Serpent Brittle Starfish

Serpent Starfish – How to Properly Maintain this Nervous Creature [Detailed Guide]

Serpent starfish is a marine animal that exists in the sand and mud ocean floor. This sea creature resembles a starfish and it was given the name serpent starfish because of its snake-like appearance.

Serpent starfish is considered one of the most demanding marine fish to maintain. It is a kind of starfish species. Also, commonly known as brittle stars are in the family Ophiuroidea, members of the phylum Echinodermata. This creature is sold under many names: Serpent Starfish, Banded Serpent Starfish, Serpentine Starfish, and Harlequin Starfish. It is also known as rhinophore starfish.

The common name of the Serpent starfish or Harlequin sea star refers to the many colors they can have and the different patterns on their body.

Serpent starfish is one of the rarest fish in the world, because of its sensitivity to environmental changes due to habitat destruction, fishing by humans, and global warming. This guide will help you with the proper maintenance of these funny and vivacious animals.


The Serpent Starfish is one of the many different types of starfish. Unlike other species, however, they have a very specific diet and require a lot of care. They also need more food than most other species because they are very active and fast-moving creatures.

Serpent starfish have a carnivorous diet, and they mainly feed on small sea creatures like fish, mollusks, crustaceans, worms, sponges, and corals. The Serpent starfish have a very interesting feeding mechanism that makes it easy for the serpent to hunt in their natural habitats. They approach their prey from behind until they are close enough to attack them. They, then wrap their arms around the prey and pull it into their mouths.

The Serpent starfish also have a series of light receptors called photoreceptors on their skin that help them detect light and movement. These light receptors also help the serpent starfish find food in low-light conditions. They can also be scavengers, as they feed on dead animals too.

Natural Habitat

Serpent (Brittle) starfish can be found in areas ranging from shallow intertidal zones (on coral reefs and seagrass beds) to abyssal depths. Considering Ophiuriudea comprises THOUSANDS of species, it’s no surprise that you can find serpent stars – well, pretty much anywhere.

Most Brittle starfish species live in tropical and subtropical waters, but there are also members of the class Ophiuroidea living in temperate climes. In fact, there are hundreds of species of serpent stars living off the coasts of North America and Europe, where they play significant roles in their ecosystems.

Brittle stars can even tolerate extreme conditions, they have been found in crustal vents, hydrothermal vents and methane seep zones.Many of these environments are very challenging for other marine animals to survive in. In contrast, the serpent starfish is able to thrive in these areas due to its ability to withstand.

Serpent starfish commonly inhabit tropical regions such as the Pacific Ocean, Southern, Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean. They are also known to live in temperate seas.

Musculoskeletal system

Skeletal structure and muscles

The musculoskeletal system of brittle starfish is mainly composed of mesodermal tissues. The skeleton consists of five or more arms, which are attached to a central disc by an articulation. Each arm is divided into two regions: proximal and distal. The proximal region is closest to the disc; it’s wide, short, and covered with spines. The distal region is long and thin; it usually has no spines. There are several rows of tube feet on the underside of each arm.

The arms are cylindrical in cross-section, and the arm disc is either circular or oval in shape. There are no true muscle cells, but the body wall of all starfishes contains a thin layer of circular and radial fibers that allow for movement. The muscles have three functions, which are: (1) locomotion, (2) food manipulation and ingestion, and (3) protection.

(1) Locomotion

Locomotion is achieved by alternately contracting radial muscles that cause the arms to flex and then relaxing them so they extend again. This alternation causes the arms to move in a wave-like manner, creating a crawling motion of the animal in the direction opposite to that of the moving arm.

The musculoskeletal system provides movement for animals and stability while standing still. It protects key organs such as the heart and lungs. It allows animals to store minerals and energy reserves (fat) to draw upon when needed. It also produces blood cells in the bone marrow.

The skeleton of serpent starfish is a complex system that allows them to hunt by grabbing, crushing, and manipulating their prey. The five-arm radial symmetry and the movable spines on each arm allow the fish to quickly change direction while swimming. 

(2) Food manipulation and ingestion

The rays in their arms are covered in small plates. These small plates are connected by muscles and ligaments and allow the sea stars to change shape. The plates also act as gills and can absorb oxygen directly from the water.

(3) Protection 

The starfish can use its water vascular system to move quickly and escape predators.

It has a unique protection system. When they feel threatened, they can quickly wrap their arms around their bodies, making them look like a ball. Their tube feet are hidden away, which means that predators cannot see them or use them as an easy attack point.

Serpent Brittle Starfish Structure
Serpent Brittle Starfish Structure

Lifespan of Serpent Brittle starfish

As a species, starfish have an extremely long lifespan. However, the lifespan of each individual is hard to predict given the number of factors that can affect it. The lifespan of a Brittle sea star is not known, but it is believed to be long. It is thought that the sea star could live in excess of 8 years.

Brittle stars have an interesting life cycle. They start out as eggs inside the mother’s body. She will lay these eggs out in the open water, where they develop into larvae. These larvae are free-floating and have a short lifespan.

Those that don’t get eaten drift along the bottom until they find a place to settle down and become adults. The adult lives on the ocean floor and eats small bits of organic matter (dead animals or plants). The average growth rate for brittle stars is about one inch in length per year. Growth depends on the type of brittle star, age, and food source.

Identification and Appearance

The shape of the body of this starfish is quite interesting because it has a five-pointed body shape like a star. Actually, we can also find more than five points on the body of this starfish. But, it can only reach up to 50 points on its body. This animal does not have eyes that are very sharp to see objects around him. But, this animal can use its other sense organs that cover its entire body to support its survival in the sea environment.

They have a pentagonal body covered by leathery skin; this is the outer covering of the serpent starfish. The skin is usually brown or green in color but can be red, blue, orange, or yellow. The body has five long arms that are connected to each other at the center of the body. The arms do not have any structure or bones, but they do have muscles that help them contract and expand. They vary in length from 10cm to 60cm, depending on their species.

The shape of its body can be oval or rounded, and its arms are very thin and long, which gives them the appearance of serpents. These limbs can be distinguished by their red, orange, or yellow coloration. It also has sense organs through which it perceives its surroundings. They are located on small bumps along the surface of its body.

Some species have spines in their head area, while others have teeth instead (as is the case in Ophiuroidea). Others have both spines and teeth together. This characteristic is what differentiates them from other sea stars.

Feeding and Breeding

Serpent starfish have a carnivorous diet, feeding on small invertebrates like snails, clams, crabs, and carrion. Their diets are often dependent on the type of habitat they live in. For example, serpent starfish living in rocky habitats will focus their feeding on detritus while those that live in coral reefs will feed on small invertebrates.

Serpent starfish can feed at any time of day, but show a preference for feeding at night when there is less light and more cover to hide under. This allows them to ambush prey more easily. Serpent starfish use their tube feet to pull food items out of the sediment or coral, making it easier to capture them with their arms.

Serpent starfish feed on detritus and carrion, which means that they can be very beneficial to any reef tank. They will also consume leftover pieces of food from the fish in the tank. However, it is important to make sure that there is enough food to go around for all of the inhabitants of your aquarium.

If there isn’t enough food, then your serpent starfish may starve to death. Additionally, if you have an aggressive or speedy fish species in your tank, then it is possible that these fish may eat all of the food before the serpent starfish are able to get any.

Breeding them does appear to be difficult and there are no known breeding methods for serpent stars in captivity. Breeding a serpent starfish in an aquarium is not likely at all. This is because most people keep their serpent starfish as part of a reef tank and breeding them would simply cause problems with their other inhabitants. Additionally, mating would require a male and female serpent starfish, which are nearly impossible to determine based on their appearance alone.

Reproduction and Growth

Most sea stars reproduce sexually. The male and female starfish release their sperm and eggs into the water, where they combine to create young starfish. They also can reproduce asexually by breaking off an arm and growing a new one. The regeneration process is very slow and takes time to complete.

The Serpent Starfish doesn’t have a brood pouch, so its eggs are laid directly into the water column. The eggs then hatch into larvae and tend to live near the top of the water column. As they mature, they begin to fall to the bottom of the water and eventually develop into adults. However, only a very small number of larvae actually go on to become adults. Most of them either fail to find a suitable place to settle or are eaten by predators long before they reach maturity.

Sea star brittle growth is not always guaranteed every time a new arm grows on its body. It may take several tries before the animal becomes fully grown again. Once the new arm is attached to the sea star’s body, it must feed itself so that it has enough energy to repair itself in order to grow bigger than before.

Serpent starfish Classification/Taxonomy

Serpent starfish is a common name given to any of several species of echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea and the family Ophuroidea. Serpent Starfish belong to the phylum Echinodermata which includes sea urchins, brittle stars, sea cucumbers, and sand dollars. They are closely related to Brittle Stars (Ophiuroids).

