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FAQs about Featherduster/Tube- Worms 2

Related Articles: Featherduster Worms, Polychaete Worms

Related FAQ's: Featherduster Worms 1, Tubeworms 3Tubeworm ID, Tubeworm Behavior, Tubeworm Compatibility, Tubeworm Selection, Tubeworm System, Tubeworm Feeding, Tubeworm Disease, Tubeworm Reproduction, Polychaete Identification, Polychaete Behavior, Polychaete Compatibility, Polychaete System, Polychaete Selection, Polychaete Feeding, Polychaete Disease, Polychaete Reproduction

A nice pair of sabellid featherduster worms in N. Sulawesi (Lembeh Strait). 

Feeding my feather duster 7/12/05 I have three featherdusters currently that I've had for two weeks now.  I have been feeding them twice a week with a product called Micro-Vert by Kent Marine (along with my Sebae anemone.  Is this an appropriate product to use? If not, what do you recommend from where? <... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/featherfdgfaqs.htm> Also, my two dusters have been "spitting" out long streams of what I think is a mucus trail (it's long, stringy, and traps everything floating around it).  I figured this was normal, but I wanted to check. <See the linked file above the citation? Read re "Behavior", "Reproduction"...> Thanks for all of your help.  I apologize if these questions have already been answered (I checked but didn't see anything similar, especially about the food product). <Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Fan worm excretion I have search your FAQ site and found nothing about my question. I have a Hawaiian feather duster that began excreting a milky substance while the fan was open (lasted about 15 minutes).  My bi-color Blenny thought it was great and couldn't keep away from the fan.  The substance made my tank very cloudy - what is this? <Sex products>   It is part of the reproduction process or what?? <The former... happens in "good times and bad">   The fan doesn't appear to be stressed and takes in food regularly. Thanks is advance. Sue <Nothing to worry about. Bob Fenner>

Feather Dusters Booming - 8/14/03 Good morning, <cheers> I have a 150 gallon, well established tank with a variety of non-aggressive fish and invertebrates.  In those, I also have three large Sabellastarte feather dusters that have been doing great for some time. Recently I've noticed quite a crop of what appears to be baby feather dusters attached to the live rock in the aquarium.  They exhibit the same characteristics as the big guys (suck back in when something passes by and appear to have their own tube... although they're still too small to tell).  Is there any info out there on Feather duster life cycles?   <if your question is "are these babies", the answer is almost certainly no. There are several very common miniature sabellid feather dusters that flourish in aquaria. They can become a nuisance if you have flaws in your nutrient export processes (weak water change schedule, skimmer that does not produce copiously, etc)> I've looked for articles from a number of sources but have come up dry... I've also heard they're notoriously hard to breed in captivity- are they asexual?  What's their reproductive process? >the larger sabellids are challenging... the smaller species are so easy as to be nearly unavoidable. Reproductive modes vary wildly (epitokes, fragmentation, asexual and sexual reproduction). We cover this group at some length in our new book "Reef Invertebrates" (Calfo and Fenner 2003)> I just want to make sure I don't have some kind of hitchhiking noxious organism that I should get rid of.    Many thanks in advance! <it is likely... but no worries if your husbandry is good.  best regards, Anthony>

Stressed out featherduster Hi,     just yesterday I purchased a  Hawaiian feather duster.  I have a 20 gallon tank with a slug, a couple of snails, four hermit crabs and a yellowtail damsel.  I've had it up and running for about a month and a half.    my tank hasn't cycled yet but I have read that sometimes they just don't. <If setup properly aquariums most always cycle-and if it doesn't living creatures should not be added>  I  slowly started adding livestock.  water levels are optimal. no ammonia or nitrate. <what about nitrite?  if your aquarium has 0 nitrite and ammonia then your aquarium must be cycled> When I first introduced the duster to my tank it seemed fine and came out of its tube in no time.<sounds good>  I wasn't satisfied with the place I had put it. I wanted to move it to  where it could be visible and away from the strong current of  my power head.  unfortunately  I must have positioned and repositioned the poor worm from place to place at least six times before I was satisfied with its spot. <not good, you most likely stressed him out>    although I was gentle I think I may have stressed it out.  <you probably did> now it won't come out of its tube and the top of its tube where it was coming out is now white and shriveled. <It might still be alive or it might have been stressed to death, I would just leave him there and see if he's still alive (if he ever comes out)>  I'm concerned about its health.  what do you think is happening?  and what should I do?<good luck, IanB>

Re:  yes, definitely feather dusters... 07/25/03 <Hello again> To PF...(told you I go on this site every day) and Kevin (Saltwater Newbie), thank you for your concern with my tank.  I followed the link provided and they are indeed feather dusters...looks like Bispira brunnea...and a lot of them.  They mostly remain open unless a fish swims by.  However, I am not supplementing them with any individual feeding.  Should I be and what would you recommend?...thank you in advance for your reply... <Well, we really don't understand what they eat. OTOH, if they are breeding in your tank, then I would say they're finding what they want. Many dusters shed their crowns and grow new ones to accommodate the available food in the aquarium. Sounds like a nice looking setup. Have a good weekend, PF>

Re question on feather dusters 07/23/03 This is for PF (Michael Bloss), <and here I am> PF, today someone wrote in about a large growth of "feather dusters" in their tank.  It doesn't look like they sent a picture, but could this also be Aiptasia.  From reading many of the FAQs, I have noticed that sometimes Aiptasia is mistaken for feather dusters by people.  Just a thought.  I didn't want the poor aquarist to have a possible Aiptasia epidemic and think things were fine in his tank but start missing livestock. Thanks for the great information and effort you all put into this site. it is a huge asset. Kevin (SaltwaterNewbie in the forums) <Well Kevin (weird to be dealing in real names :)  ), it may be Aiptasia, but most new tanks get blooms of small feather dusters. To amend my earlier advice, check here: www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/ anthozoa/Aiptasia/aiptasia.htm  and make sure the feather dusters don't look like that, but like this: www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm . Hopefully that clears matters up. I'd lay odds its a population surge of little dusters though, I've had that with all my tanks.>

-Dusters not in their tubes- thanks for you time in writing back. <No problem> Got a hold of my dealer and she told me that if the tubes were hollow, the dusters have grown and are in the substrate making new tubes. <This is unlikely since they can simply build larger tubes. If the tube is empty, it is probably dead.> And if the tubes were squishy, the worms were dead. <The tubes are always squishy unless its the pacific variety that builds a tube out of calcium carbonate.> Well they are hollow and hopefully I'll have my dusters back bigger than ever. <I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your dusters are likely dead, unless they became stressed and jumped ship. -Kevin>

-Dusters dead- I have a 55 gallon tank with a 10 gallon refugium.   both have been set up for 6 yrs.  I have a full reef set up.  I had two feather duster worms in different parts of the main tank and both died within 2 weeks of each other.  All water chemistry is fine and nothing else in the tank is stressed or has died.  I really have no idea what happened and thought maybe you had some ideas. <Feather dusters depend on particulate organic stuff to survive, make sure that the tank is well fed with a few kinds of phytoplankton. So, it is possible that they starved, were eaten by something, or have dropped their crowns due to stress or starvation. Sorry I can't give you a specific reason! -Kevin>   Thanks for your time. Tom

Feather Duster...Biting The Dust? Hi, Bob <Scott F. here tonight...> I need help with my feather duster that came out of its tube and has the body deep into my biggest LR. Feather duster is spitting out some kind of sticky clear substance and lots of it, which looks to be contaminating water. <Not good at all...> My 2 other feather dusters are doing just fine. I have tried to pull him out from the LR but I can't without pulling him apart.. I really think it's dying, or dead. I don't want to destroy the LR or throw it away. The LR is in quarantine tank just in case. What can I do ?  Please help. JO <Well, Jo- I'm afraid that the best course of action is to remove the animal by whatever means necessary....Unfortunately, this will result in the animal's death. However, I think you have to work on the philosophy that you are "serving the greater good" by more or less sacrificing a dying animal that may pollute the system, taking down other animals with it. Sad, but true. In the long run, it's the best move to make, IMO; an acceptable trade off. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Christmas Tree Worms Hello,<Howdy , sorry about the delayed reply.> I'm new with the saltwater aquarium hobby and I have set up my tank for over 8 mo.s now. I have just added to my tank with a coral rock with four Christmas tree fan worms living in it. After two days the worms started to crawl out of the coral, lying on the sand and later was eaten by my shrimp and damsel. Do you know why the worms left their coral home?  I checked the salinity, pH, ammonia, nitrate level and everything seemed fine. The values are: 1.023, 8.0, 0, .01.   The tank temperature was 81F at the time. The tank size is 55 gal with ~ 50lbs of liverock.   Livestock included: 2 damsels, 1 tang, 1 clown, 2 feather dusters, 1 torch (frog spawn), 1 starfish, 1 anemone. Light system is the CustomSealife 55w power compact.  Filter system is 60gal sump wet/dry with mag5 pump and a back up small Rena canister filter.  I intended to install an AquaC protein skimmer soon. <You also need to be testing for nitrite, calcium, and alkalinity.  These worms also need stronger lighting and so do your corals and anemone.  You can find info on all this at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Cody>   Thanks Quyen Chau

