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Bristle/Fireworms FAQs 3

Related FAQs: Bristle/Fireworms 1, Bristle/Fireworms 2Bristle/Fireworms 4, Worm IdentificationPolychaete Identification, Polychaete Behavior, Polychaete Compatibility, Polychaete System, Polychaete Selection, Polychaete Feeding, Polychaete Disease, Polychaete Reproduction

Related Articles: Worms, Polychaetes, Flatworms/Planaria

Sabellastarte indica in N. Sulawesi.

Neat pic... ugly worms: Eunice 1/21/04 Dear Crew: <howdy> Thank you very much for your helpful site and your answers to our questions! <our pleasure> My son and I have a 75 gal tank that has been set up for over 6 months, and has had 110 lbs of Florida aquacultured live rock in it since August.  We've had so much fun watching the critters on the rock, that we haven't yet added fish. <outstanding... I wish more folks would do this to allow the infauna and/or macroalgae to properly develop. Good for you> Some of our creatures have disappeared suddenly and without a trace (notably some kind of Zoanthid, and a number of small anemones).  Recently, our stony corals have been having trouble too, and we have started to wonder if predation is the problem. <hmmm... do consider that the tank even at 6 months old is way to young for most any stony corals> Question 1: Can a stony coral look just fine with nicely extended polyps for months and then suddenly look shaved?  This happened to our best coral recently.  After a few days some of the polyps are reappearing.  The question is whether they had been grazed on and are now growing back, or whether corals can naturally do this kind of thing. <hard to say here... cold be the tank is fine but simply still too young/unstable for stonies. I advise most all folks to be patient for at least one year before adding any stony corals... many good reasons for this. Yet the description (without a pic) does sound like it could be predation too> Question 2: As we have thought about possible predators, there are two at the top of our suspect list.  One is a small crab (unknown type - body about size of quarter, general "hairy" appearance). Frankly, the crab looks pretty innocent whenever we catch a glimpse of him hiding in a hole in the rock.   <they are a very high risk reef creature... no crabs are truly reef safe: all are opportunistic predators in time. And form follows function - if it has stout claws, they are there for a reason... and its not just for picking strands of algae.> The other suspects are worms.  We have bristle worms, included the bearded variety.   <highly overrated... more benefit than harm. Excellent for live sand/substrates> More recently we noticed another kind of worm that looks like it might be a Eunice worm.  We attach a picture of an earlier individual that we were able to isolate and eliminate when our live rock first arrived.   <A good pic, but not close enough for speciation. At a glance, it could be the long bristle Eunice (see Humann's "Reef Creature" book> We think we still have this type in the tank.  We saw an earlier post about a Eunice worm, and your advice was to get Peppermint shrimp to control the little ones, while attempting to trap the big ones, as these are known problem creatures in the tank.  If this is a Eunice, I assume the same advice applies to our tank.  Thanks, Tom <do consider reading/buying our "Reef Invertebrate" book (Calfo and Fenner 2003). It covers these families of creatures and so many more in great detail. I suspect you would learn much from it my friend. Best regards, Anthony>

Fire in the House! >I have a 25 gal salt water tank with live rock some small corals, a cute small red clown and a flame scallop and one little crab (lives in a shell, has a little blue on his appendages basically chills in a hole). >>Know that the flame scallop shouldn't be repurchased when this one expires.  They have a dismal record in captivity, usually starving to death in rather short order. >Lately my fire worm population has exploded and they are getting big. >>This is an indicator of excess nutrients (in the form of detritus).  This being the case, they are actually beneficial. >I have tried the plastic traps with bait from the pet store to no avail. >>Not uncommon. >Placed it next to different live rock where I have spotted the worms.  I've read up on arrow crabs but I am worried that it would attack my scallop. >>The scallop would be the least of the worries, here. >Do you think a wrasse would be the answer?   >>Honestly, I think more water changes are the answer, as well as addressing nutrient export via foam fractionation or the addition of a small (say, 5 gallons) refugium).  Ensuring that your makeup water is PRISTINE - zero nitrate and phosphorous going IN - is key.  Know that many municipalities may allow nitrate readings as high as 40ppm, as well as ammonia, and phosphates.  However, what these worms need to live is detritus and uneaten food, fish wastes, and that sort of thing.  You've mentioned no algae problems, but it could happen if you crash the fireworm population without first addressing this nutrient export issue. >I just adore my tank and the cute creatures that live in it and would be heart broken if it was over taken by fire worms. >>Absolutely!  I would start with increasing the frequency and amount of water changes.  If you have a deep bed of substrate, start vacuuming half of it very well with each water change.  I don't know your schedule, but 50% weekly would be good for a system of this size.  I wouldn't add a fireworm-eater just yet, as the tank IS small.  However, if you do get to the point where you feel you must, don't add another fish - the clown may attack it relentlessly and vertebrates add much greater bioload to any system.  Marina >Thank you so much for your help. Us amateurs really appreciate it!!! Sincerely, Justine >>You're quite welcome, Justine.

Bristle Worms (1-16-03) hello again,<Howdy!> I have noticed some bristle worms in my reef. Although I realize they have some benefits, I would like to keep the population in check by adding some reef safe predators. Can you suggest 3 or 4 fish I could add that would the bristle worms population in check?<There are a few Dottybacks that eat bristle worms.  My favorite is the orchid Dottyback, hey are peaceful and good looking.  For more info check here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm. Cody> Thanks, Steve

