Chocolate Chip Starfish

Chocolate Chip Starfish – Care & Suitable Habitat | Complete Guide in 2022

The Chocolate Chip starfish (Protoreastor nodosus) is a type of sea star that is not too popular in the saltwater aquarium trade.

Although it is a beautiful echinoderm with its bright orange coloration and chocolate-colored “chips” like patterns, it is one of the least sought-after species in the aquarium hobby.

It has a cucumber-shaped body sprawled among polyps. But aside from its striking appearance, it’s a very unobtrusive organism that spends much of its time just lying there.

Of course, it also has the same basic nutritional needs as any starfish-like being fed on a regular basis, having clear lighting, and being kept at the right salinity.

These are the chocolate chip starfish’s primary needs. But it is not as simple as just providing these. The echinoderm’s general care involves its specific environment, water temperature, salinity, diet, etc.

The Chocolate Chip Starfish is a very unobtrusive organism that spends much of its time just lying there. However, it does have the ability to use its tube feet to move around in search of food or in response to environmental stimuli such as sudden changes in light or water movement.

As if all this wasn’t enough to make the Chocolate Chip Starfish stand out among other starfish in the aquarium hobby, kids love it because of its unusual coloring and patterns – particularly when they see them swimming around their aquariums during feeding time!

The interesting shape of the horned sea star

The common name ‘horned sea star’ comes from the distinctive horn or spine on the top of its body.

The horn is an extension of the animal’s skeleton and has no biological function. However, it makes the animal easy to identify and can be used to help it defend itself during mating season by hitting other animals with its horn.

The chocolate chip sea star will feed on a variety of organisms, including other sea stars, snails, crabs, barnacles, and algae. It will feed by everting its stomach outside its oral disk which contains digestive juices that dissolve its prey’s tissue.

The horned sea star can grow up to 20 centimeters in diameter over the course of its life – making it one of the largest species of sea star. They possess short arms with 15 to 17 pairs of tiny, tube feet on each arm which are used for feeding and sensation. The deep red color of this sea star is likely an adaptation that helps camouflage them from predators in their shallow waters. The darker colors are also a deterrent for potential predators who see these as unpalatable or poisonous.

Chocolate Chip Starfish Shape and Behaviours

Sea stars have a five-fold symmetry with the body being divided into five equal parts. The mouth is on the underside of the arms and is surrounded by five small equal-sized blunt projections which function as teeth.

The Chocolate Chip Starfish does not have an air bladder (used by fish to help them stay afloat). The starfish has an internal skeleton made of calcium carbonate plates covered with skin, spines, and gills. In the case of the Chocolate Chip Starfish, the skeleton is made up of pentagonal plates, each with a small pore in the middle.

They use this system as a respiratory surface that transfers oxygen into the water and takes out carbon dioxide. The surface of these pores is also used to excrete wastes.

Sea stars have no brain and there is no heart in the sea stars. Instead, sea stars have a water vascular system that works like veins, arteries, and capillaries in our bodies. Sea star’s blood flows in through the tube feet, which are located on the underside of the animal.

The blood then passes into tiny capillaries that take it all around their body. At the end of their body, sea stars have a circular sucker-like disk called an aboral disc that attaches to rocks or other surfaces.

The mouth of the sea star is located on its underside and is surrounded by five small projections that serve as teeth, which they use to chew their food.

These are popular as pets because they don’t grow to be very large and they’re easy to care for. They’re also colorful and interesting to watch.

The Chocolate Chip Starfish has some very interesting behaviors that have been observed in captive specimens. They have been observed to move away from bright light sources, while at the same time coming closer to dark areas in their habitat.

It is thought that they are able to sense light with this organ and react accordingly. This helps them feel more secure by finding darker places in their environment.

These are not very active predators, so it doesn’t need as much room as some of the other larger types of starfish do. It will eat just about anything that comes its way.

Where do Chocolate Chip Starfish live?

Chocolate chip starfish are found in the Indo-Pacific region. Their range covers Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines. They live on reef flats, lagoons, and protected areas with moderate water flow.

They are found on reef flats, lagoons, and protected areas with moderate water flow. They are usually found on top of the rocks or in crevices.Chocolate chip starfish colony

These are also common in seagrass beds, and sandy or muddy bottoms from the intertidal zone to water depths of 50 m (160 ft). It can also be found in tide pools.

They are not usually found living on dead coral as other starfish species do. They can be found in groups or alone.

Common Names

Chocolate Chip Starfish, Orange-Chocolate Chip Sea Star, Orange-chocolate chip starfish

Care and feeding

The aquarium hobby is filled with unusual animals and plants, some of which are quite challenging to maintain. One of the most unique and interesting creatures that we keep in our aquariums is the Chocolate Chip Starfish.

These guys are easy to raise, do well in most tanks, and stand out from the crowd. So if you’re looking for some new roommates for your reef tank, these might be just what you need.

However, the care of these fish is often misquoted and misunderstood. What exactly is the chocolate chip starfish care?

The Chocolate Chip Starfishes are not active swimmers but the CARE requires a large aquarium that can house lots of sponges, rocks, and live corals.

