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OPHIURA

The Great Unknown

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They are often – minuxcule – but always very discrete… So you’ll need exemplary patience to get the chance to observe them. A good old loupe (large preferably) will come in handy. Two of the five arms (picture below) belong to a very delicate and elegant species. It’s story begins in October 2012, when these live rocks were established at SBMarine. Initialy only two or three comb tooth style arms could be seen: they just seemed stuck there… Really small at 1mm. Most brittle stars live at night so seeing them in daytime is quite an event. However with patience and tiny feedings made with an eye dropper: you might coax them to come out in the open. They sweep the surface of rocks with two arms most of the time. It’s an historical event if they ever completely exit their lair to get food. Are they ever quick: lightning fast !! Brittle stars can be hosted with pride since they contribute in maintaining a healthy tank (to be added to the list of polychæta, acorns and ‘Pods). If you exclude large species and predatory Serpent Stars they are absolutely safe. But keep in mind that they’re not shielded from predators. In April 2013 it had grown to 4cm (1 3/4 in.). The largest in this series of photos measured a full 5 inches. A dozen specimens were spotted in this tank… and all have known a normal growth. Ophiura are more ancient than Starfish: when you take the time to observe one, one billion years of evolution is looking at you. Seems that good ideas transcend time !

Aquacultured Live Rock hide treasures...

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It’s hard to realize that the static view offered by young Ophiura is real. At first all you notice are a few strands of… something poking out of the rock… Now you see them and now you don’t… This hide & seek can last several months always at the exact same spot… Then 3 or 4 months later: the – comb tooths have grown to 3/4/5 mm. Some dark stripes also appear on a greyish coloration… Hard to imagine that they will turn candy pink and white and that soon they will animate the aquascaping with their gracile movements !!! Yup who would believe it … just One millimeter…

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Brittle Stars display an amazing agility even though they seem so fragile… This one has deployed it’s arms through the crevices of this rock !! So if you plan on counting the specimens you will have a lot of fun   :)

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 Marine Biological System
© 2013 SBMarin

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Amphipod to the left

IMPORTANT

Fishes don't necessarily tolerate all invertebrates

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Kiss of Death

Even though many Ophiura and Starfish (except predatory species) are considered safe with fishes and most invertebrates… The opposite isn’t necessarily true and will often have tragic consequences. Echinoderms are very delicate and if any of their arms are damaged in any way: they might get infected by pathogenic bacteria… It then takes only 24 hours to see a specimen litteraly decompose itself !! 

Specific tanks are always preferable for Giant Ophiura

Some species can reach 12 inches or more !! Larger Brittle and Serpent Stars are also clumsy with regards to Corals and Mollusks and can prove very stressful to most Soft Corals...  The colonies will have a tendency to close in daytime and could remain in that state for days or weeks… Ophiura are always splendid and they deserve to be showcased in tanks of their own. As a bonus they will have a tendency to come out in the open with no predators around.

 Noire 

Ophiocomina Nigra

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Something’s wrong here… When Siganus Vulpinus parades this way, flashing his defenses: it’s a sure sign he dœsn’t appreciate an intruder in his domain !! In fact; Noire is the only tank mate towards which Ægis reacts so strongly… Snowball is the least of his worries…

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Ægis dœsn’t let go and follows Noire without relent flashing his venomous spiny rays !! It’s time to remove Noire from this tank since Ægis has already started nibbling the tips of it’s arms… This being said consider specific tanks for large Brittle – Serpent Stars and Starfish. This recommendation is also valid for most marine species.

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Noire saw the extremities of it's serpentine arms amputated. Size is not relevant : Echinoderms remain fragile no matter what !!

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