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conger 11-04-2008 11:10 PM

Starfish parameters?
Hi all, I'm curious about starfish, in particular specifically HOW sensitive to nitrates they are. Of course it will depend on species, so lets only consider sand-sifting stars and chocolate chip stars.

I've read that they are sensitive to high levels of nitrates, but never anything more specific. Are they coral-level sensitive, like any tank with stars should keep nitrates at 1 ppm or less, or are they more along the lines of 5 or less, 10 or less, etc...

I've got a 90 gallon FOWLR, its been up and running for about 3 months now, and I recently added a 4-stripe damsel and a firefish. So its really lightly stocked, and I feed very lightly. Parameters right now are:

Ammonia/Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: between 5 and 10 (same color on the test card >:(... need to get a more accurate test)
pH: 8.3
Salinity: 1.023
Alkalinity: 12 DKH
Calcium: 340, but started dosing with B-Ionic to help raise and regulate

I plan to keep the nitrates low, but I don't think I'll be able to achieve "coral-low" without a refugium... I do have a skimmer (Octopus NW 150) running and about 130 lbs of liverock in the tank, and a ~1" sandbed.

In a few weeks, I'd like to add a couple of stars, but I'm unsure if I should due to my level of nitrates being somewhere less than 10, but certainly greater than 1.
Any one have any advice, not just on whether or not I'll be able to get stars based on my tank params, but just in general about the specific chemistry requirements of these species of starfish? Thanks in advance!

onefish2fish 11-04-2008 11:17 PM

i dont know if the sand shifter would survive on a 1 inch sandbed food wise and choc starfish arnt reef safe, i guess it will be fine in your FOWLR.

i suggest avoiding the blue linkia and red stars and DEF. avoid the green brittle star as they are predatory and eat fish

conger 11-04-2008 11:22 PM

thanks for the quick reply, yeah I don't plan on adding any corals to this tank. If I decide to get into reefing later, I'll get another tank :-D.

But good point about the sand shifter, not enough sand in my tank! Glad to hear you think a chocolate chip might do well.

onefish2fish 11-04-2008 11:26 PM

yea well im unsure about the sandshifter but ive heard stories of them slowly starving so idk? a 90 might be big enought for 1

do you mind posting more about the tank, or do you have a tank thread?
you mentioned you have a skimmer, do you also run a filter?

conger 11-04-2008 11:46 PM

sure I'll post more about the tank, though if this is the wrong place I suppose I could start a tank thread. I recently moved from Florida out to New Mexico, and had this tank set up for almost a year before having to move... so I just emptied it out, returned the fish to the LFS in FL, and started over out here!

The tank itself is a "reef ready" tank, pre-drilled with an internal overflow in one corner. As far as running a filter, I have a 30 gallon tank underneath that I use as a sump (I posted a thread in the sumps/refug section several months ago with the plans, I can try to dig it up and post a link). I broke it into three sections, one for a refug, one for return pump, and one for the skimmer. However, after building it, I realized I did not meet the minimum 10% of tank volume in my refug section, so now I don't even use it. I should have gone with a 36 gallon tank for the sump :-?. The only "mechanical" filtration I use is a filter pad in the overflow from the skimmer/inlet section of the sump into the return pump section. No filter sock on the water coming from the display into the skimmer section itself. I chose that as I have heard that filter socks and the like can turn into nitrate factories if not replaced frequently, so the sole filter pad is easy to rinse, and cheap to replace.

I use a CoraLife Lunar Aqualight for the lighting, which gives me 260W of light during "daylight" mode, still less than 3 W/gallon though :cry:. I keep the actinics on from noon to midnight, and the 10000K's on from 3:00 to 9:00.

I have two Koralia 4 powerheads in the display, plus the return pump from the sump gives it a decent amount of flow. My cleanup crew consists of 3 turbo snails, 8 hermit crabs, 6 nassarius snails, and 10 bumblebee snails.

I recently started dosing B-Ionic as I mentioned, and I also am just starting Magnesium supplementation (Kent Tech-M), though I have a Mg test kit ordered and thus no numbers yet. I figure even though I won't add corals to this tank, I'd still like a good healthy growth of coralline!

If you have other questions or suggestions, ask or suggest away!

conger 11-05-2008 12:02 AM

well, the image isn't showing up anymore in the original thread, but the discussion of the sump for my tank is here:

and here's the missing image:

onefish2fish 11-05-2008 12:06 AM

yes, why not put cheato in the fuge section with a light that turns on when your tank lights turn out even though its not 10%(minimum) of the tanks volume?

and i think bumblebee snails are predatory but im not sure about that, also idk about choc.chip starfish with inverts.. i personally just avoided all stars with my tank

the thing that sucks with 90 galls is that they are soo tall, so if you did choose to go reef the lights would more then likely have to be metal halides. a standard 75 is the same dementions minus the height. but you did say if you went reef, youd get another tank.

i think if you have time making a tank thread would be great! esp. with pictures, its a great way even for you to document the reference on the progress the tank has made.

onefish2fish 11-05-2008 12:13 AM

impressive diagram.

Tyyrlym 11-10-2008 02:10 PM

Is the refugium sized ideally? Probably not but there's no reason you can't use it. Toss in some macro algae and just see how it does and the effect on your nitrates. If it doesn't work at the worst you're out the cost of a clump of chaeto which you can probably get for free from a reefer.

tilt86 11-10-2008 02:26 PM

A wholesaler who just turned retail to the public has good prices on all macro algae, tigger pods and fiji mud to seed your fuge. You can get his phone number from He will still place orders untill retail site is up. I orderd Hawaiian waterfall live rock from him for $1.09 a pound! Good Stuff:-P

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