Bristleworm Jitters Hi, <Hello! Ryan with you this afternoon> I would love help with several things , but the main question I have is this: About 3 months ago after losing our fish of 2 years for unknown reasons we started over. <OK> We bought a very expensive protein skimmer, new filters, live sand and eventually fish. (70gal aq) today I was cleaning the sides and came across what looks like a millipede about 6 inches long, after getting over the "creeps" I decided to just leave him alone,,, where did he come from and what do I do with him??? <Likely a Bristleworm of sorts.  Can be removed with tweezers, but generally not harmful.> This new set up has been a constant nightmare, the fish got what looked like Ick, nothing new had been introduced in over a month, I have been treating it with Kent marine RXP , some look much better, put I pulled a couple more dead ones out today. This treatment is for a full 14 days, treating every other day, I completed the treatment about 4 days ago. Everyday the aquarium is very nasty, brown moss like stuff growing on everything very thick. This problem started before treating them with medication, but did get worse during this time since the filters had to be shut off during treatment. I never had this problem before I added live sand to the aquarium, but in reading all I could find, It suggested that live sand helps the filtration. <Yes, if added properly and maintained regularly> I had planned to add some corals later so I didn't by any fish that were not going to be safe with them, Right now I have two porcupine puffers, two yellow tangs, one yellow clown fish and a blue Koran angel (hope I spelled all of that close enough) but I have lost 4 clowns and a couple other fish, this is getting expensive and frustrating, we had agreed to try one more time and eventually go to a much bigger tank, however I need help before doing anything, thank you for any advise you can offer, <As for immediate action, you need the quarantine the remaining fish and medicate them in a separate body of water.  Please see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm . After that, it's time to go back to fish school!  If you don't already have a copy of Bob Fenner's CMA, it's a great place to start.  Remember, fishkeeping is a hobby of patience.  Nothing beautiful happens overnight.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Also, you may want to check out message boards like: http://www.reefcentral.com/, many fellow aquarists provide great views and advice.   Good luck, and enjoy it! Ryan> Elaine Plasters

Pony Predators? (Bristle Worms) Hi guys. <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have a 6 gallon dwarf seahorse tank that I would like to add some bristleworms to from my reef tank's DSB.  My question is this-Do these worms have any potential to harm my little ponies?  They are not large, they are the typical ones found in home tanks, I would guess....orange/red and an inch in size. I am using a DSB for the dwarf tank as well, so I want to load it with the appropriate fauna.  I know they are deposit feeders that feed in the sandbed, but I'm wondering if they might get a bit frisky at night and try to take down a dwarf.  I assume they are not active predators, or they wouldn't be so welcomed in a reef, so I am thinking I am safe. < I have always looked at them as benign, "earthworm-like" creatures...I suppose that the potential exists...Slow moving fishes like seahorses can be potentially vulnerable...I'd be cautious...> I have searched quite a bit and I haven't seen anything about them preying on live creatures at night, and to be honest, I don't think a dwarf would be small enough for them to bother, but I figured I'd ask, just the same. <Keep a close eye peeled and let me know if you have any losses, and we can formulate a plan to control them...> I decided not to load the tank with amphipods, as my refugium DSB is, because I do not trust them with the dwarfs.   <I would not be overly concerned about them..> Some of those pods get pretty large, as you know, so I am thinking they would  pose a threat, if anything.  All in all, I know both the pods and the worms are scavengers, so I can't see why they would hurt, but just the same.  Any comments would be welcomed :)  Thanks again. <Again- just keep a close eye on things, and be prepared for action if the need arises...Regards, Scott F>

- Run-in With a Bristle Worm - Hi guys, Last Tuesday night I set a trap to try and catch a possible evil Acro eating crab. It was just a tall glass with a full scallop weighted down with a glass marble. http://www.sjwilson.net/reef/pics/trap01.jpg The next morning when I came down there were a half dozen bristle worms and a Nassarius snail in the glass but nothing left at all of the scallop. Later that day I noticed that Sascha, my 6" male Squarespot Anthias, had a snootful of bristles. The bristles were gone after a couple days but Sascha hasn't eaten since then. I've had him since October 8th and he's had the most voracious appetite I've ever seen since the day I got him. He's not showing any signs of trouble at all, no spots, no change in behaviour, nothing I can see wrong with his mouth. He is starting to lose a little colour but not much at all. He's a big fish and very thick so I'm not seeing any sunken stomach yet. He has a HUGE mouth and I guess it is possible that he ate the full scallop in the trap along with a few bristle worms.  Scallops were his favourite. I've been feeding all his favourite foods but the only thing he will even taste is flakes but he just spits them out. He won't go near any of the frozen foods. Before all this he used to eat anything and everything I would put in the tank. Today is his 9th day without eating and I'm really getting worried. I can't bear to watch this beautiful fish starve to death. Any ideas? <Well... for certain, there has to be some pain involved from those bristles, and I'd guess as you have that your fish has swallowed at least as many as you saw on its nose. For the most part, fish can go quite a while without eating, and certainly were starved on their way to our collective tanks. Depending on the initial health of the fish - and yours sounds quite healthy - they can go upwards of three weeks without eating, although at some point during that time, they will begin to 'feel' hungry... kind of like I do right now. With any luck, the brute force of hunger will take hold and the fish will start eating again soon. I do think your fish will be fine, and I'd use its favorite food to tempt it back into its old habits - perhaps finely cut if you think particle size might be an issue, likewise other meaty foods like clams or Mysis should get the ball rolling. Remove anything doesn't get eaten so it doesn't have another run-in with the bristle worms. There are more drastic measures if things don't improve, but let's stay positive and give us a holler if things don't improve in the next couple of days.> Susan Wilson aka Flame*Angel www.sjwilson.net/reef <Cheers, J -- >

- Run-in With a Bristle Worm, Follow-up - Thanks so much for the speedy reply. <My pleasure.> I'll get back to you in a few days if he's still not eating, sooner if he is. <Sounds good.> I do feel better knowing he isn't at death's door yet.  Scallops were his favourite food but, considering his love of them is what led to the "incident" I'll try tempting him with something else tomorrow. <Well... that combined with the fact that it was trap bait ;-) > Maybe some shrimp, he hasn't had those in a while. He won't touch any prepared fish food right now, fresh, frozen or flakes. <Really would try the kitchen-sink approach... try any/every thing. Have had my own fish on hunger strikes before and it is unsettling, but at some point they decide it's time to eat. I think yours will too.> Thanks, Susan <Cheers, J -- >