Feather duster malady 6/3/03 I've been tearing my hair out trying to figure out what has gone wrong.  I purchased 2 Hawaiian feather dusters about a week apart.  The first one began to show odd signs at night.  It would elevate itself about .5-1in outside of its tube.  Eventually it got to the point wherein it was almost fully out of the tube.  It was undulating and trying to get the rest of the way out.  I've read a lot on them and knew this meant it was going to leave the tube and find a new spot.   <true... but usually under great stress. It could be a water quality issue, or it could simply be an animal that has suffered the rigors of import without adequate stabilization (no quarantine period by retailer or home aquarist/you> I tried to help it by placing the tube horizontally on the substrate in the hopes that it would more easily extract itself.  I scared it into popping its crown by doing so :( <no worries yet, they can regrow the crown within weeks> Nonetheless it left its tube and hid behind some rocks, as indicated by plumes of mucus therein.  The next day I removed a rock to check on its progress only to find a half digested worm underneath my serpent star.  I was quite perturbed.  I documented the happenings here: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~skotzaba/aqualog.htm <alas... the worm was dying and/or weak. The star was simply scavenging as it should> Here is where things began to worry me more--my second feather duster, by far larger and prettier is doing the exact same thing now.  We saw it trying its hardest to leave the tube. <again, may be water quality... or simply the source (same LFS, same batch?)> I did as much reading as possible on them and was able to rule out a few things.  Water parameters are unlikely to be the problem as pH=8.1-8.2, <if accurate and a day time reading, this seems low/flat. Your pH is likely dipping below 8.0 at night (yikes!). Do test after a long period of darkness (at night or before lights come on in the morning)> Am=0, Ni=0, Na=5.  Starvation is unlikely since I feed the dusters "filter feeder food" and they were only in the tank for a week anyhow.   <FWIW... I am almost certain that the feather dusters get absolutely no nutrition directly from such bottled foods. They are terrible. Particle size and prey nature are inappropriate/too large. Such foods are commonly nicknamed "pollution in a bottle" and serve only to cause future nuisance algae blooms. The best filter feeder foods come from fishless refugiums plumbed inline> The only things that come to my mind are current and micro-bubbles.   <neither would be a problem here.> What sort of current should they be in?   <moderate to strong> Depending on how I adjusted the powerheads, the feathers went from frazzled and disheveled to simply stagnant.  The other theory I have involves the large number of small bubbles my skimmer produces.  Could this be irritating the worm into trying to seek shelter behind the rocks, as the first worm did? <absolutely not> Furthermore, we had outbreaks of both brown algae (passed) and hairy algae (subsiding), some of which grew on the tube--could this be a problem?   <irritating but not fatal> I might also add that none of our animals have bothered the dusters, so I don't think that's a problem. I truly hope you can help to shed some light on this situation, as I was greatly enamored of those two dusters (named Babette and Soleil, if you must know) and their passing is quite saddening to me.  Either way, thank you for your time. Stratos Kotzabassi <the large common feather dusters are really quite difficult to keep alive for most aquarists for more than a year. Most die in weeks/months. Without a mature refugium to produce nanoplankton (bacteria, etc)... nothing you target feed them is likely to sustain them. Do consider other duster species or forego all until the tank matures more. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Feather duster malady Thank you very much for your prompt response.  To update you on a few of the factors you mentioned: I believe both dusters were in the LFS tank for a decent amount of time before I purchased them.  Furthermore, I did a relatively slow acclimation and checked pH and salinity before placing either of the dusters in the tank.  The fact that they seemed ok at the LFS for some time and suddenly had their adverse reaction in my tank leads me to believe there might be some kind of distressing factor attributable only to my tank. The latest pH test showed 8.2.  A test done approx 2 hours after the Actinics turned off and 3 hours after the Sunlight's turned off showed a pH of 8.2, perhaps a tiny bit less. I had read a lot about the various available foods for dusters and I agree that they all seems to be nothing more than "pollution in a bottle", oddly enough however, I was told by a good friend and saltwater reefer of 16 years that he feeds his large dusters Kent Micro-Vert and they have done just fine.  His tank is, however, more mature than mine, but I find it doubtful that its mature enough to sustain a phytoplankton population.  Nonetheless I am still very interested in trying to keep the Large varieties of feather duster.  If I were to do so, it seems I have 2 options--either to grow my own phyto, which seems cumbersome and imprecise, or I could purchase the product "DT's Phytoplankton".  Would either of these two be acceptable to keeping alive a large feather duster? <Well, we're still not sure what exactly they eat. Many dusters shed their gills (the "feathers") and there are noticeable changes in the structure: they are adapting to eat the available food.> Lastly, I realize I may have left out important information in my last email.  My tank has been fully cycled for only about a month.  By cycled I mean the Am and Ni were at zero and that all tank params were steady for at least a week.  I purchased the first duster along with my first fish, and the second duster about a week and a half later.  Could it have been the immaturity of my tank which killed the poor dusters?  If so, what does my immature tank lack that a more mature tank could offer? <Bacterial population. IMO most people rush to put animals into their tanks, when a little patience would pay off. One of the current theories is that they change their gills so they can eat the bacteria growing in the tank.> On a side note, oddly enough, it seems that a small duster has popped up on my substrate behind my rocks.  I find that odd in that my LR was in the tank during the cycle, which included Am levels of over 5ppm.  Odd that they could survive that. <Well, it could have been larval or an egg when it came into the tank. Or, maybe they're just a very tough species.> And finally, is there any detailed literature you would recommend for those enamored of the feather dusters? <Sadly, not that I can think off. So far most of the information is on the web.> I great many thanks for responding.  You have been a great help. <You're welcome, good luck, PF>

Fan Worms? Hi! As with Aquarium ID, I have these white tube-like creatures (about 0.3-0.6cm) growing off the sides of my marine tank for the past few weeks. (I keep an anemone and a few small hard corals, and a few Clownfishes, small crab and prawns.) They don't seem to disappear though. Could they be some coral babies or some parasites? <Likely just calcareous tube worms; harmless little guys in calcium based homes. Those are just a few of the many different odd-ball things you'll see popping up here and there. They're likely fan worms, so look for a "feather duster" type crown sticking out of them.> Could not find anything about them from the web, please advice. Thanks! <Enjoy the worms! -Kevin> Eudriz

For starters...I love your site. Here is my question though...I have had a well established reef system for about 5 years.  For the most part, nothing has changed, corals, fish, additions, deaths...lol, we do not have filtration on this tank, but I do have 2-1140 powerheads, and 150 pounds of rock in a 120 gallon aquarium, I only have three fish and a large number of blue legs.  Water quality has never been an issue.   I randomly give the tank calcium treatments.  I think that "less is more" when it comes to a reef.  The more natural, the better.  It seems to be working, nothing has died in about 4 years.  However, here is where my question comes in.  In the last 3 months, my fan worms have doubled in number.  All fan worms, my Hawaiians, Christmas tree worms, and various brightly colored "regular" ones.  I was wondering if you might know what might be causing them to be that happy that I might sprout this many additions...(roughly 40 new ones.) <Well, obviously there's favorable conditions in your tank. Wish you could bottle and sell it.> I noticed that the new ones are located somewhat near the "established worms" and are just a different color than the larger versions. <Well, many kinds of worms can not only reproduce sexually (more difficult in an aquarium with the pumps and all) but asexually as well. I'd guess that's what could be going on.> I enjoy studying my rocks weekly for "new growths" and have been documenting how many are appearing.  Any clue about how they are reproducing that much?  I do not spot feed them.   Heck, the only food they get is what is extra from feeding the crabs and the clownfish.  I am at a loss as to what may have prompted the sudden changes.  I'm not complaining, but if I can contribute to helping others by giving away some of mine...I'm all for it. <Well, if you can find them good homes, sure, why not. As to the why's, that is a puzzler. I suspect though from the age of your tank that you may have a planktonic population that can support these worms. > any information would be a great help. thanks Denise <Well Denise, I hope that helped, have a good night, PF>

Hawaiian Feather Duster Hello, I have a Hawaiian Feather Duster and it's tentacles are curled at the ends.  What is happening?  How can I fix it? <It will likely be fine, as they often curl them somewhat.  Cody> Feather Duster Worms Folks, >>Good morning Brian, Marina being "Zen" today.  I *am* the worm.. >How (and why) do fanworms move? This one has been sitting happily(?) with three others on the sand for some time, and this morning I find it hanging from a piece of living rock, about four inches from the sand, and about 12 inches from where it was originally. It seems to be firmly 'dug in' so I've not attempted to move it. >>It seems they got drunk and had a bit of a row last night, and the others have kicked the troublemaker out.  He's set up his own flat and wants to be able to have his own parties, and he's got his eye on one particular fanworm babe he fancies.  It's unusual for worms with no brains to get drunk and have a row, but it seems soccer season's coming up (and we just had the NFL draft) and they've all got a real bug up their tubes. >>Ok, I hope you don't mind my attempt at getting inside a featherduster's head (or fanworm), but there's really little explain this, other than it could have been a competition thing.  I have no idea if these annelids utilize anything like allelopathy (chemical warfare), though it could explain the sudden move.  Either that or "he's" really a "she" and one of the other blokes felt her up, eh?  LOL!  Sorry, I see this is one I can really run with.  I truthfully don't know, but I would assume that it's happier in its new spot, and I really wouldn't worry.  Maybe he wasn't getting his fair share where he was, eh?  Do you ever spot-feed them (target)?  Are you having any troubles with them losing their crowns?  If you are, then I'd guess it's looking for better feeding, in which case I'd get some target food and feed them directly.  Best of luck!  Marina>>

