HomeAquarium FishWhat do Starfish Eat - The Best Complete Guide

What do Starfish Eat – The Best Complete Guide

Today in this post, we will inform you about what do starfish eat in the ocean and how we can replicate this diet for them inside our home aquariums.

Starfish are fascinating creatures that inhabit the depths of every ocean across the world. They can be found in both Arctic and Antarctic waters, but where they thrive most is in the Pacific Ocean.

Scientists have discovered over 2,000 species within this region alone! Such a large variety means there’s something for everyone to enjoy when it comes to these amazing sea animals – whether you’re on land or underwater adventures.

Never-ending in diversity, the starfish, is a species of the ocean that can be found in murky waters and warm seas all over the world. Known for their various colors, shapes, and sizes, they are unlike any other aquatic animal with how they move about to find food or regenerate themselves after being injured.

Starfish are fascinating creatures with unique qualities. They have an incredible ability to generate their own light, seeing through their arms and digesting prey by expelling stomachs!

These fascinating animals can be found in the ocean, but how do they find food? Do starfish eat anything at all? The following article will explore what a starfish’s diet consists of and some tips on recreating this diet for your aquarium.

Overview of Starfish


The starfish is one of the many marine animals that belong to a group called Echinoderms. The traits they share are radial symmetry, flat bodies, and no head or tube feet.

Echinoderms are some of the most exciting creatures on earth. They include brittle stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, and starfish (although they’re commonly known as “starfish”). Scientists believe that there are around 7 thousand different species in total!

While many people know them better by their name Starfish, scientists have actually been calling for a change to Sea Star – which is what these fascinating animals were called throughout much of Europe before English colonization-in order to avoid confusion with other types of echinoderms such as crinoids (a type of jellyfish).

Starfish, despite their name, are not actually fish. They have some similarities to them, like living in water and using seawater to circulate nutrients, but there is one significant difference: they don’t possess any scales, fins, or gills!

Instead, they use tiny tube feet that allow them to move at speeds up to two-three meters every minute which can be exceptionally fast for an Echinoderm.

Sea stars are actually a type of animal called an Asteroidea derived from the Greek words for star and form. There are around 2,000 species that belong in this group though they can be divided into different classes based on their appearance or shape.

Sea Stars live solely underwater, with saltwater being necessary to sustain them as freshwater cannot due to not having enough nutrients within it.

The starfish is an animal that has been around for more than 500 million years.

They are famous the world over not only because of their radially symmetrical arms, but also their ability to regrow lost limbs if they have had any damage done to them and often intentionally shedding a limb in order to escape danger when it senses life-threatening situations coming near.

There have also been researches that confirm that they deliberately get rid of some of their legs when they have been contained to high temperatures for an extended period of time.

Depending on the diverse species, they produce between 4.7-9.4 inches and can weigh up to 11lbs. They exist for around 5 and 35 years.

What Do Starfish Eat in the Ocean?

You must be wondering as to what do starfish eat in the oceans as the food that starfish consume pretty much varies depending on the kind of species. Some are scavengers, some are predators, and some have an equivalent diet to fish.

Deep beneath the ocean, sea stars do more than just floating around. They are carnivorous predators and eat mollusks such as clams, mussels, and oysters that live on the seafloor.

In one week in their natural habitat, they can consume 50 small clams – but you don’t have to worry about getting 50 clams for them every week!

Mollusks are simple for them to spot and eat because they have a slow movement pattern.

They will also consume tiny fish, and some species further consume detritus, decayed plants, or algae.

Here is a list of items that they typically eat in the ocean:

  • Decomposed organic elements
  • Barnacles
  • Mussels
  • Coral Polyps
  • Clams & Hermit crabs
  • Plankton
  • Slow-moving fish
  • Snails & Sea snails
  • Seaweed
  • Oysters
  • Urchins

How Do Starfish Eat?

The tube feet on a starfish enable them to walk around and search for food, but what do starfish eat and how exactly do they eat?

The answer is that the mouth of the starfish is hidden from sight. Although it’s located under their body, their stomach can stretch up into an arm when necessary for whatever food has been found by one or more eyespots near each arm of the starfish to get there.

A substantial role in how they eat depends on how they move because without movement; they won’t be able to wander around trying out different foods as quickly!

Here is a video of Starfish eating a Clam!

The Starfish also use their arms to move and endure onto rocks, they also utilize them to hold onto their prey and tear shells apart (a gap of just 0.1mm is required for them to eat the mollusk).

The Starfish have two stomachs with which they digest their food. They first center the prey using their arms and tube feet, then when it gets close enough, extend out a cloud-like stomach out of its mouth called the cardiac stomach to cover them for some time before bringing in its pyloric stomach to finish digestion.

If they are having a mollusk, they utilize their arms to open shells very slightly, and they then splutter their stomachs into the shell. The stomach then discharges a chemical that softens the mussel, and they consume the mollusk’s body.

Once the Starfish have absorbed their prey, it brings the cardiac stomach back into the body, where the digestion of the food proceeds in the pyloric stomach.