Little bristleworms 11/1/03 Hey Bob, I have hundreds of small 1/2 inch long orange worms that have white bristles on their sides (Thus, I believe they are bristle worms) down in my gravel of my 55 gal saltwater tank. I have had them for a year or so and the biggest I have seen is maybe 3/4 of an inch long or so, but they are very thin. <they are harmless.. or rather beneficial as bioturbators of the sand and detritivore. They only become a plague if you overfeed/overstock the tank. Improved water flow and aggressive skimming/nutrient control keeps them in check> I have heard that some bristle worms can get very big and be a big problem for some tanks, but have also heard some species are OK and help eat detritus. <exactly... the former are typically the true Caribbean Fireworm (rare in the hobby) and the latter assessment by you is spot-on> From my crude description of these worms, do you think I have a major infestation and future problem on my hands, or is this species helpful? <helpful and easily controlled by you with good husbandry of the tank> Also, I bought a 125 gal tank 5 weeks ago and put in some gravel, filter sponges, and water (about 20 gal) from the established 55 gal tank to "seed" the needed bacteria. I bought 90 lbs of live rock online which has been in the tank for 4 weeks. I have never had an odor, my 6 damsels are alive and well, and I tested my water last night for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates and all tested 0. Is it possible that my 125 has cycled all ready and is ready for more fish? <yes... the rock was handled well and sounds cured> I have a Naso tang and Koran angel that I am itching to move over from the 55. Any advice would be appreciated. Diggy <add them at 2-4 week intervals with the less aggressive specimen first. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Turning On Worms...(Attacking Bristle Worms) HI WWM crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight!> I first must say I really tried to do a search for this question before coming to you guys/girls. <We appreciate that, but when you're stuck- that's what we're here for!> I really love the site and when I started SW 3 years ago who knew I would now have to read what used to be my questions and I'm sure some of your questions daily. <Yep- funny how that goes, huh?> Anyway on to my ? , I have a 55 gallon frag tank that I set up with all the thought of little to no fish. That worked well until now. I have had the tank set up 6 months and didn't place my first fish in it until 1 month ago. <Amazing patience and will-power!> Then I put in a two-spot tang (thank you Mr. Fenner for Id) and a yellow-eyed Kole tang, which gladly took care of the algae growth since I was  overfeeding the corals but had no fish and not enough cleanup crew (at that time) to take care of it. Now I have plenty of pods (amphipods and copepods) which I love, but I also have bristle worms. Is there a fish or crab (arrow?) that would take care of the worms without bothering smaller corals and/or eating all my pods. I will sacrifice pods if it is a must but I like the thoughts of natural food everywhere in a tank. But I hate the thought of worms destroying everything before it has a time to grow. Thanking you in advance. I hope you have a idea of what I'm trying to do. Thanks, David <Well, David, I think that you can use an arrow crab to help get some of the bristle worms, but it may occasionally "pick" on corals, too...Nothing is 100%. You can also try a Dottyback, as they are keen eaters of bristle worms, too. They may eat some pods, as well. In the end, you'll need to ask yourself if the bristle worms are causing any problems-or enough problems to warrant the "service" of a dedicated predator...Many times, they are more or less harmless, providing services that are analogous to earthworms- helping to eat detritus and mix up the sand bed...Sure, there are some "sinister" bristle worms, and they should not be underestimated for their ability to damage living coral tissue- but the threat may be more in our minds than in our tanks, IMO. If, however, you feel that the use of a predator is required, one of the aforementioned animals should do the trick, with minimal, but possible, potential for "collateral damage". Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Farming Fireworms, by golly 10/6/03 Attached is a pic I found on the WWM website which Id's the exact worm I have in my tank.  Actually I have one piece of LR that has what I think is at least 8 of them living inside.  I have Gulf of Mexico Florida LR.  I actually have been feeding these guys about once or twice a week since I have been feeding my Brittlestar (he doesn't eat very much?  Is this normal?).   <the feeding of a fireworm? or the lack of appetite by the brittle star? Hmmm... a moot point either way... a soft no to both> They actually smell food as soon as it hits the water, and they begin to poke their heads out immediately.  I have been feeding them pieces of raw shrimp from the grocery store, thinking it was a good thing to do.  Am I wrong?   <they are potentially dangerous (mildly venomous to you... but usually just uncomfortable when/if their bristles (setae) sting you. These worms may also eat some desirable reef invertebrates. A few small ones are harmless or helpful... but you growing more and bigger ones by feeding is asking for trouble> Should I be trapping these guys and getting ride of them?  If so, do those worms traps sold in the pet catalogs work, and if so what do I do with them once caught? <the traps work poorly... read in our archives instead for more effective DIY strategies. A wide-mouthed jar buried at floor level with bait is a good start> I do not have any fish at this time.  Just taking my time with the tank to get to know everyone..... LOLOL....as you can tell by this.  What should I do? Thanks, Louis <Hmmm... read more about Errantiate polychaetes in our wetwebmedia.com worm section or in our Reef Invertebrates book. Kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

What is Killing our Scarlet Hermit Crabs? >Thanks.  We bought a good floating hydrometer.  Salinity is right at 1.024.  Two people have told us that some worms including certain types of bristle worms are dangerous (can kill).   >>Bristle worms will eat what is dead, I doubt very seriously that they are an issue. >We bought an arrow crab that we are very slowly acclimating.  Did we make a mistake?  Also, if we should keep it - do we need to quarantine it (this early in the reef stage)?  Dave >>Personally, I believe in quarantining everything, including inverts.  You've purchased the arrow crab to eat the bristle worms?  If so, consider instead that the bristle worms perform a function, as well as indicate a possible buildup of detritus, as I mentioned previously.  Marina

