Cushion Starfish

Cushion Starfish – Pillow Starfish | Culcita Novaeguineae

Cushion starfish are starfish belonging to the species of starfish known as “Cushion Star”. There are many different types of starfish, but the cushion star is a very unique one. Most of the starfish that we see in aquariums will be a type of cushion star.

In the world of starfish, Cushion stars are unique not only in their appearance but their behavior as well—they’re great escape artists! The pillow starfish or cushion star is a close relative to another fun variety—the sea turtle star.

Meet the cushion starfish or pillow starfish! Often called the “cushion sea star,” this little guy is a great choice for beginner aquarists, being very easy to care for.

How to Identify a Cushion Sea Star?

The cushion sea star’s common name comes from its shape. The body looks like a squat pentagonal cushion with five short arms. Each arm has two rows of tube feet and a row of hooked spines running along its length.

The dorsal surface is rough with projecting spines and the ventral surface is flat, with the mouth at the center. Each of the mouth’s plates bears two spines. Its color varies but is most commonly pale orange, brown, green, or cream.

The cushion star is easily identified by its small size and thick, bulbous body. A cushion sea star feeds on dead animals that it finds on the seabed, or scavenges for dead fish on fishing lines and nets.

The cushion star’s body is an oval shape, with five arms extending from it. Each arm has a row of tube feet along its underside that help it move across the seabed. A cushion star is a small species of sea star found among rocky and gravelly surfaces in the sublittoral zone. It is not often seen because of its small size, but also because it is nocturnal and hides during the day.


The Cushion Starfish or pillow starfish belong to the kingdom Animalia, class Asteroidea, order Valvatida, family Oreasteridae, genus Oreaster, and species O. reticulates. Starfish are included in the phylum Echinodermata (from Ancient Greek, “spiky skin”), which also includes sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle stars, and crinoids.

Like other echinoderms, they have five-fold symmetry (called pentamerism) and move by means of hundreds of tiny, transparent, adhesive “tube feet”. The symmetry is not obvious in the living animal but is easily visible in the dried test. Starfish are also known as asteroids due to being in the class Asteroidea.

Other Names 

The cushion star is a species of sea star from the Oreasteridae family. Its scientific name is Culcita novaeguineae and its common name is pillow starfish. 

Other names for cushion sea stars are Red Cushion Sea Star, Tropical Sea Star, comforter starfish, Pin-Cushion Sea Star, Pillow starfish, and the blanket star, also a type of cushion starfish that is rarer.


The cushion star occurs in the eastern and western Atlantic, from North Carolina to Brazil and Cape Verde Islands in western Africa. They live on soft substrates on the upper part of the continental shelf.

Starfish species inhabit all of the world’s oceans. Habitats range from tropical coral reefs, rocky shores, tidal pools, mud, and sand to kelp forests, and seagrass meadows. Cushion stars are found in a variety of habitats and can be found on rocky shores but also at depths of over 400m.

Pillow starfish live in the sea. They are Echinodermata class Asteroidea, which is a type of marine invertebrate with an inner skeleton. The pillow starfish has a very hard skeleton consisting of calcite plates embedded in the skin. Pillow starfish can be found all over the world, from cold seas to tropical seas, as well as from shallow to deep waters. It is also common to find them on reefs and in rock crevices.

The cushion stars in the upper intertidal zone occupy the area where the mussels and barnacles live. They tend to be found under boulders or in crevices and are generally seen only after they have been turned over by people.

Pillow Star Fish Appearance and Behavior
Pillow StarFish Appearance and Behaviour

Diet and feeding behaviour 

The Pillow starfish diet is varied. Cushion stars are omnivores, feeding on a variety of things from algae, diatoms, small detritus particles to clams and oysters, sea urchins, sponge tissue, crab larvae, and other small organisms.

To feed the cushion starfish folds its arms around its food and pushes the food into its mouth with its tube feet.  This process can take up to a few hours for larger foods.