This enables them to eat anything that is larger than them by digesting them from outside of their tinier mouth and bringing them in once it’s been turned to liquid.

Researchers have identified a molecule that transmits signals which trigger the stomach to contract and retract. This study is helpful for both industrial and environmental purposes.

Some will feast on shellfish that are harvested for our food, and other varieties of starfish damage parts of the pacific reef when there are considerable big surges in population.

Also Read: Water Wisteria – A Comprehensive Water Wisteria Care Guide

What do Starfish Eat in an Aquarium?

Let us begin this segment by stating that as impressive & elegant as starfish are – they are clearly not for amateurs.

They need a lot of attention and consideration, plus they require a large tank setup of at least 100 gallons. Many will die in fish tanks that are too small with not sufficient rocks. So, you should always make sure you pick the correct size of the aquarium.

Before purchasing, always study the species entirely you want to be going with as sometimes fish stores can use false names and trade you the wrong kind of species. Some species are voracious carnivores and will instantly eat their way into the invertebrates of your tank.

Fish are often stressed out in an aquarium because they don’t know where to go or what is happening around them. To combat this, you should create a natural environment for the fish and replicate their habitats as best possible by ensuring that there’s plenty of space and exciting things like decorations to explore.

A wide range of sea life can be found in the ocean, many living in different environments. If you’re building an aquarium for a specific species, it’s essential to make sure your tank replicates its original habitat as nearly as possible.

Some live on coral reefs; others live near rocky shorelines or sandy tidal pools and seagrass meadows. Your particular environment should determine which type of reef is best suited for your new marine pal!

Starfish are in trend with aquarium owners, but they can’t be fed fish flakes alone. In fact, these creatures require a special diet to maintain their health and thrive.

Starfish are voracious grazers, eagerly devouring all of the food that falls to the bottom of your tank!

Most species of starfish enjoy a meaty diet of mollusks but also love clams and mussels. Putting some in your tank will keep them happy and provide suitable nutrients for their long-term health.

If you’re purchasing them from the supermarket, rinse them thoroughly before adding them to your aquarium, as they may be covered with harmful chemicals that will kill off other sea creatures inside it.

If you are looking to serve your fish, it is important not just what they eat but also when.

Frozen shrimps and sponges should never be fed to a marine animal like an algae eater because of the potential for bacteria or other pathogens that grow in freezing temperatures.

Try boiled spinach mixed with veggies as well as live food such as brine shrimp if possible.

The repetition of feeding depends on the species; you’ll be able to conclude this by observing how frequently they eat.

Typically, they demand to be fed every 2-3 days. It’s simple enough to recognize if your starfish is hungry – put a portion of food near them, and it will instantly eat it if it’s hungry.

If you’re concerned about your fish picking the food before the starfish does, then put the starfish right on top of the food.
While they are generally nocturnal, they will swiftly adjust to daytime feeds after being exposed to them often.

You must carefully examine the species of starfish before adding one to your aquarium, as some types can eat corals, and others are not too damaging but still require a diet that many people cannot provide.

Here we have mentioned the various species of all the popular starfishes and what they eat in an aquarium:

  • Marble Sea Starfish or Tile Sea Star (Fromia monilis): Marble Sea Starfish are extremely active and appreciate intricate environments, as well as they, also thrive on live rocks. Incorporate lots of live rock as they scrounge for micro-organisms and detritus. Enhance their diet with small portions of shrimp and flake food.
  • Chocolate Chip Starfish (Protoreaster nodosus): Chocolate Chip Starfish eat cut clams, shrimp, and squid. They will also eat soft corals, sponges, and tubeworms.
  • Linckia Starfish (Linckia laevigata): When added to a well-established aquarium, you do not need to do a lot as little needs to be done to complete their diet. If it needs food to be supplied to them, put small clam meat or tablets under them.
  • Sand Sifting Starfish (Astropecten polyanthus)They need to be immediately fed with various foods on the sand bed, such as shrimp, urchins, and mollusks. They are going to clear out detritus or left-over meals instantly and can weaken if not supplemented.


In this post, we have tried to tell you all about what do starfish eat and if you’re a proficient fish keeper thinking of a different and extremely exciting new inhabitant for your aquarium, the starfish might be just for you.

Some species are notably simple to feed, and others are more complex. As always, make sure you examine the species you need to include in your aquarium to ensure you get species-specific feeding advice.

Sadly, it is all too common for them to die in captivity either due to insufficient water circumstances, notwithstanding the acclimatization, or underfeeding, leading to death.

If you are optimistic and aspire to incorporate one in your tank, make sure you understand precisely how to care for it, and how to keep the aquarium clean, and the proper diet to present to the starfish.

Fishkeeping Expert
Fishkeeping Expert
With years of collective fishkeeping knowledge, we are pleased to share the tank maintenance tips and fish care advice we've picked up along the way. Fishkeeping Expert is home to all fishkeeping tutorials and guides that will help you keep your fish healthy.


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