We all know that the name starfish is derived from the star-shaped body of these aquatic animals. Otherwise known as sea stars, these creatures are found in almost all world oceans, including the Arctic as well as the Antarctic. There are around 2000 species of starfish that come in a wide range of colors, sizes, shapes and features. Even though, these creatures are termed starfish, in fact, they are not fish as they lack fins, gills and scales. Even the style of movement of starfish is different from that of a typical fish. They use their tube feet for movement. So, starfish are aquatic animals with several interesting features. One among them is their method of feeding. Continue reading this article to know more about the diet of starfish.
As mentioned above, there are numerous starfish species with various features. Individual species may differ in color, size, shape, number of arms, spines, etc. Such disparity can be found in case of starfish diet too. So, what do starfish eat? Most of them are found to be opportunistic feeders that feed on meat, decomposed plant and animal materials and algae. While some feed on meat, like oysters, clams, slow-moving fish and mussels, some others like decomposed organic material (detritivores). Those belonging to the latter category opt for dead animals and plants. Crown-of-thorns starfish are best known for their interest in coral polyps as food. Some starfish like to eat seaweed, some others go for sponges, sea snails, hermit crabs, sea urchins and plankton. Some of them may feed on other starfish too.
So, starfish have varied interests, as far as their diet is concerned. However, most of them are found to feed on whatever they come across, whether it be meat, decomposed materials or seaweed. In case of pet starfish, you must have some knowledge about the dietary requirement of that particular species. You must also have a basic idea about the frequency of feeding. However, overfeeding is not advisable, as they have a sluggish metabolism.
How do Starfish Eat
Starfish have numerous interesting features and their feeding mechanism is one among them. They have two stomachs - the cardiac and the pyloric. As they locate a prey, the cardiac stomach emerges out through the mouth that is located on the underside of the central disc. The stomach releases digestive enzymes that act upon the food, which is then absorbed into the organ. Once done, the cardiac stomach is retracted into the body and the digested food is moved to the pyloric stomach. One of the interesting facts about starfish is that if they dislike the food, they discard the cardiac stomach and grow a new one. Starfish are well-known for their ability to open up the shells of oysters, clams and mussels and feed on the meat inside. This is done with the help of their suckered tube feet, which they use for opening the shell of the prey. As they open, the starfish will insert its cardiac stomach inside and digest the prey. Isn't it amazing?
In short, starfish are fascinating aquatic creatures with interesting features. The above mentioned points highlighted a few of such facts about starfish diet and feeding mechanism. If you are planning to adopt a starfish as a pet, it will be better to gain some knowledge about them beforehand. However, you must develop a thorough knowledge about the specific species, if you are planning to adopt one. As far as their diet is concerned, it has to be decided on the basis of factors, like, age, species, etc.