Species group: Sea Stars and Brittle Stars
Other common names: Caribbean Basket Star, Giant Basket Sea Star, Great Basket Star
Scientific name: Astrophyton muricatum
Although not uncommon, this sea star’s “other-worldly” appearance stops both novice aquarists and marine biologists in their tracks. The Basket Star, a delicate filter-feeder, is perhaps the most unique Echinoderm to be kept in private or public aquariums.
The Basket Star is native to the Western Atlantic Ocean, from Florida, USA to Brazil, where it inhabits coral reefs and rocky ledges.
Appearance / health:
The Basket Star’s numerous, intricately-branched arms are without equal among marine creatures. They reach up to 60 cm (24 in) in length, and range in color from yellowish-tan to dark brown. The Basket Star withdraws these arms into its small, disk-shaped body by day.
The Basket Star is very sensitive to ammonia, copper, and nitrates. Filter intakes must be modified so as to prevent the arms from being pulled in and injured.
Behavior / temperament:
This nocturnal oddity waves its bizarre arms wildly about when feeding, and remains hidden beneath coral and in rock crevices by day. Red night-viewing bulbs are well-worth installing so that its behavior can be observed after dark.
Basket Stars demand excellent water quality and moderate to strong currents. Live sand and live rocks, which help to provide the micro-organisms upon which these unique creatures feed, should be included in their aquarium.
The following water quality parameters should be maintained for Basket Stars: Temperature: 22.2-28 C (72-82 F); Salinity: 1.023-1.025; pH: 8.1-8.4;
In addition to the micro-organisms provided by live sand and rock, Basket Stars require frequent feedings of liquid plankton preparations. Trace elements should be added as directed by the manufacturer.
Basket Star larvae are planktonic. Small individuals, apparently produced in captivity, have been found in public aquariums.
Written by Frank Indiviglio