Bristle worms harmful to starfish - 9/29/03 I have two starfish currently. <very good. Hopefully in a very large tank> a chocolate chip who has been thriving for as long as my tank has been up, <OK....How long is that?> my "Bali" star <???> was up until I noticed many bristle worms in my tank. <Not unheard of at all> I have never seen any worms up until now and mine come out all hours of the day. <As do mine. Usually when I feed the tank> they are orange in color, and I have noticed many what look like little grey shrimp swimming around eating the shrimp I place in for my stars. <Amphipods likely. Very nice to have in the tank. They are more or less scavengers. Eating detritus, scraps, even algae at times. Good to have. Sort of closer to the bottom of the food chain. When a description of an animal states that "animal eats crustaceans" they sometimes mean these little amphipods (in some life stage)> The problem I am having is my "Bali" star <Not familiar with what is being called a Bali star these days. Is this a common name for Fromia species? Can you positively id??> has always come out at night and has never climbed on the glass, but now he is out during the day and is all over the glass, his leg now looks like it is going to come off. <Hmmmm. Something is not good here. Any aggression between starfish? What else is in the tank? How big of a tank? What water parameters have you checked? Without knowing what kind of star we are dealing with I couldn't even tell you if the nutritional needs of the animal. How long have you had this starfish? Any other new additions?> I have checked the water perms and they are fine. <Uhhhh OK> So I am wondering if the bristle worms could be causing this? <Not likely. Especially if you feed the tank fairly often> thank you for your help....this site is wonderful <Thanks. You are helping to make the site better with your question. So....thank you, too! WE have a wonderful site. -Paul>

Flying worms (Neat video:) Hi Guys, hope all is well. I wondered if you would mind taking a look at this and give me your opinion. These are some type of spinning worm, about 1cm in length. They have been appearing in the tank for a while when the lights go out/actinic. I didn't think they were a problem, until I took another look at one under the microscope and watched how it laid around a hundred eggs in the space of a minute!! <Under stress... "these things happen"> Just wondered if you could identify, and your opinion whether they might be a problem. Thanks again for your help and advise Many Thanks Rob (UK) <Very nice work here... some sort of Errantiate polychaete worm... and even though seemingly reproducing quickly, not likely to be a problem... due to size of the adults, and point of fact that many other organisms are likely eating the eggs, young... I wouldn't be overly concerned... but do keep making these images. Bob Fenner>

Bristle Worms, They Ain't Such a Bad Thing! >Hello, I am writing because I have bristle worm problems.   >>Hello Walter.  I am here to help you.  Marina. >I am a new hobbyist and have recently started my first aquarium.  It is a 38 gallon aquarium, I have completed the cycling, all levels are good, and I have live rock.   >>I figure if I say this often enough and it gets into the dailies often enough, people will see that "levels are good", "parameters normal", and "within acceptable levels" means little to us.  We want to know exact tests performed, readings, and test kit(s) used.  Let us continue. >I also have two hermit crabs and two damsels. Shortly after setting up my aquarium, I noticed worms.   >>Not unusual, and perfectly natural. >After doing some research, I found out they were bristle worms.  My aquarium is 4 months old.  I have trapped over 30 worms out of my aquarium and still see more.   >>Why? >I just recently purchased an arrowhead crab (he has been in my aquarium for 1 month) but he does not seem to be doing his job .  I say this because a worm can be an inch from him and he does not seem interested.  I have been feeding him once daily because he comes flying out of his hiding place during my feeding times to get some food.  Should I not feed him so much to get him more interested in the bristleworms?   >>If you're that interested in removing them, the answer is yes.   >I have continued trapping and changing the bait inside my traps but the worms do not seem interested in the traps anymore.   >>This is because they're there due to nutrient export issues, mainly the buildup of detritus.   >If I look in my aquarium at night or even during the day I will still see 3-7 worms on the rocks.  I have read a lot of articles on bristleworms and have talked to credible fish dealers in the area.  One suggestion that was given to me was to take out the substrate and add new substrate and then take the live rock and dip it in carbonated water to flush them out and kill them.  What do you think of this idea?   >>I think that, while a temporary solution, it does nothing to address the root cause, and the fact that bristleworms actually perform a JOB in your system.   >I know that if I do this, I will probably have to start my cycling process all over again but I am willing to do this if I can get rid of the problem.   >>The only way to permanently be rid of bristleworms is to never use live rock again, and to maintain an essentially sterile system.  If this is what you strive for, then I advise you reconsider keeping marine.  These animals have an ecological niche, and they fill it quite neatly.  Think of it this way, if you DIDN'T have those worms, you'd probably be battling Cyanobacteria, diatomaceous blooms, sky-high nitrate readings, or similar other issues.  It's very much a trade-off.  In my opinion, let them be, and stop target feeding the arrow crab (I hope that whoever sold it to you told you they can become a bit aggressive when larger). >At this time, I am not going to be trying corals, etc., but I would like to take care of the problem as best as I can before I add more fish.  Some have recommended buying a wrasse but I do not feel he will work well with the fish I would like to add to my aquarium in time.  I would for sure like to add 2 clownfish and a goby.  I will patiently but eagerly await your reply. >>Be VERY careful with your stocking levels in such a small system.  You've mentioned nothing about filtration, so I'll assume it's rather basic.  Add a foam fractionator to it, this will help the detritus buildup and other nutrient export issues.  If your heart is set on adding this number of fish, double your water volume with a sump (though honestly I would not add the two clowns with the damsels in there, pick one or the other, then add nothing bigger than neon gobies).  I know this isn't exactly the kind of answer you were looking for, but in my honest opinion you should learn to accept the bristleworms as part of the natural order of your system.  If, in your opinion, they exist in "plague" proportions, it is far more an issue of your husbandry and setup than anything else.  Marina

Pseudochromids for bristle worm control 7/21/03 Just another quick question.. I have a decent supply of bristle worms in my tank...more than I'd like. A few are pushing 3-4". I heard Bi-color Pseudochromis are good hunters of these critters, but mine doesn't seem too interested in them as a food source. <the Red Sea, long nosed varieties like Springeri, Arabian and Fridmani are much better at this> What other animals would consider these worms a meal? <quiet a few... although not all are wholly reef safe (many eat fanworms too). Some crabs and numerous wrasses are popular for this purpose. Do try to limit nutrients and food instead though> Thanks again guys!!
<best regards, Anthony>

