Feather Starfish – Diet, Habitat, Reproduction, & Aquarium Care

The feather starfish is a marine animal belonging to the class of crinoids echinoderms. Their appearance resembles that of starfish, with the exception that they have a large number of thin, flexible arms, which they use to swim and capture food.

Due to their beautiful appearance and fascinating behavior, feather starfish are very popular among aquarium owners. It has very long, thin arms and when it swims, it looks like a feather in water. This explains its name. These creatures are also known as “basket stars”, “snake starfish” or “brittle stars”.

Feather starfish is a common name of crinoids (class: Crinoidea). Feather starfish is a common name given to feathery-looking animals. They are also known as feather stars, comatulids, blue dragon fish, and crinoids.

Feather starfish are a fascinating sea animal that many people love to keep in their reef or saltwater aquariums. They are relatively easy to care for, and they make a great addition to any marine tank.

Identification & Color Range

The appearance of feather starfish depends on their species but most of them have arms that are covered with pinnules or small appendages that look like feathers or leaves. These appendages are used for locomotion and respiration. They also have tube feet that help catch food and hold on to objects. These animals have a body that is similar to sea stars but they usually lack a disc, which is part of the body plan of other echinoderms. The arms are attached to a long stalk so they can move from one place to another through crawling.

The feather starfish is a very beautiful specimen that is a great addition to your home aquarium. They are colorful, unique, and fun to watch. If you are looking for a new pet that will add some color and life to your tank, the feather starfish may be the perfect animal for you.

Feather stars have a central disc with 5 or more arms that branch out at the end. The branches are flattened, fringed, and featherlike to help them catch food in the water. The number of arms can range from 5 to over 200 (though the average is around 20).

Feather starfish come in a variety of colors and patterns. Multiple colors can be present on a single feather star, and some species are even luminescent. Colors include red, orange, yellow, blue, green, brown, purple, and black. They may also appear white or cream-colored. With their long arms and distinctive coloration, these sea creatures are easily recognizable.

Most feather stars look similar to each other, which makes it hard to identify individual species. There are 300+ species of feather starfish, also known as blue dragon fish, and they all have similar traits. Feather starfish, or blue dragon fish, are often confused with brittle starfish, but they have some subtle differences. The arms of brittle stars are long and thin, and when they move, they look like snakes slithering through the sand. Feather Stars have shorter arms, and their movements are different. When a brittle star moves its arms, it looks like a snake. But when a feather star moves its arms, it’s more like a crab or spider moving its legs.

Diet, Feeding, and Nutrition

When it comes to the diet of feather starfish, they are actually omnivores and will eat almost anything, including algae. When in the wild, their diet mainly consists of algae and bacteria, although they will also eat other small marine organisms such as zooplankton.

Although they have a mouth that is surrounded by tiny tube feet that are used to move food into their mouths, they do not chew their food. They ingest it and then digest it internally.

The type of food that they eat can actually be changed depending on what habitat they are living in. For example, if you put them in an environment with lots of algae, then this is what they will eat. However, you can also feed them with a variety of foods to promote good health.

The feather starfish are omnivorous, so they feed on both animal and plant matter. In the wild, they often feed on phytoplankton like algae and protozoans, which they capture in the water column by extending their arms with their tube feet. As a result, they are often found in areas of high phytoplankton concentration.

The feather starfish will also eat zooplankton and detritus that falls to the bottom of the ocean floor. In the aquarium, feather starfish can be fed a variety of foods like marine algae and other dried foods. Feather stars are not picky eaters, which makes them fairly easy to feed. They mostly feed on microalgae and phytoplankton, though they will also take in detritus. In an aquarium setting, you can provide this with any commercial algae-based food or microalgae powder.

If your feather star is a scavenger, it will wait until food particles float by and then use its tube feet to pull the food into its mouth. Then it will move over to the feeding appendages around its mouth to filter the water and capture any small food particles floating nearby.

Distribution and Habitat of Feather Starfish

The Feather Starfish is found in the Indo-Pacific region. It is generally spotted on shallow reefs and lagoon reefs. The Feather Starfish also inhabits benthic environments. However, this species does not live deep in the ocean.

