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Sand Sifting Sea Star
Please Note: Due to variations within species, your item may not look identical to the image provided. Approximate size range may also vary between individual specimen.
Sand Sifting Sea Star (Astropecten polycanthus)
Additional locales and sizes may be available!

Quick Stats

Care Level Easy
Temperament Peaceful
Color Form Tan
Diet Omnivore
Reef Compatible Yes
Water Conditions 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025
Max. Size 1'
Origin Fiji, Indonesia, Singapore, Solomon Islands
Family Astropectinidae
Supplements Trace Elements
Compatibility View Chart
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The Sand Sifting Sea Star, at first glance, seems to be drably colored like most bottom dwellers. But closer inspection reveals a striking beauty and serenity to the alternating bands of brown and beige that dress this invertebrate's thick, spine-covered arms. Like other starfish, Astropecten polycanthus efficiently consumes mass amounts of detritus and uneaten foods. This nocturnally active member of the Astropectinidae family can move large amounts of sand as it burrows into the substrate in its search for food.

This peaceful omnivore will effectively clean even the largest home aquarium of detritus and left over food. Like other starfish, the Sand Sifting Sea Star will also consume small invertebrates, including shrimp, urchins, mollusks, bivalves, or other small sea stars. As such, the Sand Sifting Sea Star should be actively fed a varied diet consisting of natural food sources, especially in well-established marine aquariums. Otherwise, this voracious feeder will quickly clean your aquarium of detritus and then burrow into your substrate, starve, and eventually begin to decay.

To foster its feeding habits, the Sand Sifting Sea Star should be kept in aquariums with large, deep sand bottoms of several inches in depth. Since it is slower moving than most fish, the Sand Sifting Sea Star should not be housed with natural predators, including Puffers.

Like other invertebrates, the Sand Sifting Sea Star is very intolerant of sudden changes in oxygen levels, salinity, and pH and cannot tolerate copper-based medications. To successfully acclimate new specimens to your aquarium, use the drip acclimation method and never expose the Sand Sifting Sea Star to air while handling.

Breeding in the home aquarium is extremely difficult with no distinguishing characteristics to help differentiate between males and females.

Approximate Purchase Size: Small: 1-1/2" to 2-1/2" Medium: 2-1/2" to 4"

Customer Testimonials

Ann W Dearborn , MI

This little creature can really move! It keeps my sand turned and will readily eat any leftovers. It has not harassed any of my fish or inverts. It's fascinating to watch it dig itself into the sand for day.
Brent L Wyandotte , MI
This starfish is hardy, fast, and perfect for cleaning up leftovers. It is safe for the most delicate of marine life, like seahorse fry. It will readily eat excess frozen baby brines shrimp and other frozen foods.
Raymond W Greenwood , IL
This little guy is great. Mine dug himself into the substrate within a couple of minutes of being introduced to the tank. While I don't see a lot of him during the day, as soon as the lights go out and my moon lights kick on he is up on the substrate. And don't let their generally slow movement fool you - these little guys can get moving when they want to.
Bruce B Woods Cross , UT
Got this because of the comments about it keeping the sand bed clean. Sadly, mine moves around the tank a little bit at night, buries itself when the lights are on but so far hasn't made the slightest difference to the sand bed, still cleaning by hand and miss having a pretty red star moving around the tank.
Todd V Hillsboro , OR
Great Star. Make sure you have a fairly deep sand bed to support its eating habits. Only recommend for an established tank. Personally, I have not had much luck feeding mine but it has done well on its own. Does a great job keeping your sand bed clean.
Kyle S Waterville , OH
This guys are so fun to watch. They climb up the glass, burrow in the sand, and they move so much faster than I expected. They can really book! A great addition to any tank!
Garrett E City Not Selected , CA
I love this sea star. My tank used to get a lot of the "brown algae" on the sand bed..and now that I got this sea star, I NEVER have that anymore..except the occasional "little brown spot". It makes the whole aquarium look better by cleaning the sand bed.
Tom J Pelham , NH
I had a decent amount of algae that would accumulate on the sand but after being in the tank overnight, white sand is the only thing you'll see. Constantly keeps up with it. I'd say "best money spent for solving that problem."
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