-Hard crusty specs- Help. I would like to know what these white dots that are spreading over the glass of my 45 gal salt tank are and if I should worry or is it ok. They are hard to the touch, do not seem to move, you can scrape them off (a bit crusty though) and the biggest ones are about the size of the head of a screw from eye glasses. Thank you <Those little dots are tube worms living in their calcareous homes. Look closely, you may see feather duster crowns sticking out of them. They are completely harmless, enjoy! -Kevin>

Epitokes and rotifers You wrote: As a boy in the P.I. I was familiar with a practice of collecting certain "native" marine foods with baskets, Really? Well I grew up in Chicago and never saw a Nereis until I was nearly 30. Now I live in P.I. and have just started my first marine aquarium. In a 48 gal tank which cycled on July 3, I now have two anemones, three Sabellids, a clownfish and a damsel. I'd love to have more polychaetes but first I want to know how to feed them. <Mmm, I will assure you, most everyone who has used live rock, "real" live sand does feed polychaete worms... almost continuously... many species are quite small, reproduce prodigiously... "come out of the sand" (esp. by nightfall) and are consumed> If you were in P.I. and knowing what you know now how would you go about cultivating/collecting food for these critters. ( brine shrimp are very expensive when available- 1000+ pesos for dried food) Is it realistic to think of cultivating rotifers? <Please take a look at the works of Frank Hoff and products available (books, cultures...) from Florida Aqua-Farms... and articles by Bob Toonen on aquarium-related culture of food-organisms (maybe a search on the Net using their names... or a look through the archives of Aquarium Frontiers (on-line)> How can I exclusively get the marine species grown? I have a microscope and can probably ID who's who. <A lot of fun and... dare I say... instructional as well> Do you have other suggestions for feeding polychaetes? <There are so many species... and of different feeding strategies (filter of many sorts to outright predaceous) that generalizations are likely not helpful. What species? Smallish ones are likely better either mono-cultured in specific vessels for the purpose, but raising them ancillary to having a DSB and live rock in an as-large-as-you-can-fit refugium would likely get you what you're shooting for> Are there indigenous species of worms that I'd be well advised NOT  to put in my treasured new tank? <Mmm, yes... larger, predatory species.> BTW I love WWM  and most certainly appreciate the style and content of  your contributions. Thanks so much! <Thank you for your kind words and contributing here to the site. Bob Fenner> Charles Olson, D.C. Davao, Mindanao, Philippines

Bristle worms For Dinner Can marine fish eat bristle worms without harm? <Oh yes! For many fishes and non-fishes Sedentariate polychaetes of many sorts are meals du jour> I have a 180 gallon with fish and soft corals and also a 12 gallon nano reef.  The nano reef currently has no fish in it and the bristle worms are becoming quite abundant.  I bought a trap to catch the worms.  I have a 7 inch Formosa Wrasse and a 4 inch Imperator Angel in the 180 (among others).  The Wrasse and Imperator chomp the bristle worms if I throw them in (worms up to 1 1/2 inches).  Will the worms hurt the fish internally if they eat them? <Not at all> Another question regarding the Imperator.  My Imperator likes to lay around on his side.  He snuggles up to pieces of live rock and lays on his side about a 1/4 of an inch over the rock.  When I come up to the tank, and he sees me, he'll swim right over to me.  He is about 3 years old and is in excellent health, he is starting to get his adult color pattern.  Why does he lay around on his side and hover over the live rock? <Some specimens "just do this"... perhaps this laying down behavior has some "survival value"... that is, perhaps acting so confers advantages, like being less visible or palatable to potential predators. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dave

Will mantis shrimps or bristle worms in any way damage corals or clams? 6/15/03 <Hello, PF with you tonight> Will mantis shrimps or bristle worms in any way damage corals or clams? <Ok, I'll break this down: Mantis shrimp will generally not harm corals, unless they disturb them by walking across them. Depending on the relative size of the clam and the mantis, and the type of mantis (smasher vs. spearer), it could kill and eat a clam. A 2" mantis is no threat to a 10" clam, a 6" mantis is another story. Bristle worms: in general, no. If they are in plague numbers, they could irritate a corals tissue. As for clams, they have a bad, and undeserved rep. Often a clam with be doing poorly, but still look healthy overall. The clam dies overnight and the worms come out and eat it, the nest morning the aquarist sees the worm shell crawling with worms and makes the obvious (but wrong) conclusion. There are a few species of worms that prey on clams, but they are very rare in captivity. Bear in mind these are generalizations, you can get a more specific answer with a more specific question. So on that note, have a good evening, PF>

Bristleworms Good or Bad? (both!) After reading through your website, I believe I have about a 3-4 inch bristle worm. <usually come in LR>  I'm concerned about this because I have just recently lost all the fish in my 30 gallon tank and my chemicals seem to be all in check. <would check the water again...any sign of disease?>  All the fish looked fine one day and the next day I woke up to find them breathing heavily and their fins looked all chewed up. <Bristleworms will not kill the fish, they are scavengers and will eat them once they have perished> Does this sound like the fish died of poor water conditions or because the bristle worm attacked them.<more like poor water conditions>   Thanks for all the help in the past and any information you can provide me.<do look over this link- http://www.wetwebmedia.com/morefaqsiibristlews.htm, IanB>  Matt

Monster in the live rock I  woke up today and noticed one of my clowns was dead. <Sorry to hear.> But I was disgusted when I noticed this 'worm-monster' :-) eating it! It came out of the live rock. I've never seen it before. It's pretty ugly I must say.... I'm wondering is there a way to get rid of those worms? What are they? <Appears to be a bristle worm. A common hitch hiker that comes in with the live rock. Most bristle worms are relatively harmless and help rid the tank of dead and decaying material. (As you have found). Do a google search (at the bottom of the main www.wetwebmedia.com) page for bristle worm and you will find all kinds of ideas. Good luck, Don>
Thank you,