The Feather Starfish also lives in the water column. You will find these starfishes living at a depth of about 5 to 60 meters below the surface of the ocean or sea. They are also found in areas where the currents are weak and gentle.

The feather starfish that live in shallow water are often brightly colored. They take advantage of the plentiful food from coral reefs and live among the branches of hard corals where they can capture plankton passing by. This is a species that is found throughout the oceans of the world, including the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the waters around Antarctica.

Feather starfish species that live in deeper water are usually white or pale-colored to blend in with their surroundings. Feather starfish living in deep water don’t eat as much as those living in shallower waters because they cannot find enough food. So it lives in shallow tropical waters and has also been seen in the deep ocean trenches. These unusual creatures are found in coral reefs and are known to live in both cold and warm water.

Reproduction & Growth

Reproduction and growth are not that much different from that of normal starfish. Feather starfish, like other starfish, do not have a specific reproductive system because they reproduce sexually. They have the ability to either reproduce on their own or reproduce with another feather starfish. They are known as simultaneous hermaphrodites because they produce both eggs and sperm at the same time.

When the eggs are developed and released into the water, they are fertilized by sperm cells from a nearby feather starfish. The fertilized egg will then develop into a planktonic larva that will eventually settle on the seafloor and start to grow into an adult Feather starfish or blue dragonfish.

Feather stars have a unique reproductive system called broadcast spawning. This involves the male and female releasing their eggs and sperm into the water at the same time. The eggs and sperm are carried by the current and meet, where they grow and develop until they hatch as larvae. The larvae then grow in the water for a couple of weeks before settling on the seabed. They then spend several months growing before becoming mature adults.

Some Feather stars use a unique reproductive process. A feather star will release both eggs and sperm into the water when it is time for reproduction. After fertilization occurs, the eggs develop into larvae that float in the water column for around 45 days before they settle onto a surface where they metamorphose into adults. If you want to increase your chances of breeding these animals in captivity then make sure you have more than one feather star in your aquarium.

Growth depends on various factors such as temperature and food availability. Feather stars can grow rapidly when living in an optimal environment.

Feather Starfish Aquarium Care

The feather starfish, also known as feather duster worms, are an interesting addition to the saltwater aquarium hobby. The feather starfish is a very popular echinoderm in the aquarium trade. They have become so popular, in fact, that they are now bred in captivity and regular varieties are being created through selective breeding.

Tank size

Feather stars require a tank of at least 30 gallons for one specimen. If you are keeping multiple specimens together you will need an even larger tank with more water flow.


Fish and other invertebrates that may harm feather stars include tangs, triggerfish, shrimp, crabs, and octopus. Though small fish may be fine, larger ones can eat smaller feather stars.


The temperature range for this species is 72° to 82° F (22°-28° C). The pH range should be between 8.1 and 8.4, with a specific gravity of 1.023-1.025.


Feather stars prefer strong water flow so they are constantly being cleaned by the current. This is why it’s important to place them on live rock or another surface where they can be pulled away if the current gets too strong. They also need constant oxygenation so pumps and filters need to be kept clean.


The Feather Starfish is a highly active fish and will spend most of its time swimming in the open water. It is a bottom dweller that will often be found sitting on the substrate. It will also climb onto aquarium decorations, such as plants and rocks. 

This fish does best in an aquarium with a sandy substrate, some caves, and plenty of live rock for it to sit on. If you are looking to keep a pair together then you should provide multiple caves and plenty of live rock so there is no fighting over territory when they pair up.


Provide moderate water flow in the aquarium. A Protein Skimmer is recommended because they are messy eaters and produce a lot of waste.

It is actually fairly easy to care for this species if you have the right tank set up and maintain good water quality. However, they do not survive well in captivity and should only be kept by experienced reef keepers.