The feeding behavior of cushion stars has been studied by researchers. The primary feeding mode of the species is suction feeding. The oral disc of the cushion star surrounds its prey (e.g., an oyster) and suctions it into its mouth. It then uses its cardiac stomach to digest the prey. The secondary feeding mode of the species is suspension feeding. It uses its arms to open mussels and bivalves while they are attached to rocks or pebbles, instead of auctioning them off the rock/pebble surface with their mouths as seen in other starfish species such as the Sunflower sea star (Pycnopodia helianthoides).

The cushion starfish do not use their arms to capture prey; they use the tube feet on their underside to catch prey. Cushion starfish have an amazing sense of smell which helps them detect their prey from a long distance. Their tube feet are equipped with chemoreceptors through which they detect chemical cues of their prey. This starfish can kill its prey by injecting it with a neurotoxin that dissolves its tissues.

However, the diet of cushion starfish mainly depends on the habitat it lives in. The sea stars living near coral reefs feed on algae whereas those found in sandy bottom areas, like sand sifting starfish, consume diatoms and small particles of organic matter.

Reproduction and Growth

The cushion starfish reproduces both sexually and asexually. Cushion starfish are typically gonochoristic, meaning they are either male or female. If a cushion starfish has a sex change, it will be from female to male. Reproduction occurs through broadcast spawning. This means that the eggs and sperm of the cushion starfish will be released into the water column for fertilization to occur and for the offspring to develop in open waters. The fertilized eggs will float in the water until they hatch into free-swimming larvae. After the free-swimming stage, the larvae settle and undergo metamorphosis until they become juvenile cushion starfish. The juveniles then grow into adults through bilateral symmetry (“Reproduction and Growth”, 2018).

Moreover, the growth of cushion stars is slow due to their conservation of energy because they are suspension feeders, meaning that they filter out food particles suspended in water (Harrison, 2018). Any excess energy is stored as fat reserves in their body. Therefore, the growth of the cushion starfish is not very rapid (Berkeley University, 2018).

Due to their ability to reproduce both sexually and asexually, it is difficult to track the growth rate of these animals. The only recorded growth rate of cushion stars is from specimens kept in aquariums as juveniles for about a year. In this instance, growth equated to about a 4 mm increase in radius per year.


Predators consume the cushion starfish in order to gain its nutrients. The predators can be other organisms from the same environment as the organism, or they can be from a different environment. Predators of the cushion starfish include sea stars, fish, and birds. Sea stars are known to eat other sea stars. Fish are known to eat other fish and also sea creatures such as sea stars, including cushion starfish. Birds can eat anything that is small enough for them to pick up, such as cushion starfish. 

The predators consume the cushion starfish in order to gain its nutrients. Cushion starfish are eaten by the triton snail, which is known to eat other sea creatures. This pillow starfish is also sometimes eaten by humans, who use it as food. Cushion starfish are eaten by the triton snail, which is known to eat other sea creatures. The cushion starfish is also sometimes eaten by humans, who use it as food. Other than sun rays and extreme heat, there is not much known about what predators there are for the cushion starfish.

Other than sun rays and extreme heat, there is not much known about what predators there are for the cushion starfish.

Common Threats

The most common threats to the cushion starfish include sharks and manta rays. Another predator is a natural threat to this sea creature, but they do not pose a serious threat to the animal. The most common threats to the cushion starfish include sharks and manta rays.

Moreover, the most dangerous threat is human beings. Humans like to eat the cushion starfish so they have been fished out of their natural habitats to make fish stock or dried seafood flavoring. In parts of Asia, they are eaten as a delicacy. Cushion starfish are also sold as souvenirs in gift shops along with coastal areas, but this doesn’t harm them at all since most of these shops buy them from aquariums that breed them specifically for this purpose.

The biggest threat to the Cushion Star is from the Ochre Sea Star, which is a predator of the Cushion Star. This is because most sea stars have no natural predators, but the Ochre Star has been known to eat the Cushion Star. The biggest threat to the Cushion Star is from the Ochre Sea Star, which is a predator of the Cushion Star. This is because most sea stars have no natural predators, but the Ochre Star has been known to eat the Cushion Star.

