FAQs about Non-Vertebrate Animal Identification
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What is this? 12/16/18
You guys are my “go to” peeps whenever I’m stumped and you always come through!
I happen to notice this little guy climbing my glass and don’t know how he got
in there, since I really haven’t added anything to the tank in weeks.
<Mmm; likely came in on live rock... or something solid that you added... like a
coral; possibly from live food/s>
But, there he is. (see attached photo). Anyway, if you can’t completely identify
it, can you guess if it might be friend or foe?
Thank you for your help!
<Appears to be a young Errantiate Polychaete of some sort/species. Some are
widely labeled as bristleworms... I wouldn't panic, nor remove it. Likely will
add interest, keep the substrate stirred, aerated.
Don't think this is a medusa worm?
I have dry rock 2 inch sand bed tank is 4 months old 160 gal. 30 gal fuge
skimmer 10 gal Chaeto tumbler. I suddenly have these worms. I'm sure it was a
hitch hike off Chaeto. No one can tell me good or bad (. Please help before I
have hundreds of them.
<Does look like one. In which case, is more related to sea cucumbers
than to sea worms; these are generally peaceful scavengers, I wouldn´t
worry as they pose no threat to aquarium inhabitants.>
Thanks in advance. Oh and what fish might
eat them? Copper banded butterfly maybe?
<If your tank is a fish only, you can try a Trigger fish, however If you have a
mixed invertebrate/reef tank, try using a trap with some bait like fresh shrimp
at night. My suggestion is to do this only if you see that they start to
multiply or if you don´t want them at all in your tank >
Re: Don't think this is a medusa worm?
Thanks! Very much. Happy reefing
<You´re very welcome, nice weekend. Wilberth>
ID... Marine? Terrestrial?
And thanks for any help you can provide.
I do some collecting for my aquarium when I snorkel in the Florida Keys. I found
this in 2' of water 100' of the edge of a small island on the Florida Bay side
of the Keys. It was in the bright sun on the surface of the seabed, not under a
rock. I thought it was a small green sponge as it was in a small group of other
sponges (purple, orange and brown). The others are obvious sponges, but this one
has no excurrent holes I can find, and even with a magnifying glass I don't see
any incurrent pores. I looked at a lot of sponges anyway and the only thing that
came close is a ball sponge. But there were no green ones. The ones with the
longest bumps or spines were way shorter than these. And they all seemed to come
from cooler or colder waters. This was found in 80+ degree water. That leads me
to assume it's an algae. But I've looked at hundreds of algae photos and found
nothing remotely similar to this. I forwarded the info to 2 marine biologists I
deal with at a local marine museum and they were stumped as well!
<I as well... >
It's slightly smaller than a golf ball. It's not hard or soft but firm, like a
very small cell sponge. But as I said, I see no excurrent or incurrent holes or
pores. The appendages or spines are stiff but not hard.
It does not move, but in just a day or two it has attached to a rock. It is
currently sitting next to, almost on, a small rock flower anemone. Neither seems
to mind being in contact with the other.
<Am thinking this is a terrestrial fruit or seed of some sort; summat like a
drowned soursop. I'd be looking along the shoreline for more>
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. Even if it's just leads to other
places to look or other people to ask. I want to put it in my display tank, but
I'm concerned it may go 'sexual' like Caulerpa algae and nuke my tank or spread
all over the tank.
<I'd be careful... not keep this in a prized setting>
<Do me/us a favor and cut one open along the median and send a pic. Bob Fenner>
Re: ID 8/16/18
The idea that it could be terrestrial never entered my mind, or anybody else's
that has been involved in the ID process so far. So A+ for thinking outside the
box. And thanks for sharing that idea. I'll certainly pursue it more. But I
don't want to cut open the only specimen I have just yet.
<Okay; and have shared amongst friends, on Facebook!>
We were just off Little Money Key (Florida Bay side at the SW end of the Seven
Mile Bridge) which was virtually stripped clean of 95% of it vegetation 11
months earlier and still looks quite desolate except for a small amount of green
along 10% of the island on the side where we found this.