The tank should be at least 30 gallons and the fish should be fed regularly with a varied diet of meaty foods.

Below is a list of foods that they can eat. Remember to keep very small fish out of the tank, as they will be on the menu.


Marine flesh such as squid or mussels.

Other things that they can eat

  • Crustaceans – shrimp, crabs, lobster and prawns (will need to be cut up into small bite sized pieces)
  • Fish – Again these will need to be cut into smaller pieces and some fish can be poisonous so make sure that it is safe for your starfish.
  • Sea cucumber – These are good for your starfish but only feed them small amounts at a time. They have a tendency to gorge themselves if given enough food and this can kill them.
  • Seafood mix – These can be bought from your local pet store and are made from small fish bits and other food items mentioned above.

Feeding habits

Starfish do not have teeth so they need to swallow all their food whole without chewing it up first. Even though you may see them grabbing food with their arms, this is actually used to hold the food in place while they tilt.


One of their favorite homes is around the Great Barrier Reef. They are not normally found in the wild, as they will hide in live corals and rocks to protect themselves from predators.

“They Are Not Normally Found in the Wild”

They prefer a home where they can get plenty of light and have plenty of places to hide. If you live in a reef tank, it is likely that you have a few already. If not, then you will need to pick them up at your local fish store or online. Without these places to hide, they will not survive long in your tank.

Reproduction & Growth

The starfish is a nocturnal animal so is most active at night. The starfish grows very quickly, especially during its first year of life. Young starfishes have many arms with suckers with which they cling to hard surfaces near their homes.

Separate male and female organs

As they grow older, they develop separate male and female organs on their upper surface. Although they do not look alike, it is difficult to tell the male and female apart unless you know what you are looking for or if you dissect them.

Another interesting fact about the Chocolate Chip Starfish is that they are hermaphrodites, meaning that individuals exhibit characteristics of both male and female sexes. The process of self-fertilization is common for many starfish species including this one.

The starfish can reproduce either sexually or asexually. When reproducing sexually, the female releases eggs into the water column for fertilization by sperm released by male starfish.

The fertilized egg develops into a free-swimming larva which later settles onto the seabed and undergoes metamorphosis into a juvenile starfish. When the juvenile has grown enough it releases sperm and eggs into the water column for reproduction to continue.

When reproducing asexually, an adult starfish can shed an arm which then develops into an exact replica of itself as a new individual.

Release their eggs and sperms

Sea stars are most vulnerable during their reproductive period. This is because the starfish release their eggs and sperm into the water at the same time, in order to maximize the chances of fertilization. The stars also release a lot of eggs and sperm as they have a low survival rate due to predation by other aquatic species such as fish and crabs.

However, female sea stars can store sperm for up to 10 years. This way, when an individual finds itself in unfavorable conditions, it can use its stored sperm to lay eggs.

Spawning process

The spawning season for the Chocolate Chip Starfish is usually between March and May when water temperatures are warmer and salinity levels are lower.

They usually move from deep water to shallow water to spawn, this may be because it is easier for their eggs to develop there.

As well as moving between deep and shallow water during spawning, they also move between different areas when young and older. This may be because there is more food or other reasons that we do not yet understand.

Beginning the life

Sea stars begin life as free-swimming larvae, but become sessile when they reach adulthood. The larval stage lasts for several months before becoming juveniles. Juvenile sea stars develop arms for locomotion and for feeding.

After about 1 – 2 years of growing, sea stars become sexually mature adults, depending on their species and environmental factors such as temperature and food.

Life Span

Starfish are among the longest-lived animals on earth, with the potential to live for more than 20 years. The average lifespan of captive starfish is dependent on the correct conditions and diet.

However, there is a high mortality rate in the first year of life, with only around half of young starfish surviving into adulthood. A lack of food and living in unsuitable conditions can shorten the lifespan of Chocolate Chip Starfish to just one or two years.

Starfish really bring your aquarium to Life

If you love aquariums, you know that regular maintenance is a huge part of the enjoyment. From cleaning the tank to changing the water and adding food, it’s not always fun and games.

Tidy tanks are more than just a matter of aesthetics. They’re a factor in your aquatic pets’ health. Starfish Really bring your aquarium to life by helping to keep it clean. These little guys do a fantastic job of ridding the water of algae, and they make an interesting addition to any home or office aquarium.

When you want your tank looking its best and keeping your pets healthy, these starfish really deliver!

It would not be a good idea to keep chocolate chip starfish with smaller fishes or a tank with soft corals. They are good at eating them. Read more below about their reef compatibility.

chocolate chip starfish for Aquarium

How to pick the right tank for your Chocolate Chip Starfish? Habitat Requirements

Tank size

Because the chocolate chip starfish is so slow-moving, it doesn’t require much room in an aquarium; even a 10-gallon tank would be sufficient. A larger tank would of course provide more space in which to move around, but it isn’t necessary. As long as your water parameters are within the proper range.

pH, Temperature, and Salinity

The water temperature should be between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius) with a pH of 8.2 – 8.4, and the salinity should be similar to that of the ocean, which is around 35 ppt (parts per thousand), or 1.025 specific gravity.