Re: Feather Duster Worms >Thanks for that, I thoroughly enjoyed it (although have no idea what the NFL draft is!) >>It's an American thing, indeed.  ;) >... if you do ever get inside a tubeworm's head, and start to think like one, then you're in real trouble. Time to quit WWM help line I suspect. >>Yes, but you're the first who dared tell me so. >About twelve months ago I lost a beautiful red and white tubeworm, and since then I've been spot-feeding, usually with the juices from a 'fish feed' but more recently with San Francisco Bay baby brine shrimp. >>Try also the plankton substitutes used for filter feeding corals and the such.  Also, if you can get a hold of phytoplankton that would be good, just consider the variety of foods they get in the wild.  If they seem to be taking these in (the "juice" and the shrimp), then you might also try making a thin slurry of foods and spot-feeding that as well. >I hope this will keep them o.k. but if more start to become all teenagerish and demand their own flat I'll think again. >>LOL!  As the mother of two teens, you have NO idea how pertinent that statement is today.  I'm glad I was able to help.  Marina

Are 'feathers' (Tubeworms) incompatible with cleaner shrimps? Hi, I've heard two opinions on this subject. Some say they are perfectly file if kept together, others, that it's a big no-no... Which one is true? :-( <I have never had a problem with them being together and have had them and seen them together many times.  So I say go for it!  Cody> Thank you, Luke

Feather Duster smorgasbord? - 5/1/03 Hey, <Hey> I just bought a feather duster and what should I feed it? i feed it right now Micro-Vert from Kent marine is this OK <I don't think so, but then again I typically don't employ the use of Kent products. So I have little experience with them. They seem to be a marketing machine with little scientific evidence of their claims. (Come to think of it, that is pretty much most companies) I'll tell ya what I do recommend.......ready?..........research before purchasing an animal. <W> In any case there are a great number of FAQs available for you to take a look at here. Start through some of these: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/featherfaq2.htm I recommend a daily to a few times weekly offering of live (brine shrimp nauplii, rotifers...) or prepared foods (store bought or home-made) is recommended. Clam "juice", other "meaty" foods frappe'ed in a blender or smooshed with spoons or other tools applied in the general area (with a syringe, turkey baster device...) with most all particulate filtration switched off for the duration (@ an hour?). Other times and places I've plugged appropriate set-ups for intended such systems, including the use of timers or temporary switches to cut down on fouling from feeding...Try to feed from behind the crown and not push the food to the center of the radials as you'll most certainly be feeding the wrong hole if you know what I mean. =) Do try to identify exactly your specific worm and do a search on that name in your favorite browser for additional care and successful food types and feeding regimes. You can find various live and fresh coral and invertebrate foods at sites like http://www.seafarm.com and http://www.aquaculture-supply.com/ choose whichever is closer to you. Continue in your quest for knowledge as you have a made a good first step coming here, my friend. Good luck to you, and your new feather duster. <VBG> Paulo>

- Found Feather Dusters - To the Wonderful Crew: <Good afternoon, JasonC here...> I Currently have a 55gal FOWLR w/inverts.  A bunch of miniature feather dusters have developed on my LR from nothing (visible, that is - my LR was pretty sparse).  I have not added supplements or attempted to feed them directly until I am sure I want to keep them. <Better not wait too long.> From your site they look most like Bispira variegata, but with white tubes.  Here are my questions: 1) If the species is correct, you refer to them as a common "contaminant".  Is this a matter of "one man's weed..."? <Uhh... sure, that's one way to say it - they're just really common.> 2) Either way, do they have the potential to live for a number of years? <Oh, good question - I'm not sure... I'd imagine somewhere in that range or thereabouts.> 3) Will they eventually choke my system, like a contaminant can? <No - their population will self-regulate.> 4) Will they eventually die out through "natural causes"? <Especially if they don't get fed.> 5) Can they survive without direct feeding, like they have so far? <Not forever, but that all depends on the other life in your tank, other things you might be feeding...> 6) If no to #5, how did they get this far? <Well, back to the weed analogy, many of these things will pop up only to find out later that conditions don't support them.> I was thinking that they can be one more organism that takes nutrients away from undesirable algae.  Thanks, Rich. <I'd keep them if it were my tank... these things are part of a food chain, and likely not direct competitors with your algae. Cheers, J -- >

Don't Sweep Away The Dusters! (Feather Dusters) What are these and if they are bad how do I get rid of them <They are feather duster worms. Harmless filter feeders that are quite interesting! They are a cool addition to your tank! Enjoy them! Regards, Scott F>

Feather Duster on the move - 3/18/03 Dear WetWebMedia.com, <Paul at your service>        I recently added a featherduster worm to my 30 Gallon FOWLR, I was told they eat MarineSnow which I have been feeding it. <MarineSnow as in "Two Little Fishies" marine snow product? I would highly recommend getting fresh rotifers and feeding the rotifers with a quality phytoplankton product. Be sure to have a medium flow and there is no need to use a direct feeding method here in my experience. Turn the skimmer off for an hour or two and keep the power heads on.> Today I woke up and one of my featherdusters heads was missing. <Uh oh> At first I thought it had not opened up yet until I saw the crown in the crevice of the live rock. <Worm attached?< I know they discard their crown if stressed, <Yes and quite readily> but the crown seems to be anchored into the live rock and thriving. Maybe the whole worm left the tube to receive less light under the Live Rock. <Very probable but light not really being an issue but for many other reasons none the less. Please read through this particular FAQ link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/featherfaq2.htm Just give it a once over. Also, I really recommend looking to identify your particular feather duster and doing a search on your favorite search engine (i.e.. google) and learn about their environment as well as feeding habits and morphology. Fun and interesting <IMO>> The other featherduster and anemone are fine. <Glad to hear it> Help! <No need to panic just yet. It is somewhat normal for a feather duster to exit its tube dwelling for a better feeding advantage, so it may still produce another tube as long as the calcium and food level remain consistent and within its oceanic environmental parameters. Knowledge is half the battle and you are well on your way. Good luck. Pablo>                                                        Thanks                                                        ~Bo

Plume-less Feather Duster - 3/18/03 One quick question mine has "deployed" his feather section, and is still inhabiting his tube? <Not necessarily the end of him> Is he dead or reproducing or what? <not reproducing but there can be many reasons for it from stress (lack of food, water parameters changed etc.), growth, and more!!! Keep an eye on the tube and the worm. They do regrow these. Look through this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/featherfaq2.htm and be sure to feed them small foods such as baby brine nauplii, rotifers (enriched with a quality phytoplankton), and maybe very finely pureed meaty foods. Feed on the back side of the worms feeding radioles (not directly over the center of the radioles). Be patient but diligent. Paul>

Critter Identification Gentlemen: <Okay> Hopefully I can describe this without requiring a picture; it's some odd little growths that came on my live rock.  They really resemble feather duster worms except they are about .5cm tall and almost translucent.  (I say except because I didn't think those worms were that small) you have to study the rock carefully to see them waving around. Just like the worms, they have a short tube .25cm plus the "fronds" that spread out in a circular fashion.   Anyway, hope you can identify. Thanks! <These are almost assuredly some species of "featherduster" sedentariate polychaete annelidan (worm). Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm and the linked Related FAQs files (in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

HAWAIIAN FEATHER DUSTERS LOSING THEIR PLUME Hello I had a green emerald crab that developed a taste for my Hawaiian feather dusters. One of the dusters had his plume pulled off but the worm inside the tube is still alive. Can this plume rejuvenate or should I try and put this animal out of its misery? Thanks for your help on this. W Brecht <Please read here re:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm and the Related FAQs (in blue, above). Bob Fenner>

HELP! Large Feather Duster secretion I just bought a 1" diameter, and 4" long "Feather Duster" It is not your garden variety, pink center, with many white "hairs" about a hour after acclimation to my tank, it began to secrete a white silky substance, very string like, please tell me this is reproductive, and not poison <Not likely toxic, but also not likely reproductive. Perhaps a waste product. Bob Fenner>