Would you assume the green is some kind of algae growing on the fruit or seed
<Nah; am more inclined to try scraping a bit off and looking under a few hundred
The green is still alive as the 'spikes' or 'tendrils' are growing small spheres
at their tips and the spheres have tiny spikes sticking out of them. No many
terrestrial plants would germinate in saltwater.
<Well... there are some 53 families of embryophytes that have "gone back" to the
sea... considered "mangroves"... but again; I know naught>
Thank you for your incite and any further views would also be welcomed.
<Thank you Ron; for your continued sharing. BobF>
Re: ID 8/16/18
Marco Lichtenberger sent in a reply; and he (and I) think what you have is the
seed of a Platanus species of tree. Do see this genus, pix... sugar maple,
Perhaps P. hispanica or occidentalis for the location. Bob Fenner>
Re: ID 8/16/18
Bob, if I'm not mistaken, that is a very northern tree, and it's seed would end
up in the Florida Keys?
<Mmm; well, trees get moved about quite a bit. I would not be surprised to find
a Platanus member nearby the water, some place where the fruit could get into
the water and wash down to the sea. BobF>
Odd ID, green spiky ball 8/18/18
Bob I sent it to the sponge ID God at the nmnh, Dr Klaus Ruetzler for a look. I
don't know if he is still there or not but his email seems to work even though
he is Emeritus now. If not, I know Dr Allen Collins there. Allen is Curator of
jellyfish and the likes. They must still have a Sponge Curator there. He would
that was really quick... Lol
"You are right, this is a sponge: Tethya actinia de Laubenfels, 1950, first
described from Bermuda. Both the orange and green varieties occur there
together. I’m not sure what causes the green color. I seem to remember to have
checked for algal/cyanobacterial symbionts but did not find any.
<Thank you Boomer and Dr. K, BobF>
Id if possible. 7/13/18
I found a clear jelly like substance with the consistency like gummy bears.
It appears to have orange spheres within it.
Is it an egg or some form tunicate style organism.
<Appears to be some sort of harmless sea sponge>
I will be from Australian waters most likely great barrier reef or Perth western
Australian reefs. As we cannot import invertebrates.
Thanks in advance Adam
Re: Id if possible. 7/18/18
Hi Wet Web Media Crew/Wilberth
Is there any chance that was eggs as 4 days after going into the
aquarium the object has disappeared. <?>
<Could be; and if these are indeed eggs of some kind, you´ll find out on
the future, there’s a possibility that this is a species of sea squirt
in its reproductive stage.>
It was attached to a coco worm, which was very slowly acclimatised and
my system runs near sea water parameters for western Australia which is
where a lot of coral is collected from Australia.
Id of worm/potential young sea cucumber
Got a frag of sps of a fellow reefer and found a couple of worm like creatures
that are very small on the bottom.
The guy i got the frags from has 2 cucumbers in his tank. To the best of his
knowledge no bobbit/eunice worms.
Wondering if you might be able to id or help out.
The large one in pictures is about 4mm long.
<Wow! No wonder your pix aren't cropped, crisp (highly resolved)... Likely are
Holothurians, but could be some type of worm. I wouldn't panic. Thanks for
sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Id of worm/potential young sea cucumber
Yes was very hard to get pics. Those were the best i could get.
So you would say safe to let loose in display?
<Yes; I would>
I figure if they are small holothurians the sand would be a benefit.
<Agreed. Cheers Adam. BobF>
Purple rolly poly creature 6/7/18
Found this hitchhiker while I was aquascaping. It is less than a quarter of an
inch and resembles a roly poly bug.
<Ah yes, this is a mollusk of the class Polyplacophora, commonly known as Chiton
or sea cradle, they have shells made up of eight overlapping calcareous valves;
usually found on every environment, pose no threat to other aquarium inhabitants
as they are algae eaters, always crawling over the glass or rockwork grazing for
film algae and diatoms, so they can be use as part of the clean up crew.>
What I found most remarkable was his extremely bright purple color—like neon
bright kind of purple! I let him be in the tank. Figured I’d share, just in case
you haven’t come across this before, although you probably have lol.