The serpent sea star belongs to the kingdom Animalia (Animals), Phylum Echinodermata (Sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and sand dollars), Subphylum Eleutherozoa, Class Asteroidea (Starfish), Order Forcipulatida (Brittle stars and basket stars), Family Ophiarachnidae (Serpent starfish), Genus Ophioderma and Species are Ophioderma appressum, Ophioderma brevispina, Ophioderma cinereum, Ophioderma echinatum, Ophioderma granulosum, Ophioderma hormos, Ophioderma midgardi, Ophioderma moseleyi, Ophioderma nodosum and many more. This classification is based on the scientific classification of plants and animals.

Predators and Dangers

Serpent starfish are very docile creatures, and because of this, there aren’t many predators that target them. Serpent starfish predators and dangers may not be common, but they can occur. With the increasing popularity of these creatures as pets and additions to marine aquariums, many people are developing a greater appreciation for them.

Their main predators are eels, sharks, triggerfish, and parrotfish. They have no natural enemies besides these. The main predators of all sea stars are sea otters, birds, and invertebrates like crabs and lobsters. Also, certain octopuses may attack them when they are small enough to fit in the mollusk’s mouth.

Although they do not have many predators, there are dangers that face them in their habitat. One danger is overfishing. Overfishing occurs when humans fish more than they need to, causing a decrease in population size. This reduction in number means that there will be fewer serpent starfish and could cause them to become extinct if fishing continues at this rate.

Another danger facing serpent starfish is climate change. As temperatures rise and oceans become warmer, coral reefs may die off due to bleaching, which would mean that the serpent starfish would lose its home and would find it harder to survive without food or shelter.

The biggest danger for the serpent starfish is people who catch them and keep them in aquariums or sell them as pets! These practices take away from their natural habitat in the sea and make it harder for them to survive.

Serpent Brittle Starfish Reproduction and Growth
Cool Facts about the Serpent (Brittle) Starfish

Interesting Facts – 9  Cool Facts about the Serpent (Brittle) Starfish

Serpent (brittle) starfish are well known for their ability to regenerate body parts. Echinoderms, the group that sea stars belong to, have this amazing ability. The serpent starfish is a type of echinoderm in the class Asteroidea with five arms that are long and slender resembling a snake. Here are 9  cool facts about these creatures!

  1. Serpent starfish are carnivores, feeding on small invertebrates, worms, and mollusks. They also scavenge for dead fish and other meaty remnants from the ocean floor.
  2. These marine animals live in shallow waters on coral reefs or the ocean floor.
  3. Another interesting fact about the Serpent Starfish is that they can regenerate one or more of their arms if needed. This can happen if one or more of their arms are damaged by either sickness or attack from a predator.
  4. They can be found in a wide range of colors including red star, brown sea star, green star, yellow star, orange starfish, red, blue fish, and purple.
  5. Unlike other types of marine life like sharks or dolphins, the serpent starfish doesn’t have a brain – they only have a nerve ring around their mouth.
  6. Most species of Serpent Starfish have 5 arms but some species can have up to 10 arms! The number of arms varies depending on the species.
  7. When they are born, brittle stars are very small, about one millimeter across! But they do have all five arms right away instead of growing them later like some other sea creatures do when they hatch from eggs.
  8. They have a very good sense of smell and can detect food from great distances using their thin, stalked eyes which can be found on the ends of their arms or body.
  9. Serpent starfish are nocturnal animals, so they only come out at night. During the day, they hide under rocks or bury themselves in the sand or mud.

Are serpent starfish reefs safe?

Serpents are not considered dangerous to humans since they don’t bite or sting as other poisonous animals do. However, they can inflict painful injuries if you step on them with bare feet or get too close to them with your hands. Although these injuries may not be lethal, they are still quite unpleasant and can cause permanent damage if left untreated for long periods of time (such as gangrene).

Serpent starfish reefs are generally safe for people. Only a handful of species have been known to ever bite humans, and they all live in shallow waters near land. Most people who have been bitten by a serpent starfish are those who have tried to pick one up or handle them. The bites themselves aren’t particularly dangerous and will feel like a pinch or scratch.

Serpent starfish reefs are a great way to get your aquarium to look like a natural reef. They can also be used to make a reef tank look more like a seabed or underwater mountain range.

A healthy serpent starfish will never hurt another critter in your aquarium. It can’t sting or bite – so another fish or invertebrate won’t get hurt by this reef-safe beauty.

