up to 10 years in captivity.

As long as they are well cared for, these starfish can provide years of enjoyment for you and your family.

Sand Sifter starfish Behavior & Temperament

When it comes to their behavior, Sand Sifting Starfish are peaceful and easy habitants to keep in a home aquarium.

They are not known to bother other fish or invertebrates in the tank. However, they may eat smaller fish and invertebrates, so it is essential to choose tankmates carefully.

These fish are also very active and will often be seen sifting through the substrate in search of food.

Sand Sifting Starfish Breeding

Sand Sifter Starfish are not known to breed in captivity. If you are interested in breeding these fish, you will need to collect a male and female from the wild. Once you have collected your fish, you will need to set up a breeding tank.

Sand Sifting Starfish Breeding

The breeding tank should have:

  • A sandy bottom
  • A well-established live rock
  • A water temperature of 72°-78°F
  • A salinity of 1.020-1.025
  • A pH of 8.1-8.4

Once you have set up your breeding tank, you will need to acclimate your fish to the new environment. You will need to slowly add water from the breeding tank to the fish's current tank.

Once the fish have acclimated to the new environment, you will need to provide them with various foods. The female fish will lay eggs on the live rock, and the male fish will fertilize them. Once the eggs have hatched, the fry will need to be fed a diet of live foods.

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Sand Sifting Starfish Care

Sand Sifting Starfish are relatively easy to care for, but there are a few things you need to know before adding one to your tank.

The first thing you need to do is choose the right size tank. These starfish can grow up to 10 inches, so they need plenty of room to move around.

The next thing you need to do is choose the right type of substrate. These starfish spend most of their time sifting through the sand, so you need to make sure you have fine sand enough for them to move through quickly.

You also need to provide plenty of hiding places for your starfish. Live rock and coral are great options. These starfish like to hide under rocks and in crevices when they are not out looking for food.

The last thing you need to do is choose the right type of food. These starfish are scavengers, so they eat just about anything you put in the tank. However, they do need a diet rich in calcium and other minerals.

Here are some tips for keeping a Sand Sifter Starfish:

Tank Size

The Sand Sifter Starfish needs a minimum tank size of 10 gallons. They are active creatures that need plenty of room to move around, so a larger tank is always better. However, these starfish can do well in a nano tank as long as they have enough sand to sift through.

When setting up your tank, make sure you use fine sand. This will allow your starfish to move through the substrate easily and help prevent them from getting injured.

Water Parameters

The Sand Sifter Starfish is a saltwater creature, so you need to ensure your tank is cycled adequately before adding one.

  • ph level should be between 8.1-8.4
  • The water temperature should be between 72°-78°F.
  • The water hardness should be between 8 and 12 dKH.

They are hardy creatures that can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. However, it is always best to err on caution and provide them with the best possible conditions.

It's also very important to make sure you have a good quality protein skimmer in your tank. This will help remove any waste that the Sand Sifter Starfish produces and keep your water quality high.

Filtration

The Sand Sifter Starfish does not produce much waste, but they need a good quality filtration system. A good filter will help remove any debris and keep your water quality high.

Make sure you choose a filter with a flow rate appropriate for your tank size.

Some recommended filters for the Sand Sifter Starfish are:

  • The AquaClear Powerhead: These powerheads are excellent for providing a gentle water flow in your tank. They are also reticent and easy to use.
  • The Eheim Canister Filter: This is an excellent filter for the Sand Sifter Starfish because it provides a gentle water flow and is easy to maintain.
  • The Fluval Canister Filter: This is another excellent option for the Sand Sifter Starfish. It is tranquil and provides a gentle flow of water.

Heating

The Sand Sifter Starfish prefers a water temperature of 72°-78°F. If your house is not that warm, you may need to invest in an aquarium heater.

A good aquarium heater will keep your water at a consistent temperature and help prevent drastic fluctuations that can stress out your starfish.

Some recommended heaters for Sand Sifting Starfish are:

  • The Eheim Jager Aquarium Heater: This is an excellent heater for the Sand Sifter Starfish because it is accurate and easy to use.
  • The Fluval Edge Heater: This heater is also accurate and easy to use. It is also very slim so that it won't take up a lot of space in your tank.

Plants

They do not need any plants in their tank. They may uproot some of your plants as they move through the substrate, looking for food.

