What Do Starfish Eat? Though commonly known as starfish, these organisms are not fishes. marine biologists are working towards replacing the name starfish with sea stars.
These star-shaped creatures are classified in the Phylum Echinodermata and class Asteroidea. Asteroidea is the largest class within the Phylum mentioned above.
Starfish are mostly carnivores and scavengers. Other species are omnivores. These organisms feed on slow-moving creatures like bivalves, gastropods, polychaetes, and barnacles. Other starfish feed on planktons, organic detritus, and fish.
Table of Contents
- What Do Starfish Eat?
- Starfish Diet by Types
- How do Starfish Hunt?
- When do Starfish Eat?
- How often do Starfish Eat?
- What Eats Starfish?
- Where Do Starfish Fit in the Animal Food Chain?
- Key References
What Do Starfish Eat?
|Type of Starfish||Diet|
|Pacific Blood Star||Sponges, planktons, and bacteria.|
|Leather Star||Anemones, sea cucumbers, sponges, chitons, hydroids, sea pens, sea urchins, and fish eggs.|
|Sunflower Star||Sea cucumbers, gastropods, sand dollars, clams, crustaceans, mussels, sea urchins, and fish.|
|Egyptian Sea Star||Sponges, snails, and algae.|
Starfish Diet by Types
Over 2000 species of starfish exist around the world’s oceans. Their distribution ranges from the tropical waters to the cold seafloor waters. Different types of starfish exist. Examples of these will be explored in this section.
What Does Pacific Blood Starfish Eat?
In the wild, the Pacific blood starfish feeds on sponges, planktons, and bacteria.
- The Pacific Blood Star is also known as Blood Star.
- The Pacific Blood starfish is notable for its 5 long and slender arms. It inhabits coastal waters and can be found on or under rocks.
What Do Leather Starfish Eat?
This sea star feeds on anemones. It has also been noted to predate on sea cucumbers, sponges, chitons, hydroids, sea pens, sea urchins, and fish eggs.
- Leather starfish has orange and red-brown streaks on its body, and its skin is slimy and smooth.
- Leather starfish has a wide distribution in the Pacific coastal waters of North America.
- The leather starfish inhabits marine waters especially in the intertidal zone at depths exceeding 90 meters.
What Do Sunflower Starfish Eat?
The sunflower starfish feeds on sea cucumbers, gastropods, sand dollars, clams, crustaceans, mussels, sea urchins, and fish.
- The sunflower starfish is the largest of all sea stars.
- The sunflower star has the highest number of arms compared to other species, and it is also the heaviest.
- This species inhabits intertidal and littoral zones of the marine waters.
What Do Egyptian Sea Starfish Eat?
The Egyptian sea starfish is omnivorous. It feeds on slow-moving organisms like sponges and snails. It also eats algae.
- The Egyptian Sea Star is endemic to the Indian Ocean.
- This species is notable for the many sharp spikes that line its top surface.
- The Egyptian sea star has a range of hues, including orange and red.
- This starfish can be found in coral reefs and the coastal waters.
How do Starfish Hunt?
Hunting in starfish is a unique process involving different techniques.
- Some starfish species are considered as suspension feeders. This means that they can find food by trapping small food particles with the help of mucus found on the bottom parts of their arms. With the help of cilia, the trapped food is then channeled to their mouths.
- Some sea stars hunt by grasping their prey once they locate it. They then evert their stomachs, a process which allows them to secrete enzymes on the prey. The digestive enzymes then break down the prey’s tissue, which the sea stars suck using their mouths.
- Sensing ability comes in handy to help sea stars hunt. For instance, the arms of the leather stars have light-sensing organs which are not only imperative in aiding navigation; these organs help in prey detection.
When do Starfish Eat?
Most starfish species display nocturnal activity, meaning they come out to eat at night. During the day they hide in rock crevices.
How often do Starfish Eat?
How often sea stars eat depend on several factors. For instance, some species need to eat food every day, which means they will feed every often. Others can go for some days without food and will thus tend to feed less often.
What Eats Starfish?
Sea stars have a hard outer shell, which puts off some potential predators.
- Despite this, starfish are preyed upon by organisms like seagulls, otters, morning sun stars, sharks, manta rays, lobsters, large fish, and some snail species.
- Interestingly, if predators do not wholly consume them, sea stars can regenerate their missing body parts.
Where Do Starfish Fit in the Animal Food Chain?
Starfish are essential to the animal food chain. They are prey to some organisms.
- Further, these organisms predate on an array of organisms, a role which allows them to maintain the diversity and a balance of the ecosystem.
- Some starfish species are scavengers, which means they are useful in cleaning the ecosystem by getting rid of dead animal matter. This helps provide more organisms in the food chain an excellent environment to propagate.
- “Ed Bierman | Flickr”. Accessed August 24, 2019. Link.
- “prilfish | Flickr”. Accessed August 24, 2019. Link.
- “About Starfish” – National Geographic. Accessed August 24, 2019. Link.
- “Blood Star” – Rosamond Gifford Zoo. Accessed August 24, 2019. Link.
- “Leather Star” – Oregon Coast Aquarium. Accessed August 24, 2019. Link.
- “ADW: Pycnopodia helianthoides: INFORMATION”. Accessed August 24, 2019. Link.
- “Egyptian Sea Star: Sea Gallery on Sea and Sky”. Accessed August 24, 2019. Link.
- “Leather Star | West Edmonton Mall”. Accessed August 24, 2019. Link.