Come on Feather Duster.. Open Up!!  2/22/03 <Hey there!  Phil with ya today.> Yesterday I purchased 2 feather dusters, I brought them home and set them up. I did the acclimation by floating them to adjust the temp, then took out some of the water and replace it  with tank water. I did that routine 3x. Both dusters were "extended" in the bag as it acclimated. I placed them in the tank an the brown/white one immediately was out, the pink and white one however has not emerged since. This was since yesterday about 2pm, it is now about 9am the next day... any suggestions, tips or anything. could this be normal? <Could take a few days to a week or maybe a bit more!> I have had one duster for about a yr with no problems?? <It just takes some time for the animals to adjust.> Thanks Denise <No problem, if there is no movement in a few more days there is a good chance it may be dead by now.  These little guys can hang on for a while so I doubt anything bad has happened, just adjusting.  Hope this helps and good luck!  Phil>

Feather Duster Saga Hi! I've been writing you the last few days about a Feather Duster that wont come out. <I remember...Scott F here again> Well, I took him back to the store & they gave me another one that is doing fine, but I found a big purple worm hooked to him. I'm sure it's the one that was in the other tube, They squeezed the other tube & said it was empty. <Not the greatest technique...> Now my problem is that my crabs & shrimp are trying to eat this big worm, should I put him in my sump? Will he make another tube? If so out of what? Will he live? Thanks, Steve <Well, Steve, I would certainly get this animal into a safer, more secure place, like a section of the sump... It is quite possible that the animal will secrete a new tube out of mucus and other materials, but this may take time...With a little TLC, and a fair amount of luck, it's quite possible that the animal will make a full recovery...Be patient...Good Luck! Regards, Scott F>

Feather Duster Alive or Dead  - 2/15/03 Hi! I have a Hawaiian Feather Duster that I bought 3 days ago & he has never came out? The LFS says that's normal! <agreed... please read more about these and other interesting polychaetes in our archives at wetwebmedia.com (click Marines, then non-verts, then scroll down to worms)> I think he might be dead. Was wondering what you think? <gently feel the tube of the worm... if it is still alive (likely) it will be firm. Decay will be obvious if not. Losing the feather head too BTW is not a bad sign necessarily... they can re-grow a new "head" in weeks.> Thanks! Steve <best regards, Anthony>

Missing Feather Duster? Its now been 5 days & my Hawaiian feather duster has never came out. Is this normal? Tube is firm. Water quality is fine. Any idea what's going on? Thanks Steve <Well, Steve- it is certainly possible for it to take a longer period of time... There is a certain amount of "shock" and acclimation time required for the animal... If water quality is indeed excellent, I'd give at several more days before getting really worried...Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>

Duster down - 2/13/03 Dear WWM, I gotta say that I love what you guys do here <thanks kindly!> you help a lot of people that were pointed in the wrong direction by advice from unknowledgeable pet shop workers. <from mis-information at large> I have a feather duster I believe it is a Giant Hawaiian. <a challenging species indeed> The worm was doing great for about two weeks  Something strange started to happen the feathers have started to curl inward slowly daily. They also began looking limp as well. It has not yet lost a single feather though. <not tragic if it does... they will regrow> I tried feeding it clam juice thinking it was hungry but it didn't work. I have a scooter blenny and a royal gamma in the tank with him. This is my quarantine tank about 10 Gallons. <could just be duress expressed late from import. Its the reason why we QT for a full month. You are doing fine, my friend. Even if this worm loses its feathers, as long as the worm is alive by the end of the 4 week QT (firm inside tube)... you can put it in the display> Please help, Jimmy <kindly, Anthony>

Re: Duster down - 2/14/03 Dear Anthony, Thanks a million for the speedy reply. <our pleasure> Any idea what causes the feathers to curl inward like a dried up worm <with new specimens there is always the chance that it is simply stress and perhaps the impending ejection of that structure. However, feeding with foods that are too large or viscous also does it (the feathers are gills which become clogged)> can it be two much light from my power-Glo light? <light has no influence on their health here> Regards, Jimmy B <ciao, bub. Anthony>

Bringing Back The Feathers Hey all, <Scott F. with you today> I recently purchased via FFE a nice piece of Bisma rock, water parameters are good, but for some reason some of the feathers have deteriorated, is this normal, is this like a feather duster that blows its cap when stressed, and is there anything I can do? The addicted <Well, when a feather duster "blows its cap", it is usually in response to some form of environmental stress or handling problem. Most often, this happens in response to a rather dramatic environmental change...It is possible for the animal to secrete a new tube, but it will need to be located in a protected area of the tank, such as ticked in a rocky cleft. Even then, it's not 100% that it will come back...It's worth a shot, however. Provide excellent water conditions and it may just regenerate...Good luck>  

There are tubes on my snail! Greetings all, <Good day, Philip, Don today> I've been reading your site for the last couple of months, and I'd like to give a big THANK YOU to everyone here. <and a huge 'Aw, shucks' from me> I have a couple of problems today: First, the basics:  It's a 2 month old setup, just now finally settling down.  No Ammonia or Nitrites, pH is 8.3.  Nitrates are around 10-15. Two weeks ago, I got my last bit of live rock in.  I won't go into the tale about the 2 mantis shrimp.  I still haven't gotten those things out. Here is the deal, though: Something appeared on one of my Astrea snails.  It looks like a worm, but I'm not sure.  It's white, it's a spiral, and it is attached to the shell of the snail.  It has the appearance of a ribbon; it's in a circular vortex pattern.  There is also another one attached to a piece of live rock in my tank.  The live rock came from the Gulf of Mexico, maybe that might help in it's ID.  It's very difficult to describe this, and I don't have a digital camera as of yet.  Do you guys have any idea what this might be? Thanks, Philip <What you describe Philip, a hitchhiker of sorts that came in on the rock/snail/both. You are seeing its calcareous tube/home. Good sign the rock is 'coming back' from the trauma of shipping. Many kinds, but watch as a head of some sort will likely appear. Keep watching as you will be amazed on a regular basis. Don>

- Things on the Glass - Hello again guys! <Hello, JasonC here...>   Yippee!!  I have made it a whole month without asking and pleading for advice.  I think I'm getting the hang of this saltwater thing!  My question is this... upon close inspection of the glass on my tank, there are all these little white curly-cue thingies starting to sprout up all over.  When I checked 'em out with a magnifying glass, they almost look like a snail all curled up.  They are small, white and round and you can see a "circular" type pattern to them.  And they do not seem to come off when I clean the glass with a magnet.  A couple of weeks ago there were only a few, maybe a little bigger than the head of a pin.  Now there are 3 times as many in different sizes on all sides of the glass.  And they don't move at all.  Any ideas? <Yup, it's a calcium-based tube worm who's name escapes me at the moment, but they are perfectly harmless and a sign that things are moving along well in your system.> Thanks again.  Hope I make it another month before I have to write again. Maureen <Cheers, J -- >

Feather Dusters With A Side Order Of Shrimp! Dear Crew: <Scott F. your crew member tonight!> Thanks again for your valuable ongoing assistance! <Thanks for allowing us to be of service. Our ever-expanding crew is happy to assist you any way that we can!> Some quick questions: I very much like featherduster worms, but am planning to put a flame angel in my tank. I understand that it would constantly nip at a featherduster. Can I put a featherduster or two in my 18G refugium? Or will they eat too much there? <Well, I have not personally observed Centropyge angelfish nipping feather dusters in aquariums. This does not mean that the fish won't harass the 'duster, of course! It could quite possibly nip at the animal to the point where it won't open. As far as placing the feather duster in the refugium: I suppose that this would be an acceptable location for the feather duster. However, a refugium by its truest definition is a place where animals, plants, and plankton can reproduce and prosper without the possibility of being consumed by other animals! It could be argued that a feather duster does not belong in a true refugium...But I say- go for it! LOL> I have a Lysmata amboinensis thriving in my main tank (80G). Are any other shrimp (such as Rhynchocinetes durbanensis or Stenopus hispidus) compatible? Thanks, Steve Allen <Well, Steve- I would avoid utilizing the Rhynchocinetes species in your system. They have a propensity for nibbling on some soft corals! A better choice might be some of the other cleaner shrimp, such as the Lysmata debelius (the "Fire Shrimp"), which is a pretty cool little creature (and a bit pricey, unfortunately). I like the Stenopus hispidus (Banded Coral Shrimp), but I've personally experienced them eating other, smaller shrimps myself- and I've witnessed this in other hobbyists aquariums, too. Well- that's my two cents worth on the subject! Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F>

Reproducing Featherduster worm Just to share a reproduction event (I assume) <Actually regeneration. Other accounts posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm and the FAQs beyond> with my Polychaete Worm Sabellastarte?? 15 days ago, the worm expelled the crown or feeding gills, the crown has bad luck because I was late to see the expulsion event, so when I realized the crown was damaged by the siphon.  I let the old tube without gills in its rock and maybe 8 days after the expulsion, a new crown is growing, the old crown had 8-10 diameter cm.s, the new one is just 1.5-2 cm.s now.    Greetings Carlos D?z <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner>