If you want to add plants to your tank, choose well-rooted ones that can withstand moving around.

Some good plants for Sand Sifting Starfish options are:

  • Java Fern: This plant is very tough and can withstand moving around. It is also a great addition to the tank because it helps remove waste from the water.
  • Anubias: This is another excellent plant for the Sand Sifter Starfish. It is very hardy and can withstand moving around.
  • Bolbitis: This plant is very similar to the Java Fern. It is very tough and can withstand moving around.

Lighting

If you have live plants in your tank, you will need to provide them with a source of light. They do not need any special lighting, but you may want to add a moonlight to your tank to help them see at night.

Some recommended lights for Sand Sifting Starfish are:

  • The Zoo Med AquaSun Aquarium Hood: This hood comes with two fluorescent bulbs to provide your plants with the light they need.
  • The Fluval Plant and Reef 2.0 LED Light: This light is excellent for plants and reef tanks. It has a built-in timer so you can control how long it is on.

Substrate

They need a substrate that is fine and sandy. They need to be able to sift through the substrate to find food, so a coarser substrate will not work well for them.

Some suitable substrates for Sand Sifting Starfish are:

  • Aragonite: This is an excellent substrate for the Sand Sifter Starfish because it is beautiful and sandy.
  • Caribsea Super Naturals: This is another excellent substrate for the Sand Sifter Starfish. It is also excellent and sandy.
  • Eco-Complete: This substrate is also excellent and sandy. It also contains a lot of beneficial bacteria that will help keep your tank clean.

Co2 Systems

If you have live plants in your tank, you will need to provide them with a source of carbon dioxide. You may also want to add a Co2 system to your tank to help the Sand Sifter Starfish breathe.

Some suitable Co2 systems for Sand Sifting Starfish are:

  • The Tom Aquatic CO2 Reactor: This is an excellent Co2 system for the Sand Sifter Starfish because it is effortless to use and maintain.
  • The Fluval Plant and Reef 2.0 CO2 Kit: This kit is excellent for plants and reef tanks. It comes with everything you need to get started, including a CO2 regulator and a CO2 diffuser.

Water Conditioners

The Sand Sifter Starfish needs a water conditioner that removes chlorine and chloramine from the water. Chlorine and chloramine can be harmful to the Sand Sifter Starfish and other marine animals.

Some suitable water conditioners for Sand Sifting Starfish are:

  • Seachem Prime: This is a great water conditioner for the Sand Sifter Starfish because it removes both chlorine and chloramine from the water.
  • AquaSafe: This is another excellent water conditioner for the Sand Sifter Starfish. It also removes both chlorine and chloramine from the water.

Saltwater Mixes

The Sand Sifter Starfish needs a saltwater mix specifically designed for marine aquariums. This mix will provide the Sand Sifter Starfish with the essential minerals and elements they need to thrive.

Some good saltwater mixes for Sand Sifting Starfish are:

  • Instant Ocean: This is an excellent saltwater mix for the Sand Sifter Starfish because it is specifically designed for marine aquariums.
  • Oceanic: This is another excellent saltwater mix for the Sand Sifter Starfish. It is also specifically designed for marine aquariums.

Other Tank Accessories

You will need to purchase a few other things for your tank before adding the Sand Sifter Starfish. These include:

  • Aquarium Thermometer: You will need an aquarium thermometer to monitor the water temperature in your tank.
  • Air Pump: You will need an air pump to provide the Sand Sifter Starfish with oxygen.
  • ph Meter: You will need a pH meter to monitor the water chemistry in your tank.

Water Changes

The Sand Sifter Starfish needs weekly water changes of 10-15%. This will help to keep the water quality in your tank high and prevent the buildup of toxins.

To perform a water change, you will need:

  • A siphon: You will need a siphon to remove the water from your tank.
  • A bucket: You will need a bucket to catch the water as you siphon it out of your tank.
  • Water conditioner: You will need a water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramine from the new water.

The steps to performing a water change are:

  • Siphon the water out of your tank and into the bucket.
  • Discard the water that you have siphoned out of your tank.
  • Fill the bucket with fresh water.
  • Add the water conditioner to the bucket and mix it well.
  • Slowly pour the new water into your tank.
  • Repeat steps 1-5 as necessary.

Cleaning The Tank

The Sand Sifter Starfish will help to keep your tank clean, but you will still need to perform regular maintenance.

