Skip to Content

How To Keep Mini Brittle Starfish In Your Reef Tank!

The number of people keeping reef tanks within the fish keeping community is steadily increasing as more and more of the people who got involved in the hobby with its initial spikes in popularity a couple of years back feel that they have the experience required to set up and maintain a reef tank.

Although the general concept of freshwater fish keeping and reef tank keeping is relatively similar, the number of people who underestimate the additional time, effort, and care required for a reef tank is huge.

Due to this, each month we see a number of people reaching out and asking a wide range of questions asking about the various problems that they have with their reef tanks with some of these problems being serious while others are often not an issue.

Today’s article is going to be focusing on one of these questions that we commonly see reef tank keepers worrying about but is often not a problem and that is about having mini brittle starfish in their tanks.

Although some people intentionally add mini brittle starfish to their tanks, others will accidentally add them via new substrate, live plants, and rocks resulting in them worrying about this tiny little starfish in their tank and the potential damage that it can do.

Thankfully, there is usually no need to worry and we will be explaining why in our article below and you are able to use our table of contents below to quickly and easily navigate the article.

Are Mini Brittle Starfish Reef Safe?

Mini brittle starfish are reef safe and will usually focus on eating huge amounts of detritus in your tank as well as discarded fish food and some types of algae while not paying your corals or anemones any attention.

They are generally considered one of the best clean-up crew tank mates to have in a reef tank due to how much detritus they eat relative to their tiny body mass and low waste output.

Their low waste output alone makes them a huge hit as many of the popular snails that people will add to their reef tank as a part of their clean up crew will often produce a large amount of poop although it is generally less than the amount of detritus and algae that they eat.

When it comes to mini brittle starfish, they eat almost as much detritus while producing far less poop than snails due to the way that their digestive systems work and what they are able to process.

The reason that they are not as popular in reef tanks as members of the tanks clean up crew is due to how hard they can be to find for sale as well as some people not liking the look of mini brittle starfish when they are spread out over their live rock or other tank features.

Thankfully though, due to the advantages, they offer reef tank keepers, more people are starting to breed mini brittle starfish resulting in them being easier to find for your own tanks as well as their prices coming down.

“Brisingid starfish, brittle stars and chrinoids on an old barrel” by OceanNetworks Canada is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Are Micro Brittle Starfish Good Or Bad For A Reef Tank?

A real mini brittle starfish is generally considered good for a reef tank due to how much detritus and algae they will eat.

The problem with accidentally adding a brittle starfish into your reef tank is that it can be difficult to tell if it is actually a micro or regular mini brittle starfish with some regular brittle starfish being huge when fully grown and presenting a possible problem.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, it can be common for people to accidentally add new tank mates to their tanks such as mini brittle starfish when adding new substrate, rocks or live plants.

Initially, both mini brittle starfish and regular brittle starfish look very similar as babies but a regular brittle starfish will rapidly start to outgrow a mini brittle starfish and needs a large tank to thrive.

Thankfully, mini brittle starfish are far more common than regular brittle starfish so the chances of you anciently adding a regular brittle starfish to your tank is much lower but it can still happen.

For the most part though, it will be a mini brittle starfish that you either intentionally or unintentionally add to your reef tank that offer you all of the benefits that we covered earlier in the article.

Should You Remove Mini Brittle Starfish From Your Reef Tank?

The majority of reef tank keepers who end up accidentally adding a mini brittle starfish to their aquarium will generally keep them due to mini brittle starfish offering a number of advantages to your tank.

These advantages are usually based around the mini brittle starfish eating detritus, algae, and discarded fish food in huge amounts that can keep your reef tank water within its intended parameters longer while also reducing the frequency of tank maintenance.

As we covered earlier in the article though, some people do choose to remove mini brittle starfish from their reef tanks and general saltwater tanks.

This is not due to any negative or unwanted behavior from the mini brittle starfish though, it is usually due to the tank keeper not liking the look of mini brittle starfish in their tank and this is quite common as some people do find them unsightly.

Another thing that we mentioned earlier in the article is that if you have accendently added a regular brittle starfish to your aquarium, you may have to remove it as it grows as they grow much larger than a mini brittle starfish and the majority of our readers tend to keep tanks that are under 55 gallons.

This means as a regular brittle starfish grows they may need to upgrade their tank or remove it.


That brings our article going over keeping a mini brittle starfish in your reef tank to an end. They really are excellent clean up crew tank additions with more and more reef keepers intentionally adding mini brittle starfish to their tanks each year as they simply outperform snails by a large margin. If you do have some in your reef tank then they are often fine to just leave to do their own thing unless you see them eating your corals or anemones but this is extremely rare and it is doubtful that it will ever happen.