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Crinoids / Feather Star Care


I posted this in my tank thread, but thought a copy here would make sense... no azoox coral, but a specialised filter feeder nonetheless.

I've been running a diary thread for my feather star on another forum (bad TSB member... wrist slapped) and thought I'd post a bit of info here too, for anyone stupid enough to try to keep one.

First up, don't buy one! I've got the red feather star (himerometra robustipinna)... which is one of the more difficult species (none are easy though!).

I knew their reputations but just couldn't resist having a go... I will say that they are very, very hard work.

First up, feeding. This seems to be the biggest problem with these animals in captivity. They require food to be available 24/7 and won't just accept any foods... they won't even accept most filter feeder foods, phyto is useless, they are carnivores. Food needs to be the right size, specifically up to 50 micron. I have a doser set up to help this and currently feed the following (all mixed together):
5 - 50 micron golden pearls
frozen L-type rotifers.
Diatoms (Thalassiosira weisflogii and T. pseudonana)
Powdered Paracoccus bacteria (a feeding response stimulant)
Reef Blizzard-O

A feeding response can be seen when I feed my own homebrew food too, but I can't be sure of the particle size as it's just crudely blitzed in a blender.

Next up is flow... an upwelling, pulsing flow is important... without suitable flow, the crinoid cannot feed, so even if the water is full of suitable food, it will likely starve to death. I use a gyre on pulse mode and a strategically placed 6000lph wavemaker to generate the pulsing, upwelling current.

Nutes: it goes without saying that ammonia and nitrite is not good... neither are nitrates. From what I've read, nitrates at about 20ppm will rapidly kill. Mine fluctuate between about 5 and 10 which seem fine. I keep my skimmer on 24/7 which strips food from the system, so I dose food 24/7 too, directly into the return chamber, post skimmer. It's a huge waste of food, but it keeps nutes down and food available.

I'm not sure if there is any benefit, but I use NSW for WCs and I have a lot of breeding activity in my tank... fish and inverts. I believe the larvae / gametes help in feeding crinoids, but I can't prove that.

Tank thread :)