As The Worms Turn...? Hi. <Hey there! Scott F. with you today!> I have bristle worms that are half black in color and half orange like Halloween. <Sounds kinda attractive, compared to the boring colored ones I usually see!> Anyways, they live in my sand and slither like snakes across rocks. Are these beneficial? <As long as they are not observed irritating or otherwise damaging corals, I see bristleworms as the marine analog of the earthworm. They do provide some beneficial detritivorous activities, and can actually be helpful in keeping the sand bed "stirred up" a bit. I would not worry about them too much> I noticed a dead snail and I took the shell out and out plopped 2 of these worms? Thanks. JM <They probably were scavenging on the remains. Again, I wouldn't be overly concerned unless they are causing detectible damage to other animals in the system. Take care! Scott F>

Polychaete panic Hey guys, <Hi Rick, PF here tonight> Has anyone ever had to deal with these little worms in the polychaetes family? <People actually buy them to add to their tank, they're detritivores> I call them that because they are attaching to surfaces and then displaying a mouth of about eight or so short pointed bristles, with a full grown body length of about three quarters of an inch. They are taking a hold in the shaded areas. These have been taking hold in my 30 gallon tank for two months and seem to be unstoppable. I siphoned out some of the big ones as I started noticing them, but realized that hundreds more are growing fast so now I am looking for help. The rest of my info is: My water quality tests perfect, My tank is a little over a year in progress. There is a medium amount of fuzzy red algae growing on the brightly lit surfaces. I have a tall tank with a plastic shelf that holds live rock and soft coral (about 10 pounds) halfway closer to the surface from the bottom. There are about 10 pounds of dead coral skeletons ( one brain type and one branch like ) and 50 pounds of aragonite fine sand that covers the bottom with three inches deep and a little more on the shelf. I run one 250 watt metal halide lamp on a timer for 6 hours a day with only occasional supplemental lighting with a 24" fluorescent "Coralife". <That's a short photo period. Generally most people light 8 - 12 hrs a day> I have tomato clown, a blue damsel, a blenny algae eater and a Kole yellow eye tang. Filter with a combo hang-on power filter with some bio area (not much) and a protein skimmer (venturi type). I feed the fishes about one eighth of a teaspoon of frozen food daily and refill the algae clip daily (the Kole tang eats that. I really don't think it's a case of over feeding but I can't know for sure. <The worms are responding to available food, remember, what goes into the fish has to come out too. Most likely this is what you're worms are eating.> Can any body help me to kill off these things or tell me that they might be short lived after their first growth period? <I wouldn't worry about them, remember, your tank is an ecosystem and every system needs a base> Has anyone controlled these worms with predators like wrasses? Should I just wait it out? <The population will stabilize in time> The only thing that I see necessary is cleaning the bulk of these out of the filter and skimmer to keep up the flow, already have done this once. <You can dump them back into the tank, heck, if you have a local reef club you could trade them off for coral frags like I've done> Help-Help-Help ! Thanks, Rick <You welcome, hopefully this does help. Have a good night, PF>
Re: Polychaete panic
Thank PF, <You're welcome>  The little buggers can stay then. I know you guys get this all the time but, I wish I had found this site before starting my tank. <I lucked out, I used to pester Bob when he was doing this solo.> My tank falls way short of any great guide lines and I can live with that for now ( I still enjoy maintaining every thing about it and might give the lighting an added two hours as a new parameter ). <Give it time, Rome or a reef wasn't built in a day.>  I have been doing quite a bit of reading on WWM and may give a different set-up a try when time and money permits. <The two biggies... that and patience.> Thanks again for the Great Site and Forum, Rick <You're welcome, good luck and keep in touch, PF>

Creature Feature... 2/20/03 Hello everyone! I have a quick question on some  invertebrate that I am concerned about I thought at first that I was dealing with a Nudibranch but i believe this is not the case. These creatures are the size, shape (oval) and color of a piece of rice, seem to be non motile, attach to the acrylic by one end and have tentacles at the other end. I originally saw them  on the hang on the back wet dry filter but today I noted several on  a power head.  I have not seen any on the rock work or corals. I have checked the FAQ but have not read  or seen anything similar. They are not Aiptasia. Any help would be appreciated.  I am not able to get clear pic. Thanks, Jim /Long Island <Jim, I talked with Ananda about this one and we haven't a clue what this is.  Please send us a photo of this creature.  Even if the photo is not clear it's better than nothing!  Be in touch..  Phil>

Worm ID Hi, I have a question about some worms that I have in my tank. They are pink at the head with the rest a purple or black color. they have bristle that look like hair at every segment. These came out of some new rock I got. I thought there were only a couple but when I fed my anemones  Mysis shrimp a whole bunch came out from very small....the size of a pin to the size of a Q-tip. I would like to know what these are and if they will eat the anemones. one big one is directly behind my long tentacle and I am worried he might get eaten. I have searched the sight for days, but no definite pics or the like. can you help? Thanks <sounds like bristle worms, I would not be too concerned, they make good detritivores.  If possible, feel free to send us a picture. Best Regards, Gage>

Big Pink Worm - Predatory Polychaete? 2/16/03 Hi,.....I have a big pink worm in my saltwater tank that was donated to us. We have a lot of live rock, and I was told that these worms come in with the rock.   <yes... likely a bristleworm (type of Errantiate polychaete). Rather common and harmless unless huge (over 4"). Also commonly mistaken for the real bad guys- Fireworms> The problem is, several small fish that we've added to the tank have been disappearing after a day or two.  Could this "worm" be the culprit?   <Possible indeed. Do use the worm names above to do keyword searches of our archives and of the 'Net abroad to see pictures and compare> This worm seems to eat algae, so I'm not sure he's the problem. <Strange?! not at all common for them to be algae eaters... have you seen this behavior? May not be a bristleworm or fireworm at all. Do browse the archives of pictures... wetwebmedia.com and/or send us a picture> Thanks,  Cindy <best regards, Anthony>

Worms preying on Snails? - 2/15/03 Dear Crew, I have a number of 1 to 2 inch red bristle worms in my refugium for "diversity" and they do clean up food and stuff that comes down from the show tank overflow. <agreed... the bristly polychaetes are excellent for this> Will they capture and eat snails and conchs? Lettuce nudibranchs? Howard in Wisconsin <not likely... only the true Caribbean Fireworm is such an adapted predator. The tiny common bristleworms look grossly similar, but are smaller and not inclined to preying on the healthy... they just scavenge the dead and dying. Best regards, Anthony>

