How to Feed a Starfish in a Salt Water Aquarium

A starfish may need supplemental food.
A starfish may need supplemental food. (Image: starfish image by Christopher Meder from

Many starfish, including nearly all the species sold for saltwater aquariums, are partly or predominately scavengers and eat practically anything they find. They are useful in a saltwater aquarium because they consume uneaten food, small dead invertebrates and algae, helping to keep the aquarium clean and the water quality good. In a new tank or if you have a lot of starfish, you might need to feed them supplemental food in addition to what they find for themselves.

Things You'll Need

  • Photographic guide to aquarium starfish
  • Fish flakes for bottom feeders
  • Chopped meaty foods
  • Tablet food
  • Forceps

Determine the species of your starfish if you are unsure. Their needs vary. Estimate the starfish’s size, count the number of arms, note any distinguishing features such as spikes and its color. Refer to a guidebook or online identification guide to identify the species.

Purchase the appropriate food. Some, such as the crinoid feather sea star, need a specialized diet, but most species consume meaty foods such as chopped shrimp, tablet food or fish flakes.

Place a piece of food directly in front of or under the starfish with forceps.

Feed your starfish once or twice a week, depending on its size, species and the amount of natural food in the tank. If the starfish refuses to eat, increase the time between feeds. If it eats readily, consider feeding more frequently.

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