Can I operate on a starfish?


I have a red spiney reef safe starfish and it appears to have a injured arm. It seems as if it is hollwed out with no feelers except at the end. It just hangs in the water unlike the rest of the arms which are showing no signs of problems. The shrimp have started to pull at the infected arm. Since starfish can regrow arms I was thinking that I can take a sharp blade and remove the infected arm and hope for the best.


2 months,
ph 8.3 and steady
s.g. 1.023 - 1.024
alk 4
nitrite .01<
nitrate 10<
amonia 0
calcium 440
temp 80.5
red brittle is fine as is red star


Active Member
Actually I would.
I am looking it like this; The enfection could spread and harm it more, the decaying arm is effecting your tank, and why not?
I am not an expert by far mind you but why not?
Let us know how things turn out.


Active Member
Unless the animal is dying for other reasons. This would lead to a spectacular decay. Is there any whitish material on that arm? I am not sure the animal will have enough food to recover from this, but from the description, it might be worth a shot. There is always a chance, depending on a lot of variables, etc.
If you do it, take a clean new razor blade and make one clean cut, being sure to get to the healthy tissue. Do this as quickly as possible. This would be a hope for the best situation. However, unless you have a refugium or sump to keep him in (with LR), then there is no reason the shrimp wouldn't continue to pick at the (now open) wound.
IMO, you have too small a tank and too little LR to keep both of these stars long term. In order to keep the red star and the spiny for long, you need a large tank with lots and lots of LR, IMO nothing under a 55g...but best success with tanks over 100g. Those guys have the same diet and will probably both suffer from the competition. Have you noticed them eating any prepared foods, or do they stay on the glass and rocks? They are both algal/bacterial film and other encrusting animal feeders, though sometimes poeple report them trying to eat other thing. Anyway, this stuff takes time to regrow on areas the star has covered, and it does take time. With two, it causes some stress- you need a lot of algal/bacterial film to eat! The red Fromia is well known for dying of starvation at the 1 year mark. These animals do not live in close quarters in the wild. Forcing them to in a tank usually does not mean they live long (eg a normal lifespan). Whatever you do, do not add another reef safe star (except brittle/serpents).
IMO, success with reef safe stars is measured by keeping them over 1 year. How long have you had the other red stars?


I would cut it.
I have a green brittle for over 2 years now, he was a first addition into a 15g reef which was my first tank. There tuff critters, this guy has been through loss of all his, and even an implosion. He now lives in my 75g and has eaten my little watchman goby... but he still lives happy and healthy with all his regened legs!
I would cut the dead leg off, but keep him away from shrimp for about a week.
Another way to do this is you have no sump is to drill holes in a large specimin container and hang it from the tank. The holes will have good flow of water, just be sure it has food.


Anways I cut the leg off underwater and he then continued about his business. If the shrimp starts with him then I will isolate him in a container