Calcareous Tubeworms Is there any scavenger or treatment I can do to get rid of *some* of those calcium tubeworm things.  I have millions in my tank.  On the glass, rocks, etc. Thanks! J <the problem isn't that the tank needs a scavenger (which might starve after the worms are controlled)... that would only treat the symptom. The best and easiest solution is to simply control the nutrients which are causing them to grow (better skimming., water changes, careful feeding, lighter bio-load, etc). They will then die back and wane naturally and for good. Any predator that would eat them anyways would also destroy your live rock and other inverts likely. Best regards, Anthony>

Calcareous Tubeworms blooming from excess nutrients You mean that my protein skimmer should fill up weekly.  Mine doesn't. <I could probably guess your skimmer brand too. Seaclone... Prism...? Hmmm... at any rate, yes my friend: a well tuned and well designed skimmer should yield a full cup of dark skimmate daily in a tank that is stocked and fed well. 3-5 cups weekly is a minimum necessary from any tank and may not even be enough (as evidenced by algae blooms or blooms of filter feeding Syconoid sponges or worms as you have seen in your tank)> Should I do weekly water changes?  I haven't been.   <monthly is a bit frugal but can work if large enough (30-50%) and carbon is used weekly, tank is lightly fed, lightly stocked, skimmer works well...etc. Else, do consider small weekly water changes (10-25%)> I change carbon monthly. <excellent. Its even better to change 1/4 weekly (same monthly amount of carbon... just changed more often for improved water quality). So much has been written about nutrient control and skimmers in our archives... please do browse on wetwebmedia.com. Best regards, Anthony>

- Feather Duster Question - <Hi Greg, JasonC here... if no one has ever told you, typing in all caps makes people thing YOU ARE YELLING AT THEM. It's also hard on the eyes.> I HAVE A LARGE AMOUNT OF HAWAIIAN FEATHER DUSTERS IN MY 50 GAL. MARINE TANK.  i HAVE FOUR ANGEL FISH, A TOMATO CLOWN, TWO DAMSELS, FOUR SHRIMP, SNAILS, AND HERMIT CRABS.   THE DUSTERS SEEM TO BE TAKING OVER THE TANK.  SHOULD I REMOVE SOME OF THEM? <Not unless they bother you.> WILL THEY BE HARMFUL TO THE FISH? <No.> CAN I GET TO MANY OF THEM? <Not sure I follow...> NEED SOME HELP <Just turn off the caps lock and you're all set.> THANKS, GREG <Cheers, J -- >

Gettin' rid of dusters? Thank you for your response, sorry about the caps, didn't know that meant yelling.   <No problem. It's just very hard on the eyes> The part of my question that you didn't understand was that the dusters are growing and multiplying like crazy.  They are growing and multiplying on all of the rocks, floor of the tank, and the side glass.  They are actually making the bottom of the tank look dirty. <I wish I had this problem. I love the little dusters. If you don't want them, gently siphon them out> How can I remove them to give some away?  Will exposure to the air kill them? <Siphoned them into a bucket or get a fish that will eat them. I would avoid all contact with air as the air can get trapped in the duster's tube> Thanks again for all of your assistance. <The pleasure is mine! David Dowless>

- Excess Feather Dusters - Thank you for your response, sorry about the caps, didn't know that meant yelling.   <No worries.> The part of my question that you didn't understand was that the dusters are growing and multiplying like crazy. <I understood that perfectly - some people would kill to have this problem. It's like the definition of a weed - any plant that becomes a pest. Some people think dandelions are a weed, others make wine out of them. Most people wouldn't find feather dusters to be a pest.>  They are growing and multiplying on all of the rocks, floor of the tank, and the side glass.  They are actually making the bottom of the tank look dirty. <If you say so.> How can I remove them to give some away? <With your hands into plastic bags without taking them out of the water.> Will exposure to the air kill them? <Yes.> Thanks again for all of your assistance. <Cheers, J -- >

Re: x-mass tree worms and purple tang Hello again gents. I have a Porites coral with xmas tree worms all over it and was wondering if I get a purple tang will it try to eat the xmas tree worms? <Your Porites with Xmas Tree worms is likely safe from a Purple Tang, but still not likely to live long term. These are known for dying in captivity. Their secret has eluded the hobby. We are not even sure what the worms eat.> Also do the purple tangs bother open brain corals and hammer, anchor etc.? <No, Tangs in general do not bother corals.> Thanks! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Duster Worm Hi WWM fellows!,  <cheers, Carlos!> Recently I bought a giant feather duster Sabellastarte. It is a nice specimen,  <a beautiful creature, but please don't buy too many of these... they are difficult to feed and keep alive for their full lifespan. They feed on nanoplankton which most tanks cannot provide much or any of. Most of these feathers hang on for a year or two before starving to death. Having a fishless refugium inline on the system will be a great help for producing needed planktons> it has now been 2 weeks in my main tank and still open all the time, night and day. It closes just when a fish is too close or something disturbs the tank.  <good behavior> My concern is that sometimes I can see a white substance coming out from its mouth? in the middle of his crown.  <those feathers/fan are feeding gills> It is like gummy or a elastic white substance, is it normal or is reacting against something... <likely just mucous... a feeding strategy used to trap food particles. The animals sucks it back in and feeds on the trapped particles> One or Two times a week I move the substrate, he looks "happy" when I do that! <yes... very helpful for feeding this worm. You are doing fine!> Greetings Carlos D?z <salute. Anthony>

Feather Duster in Hiding Hi, Just a quick question. I've had my Hawaiian Featherduster for about a week and a half now. From the first time I put him in to about 3 days ago, he was out all the time. Since, it has been 3 days and no feathers, should I be concerned? <I would just watch and wait at this point. Nothing much else you could do, now.> The crown was not expelled and the tube still does feel somewhat firm. <Good signs> I have a yellow tang, blue tang, coral beauty, chocolate chip starfish, and 2 lionfish sharing the tank. <The Coral Beauty Angelfish and Chocolate Chip Starfish both have the potential to prey upon your featherduster.> I haven't noticed anyone picking at the feathers, but then again, the coral beauty was hiding until about a day or two ago. Is her appearance keeping the worm in hiding? <Not merely her appearance, but she could be feeding on the featherduster when you were not looking.> Any help is appreciated. Chris <Perhaps try to lure it out with food. Please search through the www.WetWebMedia.com archives for information. -Steven Pro>

Featherdusters and regeneration Hi, Bob. <<Hi, JasonC here today.>> I am 3 months old to marine aquariums. <<Welcome to the hobby.>> I have a very small (8 gallon) tank with 2 fish, 2 feather dusters, 2 hermit crabs, and 3 snails. <<Wow, that is small... you've picked the hard way to introduce yourself to marine aquariums. Smaller systems tend to take much more diligence to keep them stable.>> Recently the 2 feather dusters blew their feathers, one by one. I saw that the first feather duster's worm was still alive because he occasionally extended out of his stalk. So I am leaving him alone hoping he will grow more feathers.  After the second feather duster blew his feathers, the worm actually crawled out of his stalk onto the sand and covered himself all over with it. He was fine for 2 days, and then I saw his head poke out of the sand while his body was still covered. That evening when I came home, I saw the two hermit crabs eating away at his head! His head became frayed. But now he seems to be covered all over with sand again. I have three questions. First, will he regenerate and have a chance of survival? <<It seems unlikely to me, but there is always that chance, albeit a remote one.>> Second, the worm in the stalk of the first feather duster hasn't peeked out lately -- how do I know if he is still alive? <<No way to actually know for certain, but most times in captive systems, after they shed their 'feathers' they are all done, I'm sorry to say.>> Finally, should I remove anything in order to protect the tank from pollution? <<Remove any loose bits - the crabs will likely take care of the rest.>> Thanks! Marleen. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Dust of a feather Kind sirs, <G'day> I recently purchased two featherduster worms for my 30 ga tank. <hmmm... alas, these are filter feeders best kept in large mature tanks that can support them with nanoplankton/refugiums. Do consider, my friend> The larger of the two was a bit on the shy side, but the duration of hiding when startled has become less and it seems to even tolerate the small children at the tank watching. The smaller one (2" feathers) however has me a bit concerned. It seems like the feathers are always searching. (feathers were even displayed in the plastic bag on the way home from the LPS.) <the "feathers" are gills/feeding appendages and their expression is not a bad sign... a hungry sign... but not necessarily bad> It usually pops back up after being startled...always looked at this as a good sign. Today, while home for lunch I noticed the smaller one's tube has fallen to it's side. And the tube moving as if it was trying to straighten itself out. I thought this would be impossible. <me too <G>> I buried a small portion of the base into the substrate and placed a smaller piece (1" square) of LR on top. <no rocks here... fear of crushing/restricting the body of the worm inside. Please remove... Your dusters live in soft silty mud> Upon inspection of the tube it seems as though the portion that would of been in the substrate has become clear like. (transparent) The rest of the tube is normal in color. (gray) The substrate is 2 to 3 inches of crushed coral with undergravel filter. <likely too coarse but it can adapt in time... no worries> Not sure if it's a substrate undergravel problem or a lack of nutrition which would cause this. <large duster species do indeed starve in most tanks. It is almost certain in your 30 gall... it might honestly take 12 or months to succumb> Both featherdusters did not come attached to Live Rock. <no worries here... sounds like you have a silt tube species> On Sunday I thawed frozen bloodworms in some tank water, sort of crushed with a spoon and mixed with clam juice (store bought juice, juice of clam with salt added) and turkey basted. <only the juice is likely usable... they filter feed finely on nanoplankton, colloidal matter, mucus, etc. Prepared foods offer little or no sustenance (particle size is too large even in the finest minced foods... we need microscopic here). Hence the reason for a large aquarium and refugium, for example, for the natural generation of nanoplankton> Was planning on feeding twice a week but figure the little one is hungry?? <yes... way hungry... daily feeding necessary if such a food was possible. Do try small amounts of "juice" from meaty foods several times weekly if not daily. Watch out for nuisance algae though or pest anemones> Also a piece of Live Rock I have in the tank sort of has a whole in it, where I'm calling it the top. Seems like a perfect place to slide the duster in. Would it be better to move it to the live rock or keep it in the substrate. <A substrate dweller that needs strong random turbulent water flow> Also question regarding placement of dusters in the tank. At the moment I have them across the tank where the power head from the UG filter circulates the water. However this location is where the penguin filter (bio wheel removed) empties into the tank. Will the charcoal affect them??? <no harm> Seems like the perfect question to be researching in your new book!!! Looking forward to it. <thanks kindly!> Also, before coming back to work I felt obligated to straighten him back up. Shortly thereafter he popped out and began searching for food. Should I have left it alone, and let him move where he desires. (the fish have been good so far, and don't think any would have caused it to be on it's side) thank you, Dave <it was quite fine to move it gently... they cannot move much per se but rather will grow into a new direction. Do place yours aesthetically and provide good water flow with hope that it will like the orientation. With kind regards, Anthony>

