Does Starfish Have a Brain? [Interesting Facts]

Does Starfish Have a Brain

Starfish, also known as sea stars, are well known creatures, and may find them beautiful and fascinating.

However, people rarely wonder about their anatomy, organs and way of life.

One of the most common questions related to them is: "Does starfish have a brain?" The answer is, NO, they don't.

Here you will find some basic information about these interesting creatures, in the following chapters:



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What is a Starfish? Are They Really a Fish?

Before defining more about does starfish have a brain and similar anatomy facts, I have to mention that starfish is not actually a fish.

That is why some call it sea star ...

Having a word fish in the name is sometimes leading people to think otherwise.

Starfish is an echinoderm.

Sea cucumbers, also well known creatures, are the same. Interesting fact is that no such organisms exist in freshwater.

The majority of starfish species, and there are thousands of them, have 5 arms, but other variations, including more than 20 arms, exist.

They live in both warm and tropical seas, as well as the cold ones.

Starfish skin is bony and calcified, and many species are brightly colored. Both of these features are a defense mechanism against natural predators.

These creatures can regenerate limbs or even their whole bodies when a part is amputated.

Their feeding process is also quite unusual.

When they encounter an oyster, or some other clam, starfish open them, and their stomach actually exits their body through the mouth. It enters the oyster, digests it, and then it comes back in.

Is a Starfish Alive?

There are a lot of misconceptions about starfish, and some even think it is not alive.

I am not sure when and where this myth started, but it is definitely not true.

Living organisms eat, reproduce and die, and starfish does all of that.

When it comes to reproducing, some starfish can reproduce without a partner. Their arms, together with a small central part can detach, and a new starfish will grow out of this part.

The majority of starfish, however, reproduce in a “traditional” way.

Eggs and sperm of females and males are released into the water and those eggs get fertilized.

As you can see, starfish really have all it takes to be classified as living organism.

And if you are wondering how to know is starfish dead or alive, there is a simple way.

They have numerous tiny tentacles (called tube feet) on the bottom of each arm. Their function is to enable starfish move across the sea floor. If tentacles are moving, the starfish is alive.

However, this does not mean you should touch or harass it. If you encountered it, look at it, try not to touch and go away.

They are an important part of marine life and ecosystem.

So, Does Starfish Have a Brain?

The answer is NO, they don't. Starfish have a nervous system spread through their arms. They also have no blood, and their “blood” is actually filtered seawater. These creatures don’t even have a simple nervous system such as ganglia, present in worms.

Their nervous system is a nerve ring around the mouth which extends into every arm through the radial nerve.

Muscles which move tube feet are simulated by neurons which are connected to the nervous system.

Movement of tube feet is not synchronized and starfish can’t precisely control it like mammals or fish can.

Scientist have been studying starfish for a long time because of these interesting facts.

Their motion is controlled by both local nervous system and the whole system in general. This is hard to explain and I wont get into scientific details.

An interesting fact about it is that this way of moving inspired some scientists in the field of robotics.

Do Fish Eat Starfish?

I already mentioned that starfish have a skin which protects them from predators.

Which means there are species that feed on starfish ...

Some shark species will swim along the bottom and eat starfish.

Manta rays, which usually feed on plankton, will also eat them if the opportunity arises.

Also, small starfish are frequently consumed by larger starfish species.

Among other species that eat starfish are Alaskan king crabs, some species of sea turtles, some large bony fish and even sea otters and birds if they get a chance.

Because their skin is thick and strong, predator has to be large, with large mouth to be able to bite through.

However, smaller predators can turn the starfish on the back side, and start eating through the bottom in the middle soft part.

Does a Starfish Feel Pain and Have Emotions?

You have probably heard that fish can’t feel pain, and if you are among those who mistakenly believed it, you were wrong.

Starfish, even if it has a very simple nervous system can feel pressure and temperature changes in the water and they have certain receptors on their skin which can detect pain.

Of course, this pain is not the same as mammals feel it, but being able to feel pain is a good survival mechanism.

Fish too can feel pain, and many scientific experiments proved it and debunked the myth that fish do not have that ability.

Unlike humans, starfish can’t think about pain, and pain causes them to move away from the source of pain if possible.

Their ability to regenerate means that the pain, although it is there, does not affect their ability to survive.

When it comes to emotions, the answer is NO! Starfish do not have emotions like humans and many mammals can have.

You will not see a starfish “sad” because some fish ate her offspring, or happy because it is a nice day.

These creatures are very simple so of course they lack some abilities that more complex organisms have.

They can feel certain things, but those are based on instincts.

They can feel “emotions” like danger which results in hiding from it.

It is not the same as human fear. It won’t result in a prolonged emotion which lasts for days.

It is hard to explain how another being feels within its body, but scientist have concluded these things after conducting all kinds of research and experiments.


Does starfish have a brain? No it doesn’t, but it has a lot of interesting organs and functions.

These creatures may seem calm and boring but their life is actually very fascinating and they can cover large distances.

Here is one interesting fact for the end. Some species of starfish, like Sunflower starfish (check the video above), can actually move very fast (at least in a world of starfish speeds) and that they can move one meter in one minute.

Starfish are an important creatures and although they don’t have the same feelings as we do, you should never remove them from the sea or do anything to them. Some are even protected by law.

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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