<Thanks for sharing>
Sincerely, Dani Conner
Can you tell me what the yellow Lacy looking area is?
<A boring sponge of some sort Tracy... drilling into the coral. BobF>
Some Help Identifying this 4/21/18
Thoughts on what these might be?
I had a bad feeling I had the dreaded black bugs. But I read those are arthropod
of some sort.
But I think this is some kind of AEFW? They have the hallmarks of a
<In some ways; yes. The "eyes" structures, flexible body; absence of appendages.
They are blacker than the AEFW I’ve seen before and smaller. I saw them on one
of my Acros so I dipped them and put these under the microscope.
The AEFW I’ve seen are about the size of small rice, these are the size
of fine black pepper.
I didn't have the software to measure them under my scope.
<This is close enough>
The second half of the video is more interesting.
<Yes... and that little tail... What dip, procedure did you employ? Bob Fenner>
Re: Some Help Identifying this 4/21/18
Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer for Soil and Turf
Concentrate. 2.5 gallons of water with 400 mL of Bayer. 15 min, then I
perfuse tank water into the dip container letting the overflow go down the
Then I dip in Revive for about 10 min - not sure why other
than it seems to make the coral “slime up” and then more things come off
when I do the final rinse.
<A common occurrence>
Final rinse off with tank water and put the coral back in the tank.
So far not coral loss and the “bugs” drop off pretty darn fast.
<With the use of Bayer and ReVive most all should be eliminated. Am not sure
what these are; or if they're predaceous pests or no. Bob Fenner>
Re: Some Help Identifying this /Lynn's input
Hey Bob! It's good to hear from you. Things are going well here. We're now
loving life in beautiful Colorado after being flooded out in hurricane Harvey.
This was a case of being gifted with a beautiful rainbow after the storm! I hope
all is going great for you as well. I just saw the attached query and will get
on it right now. Take care, Lynn
<Ah; great to hear from you and realize you're doing well Lynn. Cheers, BobF>
<<Thanks, Bob. Life is good! As for the queried subject, I've looked everywhere
and can't offer anything beyond what you've already stated and recommended.
Hopefully, I'll be more help with the next ID! Take care, Lynn>>
>Thank you Lynn. A mystery for sure. BobF<
Flatworm or something else?
Hi WWM Crew,
Was hoping to get an ID on the mysterious creatures in the attached photos.
<Appear to be Acoel flatworms... Likely no big deal. See WWM re>
Thanks for your help!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Hitchhiker ID 3/24/18
Hi again all! I have a few hitchhikers on some Caribbean live rock that I'm
hoping to identify, if you'd be willing to lend an eye and an opinion. I think
the anemone is an Anemonia melanaster and the sponge I believe to be
Mycale laxissima, but I know sponge identification is dodgy at best without a
<Even with at times>
The coral at its base looks to me like Eusmilia fastigiata, smooth flower coral.
Do you feel I'm way off base on any of these? If so, what are they? I'd really
appreciate your input. This is a brand new tank, still cycling so there are no
fish or intentional inverts in there yet.
All the rock has been sourced from Caribbean suppliers.
<Leah, we ask/require that people send in files of no more than a few hundred
Kbytes... you've sent 13 megs. And these pix are too washed out, poorly resolved
to make out much. Please reshoot, re-size and re-send. Bob
Re: Hitchhiker ID 3/25/18
Sorry about that, all I have to take pictures is my phone and I didn't realize
it saved pictures as such large files.
<Ahh! And we have quite limited email storage total; and when out in places w/
slow Net... Agonizing!>
I found an app to resize photos, please let me know if these work out better.
<Ah yes. The first... does it really have a stony base? To me
it looks like a Glass Anemone/Aiptasiid; and the second; are you referring to
the pinkish Sea Squirt or the stony coral under it? If the coral it may be a cup
coral/Eusmilia, Caryophylliid of the trop. W. Atlantic Bob Fenner>
Re: Hitchhiker ID 3/25/18
It is on a solid stony base, not in a crevasse or hole in the rock.
