Of all the highly diverse groups of animals that occur on natural reefs, the echinoderms are some of the most unique but also the least represented in our home reef aquariums. We have a basic understanding of starfish, urchins, and sea cucumber biology, but their care requirements, especially the many unique and beautiful starfish is almost anyone’s guess.
If you think coral identification is hard, just try finding a decent book on starfish or echinoderms identification that isn’t either a totally stripped down kid’s book, or an academic tome that goes above the heads of all but the most research focused. There’s tons of specialty books on fish identification, sharks, corals, crustaceans, and even nudibranch have their photo-collectors who dive to document them all but for some reason the echinoderms really get the short end of the stick.
After years of searching for a field guide that doesn’t include echinoderm as merely a foot note, we’ve actually found a small but information-dense book that finally answers many of our longing questions of what is that echinoderm. Starfishes and Other Echinoderms of the Tropical Indo-Pacific is a new book authored by Andrey Ryanskiy that was just published this past summer and covers more than 450 species of various echinoderms.
The 90+ full color pages of this book clearly illustrate the whole spectrum of tropical echinoderms that you’re likely to encounter while diving, but it also helped us finally identify the little starfish we’ve long been calling ‘Asterina‘ as belonging to their own genus called Aquilonastra with at least seven different species pictured. At just $25 for a hardcopy and available in English, French, Italian and German, Starfishes and Other Echinoderms is an important addition which fill a big gap in our library of marine life and aquarium books. [Reef ID Books]