By Bob Goemans
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Bob Goemans corresponds with Brian Tapasto (NC)

Brian Tapasto (NC) writes...

Hello Bob,

I am writing to inquire about these pests that are eating my SPS corals. I have never seen these before and am having trouble identifying them. I will send you some pictures as well. The first time I seen them was about two days after I brought home a huge Montipora specimen from my LFS. They are mostly white, and seem to be some kind of starfish with multiple legs around the circular and sometimes oval body. They seemed to have popped out of the coral as if they came from the inside. There is a hole in the center of their disk, which seems to pulsate, and what appears to be like tiny feather duster like appendages protruding outward. After about three days the 6-inch by 6-inch Montipora turned completely white, aka dead.

About ten days later I noticed about 20 of these things on one of my SPS corals, which was more then half dead by this time. The pictures I sent are of this coral. I did multiple double strength reef dip treatments, which doesn't seem to help. When I pry these things off the coral it almost breaks a whole branch off. Could you please help me figure this mystery out, as I would be grateful. I hope they not baby Acanthaster planci!

Thanks in advance for your assistance

Brian Tapasto

Charlotte, NC

Bob replies...

Hi Brian,

Wow, baby Crown of Thorns starfish! You hit the nail squarely on its head and it’s the first hatching of these in aquaria that I’m aware of in aquariums. There’s nothing you can add to the water to kill them without injuring other animals in the aquarium, so carefully, with tweezers or small tongs, remove each seen. Keep in mind adults have toxic spines and can inflict severe pain, possibly swelling and nausea for days. How toxic are these hatchlings, I'm not sure, but don't risk removing them with fingers. Also, make sure you get the entire creature, as any tiny parts remaining will regenerate an entirely new specimen.

Your photos were excellent, and wonder if I could have your permission to use one in my Sand Mail Column in FAMA magazine?


Brian Tapasto (NC) writes...

Hello Bob,

Thanks for your fast response, and yes you can use the pics in your FAMA column or your website. The good news is these things don't seem to be that mobile. I think I got them all, but bought some harlequin shrimp to see if maybe they would munch on any that I missed.

Thanks again Bob.




Seastars; Pest Control

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