Brittle & Serpent Starfish: Why they are preferred for breeding in tanks

Brittle and serpent starfish are preferred for breeding in tanks as they have a less predatory nature compared to other types of starfish. They are also known as brittle sea stars. These varieties of marine species can be found at depths from 30 m to 800 m in tropical seas. They have short arms and a hard shell that is more flexible than the sand sifting variety. Their legs are more flexible than their body and they don’t have an anus. While breeding in tanks, they feed on worms, algae, and uneaten food items of the other fish species available in the tank.

The reason why the brittle starfish is very popular amongst those who are looking to breed starfish is that they do not need much maintenance when it comes to breeding them inside an aquarium tank. This means that you will not have to spend too much money on food for your brittle starfish or even on other things such as lighting and heating for your tank.

However, there is a lot you should know before you decide to get a starfish for your aquarium. One of the most important things is that not all types of starfishes can be kept in tanks. There are many varieties and some of them aren’t meant to be bred in captivity. Then there are also certain species that require specific conditions or food which may be difficult for us to provide for our tanks.

Serpent (Brittle) Starfish -Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is there a difference between brittle starfish and serpent starfish?

A brittle starfish can also be called a serpent starfish. They are not the same, but there are some similarities between the two.

Brittle Starfish have short arms and move fast in the water. They tend to be slimy and soft. These species can be found in reefs and sandy areas in oceans all over the world.

Serpent Starfish, on the other hand, are slow movers and they inhabit caves, crevices, and burrows in reefs. You will find them mostly in the cold waters of areas like Antarctica. They both feed on organic materials that float around in the water.

Q2. Are serpent starfish poisonous?

Serpent starfish are not poisonous to humans, in fact, they are completely harmless. In fact, if a serpent starfish bites you, it is probably trying to defend itself against you.

Most of the time, serpent starfish will curl up into their bodies if they feel threatened. They do this as a form of defense. If the serpent starfish cannot curl up into its body, then it will bite you. The bite is not harmful to humans and it will not cause you any harm.

However, there are some other types of starfish that are poisonous to humans. It is important to know which ones are poisonous so that you do not handle them. If a starfish bites you or squirts on you, be sure to wash it off as soon as possible and go see a doctor if the pain does not go away within a few hours.

Q3. Will serpent starfish eat snails?

Serpent starfish will eat snails, but whether they will or not depends on a number of factors. A healthy serpent starfish is probably going to eat any snails that come into the territory because it is a scavenger and the most likely place to find a dead snail is in its shell.

Serpent starfish that are kept in pet stores are usually fed with very small pieces of fish and shellfish. These are usually eaten by the serpent starfish but sometimes they don’t get eaten at all since most of the shells contain poison. Snails can be used as bait for these fish, but this is dangerous because the snails are easily killed. There are also cases where snails have been found dead inside their shells after being bitten by serpent starfish that were kept in an aquarium with them.

Q4. Do serpent stars eat fish?

There are many different types of serpent starfish. Some are carnivores and some are omnivores. This type of starfish will eat live fish, dead fish, fish eggs, and other meaty items.

A serpent starfish feeds primarily on small crustaceans and other organic matter. They will not eat fish, but you may see them eating dead or dying fish.

Brittle stars will also eat fish; they are carnivores and they will feed on anything small enough to fit into their mouths.

Q5. Can you touch a brittle starfish?

You can touch a brittle starfish if you want to, but it’s not recommended. Brittle stars have a lot of small tube feet on their underside that they use to move and hold onto things. When touched or startled, they will pull these tube feet inside their arms and curl up into a ball to protect themselves. This is similar to an armadillo rolling up into a ball when threatened by a predator.

Brittle stars are not dangerous to people; they do not have any toxins or stingers. But if you feel you must touch one, the safest way is to use a plastic spoon.

Q6. Can serpent stars survive outside of water?

Serpent stars can survive out of water for a number of days, but most species of starfish cannot. The serpent stars will die within hours or days of being out of the water, depending on the species and their past experience with exposure to air. It is important to keep both types of invertebrates in a marine environment.

They can survive out of water for a while but not indefinitely. As long as they are kept in a cool place, they may last for several days. If the starfish is kept in a hot place, it will die within an hour or two.


Brittle or Serpent starfish or Ophiopluteus aurora are considered to be invertebrates and are actually related to the well-known sea stars. They are also known as serpents is a name that gives you the idea of their uniqueness from other sea stars. It is such a wonderful and useful invertebrate species of the ocean.

They are actually very fun to watch, as you will get to see them doing some amazing things on the outside of your aquarium. The serpent starfish is a lovely creature and easy to care for, given the proper environment.

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