What Eats a Starfish?

what eats a starfish

There are a lot of creatures who feed on starfish! Unfortunately, some are extremely unpleasant; for instance, the harlequin shrimp is an aquatic crustacean which feeds on various sea life, including starfish!

This animal captures its prey by expanding its stomach around it and then swallowing it whole. They may drop an arm when feeling threatened; don’t worry though, since they can regrow it!

Crown-of-thorns starfish

Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) is one of the main culprits behind massive coral reef loss, feeding on entire patches in no time flat. Their long spines, coated with saponin toxins that cause pain when puncturing human or animal skin punctures puncturing by puncturing punctures puncturing by puncturing, often necessitating first aid response even just being close to them can result in severe stinging sensations requiring immediate first aid services to treat pain in people exposed.

As with most echinoderms, crown-of-thorns starfish reproduce by releasing their sperm and eggs into the water for fertilization by bacteria present therein. Once fertilized, their offspring hatch into adulthood. Crown-of-thorns starfish feed off everything around them but especially enjoy devouring living coral polyps – one crown-of-thorns starfish can devour up to 13 square meters per year!

COTS starfishes can be found in sandy or rubble areas as well as over coral reefs and rocky reefs, where they form coral gardens. COTS starfish are among the second largest starfish species and can grow to be over half a meter wide; most commonly seen in warm tropical waters.

COTSs navigate reefs with up to 21 arms, searching for live coral polyps. When they find one, they climb onto it and use their stomachs to release digestive enzymes that break down and dissolve it, before moving on to devour another patch of coral – moving up to 35cm per minute in warm tropical waters!

Harlequin shrimp

This beautiful shrimp is an aquarium must-have, owing to its distinctive coloring and hunting behaviors that never fail to amaze its viewers. Measuring 2 inches long on average, this aquatic staple can be found throughout tropical waters of both Indian and Pacific oceans; typically found near coral reefs or rubble piles along coastal areas; typically hiding within coral crevices in order to avoid predators such as predatory fish; it features two large claws on its first pair of legs which allow it to grasp starfish or sea urchins easily.

Harlequin shrimps typically hunt in pairs and are adept at flipping over slow-moving starfish to immobilize them and eating their legs and soft tissues, including Linckia seastars which seem particularly fond of them. Sometimes they even resort to eating soft leg tubes of sea urchins when desperate!

Harlequin shrimps can be extremely challenging to keep in an aquarium, as they are territorial and fight aggressively with other harlequin shrimps. Furthermore, these starfish-specific eaters only eat starfish; otherwise they die of hunger – this unique feeding habit has even given rise to the term “starfish fetish.” Interestingly enough, this bizarre eating behavior actually works to control starfish populations in reef tanks!

Sea otters

Sea otters are marine mammals known to be among the smartest on Earth. Capable of using tools and holding their breath for two minutes at a time, sea otters are rare animals able to regrow arms after losing them due to predators.

Sea otters usually find food by diving to the ocean floor. Once there, they feed on shelled creatures such as urchins, crabs, clams and abalone. With a rock used to break open shells of these marine organisms they consume up to 30% of their bodyweight in one day alone!

Diving to depths of 60 feet, they often stay closer to 30. Foraging at the surface utilizing folds of skin under their arms as pockets to store food; and even eating food tossed into the water by others is no problem for these sharks!

Sea otters play an invaluable role in their ecosystem. They help control sea urchin populations that would otherwise deforest kelp beds and deprive other marine life of habitat, like Alaska, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia or Russia coasts; often found near rocky beaches bobbing on their surface and their densest fur is used for warmth in cold waters.


Starfish may look formidable with their intricate meshwork of calcareous plates and spines, yet many still fall prey to predators. Carnivorous stars, such as Solaster dawsoni’s 13-armed Hammerlock Star (Solaster dawsoni), often consume other starfish before becoming prey themselves; in addition, these carnivorous stars may also be consumed by crab species like Puget Sound King Crabs and Hairy-spined Crabs.

Seagulls (Laridae) are adaptable birds that thrive as “trash pickers”. They will consume anything alive or once alive that is present including fish, frogs, field mice, fruit vegetables seeds and even bread!

Gulls are adept hunters and foragers, being adept at diving for crabs and mollusks on the coast while inland they will nab insects or chase rodents for food. Being adaptable has allowed gulls to remain resilient species in environments with stiff competition for sustenance.

As surprising and strange as it might seem, the latest video showing a gull swallowing an entire hammerlock starfish may help us appreciate both the bravery and skill needed for such feat. While the starfish may appear to be swallowed whole by the animal, in actuality it becomes lodged in its throat for several minutes before finally breaking down and digesting by digestive fluids in its digestive system. If any arm were lost during digestion it can autotomize (break itself apart into pieces) itself; new arm will form from scratch from within its base if necessary — meaning more arms could even regrow!


Crabs are predatory predators that feed off whatever remains are on the ocean floor, including animal remains, plants, leaves, flowers, seeds fruits grains. Crustaceans use their claws to grasp food before using their mouths to consume it.

Crabs do not possess teeth, but do possess various structures in their mouths which allow them to macerate and break down food they ingest. Furthermore, their claws allow them to gather it up before chewing it up with their jaws; sometimes even using legs for sucking it up!

As with other sea creatures, crabs rely heavily on eating algae for nutrition, as it helps control molting and flush out toxins from their bodies. Crabs also feed on clams, mussels and oysters as food sources; to defend against predators they have developed the ability to shoot streams of mucus which act like bulletproof shields.

Crabs require two meals daily to remain healthy, whether that’s commercial food pellets or homemade fare – just remember to remove any uneaten food daily and give fresh fruit as treats to keep them entertained! In an aquarium tank, add marine salt for optimal salinity levels; this will prevent diseases in the tank environment.


Shrimp are an aquatic crustacean found in various bodies of water. Omnivorous in nature, shrimp can eat nearly anything they find at the bottom of an ocean floor or sea bed. Furthermore, shrimp serve as important scavengers which help control marine algae populations as well as eating dead marine creatures that wash up on shore.

Shrimp are decapod crustaceans with 19 body segments divided between their cephalothorax and abdomen, arranged in two distinct components. Their eight pairs of thoracic appendages allow them to move around freely; some feature pincer-like appendages with extended pincers known as claws for movement. There are various species of shrimps, each boasting its own distinct coloration and body structure – though sellers sometimes name these variants with creative names that disguise the shared characteristics.

Although shrimps aren’t the sole predators of crown-of-thorns starfish, they are among the most frequent. Shrimp feed on various marine organisms including coral reef invertebrates and large starfish; as well as feeding off carcasses from larger creatures like octopuses and sharks. To defend against predators, these starfish have developed numerous defense mechanisms; for instance their hard, spiky skin makes them unpleasant to eat while their body walls contain saponins containing chemicals known to make taste bitter or otherwise unpleasant to other animals.

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