By Bob Goemans
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Order: Valvatida - Family Ophidiasteridae

Iconaster longimanus

(Mobius, 1859)

Icon Star

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Range: Indo-West Pacific Ocean

Natural Environment: This is a beautiful sea star has five thin, flattened arms and its marginal plate areas usually have large random light tan and dark brown plates, which surround smaller central disk plates of burnt orange. Overall general colors may vary slightly depending upon area of origin. It inhabits deep reef areas where rubble collects and is thought to feed upon detritus and small benthic invertebrates, as its specific needs are still not fully known.

General Husbandry: Since sea stars mostly come from areas receiving little light, its always best to provide areas within the aquarium where the animal will have many hiding places, e.g., areas/spaces between lots of live rock. Furthermore, areas such as these provide good grazing, as it appears to feed upon microorganisms, bacteria, and detritus.

Unfortunately there probably isn’t a hobbyist aquarium that can naturally sustain these creatures long term because its nutritional needs are usually not met. Therefore I suggest supplementing the naturally occurring foodstuffs by placing different type and size meaty foodstuffs on the aquarium substrate just prior to the lights going out. They are, if healthy, very capable of knowing when food enters the aquarium and will usually quickly take the shortest path to the foodstuff. Again, the long-term success rate with this sea star appears to be dismal at best.

Even thought rarely seen in the trade, they appear to be reef safe. And since its central disc can attain a diameter of about 4 inches (10 cm), would consider a 100 gallon aquarium the smallest it should be maintained in.

Finally, keep in mind all starfish are very vulnerable to sudden salinity/specific gravity changes. (Salinity is the correct term for measuring a natural salt level in the wild, and specific gravity is the correct term for artificially prepared seawater.) Therefore, acclimate carefully before transferring new purchases to your aquarium.

 Iconaster longimanus (Icon Star)
Photo © Bob Goemans
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