The steps to cleaning your tank are:

  • Remove all of the Sand Sifter Starfish from your tank.
  • Remove all of the decorations from your tank.
  • Rinse the decorations with warm water to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Clean the glass of your tank with an aquarium-safe cleaner.
  • Replace the decorations and Sand Sifter Starfish in your tank.
  • Perform a water change.
  • Repeat steps 1-6 as necessary.

Cleaning The Filter

The filter in your tank will need to be cleaned regularly.

The steps to cleaning your filter are:

  • Remove the filter from your tank.
  • Rinse the filter media with warm water to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Replace the filter media in your filter.
  • Put the filter back in your tank.
  • Repeat steps 1-4 as necessary.

Testing The Water

You will need to test the water in your tank regularly to ensure that it is safe for the Sand Sifter Starfish.

The tests that you will need to perform are:

  • pH Test: You will need to test the pH of the water in your tank. The ideal pH range for the Sand Sifter Starfish is 8.1-8.4.
  • Ammonia Test: You will need to test the ammonia levels in your tank. The ideal ammonia level for the Sand Sifter Starfish is 0ppm.
  • Nitrite Test: You will need to test the nitrite levels in your tank. The ideal nitrite level for the Sand Sifter Starfish is 0ppm.
  • Nitrate Test: You will need to test the nitrate levels in your tank. The ideal nitrate level for the Sand Sifter Starfish is below 20ppm.

The steps to testing the water in your tank are:

  • Fill a clean glass with water from your tank.
  • Add the test drops to the water and mix well.
  • Compare the water color to the color chart included with your test kit.
  • Repeat steps 1-3 as necessary.

Adding The Sand Sifter Starfish To Your Tank

Once you have all the necessary supplies, you can add them to your tank. To do this, simply follow these steps:

  • Float the Sand Sifter Starfish bag in your tank for about 15 minutes. This will allow the water in the bag to adjust to the temperature of your tank.
  • After 15 minutes, open the bag and release the Sand Sifter Starfish into your tank.
  • Watch your new Sand Sifter Starfish explore their new home!

Common Possible Diseases

The Sand Sifter Starfish is a hardy creature, but there are a few diseases that can affect them.

Some of the more common diseases include:

  • White Spot Disease: This disease is caused by a parasite that attacks the skin of the Sand Sifter Starfish. The symptoms include white spots on the body and gills, loss of appetite, and lethargy. If you think your Sand Sifter Starfish has white spot disease, you should quarantine them in a hospital tank and treat them with a copper-based medication.
  • Velvet Disease: This disease is caused by a parasite that attacks the gills of the Sand Sifter Starfish. The symptoms include yellow or brown spots on the body, red and inflamed gills, and difficulty breathing. If you think that your Sand Sifter Starfish has velvet disease, you should quarantine them in a hospital tank and treat them with a malachite green medication.
  • Ich: This disease is caused by a parasite that attacks the gills of the Sand Sifter Starfish. The symptoms include white spots on the body, gillsred and inflamed gills, and difficulty breathing. If you think that your Sand Sifter Starfish has ich, you should quarantine them in a hospital tank and treat them with a medication that contains copper.

Tips For Keeping Your Sand Sifter Starfish Healthy

There are a few things that you can do to help keep your Sand Sifter Starfish healthy and free from disease.

Some of these tips include:

  • Quarantine new arrivals: When you add fresh fish to your tank, it is essential to quarantine them for at least two weeks. This will help to ensure that they are not bringing any diseases into your tank.
  • Perform regular water changes: You should perform a water change in your tank at least once per week. This will help to keep the water clean and free of toxins.
  • Feed them a varied diet: It is essential to feed your Sand Sifter Starfish a varied diet that includes meaty and vegetable foods. This will help ensure that they get all of the nutrients they need.
  • Keep an eye on them: It is essential to watch your Sand Sifter Starfish and look for any signs of disease. If you see anything that seems out of the ordinary, contact your veterinarian.

Treatment And Medications Of Diseases

If your Sand Sifter Starfish does become sick, there are a few things that you can do to help them get better.

Some of these medications include:

  • Copper-based medications: These medications are used to treat various diseases, including white spot disease and ich.
  • Malachite green: This medication is used to treat velvet disease.
  • Antibiotics: These medications are used to treat bacterial infections.
  • Metronidazole: This medication is used to treat parasites.