Bristleworms Any idea how long a large bristleworm will last when you remove him and the rock he lives in from water. I pulled the rock one was living in last night. He came out when the rock was out of the water. I had about half of him by forceps but knew I would have broken him in half if I had continued to pull. At the time I thought maybe half of him could regenerate. After doing more research I realized that this is not the case. Anyway I was wondering if it takes days to kill a bristleworm out of water. <Likely to be long enough that the beneficial stuff on the rock would die as well. Before taking this step, try putting the rock into water (maybe change water?) and elevate it off the floor of the container with eggcrate, pvc, etc. Then bait the bottom. The hope is to draw the worm out to feed but then the rock is high enough that the worm can't find its way home> If I wouldn't think so but who knows. I have not had much luck trapping bristleworms. I watched the same one described above go all the way into a commercial trap. The only problem was that he had several inches out of the trap as well and came right back out. The trap looked like a good design until I saw it in action. I have also tried the bait inside of panty hose trick with no luck. I did see several around the outside of the pantyhose in the middle of the night but they did not stick to the pantyhose. <Another method to try is to use a long tube, like a pipette and bait one end. You can imaging the rest, good luck Don>

Bristleworm spawning- Chemical cues Okay, I have been in the reef hobby for a little over a year and I have several bristleworms in my 55 gallon tank. <no biggie... very good for sand bed health and not a problem if you control nutrients in the tank> I have had these since I got the rock. Well, today, my girlfriend was using a turkey baster to blast some detritus from the rocks and she saw a bristle worm. Who knows what was going through her head, but she tried to suck it up in the baster. Well it broke in half and released some salmon egg colored (if any of you has been trout fishing you know the color, a little brighter than melon) stringy substance. <heehee... hahaha... gametes likely> Within 5 minutes at least 20 other bristle worms came out of the rocks, faster than I have ever seen and started "shooting" this same stringy substance out of their back end. <yep... the first one have the chemical cue for all to get their group polychaete groove on> I have never seen this before but after freaking out about tank pollution, I settled down and thought maybe this is how they spawn?? <correct my friend> Any help will be greatly appreciated. <no worries... skim away. And know that these worms have a long larval period. The progeny will not survive in aquaria. But the gametes are excellent food for corals and other filter-feeders> Oh and Anthony, I just got your book in the mail today and look forward to reading it tonight. Thank you for your time.......Rob <excellent, my friend. Thanks kindly. Anthony>

Controlling Bristle Worms What is best way to get these Bristle worms out of tank? <many possible ways to treat the symptom, but know that they are very helpful for live sand fauna (as efficient detritivores and for aerating the substrate) if kept in reasonable numbers. If they are growing to large populations, it is a sign of a flaw in the system which is allowing food/nutrients to feed them so well. The best way to control them is to limit their nutrient. Extra water flow to keep detritus in suspension, a fine tuned skimmer to export those nutrients, weekly water changes, etc.> Or can I get fish that will eat them. <indeed... there are numerous fishes to do this for you. <Pseudochromids (long nosed Red Sea species are even better) and small wrasses are just some of the many possibilities here> Great website a lot of very helpful info Thanks Capt Gene <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Bristle Worm. Hi Guys. My 110 gallon reef tank is 12 months old and doing fine thanks to your help in the past.      The other night all the lights in the tank were off, and out of the corner of my eye I spotted this huge Bristle Worm. The worm is over 12 inches long, that is all I could see of it at the time.      There does not seem to be any problem with other live stock or corals, so my question is, should I try to remove this monster or leave him in peace as there seems to be conflicting information about this worm.      After spotting him I purchased a 6 line Wrasse as I am sure my wife and I spotted some smaller Bristle worms in the live rock.      The Bristle worm had contracted by the time I got my camera, but you can still see him bottom left of the picture. To the top right is a fully grown Cleaner Shrimp so you can gauge the size of the worm. I would like to thank you in advance for your advice.      Colin. <Now that's a worm! You could make this a worm tank... but you likely want to bait otherwise trap out this specimen. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm and the FAQs files beyond. Bob Fenner>

HUGE bristleworm Hi, I read that someone injected about 15 ml of white vinegar into the hole of a bristleworm to get it to come out so that he could catch it. Does the vinegar hurt the corals and other things in a reef tank? <Acetic acid/vinegar can be squirted in small quantities, won't hurt other life if not too much placed not too near...> Can the vinegar be injected into the worm if it is big enough? <I would not do this> I have one that is about a foot long and about a round as my little finger. We cannot catch it all. <Wow! I would trap or bait this animal out. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm and the related FAQs beyond to give you an idea of how to do this> What does the vinegar do to the worm? Does it just stun the worm and if so for about how long? Thanks, Renee <It would burn the worm... send it on a rampage. Better to trap or bait and net the animal out if you want to remove it. Bob Fenner>

Mystery Worm? Hey Gang! Is this a Fire worm or Bristle worm? (see attachments) The creature is in the very center of (pic) Bristle worm1.jpg. From what I've gathered, this is not a threat, just a cool critter?)                                 Scott <Well, Scott, it's kind of difficult to identify in the pic, but it does not look like a fireworm to me. I'd keep an eye on this creature to make sure that it is not harming the corals. Sorry I couldn't make a positive ID on this. Take care! Scott F>

Bye-Bye Bristleworms Hi Guys, <Scott F. your guy today> Great web site! I've been reading over all your info and FAQs on live rock and have a question on unfriendlies like bristle worms. I'm planning on slowly introducing live rock to my very old established 55gal system. I have a number of fish in it including a hungry 3 inch Huma Huma trigger, a 5 inch moon wrasse and a couple 3 inch tangs. I'm going to take it slowly with live rock cured by my LFS and am taking all the typical precautions for ammonia. So how scary are those unfriendlies like bristle worms and aggressive shrimp? Should I be worried about them or will they just make a nice snack for my trigger and wrasse? <I wouldn't worry about them with this crew!> Also can you provide a good list of predators for the typical unfriendlies one might come across when introducing live rock? <I think you have a tank full of 'em already! No worries!> Thanks, Kris <Our pleasure, Kris! Good Luck!>

