brittle star predator?


Has anyone ever heard of a brittle star catching and eating small fish. I've added a couple of small fish to my tank and they all disappear with no signs at all. what about a banded shrimp.


My brittle star caught my yellow-tail damsel about 3 weeks ago. They are predators and can catch fish. I just started feeding mine more often and make sure your fish are healthy(easy to catch a sick fish).

sunken ship

Brittlestars are known to be scavengers, not predators. However, I have heard many stories of green brittle stars eating fish. They will climb on top of rocks/corals and drop onto unsuspecting/sleeping fish and the rest is history. If the star is not being fed properly and is hungry it will hunt if it has to, even if it seems unlikely.
And jwishy, what are you talking about irreconcilable ramifications?

sunken ship

What they do is, After you turn the lights off for the night, they craw on top of the live rock , corals or whatever decorations and drop on top of sleeping , unsuspecting fish.
(posted by 99)
There are many ways in which these stars can catch their prey. Any animal will hunt if it needs to in order to survive.

sunken ship

First off, yes, jwishy, I am quoting someone elses post. There are many intelligent people on this forum that know a lot about a great many things. I believe my choice of quotes is wise and i stand by it.
Secondly, no I have never personally owned a serpent or brittle star, my system is neither large enough or matured enough to enable them to thrive, therefor I choose not to subject one of those delicate animals to anything unsatisfactory for them. Yes I know the difference between brittle and serpent stars and I know many people who have owned both brittles and serpents, and the star in question is a brittle star as said by the person who started this thread.
Lastly, rescue was asking whether or not anyone has heard of brittle stars catching and eating small fish. It has happened before, even though it may not be very likely that this is what happened in rescue's tank.


hey Jwishy, i dont know if you know what you are talking about....
just read this, and yes i'm quoting someone else, but i too stand by my quotes seeing as how i and the majority of the board trusts this person...
"I have 8 brittlestars/serpentstars (there is no difference, BTW), and have waited many days for them to consume a dead snail, let alone catch something larger. However, this is not to say that the stories of some being predatory are false. They are certainly not."
notice how she says that there isn't any difference with the brittles and serpents.
also note how she states that as they are not predatory, they have been known to attack fish...not uncommon. i do recall her also saying that they WILL not let themselves starve. they WILL eat other a last resort.


i just got home from driving my girlfriend home and was thinking, i dont think its really necassary for us to get into this argument...i think we are just misunderstanding each others point...i mean, i still stand behind what i said...but do you see what i'm saying? if what i say sometimes is wrong, ok...well, i may be talking based on my experience, infact, that would make it valid, not, i dunno...just i dont see why it has to get this heated....


New Member
k, so this is what i think. jwishy needs to shut up. he is just picking fights. this forum is set up for people to share thier experiences. my green serpant has both eaten fish that have previously died and has hunted them. in reading all of the replies to the post i truely lost what the orrigonal question was. the poster was asking a simple question. can't we all just get along?



Originally posted by Aly
k, so this is what i think. jwishy needs to shut up. he is just picking fights. this forum is set up for people to share thier experiences.

I'll drink to that...:D :D :D
jwishy...would it hurt to put a IMO, IME or JMO before you type something argumentative. Atleast then you can get your point across without coming off as an immature, fight picking jerk, JMO...see how that works :p
Personally I'd believe Ophiura's advice before I'd even take yours into consideration. Not because I believe she is more intelligent than you (although i'm sure she is :cool: ) Instead I take her advice because not only does she have a lot of experience with brittle stars, but more importantly she has earned my respect and trust. She is always giving great advice, and does this without flaming every member on the thread:mad: Her post are informative and are not ment to start a heated debate. Being very open-minded she takes all possibilities into consideration before giving her advice. You can definitely learn from her. *hint *hint
Now back to the original question...yes, I have heard of brittle stars catching brittle stars in particular. However I cannot confirm it, nor disprove it. I myself have two green brittles stars, one medium and one very large. Easily large enough to consume one...or two of my firefish. I suppose it's possible for a brittle star to catch a fish, but IME I find it is very unlikely. I definitely wouldn't count on it as the source of your disappearing fish. Weak, sick, dieing, or dead fish however are a different story, I suspect this to be the cause of most "brittle star ate my fish" threads. And to blame it on a brittle star may be overlooking a real problem. I would look into your water parameters, to start with. How many fish have disappeared? What kind of fish were they? How long have they been gone?


I saw my green brittle pull a firefish out from under its rock and pull it under its disk. It was all over from that point. So I beg to differ on that point. Maybe they arent known predetors, but mine certainly likes the taste of fish.


jwishy, how old are you? i fyou have all this equipment, i would have to assume your parents bought it for you? you can only be like 12 if this is how you deal with other humans...
we have been saying that as it may not be EXPECTED, it does happen...and atleast 4 people on this thread (not quoted) have seen one eat a fish in their experience...are we just lying? for the hell of it? personally, i wouldn't mind if you left becuase i dont want your advise, it obviously contradicts peoples experience.


also, just to add, this was posted by ophiura:
The green brittlestar is a known predator, and this is well documented on every reef board and all over the web.
also, here is a picture i found on another board i'm on...notice the black tail underneath? here is the picture you wanted.