Interesting Facts about Feather Starfish

  • Feather starfish, also known as crinoids, are among the most common animals on coral reefs. These delicate-looking animals are echinoderms related to sea urchins, sea stars, and sea cucumbers.
  • They have a feather-like appearance, which is how they got their name. These pretty sea creatures can be found in different colors like yellow, orange, red, and purple. They can also be patterned or plain.
  • The feather starfish has a disc-shaped body with long and flexible arms. Their bodies are usually covered with spines, which help them to hide from predators. Their bodies are also covered with tube feet that help them to move around and catch food.
  • Feather stars are found in saltwater and freshwater environments throughout the world. They’re also known as feather dusters or crinoids.
  • Feather stars do not live attached to the seafloor like their relatives, the sea lilies. Instead, they spend their lives crawling along the bottom or floating in the water column.
  • They live at different depths depending upon their size and color. For example; small feather starfish usually live at shallow depths while large ones stay in deep places in oceans and rivers.
  • The life cycle of feather dusters consists of two stages: the free-living trochophore larva stage and the filter-feeding polychaete worm stage.
  • Feather starfish are known for their pretty and attractive looks. They are considered to be the most beautiful species on the planet. These animals have a bright red color and amazing shape. The feather-like arms make them different from other species of starfish.
  • These creatures are quite delicate and will die if they are exposed to air for too long so they must be kept in an aquarium that has plenty of water circulating around them to prevent them from drying out.
  • To feed your feather starfish, you should give it a mix of different types of food, including copepods and microalgae pellets or flakes that sink to the bottom of your tank.
  • The best way to breed them is by putting a male and female together in your tank and letting nature take its course.
  • Feather starfish are filter-feeders, they actually do not use their tube feet to move. They move by using their feathery arms. These arms are covered with tiny fibers that are called cilia.

Feather Starfish- Related FAQs

Q1. Are feather starfish poisonous?

Feather starfish are not poisonous, nor do they have any toxic effect on humans. They are considered safe for human interaction and even for aquariums.

Since feather starfish are not poisonous, there is no danger of them hurting you or your pets. The worst thing that will happen to you if you touch these creatures is that they might fall apart, but then again, this is true with most starfish species. However, if the spines are damaged, they can cause an allergic reaction, resulting in a rash or irritation that can be quite itchy.

Q2. Can you keep feather stars?

Feather stars are not a typical pet. They are not a common choice for beginners, and they can be difficult to keep alive in home aquariums. But if you’re looking for a challenge, or if you just want an unusual pet that is absolutely captivating to watch, look no further than the feather star.

Feather stars are relatively simple to care for and will thrive in most reef tanks. They can be kept with other sessile invertebrates, hard corals, soft corals, anemones, and clams. However, they may come into conflict with filter-feeding invertebrates such as feather dusters and tubeworms. They should not be kept with predatory fish that have a taste for crustaceans.

Q3. How big is the feather star?

It is not very big, actually. Because of its relatively small size, it can be kept in a home aquarium by hobbyists. Most specimens are only about 1 to 2 inches wide when fully grown (although some are even smaller). The largest feather starfish that has ever been discovered had a diameter of 6 inches!

Q4. Do feather stars have eyes?

The Feather stars do have eyes, but only five of them. They are located at the end of each arm and are used for detecting motion as well as light and dark. Feather stars have a unique type of eye that is not found in any other species of echinoderm. These eyes are placed on the tips of their branches or arms and provide these animals with a basic vision. Feather stars can detect movement, light, and dark, but they cannot see images.

The combination of the feather star’s long tentacles, basic sight, and the short distance between its mouth and the tentacles at the end of its branches gives it a highly evolved means of catching prey.

Q5. Is The Feather Starfish Reef Safe?

Feather Starfish are very reef safe and are a great addition to any reef aquarium. However, as with all tank mates, you should make sure that your Feather Starfish is well fed. Otherwise, it will most likely get its nourishment from whatever food was left behind by your other inhabitants.

More specifically, it will eat the coral’s polyps in order to sustain itself. In general, it’s a good idea to feed the feather starfish at least once a week with the same food you use for your corals (the liquid or frozen food). This way, you can be assured that it won’t go looking for food on its own.


Feather Starfish are beautiful additions to your saltwater aquarium, but not all of these creatures are created equal. Each one is unique and comes with specific habitat, diet, and aquarium care requirements that vary from fish to fish. This means that regular research and attention must be devoted to their daily lives in the tank. After you have read this guide you will know how to feed a Feather Starfish and how to take care of a Feather Starfish.

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