<But does the animal itself display a coral skeleton? Anemones do not>
I did not immediately think Aiptasiid for two reasons: first, when disturbed it
pulls it's tentacles and oral disc down into it's rather fat column but does not
pull into the rock at all (and indeed cannot because of its placement) and
second, the tentacles keep bulbing up very similar to a BTA.
Are these behaviors Aiptasiids share?
<Can be; yes. They are quickly retractile, and do have bulging tentacles at
times... Try using Google to see images, or WWM! >
I've never had them before so I only have "book learning" on them unfortunately.
<Are to be found looking about in the TWA. BobF>
Re: Hitchhiker ID 3/25/18
You're often a better resource than Google lol. I did look up quite a few images
on Google image search and in various databases but i haven't made it through
the WWM FAQs so I will keep looking! Thanks so much for your help!
<Glad to assist you Leah; hoping we can solve this mystery. Bob Fenner>
Can you Id this? 3/17/18
Hello Bob and WetWetMedia Friends,
I took a picture of a Berghia Nudibranch and I noticed something else on the
Something I have seen over some mushrooms.
Can you identify the thing the arrow is pointing at, that you can see covering
the mushrooms in the other 2 pictures?
Is it a plague? A parasite? Or is something normal the mushrooms have?
<These are flatworms... some folks lose their minds launching attacks against
such... best to be patient, perhaps add a biological control (predator). Let's
have you read here:
and the linked files above re>
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Re: Can you Id this?
Thank you Bob,
I really appreciate your help.
<Glad to render it>
I read all the articles and even searched in 2 forums.
I think I will go with your recommendation and be patient (Patient is the second
name of Reefkeeping) as all the possible solutions are very hard to implement in
<Ah yes; this is what I'd do as well. Have seen much more concentrated
aggregations of these Acoels on Mushrooms et al Cnidarians in the wild>
I was able to find and Buy some Berghia Nudibranchs to eliminate all the
Aiptasia I had.
If I can find a Velvet Sea Slug - Chelidonura varians I will try with it as it
seems to be the best and safest option.
If you can recommend something else please let me know.
<Nothing more. Nada mas>
Thank you again
<And you. BobF>
Red algae ID 2/11/18
Hello, I wrote in many months back and you were super helpful identifying some
algae for me. I hope you can help again! I have attached a photo of the reddish
pink tree-like algae that is spreading like wildfire through my tank. I didn’t
see anything like it in your algae ID archives... can you tell me what it is?
<I wish I could... the regular branching... I don't think this is an algae/Thallophyte,
but a very pink Hydrozoan of some sort>
Does anything eat it that I could use to help control the spread? Thank you!
<There are some notable Seaslugs that ingest various Hydropolyps, but I don't
know anything re this particular one. I would remove it from the system, as it
may be producing stinging elements that will bother your other livestock. Do you
have a microscope with a USB connection? I'd like to see some 100-200, 400 time
magnification shots. Bob Fenner>
Re: Red algae ID 2/12/18
Hi Bob, I don’t have a microscope unfortunately.
<Perhaps a local fish store does, someone from a marine aquarium club>
I have tried some manual removal but ripping it off leaves traces behind
that I cannot remove, and it is widespread, including my tank overflow box
and powerhead. It also grows very very fast.
<Yeeikes! I wish I could tell definitive what this is. I have never
encountered something this shade of pink, nor with the array of branching it
Is bleaching my tank and starting over my only option to eradicate this
<It may well be>
Also, can it sting fish or just corals?
<Can't tell w/o testing or microscopic looking. BobF>
Help with jelly infestation on Coral system
I visited this weekend some friends that have a Fish and Coral store.
They are having some kind of Jelly infestation in their coral Beds and need
I've never seen something like this before.
I took some small videos that show the issue. Is there a way I can send them to
you so maybe you and other WWM experts can help with this problem?