Orange snouted Polychaete? Just found a polychaete in some live rubble I bought to see my refugium. It's small, 1 cm long and half as wide. It's got the usual bristles on it's sides, a brownish color, but none on its top. Segmented, and kind of an olive drab color. The body tapers towards the tail in sort of an elongated triangle. The odd thing is a orange "snout" on what I am guess is its head. I found a larger worm in the same rock earlier (it appeared to be the same as this little one) when I was doing a low salinity rinse, and it died from the water. The water was about 50*F and about 1.005 SG. This one survived and was crawling around in my refugium, so I sucked it out with my turkey baster. Should I keep this one or kill it? <Almost all worms are good scavengers. Unless there is specific information, like you found it eating something, I would keep them all. -Steven Pro>

Mystery Worm ID Hello whomever gets this. <Scott F. here this morning!> Real quick ID question.  Saw a small worm, lots of legs, what I saw was about 3 cm long, extremely thin, no wider than your typical pencil lead, and when it pulled back under the rock it had an orange tail, which was spread out much like the tail from a Lysmata sp. or something.  The worm itself had legs on either side, on every segment, and was a black or dark color of some kind.  Any ideas?  Checked all over the net and posted a few messages and nothing so far.   Thank you! <Well- sounds a lot like a bristle worm to me. Many different types exist. These worms are either harmful or helpful, depending on who you talk with! Some reef keepers feel that they can prey on corals and sessile inverts, others assert that they function like earthworms in a garden, and help to "work" the sand bed. If you don't want them in your tank, there are lots of ways to stop them, ranging from the use of crabs (like arrow crabs) to Pseudochromis, etc. To confirm that these are indeed a form of bristle worm, do a search on the wetwebmedia.com site for more information. Hope this helps. Good luck!>

Bristleworms I have a 200 gallon reef with 300 lbs of liverock and the rock is covered with bristleworms. The little devils are everywhere. What is a good reef safe organism that will chow these little pests in a quick hurry? Or are they beneficial and should only be kept in check. Thanks for your help. <Please refer to our extensive coverage on www.WetWebMedia.com regarding. Some aspect of husbandry is off for these guys to proliferate so much. They have to be eating something. -Steven Pro>

Bristleworms I keep reading that bristle worms are ok to keep, I had what appeared to be a bristleworm approximately 2 to 3 feet long in my reef. I still swear to this day it was eating my snails. Is this possible. <it is possible... they are opportunistic scavengers> Paul Cayen

Koko worm rock and Porites Coral Hello Wet Web Crew! Hope all is well for you. As you by now know I am very new at this hobby. I'm not sure if the questions will ever end! <I should hope not... keep learning!> Recently I purchased a rock with about 15 Christmas tree worms from my LFS. The worms are growing on/in what I believe to be Porites coral. <agreed... AKA "Koko or Bisma worm rock". Porites (lobata) with fanworms incused> When I purchased the rock the coral was a reddish brown color but it's now rapidly changing to green. <if you still see the Porites polyps, it may simply be a color change. Please know that this symbiotic pair needs massive random turbulent water flow. That is key to success in keeping them both alive> The pet store told me it was some sort of sponge... do you believe that??? <alas... I am not surprised. I'm just glad they don't run an orphanage> (sort of my fault I should have researched before purchasing) Anyways, I'm concerned the coral may be dying and I'm not sure how to help. If the coral dies will the worms die also? <its an old legend... the worms can live (although they are very difficult to keep) without the coral. You will need to have a fishless refugium inline on the tank for natural plankton else your worms will almost certainly die in less than 2 years> What to do?? Also can you tell me how Christmas tree worms reproduce? <just like anybody else... a little too much wine, a beautiful starlit evening and Barry White/Luther Vandross music playing softly in the background. They can also spawn sexually in concerted broadcast spawns on the reef with pelagic larvae settling en masse. Does not occur in small captive aquaria> Thanks in advance for the brilliant and witty answer I am bound to receive! <thanks for the easy seque <G>> Cheers! Melinda <with kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Worms Hello again guys. I have noticed worms (2 that I have actually seen) crawling in and out of my live rock. I have searched the website and was unable to match a description of the types that I'm seeing. They are somewhat skinny, red on one end (both?) and are chocolate/brown colored in the middle and are fuzzy/poky looking. Also very fast. Any ideas? <Bristleworms are the likely candidate.> Are they "good" or "bad" worms? <Likely good.> Are they the bristleworms that I have heard so much about? <Probably> Thanks bunches (again!). Maureen Smith of Garden City, MI. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Worms WWM Crew, I have an outbreak of some sort of centipede-like creatures in the reef tank here at work. They live in the substrate and crawl around in the rocks. <Sounds like Bristleworms> When I first saw one, I thought it was a tentacle of one of the serpent stars. I read here in your FAQ's that there are certain species of fish that might prey upon these wormy creatures. Could you suggest one that won't also prey upon my corals and inverts or pick on my other fish? <Wrasses and Pseudochromis are the two best choices for predators.> The other inhabitants of this 400 gallon tank are 2 flame scallops, 2 feather dusters, a carpet anemone, several serpent and brittle stars, 2 clown fish, and one mandarin dragonet. <Please see here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm and follow on through the linked FAQ files.> Thank you very much, Ro <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Help! Worm! Bob, et al: <Hi Rich! > My lights just went on, and I saw a worm, at least 2 inches long, with millipede-like legs (but white). Any idea? Is this bad? I am a little freaked out, since this is my first critter from my LR. My whole set up us about 5 weeks old. Thanks, Rich <Likely a bristle worm out for a snack. Not to worry, most harmlessly cleanup wasted food, etc. Just one of many such critters on your journey! Enjoy the adventure! Craig> 

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