In captivity, however, these starfish do well at room temperature (70 F or 21 C) with a pH of 7 – 8 and salinity of 1.020 – 1.026.


Lighting plays an important role in an aquarium as it allows plants to grow and supports photosynthesis. It also provides light for fish to see their surroundings and each other.

Most aquarium lighting systems have three components: a light fixture; an air pump; and an air stone or diffuser that releases bubbles into the water to help circulate oxygen throughout the tank.

Lighting is generally used in freshwater tanks but can be used in saltwater tanks as well, provided there is no danger of introducing electrical currents into your aquarium due to fluctuations in salt levels.


The water flow of the tank is important in maintaining the health of the Chocolate Chip Starfish. We need to ensure that the flow of water is not too strong for them to handle as well as not too slow to prevent them from moving around in their tank.

The starfish will be able to move about easily and get enough food if there is a decent amount of movement.

The movement should be enough for the starfish to sense an object close by, but it should not be strong enough to throw him off balance and make him get trapped against a wall or rock.


The tank needs to be decorated properly. Some artificial plants and rocks can be added to make the tank more comfortable for them.

The best placement for artificial plants is near the bottom. They can also be placed in rock crevices. Rocks that have nooks and crannies are perfect to place in the tank too. This will help provide a hiding place for your chocolate chip starfish.

You can also plant live plants in the aquarium. This is not necessary, but it will make your aquarium look more attractive and help maintain a high quality of water.

If you do not want to decorate the bottom of the aquarium with natural or artificial decorations, it is recommended to cover it with coarse sand or small (1-2 cm) pebbles.


The tank water should not contain copper as this metal will kill your starfish. An under gravel filter system is best since it will keep the bottom free from detritus and waste matter that could harm your starfish.


The tank should have some type of filter system, even if it’s just an air-powered sponge filter to provide oxygenation for your starfish, but other filters are fine as long as they don’t contain copper or any medication that may harm your Chocolate Chip Starfish.

Chocolate Chip Starfish – Frequently Asked Questions

Chocolate chip sea stars are called chocolate chip sea stars. Why?

The answer lies in their appearance. The chocolate chip sea star gets its name from its brown-and-white coloration. The pattern of white dots on a brown background resembles chocolate chips in cookie dough

Can you touch a chocolate chip starfish?

The Chocolate Chip Sea Star is actually not poisonous, but it should not be handled. They can handle being out of water for a short period of time, but they will stress if they are handled too much.

They have a very delicate covering on their skin that can be damaged easily. The Chocolate Chip Sea Star has several predators including some species of fish, turtles and birds.

Are chocolate chip starfish reef safe?

The Chocolate Chip Sea Star is not considered reef compatible due to their adult size of 8-10 inches and voracious appetite for soft corals, sponges, tubeworms, clams, and other starfish.

Even if it were possible to keep this species away from all of your other livestock, it is not advisable to try to keep a Chocolate Chip Sea Star on any type of reef system.

Chocolate chips are best kept in a species only tank or an aquarium with fish that can’t fit in their mouths.

Some reef keepers have found there is a good side to this as well. Like sand sifting starfish, they require a tank with plenty of sand, rock, and algae.

The reason many people like chocolate chip starfish is because they are considered cleaner fish; they will eat dead tissue off of coral and help keep it looking nicer than if you had other types of fish in your tank.

They will also help control the population of nuisance algae by eating it and keeping it from spreading all over your tank.

How big of a tank do I need for a chocolate chip starfish?

We recommend a tank size of 20 gallons for each adult starfish. This is the bare minimum for an adult chocolate chip starfish. The tank size recommended for the juvenile fish is 10 to 20 gallons with plenty of hiding places.

If you are new to saltwater aquariums, you may want to purchase a smaller number of juvenile starfish and then slowly add more as your tank matures.

What to feed chocolate chip starfish

Since the Chocolate Chip Starfish is carnivorous, they must be fed meaty foods. These include (but are not limited to) pieces of fish, shrimp, krill, squid, and other meaty foods. I personally prefer to use the commercially available fish pellets or frozen foods that can be obtained at most pet stores.

They are also scavengers and will eat decaying plant and animal matter that has sunk to the bottom of the tank.

Do chocolate chip starfish eat algae

Chocolate chip starfish eat algae by catching it with their tube feet that are located all over their body. They then use their stomachs to break down the food.

They also eat sponges, soft corals and many types of fish, which they catch with their suction cups on their arms.


Chocolate chip starfish are commonly found in the home aquarium trade. These are a good species for hobbyists who are not planning to add other types of invertebrates. They do well in tanks with live rock, ideally 50/50 water current, and their requirements regarding tank mates is minimal.

Although most reef-keepers keep chocolate chip starfish at some point in their hobby, most seem to get rid of them after a while.

This seems to be quite sad as these animals are very beautiful, and have a lot to offer. The fact that they have a diet similar to corals makes them even more valuable in many reef tanks.

Sadly, however, misinformation and bad experiences are the main reasons why owners seldom keep these starfishes for much longer than 6 months or so.

They also seem to get blamed for many anemone problems when, in fact, they do not eat anemones.

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