Maganhe, B. L., Andrade, L. S., Camilo, L. de O. et al. 2023. Food-related substrate preference in juveniles seastar Echinaster (Othilia) brasiliensis (Müller & Troschel,1842) in captivity. Zoo Biology 42(5), 675–682.

There are only a few studies that describe the larval development of Echinaster or aspects on culture systems for the genus. For starfishes, the choice of suitable substrates has received special attention since it could influence the acid–base balance of the water, movement capacity and predation rate. The objective of this study was to evaluate the ideal food-related substrate for the rearing of juvenile Echinaster brasiliensis. A batch of fertilized eggs released in spontaneous spawning was collected and kept in a plankton-kreisel until metamorphosis. Data on preference of food-related substrate was recorded for 10 weeks from day 58 post-release. From release to 132 days old, arm length increased from 0.81 mm to 1.31 ± 0.03 mm. Considering the sudden increase in arm length (AL), it was estimated that feeding started around 40 days of age. Regarding food-related substrate preferences, biofilm grown on “rocks” showed a significant difference among other treatments, adding up to 50% of preference (p < .05). For sponge and biofilm from bio media, there was no statistical difference for the whole period. In this study, sponges showed to be the least preferred food-related substrate for post-settlement juveniles. Considering that Echinaster and other starfish are commonly maintained on a diet of collected or cultured sponges, difficulties in sourcing a ready supply throughout the year represent limitations to their sole use within commercial or laboratory-scale production. In this sense, the use of biofilm from biological media for the feeding of juvenile starfish is not yet reported in the literature and showed to be an easy and promising option.