Re: dust of a feather Anthony, Thank you for being so blunt.  <never fear... I will be candid to a fault. Brand names, opinions, real data and anecdotal evidence alike... hobbyists want/need to know all. No secrets if we are to exceed and enjoy good fellowship :) > I understood that the featherduster was a filter feeder, but got the impression that I could provide the proper nutrients by using clam juice and Dt's phytoplankton. (Some FAQ's mentioned taking a blender to the DT's.).  <correct on the need to whisk DTs and like phyto substitutes in a blender... however the utilization of it by fanworms is marketing speculation at best. Limited research has shown that they feed largely on colloidal matter. Many species employ a mucus net as a strategy. Clam juice is a single "prey" food of limited nutritive use. Aquarists have succeeded in keeping such fanworms with clam juice for more than a year even. However... it leaves one to wonder how much the FD derived at all when it takes many months to starve and incidental sustenance was derived from limited natural plankton anyway and the dissolved organics that abound in most systems. At any rate... the tank is honestly too small to keep a large FD alive even under the best circumstances. There are however tiny white feathered fanworms (some yellow and red too) that are colonial and seem to live with little supplementation in modern aquaria know for high levels of dissolved organics and detritus. You will often see them in sumps and under rocks/overhangs. The large "Hawaiian" duster species that are so popular, however, rarely fare well in captivity in small aquariums> I'm saddened that it's most likely that I could lose them after a year.  <correct... better success with big tanks over 100 gallons (3-5 years success possible). Fishless refugiums in-line will greatly help this/all filter feeders> As for the tank size, I was hoping Santa would be kind to bring me a 70 ga, but as for a refugium, wasn't what I was planning, but it looks as though I need to rethink/research.  <ahhh... refugiums are a tremendous help for so many invertebrates and fishes> As per your suggestion "juice from meaty foods." If I understand correctly, take the handy chopper to some raw- clams, shrimp and fish and siphon some juice for the duster?  <correct... many different meats> (excuse me honey, that lobster is for the duster's not you ? well at least the marriage councilor would get a chuckle).  <HA!> Also, from what I've read through the site, I was going to supplement some vita-chem and Selcon to the fish. Would either of these also benefit the duster?  <yes...somewhat likely. especially the Selcon (fatty/lipids)> As always, It seems the more you think you know, you find out that there is more you don't. <correct for us all... enjoy the journey> Again I thank you, and my fish thank you as well. Dave <best regards, Anthony> (side note to JasonC? thanks for the heads up on the arrow crab. He's back at the LFS. (referenced letter below)

Dust of a feather (again) Hello again, <<Hello... JasonC here.>> >From the length of the FAQ's, and amount I cut and pasted, figured you've been busy, (or you wanted to give me a chance to calm down), I did the Sherlock Holmes thing last night and hoped to catch you before answering my question sent yesterday. Seems like I was blaming the fish keeper instead of the fish. The yellow damsel had (?) a problem with the feather duster. I'm hoping it was a bit of turf war and a rearrangement of the tank will calm her down a bit. Is this a normal behavior between damsels and dusters (or did I get lucky?). <<Hmmm.. well, let's just say it's very normal for damsels. I have been witness to damsel fish taking on scuba divers when they think their territory is threatened. Can be very aggressive fish, the damsels.>> While moving the tank around I examined the larger feather duster and it seems as though the base was similar to the smaller one, however some of the substrate was stuck (?) to the tube, as if (my guess) some sort of secretion to help anchor the duster down? <<Probably.>> While I have you on the phone....Currently my tank a 30 ga is stocked with 2 clowns, 1 falco hawkfish, 1 yellow damsel (maybe not much longer), 2 turbo snails 2 dusters and a Caribbean arrow crab. Not sure about the crab. <<Be careful of these...>> He was free, due to someone returning. <<You should return it too.>> I was assured that my fish would be safe, but after identifying it in your picture site and researching it, not sure if it's a good idea. <<It's not.>> Is catching and eating the fish a possibility or pretty much a given? <<Both...>> I didn't have much luck with hermits, because of the hawkfish, so I'd thought I give the arrow a try. Nice crab and he's doing a fine job cleaning the bottom. But beginning to worry about the fish. <<It will likely turn its attentions to the fish once the bottom is pristine.>> I know the tank is pretty much stocked out and have it in the works to upgrade the size of my tank (thanks Santa). My fish are pretty much set except for the addition of a long nose butterfly. (Forcipiger flav) The question is would a 55 ga tank be sufficient? The butterfly would require 20 ga to himself and not sure if I should jump to a 70. <<The larger, the better... always the case with fish tanks.>> The only additions that I have planned in the future would be some inverts (around march). Thanks again, and my fish thank you, Dave k <<Cheers, J -- >>

Fun with Larvae Hey WWM. Thanks for the quick response last time. Anyway, I looked in my tank this afternoon to find perhaps a hundred tiny (1/4 of a pinhead) white circles stuck to the front glass. They are attached by the central disk, and have 6-12 radial tentacles, each about equal length to the diameter of the body-disk. The tentacles seem to just float free. They are shaped like a button, not like a feather duster, and the tentacles do not withdraw if touched. I am think they are some sort of larvae. The inverts (that I know about) are a few Hawaii featherdusters, 8 Astrea snails, some tiny Turbo snails, a little sea urchin, two colonies of Cluster Dusters, a Elephant snail (antipodes), and a Cerianthus tube anemone. About a week ago I observed the Cerianthus producing a slime/mucus containing small black specks (eggs?). Any ideas? <<Scrape one of them off with a fingernail - if it feels like a tiny rock, tightly glued to the glass - it is indeed a feather duster. Related, obviously, to your large Hawaiian residents, but not the same thing. The bloom is very, very common in aquariums, usually between 3 weeks and 6 months from initial setup. It will subside with in a week or two, and you may see an occasional "dot" now and then from here on out. If it's very soft, and slides right off the glass, then we can think of something else, but I doubt it. Cheers! Zo>> Thanks for your time, Simon Luffman

Polyps, Worms, and Coral... OH MY! Hello again WWM staff.  Is Bob STILL on vacation?;-)  <yep... I'm guessing that he is stripped to the waist, wearing a grass skirt and making risqu?shadow puppets on a beach by firelight as we speak> Hope this finds you all well.  <well... thanks. As good as I can be without being on that beach> Thanks for your prompt answer to my last question. Just wondering if it is possible to have too many Feather Dusters in a tank at one time? <generally not... they are fine filter feeders. But their presence and proliferation indicates that you have a nigh level of dissolved organics in the tank which can be a problem in the long run> It appears mine are multiplying and we already have several tiny ones. Due to the fact that Sun Polyps also inhabit this tank I am sure they will not die of a lack of food.  <ahhh... understood and very fine> What are the draw backs to so many Feather Dusters?  <the possibility that they will form a Union> How do we know when it's too many?  <when the family dog is missing> Also, is it possible to overfeed Sun Polyps?  <very unlikely... each polyp head needs fed almost daily for optimal health> I understand the repercussions of too much food waste in the tank itself but as long as that is under control can the polyps themselves overeat? <unlikely> Just a few more while I have your attention: We recently bought a potentially sick Hammer Head (coral-I think is the proper title, versus anemone, right?). <correct... a stony coral (scleractinian)> His name is Sigmund Freud, and he seems to be thriving now. Has grown to at least twice original size.  <not grown my friend... polyped out. I suspect that his corallum (skeleton) has grown little if at all> Will he remain in his "shell" if he continues to grow?  <it grows with him> Still some room for growth in that one. Or will we suddenly see baby Freud's popping up to play with our Feather Duster's?  <have you been drinking tonight?> We learned, from experience, unfortunately, that Freud has a very nasty sting.  <it is a serious issue with human health! Enough repetitive stings to your hand (or any other body part regularly dangling in the water) can induce anaphylactic shock in time. Serious indeed> Will this affect the fish in any way or only careless anemone's?  <they are aggressive and will sting and kill more animals than not. Still... most are smart enough to stay away> Thanks again for all of your time and advice. Respectfully,Wylde_At_Heart <Humorously and sincerely, from "Runs_in_tight_shorts" (formerly Anthony Calfo) sitting here answering e-mail with my cat "Dances_with_mice" (formerly Zorro)>

