Chocolate chip starfish
|Chocolate chip starfish|
|4 different patterns on the P. nodosus|
The Chocolate chip starfish is a species of starfish, which as its name implies looks like its covered with chocolate chips, but don't eat it. Some other common names are the Chocolate Chip Sea Star and Nodular Sea Star. This starfish is tropical and a carnivore.
The Chocolate Chip Starfish look like a chocolate chip cookie. The "chips" are horns the starfish uses for protection. They typically have 5 arms and are usually tan in color surrounding the "chips" like the dough of a cookie. The surrounding colors can also be a cream color to a brilliantly bright red. This creature ranges in all sizes, colors, and "chip" patterns. There are no two starfish that are the same, like tiger or zebra strips. Sixteen inches are the maximum length that the star can reach.
The starfish can reproduce both sexually and asexually. During sexual reproduction, the male and female starfish release egg and sperm into the water where fertilization occurs. The fertilized egg rides the current during the first month of its life. While the starfish is floating around, it looks like a blob or jelly fish shape, then it undergoes a metamorphosis where it then takes on the form of the typical five point starfish shape. They then land on a safe rocky area to continue on developing into a mature starfish. The young starfish feeds on algae as it grows into a mature starfish. When the starfish reproduces asexually, it usually happens when a predator of the starfish rips off one of its arm. The ripped off arm, if it takes some of the central and vital stuff with it, can regenerate an entirely new starfish. The original starfish can grow the arm back.
The starfish quite enjoys the sea grass beds and sandy beaches of warm, shallow sea water ranging from Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Red Sea areas.  These creatures are a scavengers, feeding in decaying plants/animals, sponges, and bacteria. They cover the prey with their whole body since the mouth is located on the underside of the organism. The stomach is pushed out and the digestive juices cover it. Cilia on the starfish then move the meal towards the stomach and into the animal. 
These creatures will feed on sponges, corals, tube worms, other starfish, and clams in the salt water aquarium so placing them in a reef setting is a bad idea. To keep these starfish happy, house them with gentle mannered fish, not with aggressive one like a Triggerfish. Since they grow to a large size, a large tank is required. For the backdrop for the tank, the starfish likes course sand and rocks. When it comes to feeding the starfish, a meal of chopped clams, squid and shrimp is ideal. Copper-based medications and contact with many anti-parasitic medications are best to be avoided when dealing with chocolate chip starfish.
- Protreaster nodosus by Wikispecies.
- Chocolate Chip Sea Star Drs. Foster & Smith, 2009.
- Chocolate Chip Sea Star 2009, John G. Shedd Aquarium.