Sand Sifting Stars in Refuge


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Wanted to get some expierienced input on these animals in the Refuge. Used to have one in my refugium and he did a wonderful job at stirring the sand. I did some reading and have KINDA been convinced that they will really defeat the purpose of the refuge and are themselves a predator on the pod population.

Wanted to hear from some refuge owners as to what they have used successfully for their deep sand beds.

Thanx n advance.
I have so many worms in my refugium that they keep the bed rather stable. I do have some mini brittle that have found their way in there, but as for the larger white sifter stars, they will consume fauna in the bed.
The worms are a definate option and they are a benefit to the tank - except they really creep me out :yuk: and I feed them to my large hermit as fast as I find them so I was looking for more options.
I know the "Miracle Mud" literauture says that the caulerpa rooting actions helps to keep the sandbed from getting septic. I wouldn't put caulerpa into my tank, but that is also an option.
Realistically, though, any higher animal that will sift through the substrate is doing so to forage, and will ultimately remove some flora and fauna. What is the purpose of your refugium? For example, in mine, I have Chaetomorpha algae for some nutrient control, but more usefully as a substrate for the mysids, copepods, and amphipods that proliferate in there. This is my true reason for the refugium, so if I had a sand stars that ate the benthic microfauna, it wouldn't defeat the purpose of my intended refugium. Am I making any sense?
You absolutely are!! And I do have Chaetomorpha algae and a type of caulerpa (had two types but one went south on me and really clouded the tank) that I feed the herbivors fish from time to time. I have two refuges, one is a for my predator tank that is PRIMARILY for nutrient uptake because of the heavy feeding on these fish and higher nitrates. The other is on my reef and is for nutrient uptake as well - I really use it to be a true refuge for cultivation of pods for the main tank though.

It looks like you also agree that the sand sifters are GOOD stirrers, but do limit the true purpose of a refugium as a safe means of cultivating pods and such for a reef tank where that would be desirable - but may indeed be well suited for a deep sandbed refuge for an aggressive tank where excess nutrient uptake is what you are looking to achieve.

jmaneyapanda - are you familiar with fighting conches - I understand they are good sandbed stirrers that may not adversely affect pod population?
yes, I have heard of and investigated the conches, too. They are also omnivorous, but I dont think would have as much an impact as the sifter stars. To be honest, I didnt really think of them, but they may be a good option.