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What Do Starfish Eat?

What Do Starfish Eat?

Starfish are some of the most whimsical sea creatures found in the deep waters because of their unique shapes and their strange ability to regenerate a lost limb.  These animals belong to the Asteroidea family and there are over 1,500 species of starfish.  The huge variety of species may come as a shock to you since these animals are hardly ever found on beaches.  The reason they are hardly ever seen is that they live at great depths of up to 6,000 meters below sea level.

Starfish are often mistaken as fish because of their name but they do not have any gills, scales, or fins.  Modern scientists prefer to refer to these animals as sea stars because they are closely related to sea urchins and sea cucumbers.

Interestingly enough, starfish do not have any blood. Instead, they are mostly made up of seawater.

What Do Starfish Eat?

Sea stars do have strange feeding habits.  Typically, they will wrap their bodies around their prey.  They will then slightly open shelled foods and push their stomachs into the food source.  With their tummies inside-out, they will consume food and, once digested, the starfish’s tummy will slide back inside it.

As you can imagine, these are not the fastest animals in the sea.  They are not the best hunters but they do manage to find a variety of foods such as the following:

Sea plants and decomposed plant matter

Sea stars love to eat a variety of plant matter they find in the sea and ocean.  They eat coral polyps, seaweed, kelp, sea grass, red algae, plankton, and various other types of plant matter. If sea stars cannot get live plants to consume, they will also feed on decomposed plant matter that they find on the ocean floor.

Fish

Starfish are omnivores which means they will also feed on meat.  They are not the best hunters since they do move very slow.  Occasionally, a sea star might get a hold of fish and they will then consume these animals.  They will eat any type of injured fish they happen to find lingering about the sea bed such as sea horses.

Invertebrates

This is one of the main food sources of a starfish.  They primarily feed on mollusks and are also very happy to feed on clams, oysters, sand dollars, mussels, snails, sea cucumbers, barnacles, plankton, hermit crabs, sea urchins, marine worms, arthropods, sea sponges, and a great many other types.

Seawater

A starfish’s body mostly consists of seawater.  They do not have any blood.  Instead, seawater is pumped into their vascular system and is responsible for muscle movement.  Without water, these animals won’t survive.

Fish food

In aquariums, starfish love to feed on anything that settles on the tank floor.  They feed on a variety of commercial foods such as flakes and pellets.  It is however important to realize that your starfish require much more than just commercial food to stay healthy.

Diet Variations

Starfish are omnivores and can have a variety of diet variations.  One of the strangest things they eat is other starfish.  They can be cannibalistic and will eat smaller sea stars of their own species or other species.  The Chocolate Chip Seastar is particularly known for its cannibalistic tendencies.

How to Feed Starfish

Sea stars naturally live deep down under the ocean and feed on all sorts of foods they find in their natural environment.  They move slowly and therefore focus on foods that are slow, dead, or ill.

These animals can also be kept in an aquarium but they are not very easy to care for.  They require a large aquarium and correct water pH levels to survive.  To feed them, you can simply drop their natural foods into the tank and allow these foods to sink to the bottom where starfish can seek them out.

What Do Starfish Eat In the Wild?

In the wild, sea stars focus on slow-moving sea creatures.  They eat plant matter and decayed plants but they do prefer meat sources.  These animals do have eyes on the tips of their tentacles that they use to spot animals they would like to eat.  In the wild, they move slowly about the seabed in search of food sources such as clams, mollusks, algae, or ill fish.

What Do Starfish Eat In Captivity?

In aquariums, these animal species are offered a wide range of foods to help keep them nourished and healthy.  They often feed on coral reefs and other plant matter that are kept in their tanks.  They also consume fish flakes, other fish in the tank, mollusks, clams, and mussels.

What Do Baby Starfish Eat?

A female starfish can spawn up to 65 million eggs at once and some species can live up to 35 years.  Baby starfish are larvae.  When they hatch they can be 1mm in size or even invisible to the naked eye.

During infancy, starfish will feed on minuscule plants and animals they find while floating about the ocean floors.  At this point, they don’t look much like sea stars at all.  Instead, they look a lot like blobs of jelly.

In the juvenile stage, they start to look more like tiny starfish as they grow more tubes.  During the next six months of the juvenile stage, they will grow slowly and feed mostly on algae.

A sea star reaches adulthood at around 2 years of age.  By this time, these animals will feed on all the usual sea star foods such as coral reefs, shellfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and many others.

How Much Do Starfish Eat?

Some starfish species need to feed every day but others can survive for many days without food.  The amount of food they eat also depends on their species.  As larvae, they eat microscopic portions. As adult starfish, they can eat considerably more.

Can Humans Eat Starfish?

Starfish are technically edible.  They are served as luxury foods in some seafood restaurants.  There are not too many people that do eat these foods.  China is one of the few countries where sea stars are served to the public.

The main problem with consuming starfish is that they do not have much meat on them and the outer side of a starfish is very tough.  These animals are also not very easy to catch since they live up to 6,000 meters below sea level.