I could send pictures but the videos show much better the problem.
<Please post on YouTube (or such) and send along the link. We have limited file
space from our ISP>
Please help me to give them a solution.
<I can tell you in general what the choices are... finding where the jellies are
strobilizing from (rock usually) and removing them "by the roots" (scraping and
vacuuming); and for ones in suspension, VIGOROUS water movement, mechanical
filtration that removes them readily from the system. No chemical treatment,
predators... will work here. Bob Fenner>
Estado de Mexico
Re: Help with jelly infestation on Coral system... Hydroids? 1/9/18
I call it jelly for not having any other way to call it. I don't know what it
As you can see on their first Triton Test (attached) from December 27 when this
problem was starting their water parameters are not that bad.
Please find the links to YouTube for 2 short videos:
It's like gelatinous strings with bubbles that raise from the corals and all
<Mmm; this may be... a Hydrozoan... but need a much closer, better resolved
image to tell. Preferably a few ten power microscope shot. Otherwise... there
are MANY possibilities for what this might be. I don't see marks on the
fishes... which leads me to think this isn't likely a very toxic thing at any
length. But; do have your friends look up "Hydrozoan", "Hydropolyp", "Myrionema"
for some input possibility>
Hope this helps to show you what I mean.
<Not really mate>
Re: Help with jelly infestation on Coral system
Thank you for the info.
I took the attached pictures of the gelatinous thing.
You can see how its on corals like a spider web and it is white when is inside
the water. But if you take it out it turns reddish as you can see on the other
<... five megs of gelatinous....>
I will try to get better 10X zoom pictures tomorrow.
Let me know if the attached pictures help.
Re: Help with jelly infestation on Coral system
Sorry for the size of the pictures before.
They sent me these 4 pictures attached.
This is the best I can get with the cameras I have.
But we will try to take a sample to a lab Microscope and get pictures.
<Good; these images are not much better; but another thought came to me re
control. Do you measure RedOx? Likely increasing such (via ozone use, perhaps
UV... at worst peroxide) to about 400 microsiemens/cm. will improve water
quality, decrease the food et al. available to whatever this is. This is what I
would do, and via O3 use. B>
Thank you again.
Critter ID 10/25/27
Hi there, I've got a funny little dude on one of my corals. I've asked every
reefing group I can find and no one has an idea. It started off between these
two heads of hammer coral and looked like a Chiton at first--it's a series of
armored plates. Then it sort of curved as you can see here in the photo and it's
growing fast. There are three of them now.
It is very, very hard--harder than the coral stalk and absolutely nothing budges
it, even trying to slide a razor blade under the edge hasn't been successful.
The picture below shows it just opened its 'mouth' end which is usually shut
tight. Any ideas what it could be? I'd hate to kill it if it's a reef safe
critter. Thank you!!!
<Mmm; can't quite make out in your pix, but would have guessed at first glance
that these were Chitons as you mention, and with the clue that they can't be
removed with a razor blade either limpets of some sort or, my final guess (for
now) that these are a species of calcareous tube-building worm. I would leave
Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
My local aquarium shop suggested that I submit a question about some critters in
my tank. The attached images show these "sand-sized" organisms (about 1mm in
diameter) blooming in my tank.
<Neato! These are Foraminiferans! Sign of a healthy system, lack of predators>
They have been there for months and seem benign, or maybe even helpful (eating
algae?), though they do obstruct the view of the tank some. There are thousands
of them in the sand bed, on the rocks, and on the glass.
They move very slowly...as indicated by some time-lapse video. The close-up
photos were taken with a macro lens.
Can you provide any insight? Are they helpful? Harmful? Should I be concerned?
<No concern; are helpful... Enjoy them while you can, as changes in your system
will result in their crashing population wise... other life becoming more
dominant in time>
<Thank you for sharing. There's a bunch on the Net (even WWM) re:
Re: Snails? 8/23/17
Excellent. Thanks for the info Bob!
<Welcome Ryan. BobF>