Digestive System of Class Asteroidea
Most asteroids are scavengers or carnivores and feed on snails, bivalves, polychaets, other echinoderms, fish, sponges, sea anemones and polyps of hydroids and corals. Some feed on plankton and detritus. The digestive system of sea stars extends between the oral end and aboral disc of the animal. The mouth lies at the centre of a muscular peristomial membrane. The mouth is followed by a short oesophagus that in turn opens into a large stomach. The stomach occupies most of the interior of the disc and is divided by a horizontal constriction into a large oval cardiac stomach and a smaller, flattened pyloric stomach. The walls of gastric stomach are pouched. In each arm a pair of digestive glands or pyloric caeca are present and their ducts open into pyloric stomach. The pyloric stomach leads into a short tubular intestine on the aboral side. The intestine opens to the outside through a minute anus at the centre of the aboral surface of the disc. A number of small outpocketings called rectal caeca arise from the intestine.