Saltwater Aquarium/Serpent star


I have a small (30 gallon) reef aquarium that is in the early cycling stage. The other day, I bought an algae culture for my refugium and as it turned out, a serpent star had hitchhiked in the algae and now resides in the refugium of my un-cycled tank. I really want to keep it going. Do you have any suggestions on keeping it alive during the cycling process?

Hi Isaac:

Here's some basic general information on Serpent Starfish below:

The Serpent Star originates from the reefs of the Caribbean, and are great scavengers for the marine aquarium. The central disc is tan to yellow in color and may exhibit dark patterns. The legs are long and are banded with dark brown stripes.

The Serpent Star enjoys an established saltwater aquarium with plenty of live rock for hiding. It is nocturnal and often hides under the rocks during the day. At night, it comes out to eat detritus and small organisms. It cannot tolerate copper-based medications.

In the aquarium it may be fed zooplankton, very finely chopped meaty items, and liquid invertebrate foods.

In regard to providing further help for keeping your Serpent Star alive in your un-cycled tank: you may want to help speed up the cycling process by adding some beneficial bacteria, for example Brightwell Aquatics Microbacter7, or Bio-Zyme. See the following link below from one of my favorite online aquarium supply stores to see a picture of Brightwell Aquatics Microbacter7.

Also you can purchase filtered ocean water and add it directly to your aquarium, it will contain beneficial bacteria and other beneficial microbes to help speed up the cycling process.

In conclusion the Serpent Star should be okay, provided there isn't any ammonia levels or nitrite leveles in your aquarium water. Keep a close eye on your water parameters.

I wish you the best of luck with all your saltwater aquarium endeavors.


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David Ocreef


Technical saltwater coral reef related aquarium questions are welcome. Coral, invertebrate, and peaceful species of saltwater fish questions are welcome. Questions asked on Saturday and Sunday will be answered the following Monday. REMINDER: Please check the answers pool to see if your question has already been asked and answered. Questions typically are answered within a 48 hour period, however sometimes it may take longer.


I possess over twenty-five years of hands-on experience and knowledge in the ecology of aquariums. Beyond the traditional, I have successfully tested and sustained environments that have been uncharted territories for hobbyists, for decades. I am the first to admit I don't know it all because there will always be something new, amazing, and exciting to learn about, as discoveries are made. It's a hobby one can never outgrow, or grow tired of.

MASNA - Marine Aquarium Society of North America. Director of Orange County Reef Aquatics -

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After High School, my experience and love of marine animals influenced me to take up studies in Marine Biology. Throughout college, I studied Microbiology with an emphasis on Marine Life, as well as numerous other sciences. I continued to advance in this hobby, by building a dozen or more saltwater ecosystems all utilizing Microbes as the major source of my filtration method.

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