For Kids: All About Starfish!

Learn all about starfish, including how they live, what and how they eat, how they see, how they move and more!

A starfish is a very different kind of animal! It has the shape of a star, but it is not really a fish. It is a kind of "echinoderm." An echinoderm is a kind of sea animal with spiny skin. The spines on the skin of the starfish look like little bumps.

Starfish cannot swim. They crawl and climb. Most starfish are less than eight inches across, but a few kinds can be as big as a small car! There are many kinds of starfish. Some of them are the goosefoot, burrowing starfish and cushion star.

Starfish have "arms." Most have five, but some have as many as twelve! Their arms bend easily in all directions. That is because the starfish's skeleton has many tiny flexible spines. Each arm has a "foot" on the end. Each foot has a "sucker" that helps the starfish stick to rocks and catch his food. The suckers are like suction cups.



Starfish are relatively strong and tough against their enemies. Their spiny skin is not very tasty to other sea creatures. Sometimes a fish will bite off a starfish's arm, but the starfish can grow a new one! If a starfish has its center part and one arm, it can live. The new arms grow back in a few months.

Starfish breathe through their feet. They also have little breathing tubes all over their bodies.

Starfish don't have eyes, but on the tip of each of each arm they have an "eyespot." The eyespots are made of cells that can see if it is light or dark, but they cannot see shapes clearly.

The mouth of the starfish is on their underside, in the middle. They eat shellfish. Using the suckers on their feet, they pull open the shell of the shellfish. Then, they push their stomach inside the shell and slowly digest the fish.

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The starfish is an amazing animal!

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