Chocolate Chip Starfish Facts: They Aren’t Suitable for Reef Tanks

Move over, ordinary starfish! Meet the Chocolate Chip Starfish, ready to dazzle you with its adorable looks and fun personality. Picture a starfish that resembles a tasty treat from a bakery, with chocolate chip-like markings all over! But don’t be fooled by its sweetness – this tiny star holds many surprises. Join us on an adventure into the captivating realm of this special creature and discover its fascinating facts.

<strong>Chocolate Chip Starfish</strong>
Scientific name: Protoreaster nodosus
Phylum: Echinodermata
Class: Asteroidea
Order: Valvatida
Family: Oreasteridae
Genus: Protoreaster

They look like chocolate chip cookies

The Chocolate Chip Sea Star, also known as the “knobbly sea star” or “horned sea star,” captivates with its unique appearance and impressive size.

The species has distinctive horn-like structures, aptly nicknamed “chocolate chips” due to their resemblance. These chips only grow on the upper side of the body, usually in a single row. But these “chips” aren’t just for looks – scientists think they help the creature defend itself by fooling predators into believing it’s tougher than it actually is.

The beautiful starfish chocolate

Although it’s not the biggest of its kind, the chocolate chip starfish often grows larger than its relatives, reaching up to 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) in diameter at its biggest, with a central disk of 5 inches and arms that can be up to 5.5 inches each. It typically has five arms, but sometimes it can have four or six.

Like most sea stars, these adorable creatures don’t show any obvious differences between males and females in terms of size, shape, or color. However, their color patterns vary a lot among individuals, regardless of age or gender. These patterns usually include different shades of brown or red, like tan, dark red, pale yellow, pink, ivory, and red-brown.

Underneath its colorful exterior, the chocolate chip starfish has purple or pinkish tube feet that help it move around and cling to surfaces. These tube feet can be anywhere from pale pink to lavender or violet in color.


This starfish is native to the Indo-Pacific area and has a broad habitat range. It can be found along the East African coastline, Australia, Indonesia, Madagascar, and Southern Japan, with a significant population in the Philippines.

A group of Chocolate chip starfish

The chocolate chip starfish lives in sandy and muddy bottoms, as well as in seagrass beds found in lagoons and back reef regions. They generally stick to shallow waters, usually staying between 3 to 100 feet (1 to 30 meters) deep. The younger ones, especially, like to hang out in shallow sandy spots with lots of seagrass, often found at depths less than 6 feet (2 meters).

Chocolate Chip Starfish Diet

Like other starfish species, the chocolate sea star is a carnivorous species. It often eats corals, sponges, worms, shrimp, squid, bivalves, snails, sea urchins, anemones, and bits of fish. It can even munch on other types of starfish, including ones of its own kind. Biofilm, algae, and detritus are also its food. That’s why it’s not safe to keep in reef tanks

Like other relatives, chocolate chip starfish eats with a unique feeding method.

Because of its tough shell, this creature doesn’t have many predators in nature. But sometimes, bigger fish, crabs, or larger starfish might try to eat it.

Behavior and Reproduction

The Chocolate Chip Sea Star has an amazing ability to regenerate lost limbs as long as its central disk stays unharmed.

It can reproduce at 2 to 3 years old. The lifespan of this chocolate chip starfish lasts for about 17 years. For more information on other behaviors and how they reproduce, you can check here.



Animal Facts 276

We are passionate animal enthusiasts with over a decade of experience studying animals. With a degree in zoology and conservation biology, we've contributed to various research and conservation projects. We're excited to bring you engaging content that highlights the wonders of the animal kingdom. We aim to inspire others to appreciate and protect wildlife through informative content grounded in expertise and passion. Join us as we delve into the captivating world of animals and discover the incredible stories they have to tell.

Leave a Comment