Cushion Starfish can bring your Aquarioum to life

The Cushion Starfish is a beautiful species of starfish that can bring your aquarium to life. A cushion starfish is a unique and interesting addition to any aquarium. They are excellent scavengers and will help keep the tank clean. They spend most of their time crawling along the sand bed and rock work, looking for bits of food and other detritus to eat. This cushion starfish can bring your aquarium to life with its striking color. The arms of this starfish are longer than most other species, giving it an elegant look.

It has bright blue stripes that really stand out against the dark green color. When they are young, they are paler, and as they grow, they develop more vibrant colors. This is a perfect hard saltwater starfish for a beginning aquarist.

Cushion Sea Star for Aquarium Breeding
Cushion Sea Star for Aquarium Breeding

The Cushion Star is one of the easiest starfish to keep in a reef aquarium. It is often used to help control hair algae growth in the aquarium, and it should be fed at least once a day, if not twice, so it doesn’t starve. Cushion starfish are not brightly colored starfish, but they can add a lot of life to your aquarium. These starfish have an unusual ability that makes them great for algae control in your aquarium. They can inflate and deflate as needed, to fit into small spaces. Cushion starfish are often found in tide pools where there is lots of algae to eat, and they can disappear into cracks and crevices to hide from predators.

Cushion Starfish Reef Safe? Yes or No

A cushion starfish is a reef-safe starfish that comes in different colors and sizes. As the name suggests, this star is shaped like a cushion or pillow. 

The cushion stars are very mobile and can be seen moving around the aquarium in search of food. They do not have a tendency to wander and will stay in one spot if they are well fed. So Cushion Starfish are reef safe and have a peaceful temperament. They inhabit the sand bed and are commonly seen buried with only the ends of their arms showing. They can come out at night and scavenge for food. 

Hence, the cushion starfish is a common reef starfish. It has a round body with short arms and is usually a deep red-brown in color. It feeds on soft corals and sponges but does not eat hard corals. Its prey consists of fleshy polyps and sponges, which it digests using powerful stomach enzymes.

Cushion Sea Star –  Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What do cushion sea stars eat?

Cushion stars are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plants. They will eat almost anything that they can find, including algae, clams, snails, other echinoderm worms, and even another echinoderm. It also eats sponge tissue, crab larvae, and other small organisms.

Q2. Where are cushion starfish found?

Cushion starfish are found in shallow waters, on coral reefs, and lagoons. Cushion starfish are found in the Indo-Pacific region, Arctic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Arctic.

Moreover, the  Cushion Starfish is found throughout the Indo-Pacific, as far north as Japan and as far south as Australia. They are often seen on the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef, where they can be observed in shallow water during the day.

Q3. How long do Cushion Starfish live?

The lifespan of cushion starfish depends on their diet and how much food is available to them. Starfish that feed on algae, seaweed, or other plant material may live longer than those that eat meaty prey items like fish or lobsters. Cushion starfish live between 5 and 7 years in the wild. In captivity, they can live longer than 20 years, but this is only an estimated figure. Their exact lifespan is unknown.

Q4. How big can Cusion Starfish get?

Cushion Starfish get up to 30-50 cm in diameter and is the largest starfish. The Cushion Starfish is a very common invertebrate in the coral reef. They mainly feed on sponges and corals, as well as other invertebrates. The cushion starfish is a large, symmetrical, disc-shaped species of starfish.


Overall, cushion starfish are beautiful and easy to keep as sea stars. They can brighten up any reef tank and provide ample cleaning for corals. Just make sure to get a young starfish so that it can acclimate to your desired water parameters easily. Cushion starfish make excellent aquarium fish, and they will do quite well with most community fish. To sum up, sea stars are fascinating creatures, and the cushion star is no exception. The cushion starfish can help provide a focal point to the environment. Moreover, the cushion starfish can help provide a focal point for the environment.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *