How to Acclimate Starfish

One Methods:Cup Method

Starfish are an attractive and unusual addition to any tropical marine aquarium. They come in many colorful and interesting species, and they can be a conversation starter. Starfish provide cleanup services in an aquarium and can coexist peacefully with most species of fish. Introducing a starfish to a new aquarium can be a difficult task as starfish are very sensitive creatures and can react badly to sudden changes in water temperature or chemistry. It is important for novice and experienced aquarium keepers alike to know how to acclimate starfish to their new environment. Starfish are very fragile during the acclimation phase to a new aquarium, and the whole process must be taken slowly.


  1. 1
    Order your starfish from a reputable supplier that knows how to ship starfish properly. If the creature is less stressed when shipped, it is more likely to survive.
  2. 2
    Contact your supplier to determine the salinity of its tanks. Your starfish may have an easier time adapting to its new environment if your tank has salinity close to your supplier's.
  3. 3
    Examine your starfish once it arrives. Check for discoloration, spots, or injury before starting the acclimation process. Contact your supplier immediately if you notice anything that may be suspicious.
  4. 4
    There are 2 methods that you can use to acclimate a starfish to a new aquarium: the drip line method and the cup method. The drip line method is the one most often recommended for the starfish acclimation process.
  5. 5
    Place the starfish's shipping container next to the aquarium.
  6. 6
    Establish a drip line between your established aquarium and the starfish's shipping container.
  7. 7
    Set the drip rate to 1 to 2 drops per second.
  8. 8
    Plan at least 2 hours when introducing a starfish to its new environment.

Cup Method

  1. 1
    Float the starfish's shipping container in the aquarium until the temperatures are the same. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. 2
    Add 1/2 cup (.25 pt) of water every 5 minutes until the shipping container has been filled.
  3. 3
    Dump half the water down the drain, not back into the aquarium, as to not disrupt the balance of the tank. Use the cup to remove the water.
  4. 4
    Repeat the process of adding 1/2 cup (.25 pt) of water every 5 minutes.
  5. 5
    Dump and repeat the process several times.
  6. 6
    Remove the starfish from the shipping container, and place it on a rock in the aquarium.
  7. 7
    Watch to see that the starfish moves off the rock. This should take a few minutes.


  • If you suspect your starfish has died, pick it up and look for signs of illness including loss of color, spots or fungus, or disfigurement of the body. The starfish body should be taut and rigid, not soft or mushy.
  • Keep the starfish container between 22 to 26 degrees Celsius (71.6 to 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit) to minimize stress during the acclimation of starfish to an aquarium.


  • Do not assume your starfish is dead even if it has been inactive for several days. A starfish is nocturnal and may be out while you are not watching. A starfish may also appear to rest for a few days before becoming active again.
  • Do not place a starfish in a new aquarium or one that has not had time to reach a balance with the fish and the chemistry of the water. Starfish are generally too fragile to accept the adjustments that a new tank needs.
  • Do not introduce a starfish to a tank where copper medication has been used recently. Copper is toxic to starfish.
  • Do not expose the starfish to air during the acclimation process, since starfish are very sensitive to changes in oxygen.

Things You'll Need

  • Drip line or measuring cup

Article Info

Categories: Aquariums