Linckia laevigata (sometimes called the "blue Linckia" or Blue Star) is a species of sea star in the shallow waters of tropical Indo-Pacific. The most common color morph found is pure, dark or light blue, although one can find the aqua, purple or orange variation throughout the ocean. These sea stars may grow up to 30 cm in diameter, with rounded tips at each of its arms — some individuals may bear light or darker spots along each of its arms. It is firm in texture, and possessing slightly tubular, elongated arms common to most of other Ophidiasteridae, and usually possessing short, yellowish tube feet. An inhabitant of coral reefs and sea grass beds, this species is relatively common and found in sparse density throughout its range. They live subtidally, or sometimes intertidally, on fine (sand) or hard substrata.
The genus Linckia is known to be creatures with remarkable regenerative power, capable of defensive autotomy against predators and may reproduce asexually: another tropical, pink or reddish mottled with white and yellow species known as Linckia multifora may produce 'comets' or separated arms from the mother individual, which would grow four, tiny stubs of arms ready for growth to maturity. L. laevigata is not an exception for this — many individuals observed in nature are missing arms or sometimes, in the comet form. The mottled Linckia (L. multifora) has been observed reproducing asexually in captivity.
Some species of other reef inhabitants prey on this species of sea star. Pufferfishes, Charonia species (triton shells), harlequin shrimp and even some sea anemones have been observed to eat the whole or a part of the sea star. The Blue Linckia is also prone to parasitization by a species of parasitic gastropod (Thyca crystallina). Commensal associations sometimes play part on this echinoderm's life, animals like Periclimenes shrimp are sometimes found commensally on the oral or aboral surface of the animal, picking up mucus and detritus.
This sea star is known in marine aquarium hobby, and needs a proper, slow acclimatization before entering the tank system; many died because improper acclimatization process or malnutrition. Generally thought as a detritivore, many sources say that this species will indefinitely graze throughout the aquarium for organic films or sedentary, low-growing organisms such as sponges and algae. Depending on how good the food source, shipping, acclimatization and water quality is, this species have been kept with variable success. This species has yet to be bred in captivity for sustainable harvest.
This species has been in the sea-shell trade for a long time, which involves dried sea star tests (skeletons) for curios or decoration. Some regions of their habitat have seen significant population decline due to the continuous harvesting by the industry and tourists.
- Shimek R.L.; Marine Invertebrates: 500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species; T.F.H. Publications; New Jersey; ISBN 1-890087-66-1