When using any of these medications, it is essential to carefully follow the package's directions. Overdosing your fish can be just as harmful as not treating them. If you are unsure about how to properly dose your fish, contact your veterinarian.

Food & Diet

Sand sifting sea stars consummate a wide variety of fare sifting through the substrate. Their favorite foods include small clams, sand dollars, and other crustaceans. They will also consume smaller sea stars, urchins, and snails. To ensure that they are getting a well-rounded diet, we recommend feeding them a variety of foods, including:

  • Small clams
  • Sand dollars
  • Other crustaceans
  • Smaller sea stars
  • Urchins
  • Snails
  • A variety of vegetables, such as seaweed and algae
  • A variety of meaty foods, such as shrimp and fish

When feeding your Sand Sifting Sea Stars, it is essential to offer them a variety of food items. This will help ensure that they get all of the nutrients they need.

As you can see, there is a lot to know about them! But don't let that discourage you from keeping these amazing creatures in your home aquarium. With a little bit of knowledge and care, you can provide them with the happy and healthy home that they deserve.

Diet Foods To Avoid

There are a few foods that you should avoid feeding your Sand Sifter Starfish.

These foods include:

  • Canned tuna: This food is high in mercury and can be harmful to your fish.
  • Processed meats: These foods, such as hot dogs and lunch meats, are high in sodium and can be detrimental to your fish.
  • Milk and dairy products: These foods can cause an upset stomach in your fish.
  • Bread: This food can expand in your fish's belly and cause them to become bloated.
  • Sweets: These foods, such as candy and cake, are high in sugar and can be harmful to your fish.

When it comes to feeding your Sand Sifter Starfish, it is essential to offer them a variety of healthy foods. However, there are a few foods that you should avoid feeding them. These foods can be harmful to your fish and cause them to become sick. If you have any questions about what to feed your fish, be sure to contact your veterinarian.

Feeding Schedule

It is important to feed your Sand Sifter Starfish small meals throughout the day, rather than one large meal. This will help to prevent them from becoming bloated. A good feeding schedule for these fish is to feed them once in the morning and at night. Contact your veterinarian if you are unsure how much food to give your fish.

Also, remove any uneaten food from the tank after a few minutes. This will help to keep the water clean and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates for your Sand Sifting Starfish, it is important to choose peaceful fish and will not bother them.

Some good choices for tank mates include:

  • Dartfish
  • Gobies
  • Cardinalfish
  • Coral Beauty Angelfish
  • Flame Angelfish
  • Royal Gramma Basslet
  • Yellow Tang
  • Purple Firefish
  • Ocellaris Clownfish
  • Percula Clownfish

It is important to choose tankmates carefully for your Sand Sifting Starfish. You will want to avoid fish known to be aggressive or that will bother them. These fish are peaceful and should be kept with other delicate fish.

Fish To Avoid:

They should be kept away from:

  • Sharks
  • Barracudas
  • Pufferfish
  • Lionfish
  • Triggerfish
  • Jellyfish
  • Eels

These fish are known to be aggressive and can harm your Sand Sifting Sea Stars. It is best to avoid keeping them in the same tank.

Advantages Of Having Sand Sifter Starfish In Your Tank

The first and most obvious advantage of having a Sand Sifter Starfish is that they are very good at keeping the substrate clean. These fish spend a lot of their time sifting through the substrate searching for food. This helps to keep the substrate clean and free of debris.

Another advantage of these fish is that they are very peaceful. They are not known to bother other fish or invertebrates in the tank. This makes them a good choice for community tanks.

Disadvantages Of Having Sand Sifter Starfish In Your Tank

One disadvantage of having a Sand Sifter Starfish is that they may eat smaller fish and invertebrates. This is why it is important to choose tankmates carefully.

Another disadvantage of these fish is that they are very active. They will often be seen sifting through the substrate in search of food. This can be disruptive to other fish in the tank.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages to having a Sand Sifter Starfish in your tank. These fish are very good at keeping the substrate clean but may eat smaller fish and invertebrates. It is important to choose tankmates carefully for these fish. But overall, they are a peaceful and hardy addition to most tanks.

I hope that this article has helped you to better understand these amazing creatures. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer

AquaMarinePower.com does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We go to great lengths to help users better understand their aquatic friends. However, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. For more information, please read our disclaimer.

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