Featherduster Research Kind Sirs, <<Greetings...>> Thanks to your site I have learned the importance of research prior to stocking the tank. I am currently looking into adding (2) featherdusters to my 30 ga tank. The confusion comes in on how to properly feed the dusters.  Your section on Worms, Featherdusters suggest clam juice and grinding brine shrimp. In some of the FAQ's I've noticed a lot of reference to DT's Phytoplankton. I think that I've discovered that the source to a happy duster is to turkey baste either a clam juice cocktail or phytoplankton.  Aside from ordering DT's online, and lack of brine, is there much merit to Kent's "micro-vert" or "Phytoplex" that I can purchase at the LPS. <<Not much merit at all... nothing live in there, and often an algae bloom in a bottle by the time you get it, been sitting on the shelf too long. Clam juice will do just fine and can be had in the grocery store.>> Any particular Kent product over the other. <<Neither - nor...>> From what I've read on DT's is also a good source of plankton beneficial to live rock and can promote growth?? <<Is true, but the particle size of DT's may be a little large for these feeders - has been suggested to run the stuff in a blender before feeding.>> Not sure if the Kent products do the same. <<They try but miss the mark by a long shot. DT's is really the good stuff. Oh, and don't forget the clam juice - you could always squeeze your own :-P >> Any help would be greatly appreciated, also looking forward to the crews new book "Reef Invertebrates" <<Ahh good - it promises to be a good one.>> thank you kindly, DaveK <<Cheers, J -- >>

Feather Dusters Hi WWM Crew! <<Hello, JasonC here...>> First timer for salt water and asking a question on your site. I visit your site daily now, found it days after we got our 55 gallon and just can't get enough of it - you guys are great! <<I'm glad you find the information useful.>> Have searched through your FAQ's for Feather Dusters and found only one question specifically relating to mine "Feather Dusters Going Mad" I think was the "title". I too have two beautiful feather dusters that this morning began emitting clouds of... well off white clouds.;-) The answer on FAQ was not very specific and I am a little concerned. First timer jitters I'm sure. <<Quite likely.>> What are these clouds. <<Hard to know for certain without a microscope... there are only one or two possibilities...>> They continue to emit them even as I write this. Reproducing? <<Ding! Or at least my guess as well.>> If this is a feather duster orgasm we should regard them as gods.;-) <<Not really, if you think about it for a minute, there are a number of marine species and even some terrestrial insects who create gametes/eggs/offspring/spawing-attemps for the simple matter that a very large percentage of them will never make it. Only way to survive through a mortality curve like that is to breed better than rabbits.>> Please help. My local fish store has proved to be inconsistent with their info and no one could ever know as much as you guys! Thanks for ALL of your help you continue to be a source of both inspiration and peace of mind. <<Glad to hear we are helpful.>> Laura  <<Cheers, J -- >>

Bisma Worm? Hello current on-duty correspondent, <Howdy> My LFS has a piece of live rock with what they are selling as a "Bisma Worm" in it. It appears to me as number of Christmas tree worms - Identified from Bob's book (Spiro something gigantea?) <indeed> They have had this rock for a number of months, and the worm's) is thriving, even growing in their reef tank. I've seen many corals perish in this tank over the last few months. The rock has a few polyps growing on it, and some feather dusters, etc. also. <very challenging creatures to maintain... filter feeders that need dissolved organics to survive... enough that most folks struggle with nuisance algae in an effort to supply them or watch the worms starve within a year because they fail to do so> So, is Bisma another name for the same species?  <a common trade name for many such fanworms> How hardy is this creature? <one of the most difficult... I would never recommend them to a casual aquarists. For a species specific or research tank OK> I read here that Christmas trees are difficult to keep long-term. It appears to be flourishing in less than ideal conditions, but is it probably starving to death slowly? <exactly the latter my friend. Many can hang in for up to a year> Thanks for your time and insight.<best regards, Anthony>

Re: Bisma Worm? Anthony, <cheers> Thanks for your quick response, I had feared as much. I'm on the "1 organism per month" stocking plan right now, and had considered it as my August purchase. I will stick to the original plan. <much better> While I have you, I'd like to discuss my stocking plan if that's ok... <sure...> 72 gallon, 160W of NO fluorescent right now. Ammonia and Nitrites are zero, Nitrates 10-20ppm. 50lb live rock. Ph 8.4-8.6. Currently, I only have 1 800gph pump as the only circulation. Amiracle CC skimmer (hang-on model mounted in sump), produces about 1/2 gallon of lumpy goo per week. My current stock includes: 1 large vol. lion, 1 large maroon clown, 7 large hermits (hairy legged), 7 turbo snails, 1 serpent star. I do not plan on adding any more fish. (it will be a dark day when the lion gets big enough to inhale my clown...) With the lion, I don't think I want to go with more lighting intensity. <hmmm... really not a necessary limitation, but OK> I understand that these hermits are not reef-safe, and I will remove them if need be. The LFS doesn't have a selection, so I took what they had. I am slowly adding live rock, a small piece at a time - cured in a 5g bucket w/ heater, light, skimmer, and powerhead. This spreads the financial burden, and I expect should lend to greater diversity over time. <a good practice at any rate. Kudos> I've read that I should have up to 1 serpent star per 10g, but will probably just use 4 of these or so, because of my light fish load. <don't worry about such rules for stocking with these starfish... they are easily fed and maintained in any number> I would like a Purple Linckia, but will probably opt for a hardier Fromia species. <very wise> I would like to get a mushroom, and place it high in the water column where there is less movement and more light. <possible... do use regular chemical filtration to keep water clear under these modest lights> I also like urchins, and am considering/weighing the option of getting this with/instead of the mushroom. <most are excellent algae grazers... avoid the slate pencil though (meat eaters)> Please suggest any other animals that I should consider. Ideally, I will stock to this level, and wait 6 months or so, and evaluate for the addition of more inverts. <wow... so many choices. Do pick up a marine encyclopedia or field guide to narrow the choice of interest. How about something like the Indo-Pacific Field guide or like reference?> My main concern is stocking order. My LFS doesn't have a consistent stock, or consistent quality. I would like to stock the rest of the tank based on availability of viable specimens. The last additions have not caused any measurable change in the water quality, so I expect that I can add these animals in any order - as long as I do it plenty slowly. Thank you so much. <best regards, Anthony>

Hawaiian Feather Dusters Hi! I recently added a Hawaiian Feather Duster to my 75 gal reef tank about 1 month ago. It was fine until about a week ago. It still peaks outs but doesn't seem as lively or as uniform. I was told to add Kent Chormaplex about once a week which I have been doing. Is there a better food?  <yes... many better foods. If you choose to use this bottled "green water" from Kent and any like it, know that it must be shipped and purchased in a fridge and held refrigerated at home. It must be less than six months old (and dated with a born on date) and it must be whisked in an electric blender to get particle size down EVERY time you feed it. All of this has been illuminated in independent studies by the likes of such fine industry folks as Dr Rob Toonen. The bottled green water manufacturers conveniently seem to forget to mention this application protocol... else the particle size of said product is almost useless if you are feeding it straight from the bottle. Please check out the links below... so much has been written on this topic> Considering it's an invert- is there something else I should be doing to maintain its liveliness? I try to target it with a feeding syringe  <yes... an unnatural feeding technique especially if close by. Featherdusters are inappropriate for most tanks. Best left in the ocean or for nutrient rich species specific displays> but it closes up every time I get near it. Any suggestions?- Thanks Nick  <read on my friend... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/featherfaqs. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/featherfaqs.htm>

Re: Feather dusters.... <as above... but the "piece of worm" with it is disturbing. It should only be the feathery gills... the worm stays inside the tube if it is alive and can/will regrow the feather within weeks> Also As I have just noticed the worm is still alive and seems to be doing fine,  <heehee...fine other than the fact that it just expelled its food capturing apparatus/gills (!). It will regrow on reserves> I can sort of see it when I was looking at them, I saw it peak a little out. As to the feathers should I take them out ? <yes, my friend... please do discard the feathers if nothing in the aquarium seems inclined to eat it> thanks again..... hopefully I won't have many more problems soon... <yes...best regards, Anthony>