Jwishy-Your attitude leaves a lot to be desired.We all come here to learn. Certain people get respect on this board because of the knowledge they have amassed over time. Your legacy,quite possibly will come about if the moderators will grant my wishes.I know this is not a chat room but in Jwishy's honor---Can we install an IGNORE BUTTON?


Active Member
Hey Frozen Guy, sorry to say this, but you sort of proved Jwishy's point there. That *appears* to be a Green Serpent Star, not a Green Brittle Star, notice the lack of "Brittles", for lack of a better word, on the arms. I say appears because the picture seems a little fuzzy, and their is the small possiblity that I just couldn't make out the Brittles. So that's not really any sort of proof that a Green Brittle Star will eat fish, as the posted star is a Green Serpent Star.
There, now that I've play Jwishy's point, I'll bat for the other team as well. I know that the Green Brittle Star is not known to be predatory towards fish, but neither are humans to other humans. However, if you were stuck at the top of Mt Everest, freezing you hindquarters off, and you're only hope for survival was your preying on your now-very-ill friend next to you, what would you do? Now, I'm not supporting cannibalism, I'm just making a point. Survival is the most natural of instincts, and if a Brittle Star cannot get at any other sources of food, he will go for what he can get, even if that includes your seldom-moving Mandarin or Firefish.
And really, does this board need this much hostility?


"Brittlestars" and "Serpentstars" are the SAME thing.Someone bet me please, my car note is killing me!!


Active Member
I have some bills to pay. This will help. And why do I have bills? Because I have spent many years studying one group of animals, and one group only.
Brittlestars, serpentstars, basketstars....ophiuroids all.
Unfortunately, frozenguy gets the check. Hope he will share some though.
Yes, what he has shown is the only tank species that is a known predator, well documented in the wild, though it may or may not be in captivity.
Therefore, the green brittlestar, and the green serpentstar as I know them, are the same beast. And believe me, I know quite a few of them. So, please show me the predatory green serpentstar!? It is the same critter.
"Brittlestars" are apparently those with arm spines, serpentstars are those without. This is, in fact, BS. Both have arm spines, but brittlestar hold the spines perpendicular to the arm, and serpentstars generally have shorted spines that are held adpressed, or parallel, to the arm. But they both have arm spines, and they both can be either a brittlestar or a serpenstar at any given time, with any observer. It is almost random.
The confusion comes from the common names of the group. The "Ophiuroidea" are a class of Echinoderms, that are described as "snake" or "serpent" like (the term "Ophios"is reference to this). However, all of these animals can readily autonomize, or drop arms, leading to the other common name of brittlestar.
Doesn't matter. Both the same. I can talk to you at length about it.
The green brittle/serpentstar (and YES, I have seen it called both), is more appropriately called Ophiarachna incrassata. It is a KNOWN PREDATOR in the wild. Indeed, lets know what animal we are talking about, shall we? Let's use the proper scientific Latin!! I'm game!
The simple fact is we are not able to study the range of behaviors and feeding strategies available to these animals in the wild, though donations such as the reward mentioned will help. I believe brittlestars are incredibly opportunistic. They will take advantage of any dead, weak or stressed animal in the tank, and they will, sometimes, take healthy animals too. They will eat a wide range of things, should the opportunity presents itself. Indeed, we are learning that more and more species are quite predatory. Generally, they will be drawn to dying things, acting as opportunistic scavengers, but this does not describe all individuals, or all species in any given situation.
The purpose in nature is to grow large and don't do this by letting a free meal get away.
rescue, you may wish to elaborate on your situation, the age of the tank, water parameters, fish involved, etc. Never jump to conclusions, or you may miss the true answer. What sort of brittlestar do you have? Do you feed it? And yes, CBS also are known to eat fish now and again.
jwishy, all I can ask is that you learn to contribute in a productive manner. I suspect you are not one of my colleagues....another brittlestar researcher (get my drift?). You are entitled to your opinion regarding the predatory nature of certain species. Lord knows I think most are wrongly implicated in such attacks, and I can be rather abrupt at these times, but there are overall, constructive ways to provide input.


Do I get my cut. I know my damsel was eaten. If my true percs are fine and that damsel lived through a cycle I don't think he died at the ripe old age of 1 year old!


Therefore, the green brittlestar, and the green serpentstar as I know them, are the same beast. And believe me, I know quite a few of them. So, please show me the predatory green serpentstar."
Doesn't your above quote mean I win the check??I did say they are the same..that's what I was betting about.Damn, now I got myself all excited over this fake check!