Feather dusters.... Hello again, I emailed a few days back about my tank and what tank mates would be acceptable in my tank. So on Friday evening I went out and bout a few things, 1 Brittle star 2 Snails and 3 Feather Dusters... But know 1 of my feather dusters has blown its top Know I know this is normal,  <not normal per se... but common with these worms when subjected to stress. As a new acquisition... your featherduster likely shed its feathery gills because it was a very recent import to the shopee and the move to your tank was the catalyst in a string of impositions to this animal from shipping duress...OR... if it was somewhat established at the shop (days to weeks) and had attached such that it had to be torn free from it substrate, then you have your culprit.> but 2 things. 1. The crown is Intact and it seems to have a bit of worm with it (A little 3-4mm of black and the crown whole) did it reproduce or just lose it feathers for what ever reason (It was the biggest of them too, the overall size was at least 1 1/2 inches in length compared to the others at 2/3 inch) <as above... but the "piece of worm" with it is disturbing. It should only be the feathery gills... the worm stays inside the tube if it is alive and can/will regrow the feather within weeks> 2.If it is a new feather duster what would it need to make a new casing for itself I'm using about 2inchs of crushed aragonite (the stuff that has shells and such in it) from what the shells look like they need something else, if so what, and how can I add it so that it will fins it, I was thinking something like a "Sand Box" for it so that it may get a new shell. <Most tube worms need VERY fine sand/mud/sediment to make a new tube... although some will indeed use coarse media. Perhaps a small dish of fine sand submerged in the tank for the critter is in order> also just because I'm semi paranoid, is the feather duster all right or is it stressed from moving, because I figured it would do this within a few hours of being put in if it was stressed, also it was the only one of the three that almost never went back inside I thought it was just more social than the others.... Also for feeding I went to the link and found the feeding (I don't know how I missed it....) I've read and re read and I just don't get it, so do I make a paste and spread it near the feather duster or near the opening, or am I supposed to make more of a liquid concoction of shrimp, krill, and some other things and just spray it at them. It was just a tad bit confusing, so far I've made a liquid concoction that has been blendered for like 15 min.s so that all the peaces were tiny, Am I doing it right? <many recipes for attempting to feed fanworms. All should be ultra fine and fed VERY sparingly. A suspension in seawater blasted no closer then 6" from the worm would be my attempt. In fact, many fanworms cannot eat much of this product organismally, but the dissolved organic components of it will be useful. They may also feed on mucus and floc in the water from other invertebrates> thanks for all the help again, All the other tank mates are doing fine and seem to be enjoying there new homes, especial the brittle star, he has taken over a small cave in my tank. <excellent! Best regards, Anthony>

Feeding during cycling Hi all, <<And hello to you.>> I'm in the process of cycling a new tank with live rock only. There are a bunch of feather dusters that came with the rock that I would love to keep around and I'm wondering if they will survive the cycling process. <<Perhaps, but even if this batch vanishes, there will surely be some more.>> I know this may sound dumb but....should I feed them? <<Not a dumb question at all, but in this case, because you are cycling the tank, I wouldn't add anything just yet.>> Feather dusters are way cool :-). Wes <<This is true, part of the fun of live rock is all the stuff that comes along with it. This fauna [including your feather dusters] will come and go many times over the years... this is quite normal. As long as the tank conditions are favorable, the feather dusters on your rock will persist. Even if cycling knocks them out, baring other chemistry problems, they should make a rousing comeback.>> <<Cheers, J -- >>

End of the feather duster hi, y'all -- <Cheers, mate! Anthony Calfo here> first off, thanks for all the past advice that you generate on a daily basis for all of us! simply amazing. you've made the hobby much less stressful and much more enjoyable for hundreds (thousands?) of us. <ahhh... thank you, and yes... as many as 6,000 unique ISPS in one day some days! Bob has built quite a site here indeed!> next, I have a question. I have (had?) a feather duster that was doing very nicely until one day I noticed it in the claws of one of my brittle star fish (I was told by my LFS it was a harlequin brittle star -- white and grey banding with splotching on the body).  <I am indeed familiar with it... a lovely Atlantic species and generally quite reef safe> the star had apparently grabbed a hold of the top of the worm and disappeared with it under a rock.  <I wouldn't be surprised if the worm wasn't suddenly weak or dying. Most people cannot sustain these musosal feeding worms for much longer than a year... at least not the larger "Hawaiian" type species. Small cluster species actually do quite well filter feeding> all I could see were the feathery tops, so I don't know if he pulled the body out too... so now I'm left with the casing of the worm sticking out of the sand, and wondering, is there anything in there?  <just gently squeeze it... if it is hollow... sans worm> will it regrow a top,  <if only the feathery gills were popped off yes> or is this an empty case, rotting and fouling my water?  <a silt/mud tube would not foul your water at all... but a dead worm inside would and would explain why this typically harmless starfish was scavenging> any wisdom, much appreciated. -Todd <do see if the tube is firm with worm... if so, without signs of decay... have faith that a new feather top will regrow within weeks. Occasional stirring of the sand locally may be helpful for feeding fanworms. Best regards, Anthony>

Feather dusters Hello, it's me again. <Greeting, Kat!> I have a question re: 2 feather dusters that I have had for several months. I read the info on the site, but it didn't answer my question. My feather dusters are small, tube is less than 1/2" diameter, and were picked on by a butterfly fish, that they told me wouldn't bother them. The "feathers" were growing back nicely, but I have noticed that the "feathers" seem shorter, and their tubes are frayed at the upper edge. should I be adding anything to my water, other than the feedings, to help support these guys? I'm baffled?  <the worms may end up extending their tubes or building new ones altogether... don't be surprised. Beyond a soft substrate to help this (no chunky "gravel"), goood water changes and occasional feeding with phytoplankton will be fine> They still come out and fluff their feathers, so I'm not sure if there is a problem? Any help would be much appreciated. <sounds like a typically slow healing process for the fanworms...no worries> Tank mates are: 2 yellow tailed damsels; 2 percula clowns; 2 flame scallops; 1 Lawnmower Blenny; 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 cleaner wrasse, and 1 sebae anemone. <in theory, the scallop will benefit from the phyto feeding as well... but it is a very challenging animal to keep alive (less than one year in captivity likely). Consider adding a seagrass refugium to the display in-line. This will generate much natural plankton including bacteria, aliotoms, zooplankton and more. Anthony> Kat

Feather Duster worm emitted web-like substance when moved - did I kill it Dear Bob: <Anthony Calfo in your service> After checking your site I can't find anything on this problem (I could have missed something, though - I apologize if this is already covered elsewhere). I have a cow fish that suddenly began eating my feather duster worm.  <really a natural thing for this fish to do... you were lucky to make it as far as you did without a bushwhack> In an effort to give the feather duster a fighting chance, I tried to relocate the feather duster in between two live rocks. I was hoping the horns on the cow fish would make it not fit between the rocks and put the worm just out of reach. <interesting> Well... I picked up the worm and found it attached to a piece of rock. No problem - I took the rock too. When I sat the rock down I may have squashed a small part of the worm/tube that was attached (is that actually the worm or part of the tube?)  <yes...the worm is always hidden...we see the feathery gills/feeding apparatus> Within seconds there was a ton of cobweb-like stuff floating through the tank. All the livestock is wrapped in it and they aren't happy.  <issued under stress or otherwise as a feeding strategy (mucosal nets...but not this time)> The worm is partially sticking out (about 3/4") and doesn't retract when I touch the tube. Did I kill him?? <very stressed or dead, yes> I am going to continue to watch him for now and hope for the best. <if dead, it will "rot" quickly...please do remove> Also, could you tell me if it's normal for a cow fish to lose the tips of it's "horns", ours has lost them all in the last week. Is it possible it's sick?  <very possible... I truly wish most cowfish were not imported. They have very specific needs in captivity and belong in species specific tanks in my opinion. Most die within two years if they even make to see one> We've been feeding a mixture of flake food and freeze-dried brine shrimp. Could it be a lacking something it needs nutritionally? <yes, my friend... the diet is woefully deficient. Feed very little brine shrimp (nutritionally barren) and go much heavier on substantive meats (Mysid, krill, etc). If you haven't already done so... please read Bob's book, "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and focus on sections covering feeding (including homemade foods) and how to handle challenging species> Your site is truly awesome. I will be adding it to my web site (http://www.animal-pages.com) to make sure more people know about it. Thank you so much for any help you can offer. Wendy Milonas <best regards, my dear. Anthony Calfo>

Question is it DEAD? (Featherduster Worm) Hello Bob, Nice webpage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm on feather dusters-tube worms. Though I could not find an answer to my question any where on the Web. My question is This morning I awoke to find the head or at least all the Bristles of my feather duster fluttering around at the bottom of my tank. It was seemingly Healthy the day before with quick responses, Is it dead? <Please read through the associated FAQs file: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/featherfaqs.htm  Bob Fenner>
Christian M. Schmidt



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