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Bristle/Fireworms FAQs 2

Related FAQs: Bristle/Fireworms 1, Bristle/Fireworms 3Bristle/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

Filograna implexa in N. Sulawesi.

Bristle Worms Hi Bob how are you. <<I'm not Bob, but I am well... thanks for asking.>> I have a 115 gal. salt water tank. I noticed the bristle worms. But the thing is I have over 100 in the tank should I start to get rid of some of them. <<I wouldn't bother... or perhaps just find a fish that would enjoy the live food and help keep the worm population in check - perhaps a six-line wrasse.>> Please help me. I have asked other people through the internet but no one will respond back to me. <<I don't think you have anything to worry about unless these worms are the size of a pen or pencil. It just means good things are happening in the tank. These populations of organisms have a way of keeping themselves in balance. No worries.>> Please help me. From Krystal <<Cheers, J -- >>

Bristleworms Hello, how are you? <Just fine, thank you.> Today I fed some Mysis shrimp to my tank inhabitants and a couple landed on the live rock that didn't get eaten. About an hour after lights out I noticed a large bristle worm that came out of that rock that the Mysis landed on. I have never seen him before. He looks like the picture at the top of the faq on bristle worms. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm Except he is white (slightly pink) and his legs are farther apart than the one in the picture. He is about 4 inches long. I don't know whether I should just let him be or try and trap him and get him out of there. <Leave him go.> I don't want him to start killing my live stock. <Why would he?> Can you give me some advice? <He was merely doing what bristle worms do, scavenge.> Thanks for all your help. I have really learned a lot from studying on your site and from your answers to my questions. Kevin <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Bristle Monster Hello, My reef-keeper friends all seem to have a love for keeping bristle-worms in their tanks and don't seem to understand why I hunted a single bristleworm that I could see at night in my tank. I have a 60 gallon tank, and one night I came out to see a worm stretched from the sand to the top of a rock about 16 inches away. So I set out to bag this monster with a pair of kitchen tongs, but man was that thing fast. It would recoil and disappear into the sand within a blink of an eye leaving a dust cloud of sand in it's wake. Well, after two weeks of hunting this monster, I was finally able to snag it as it was wrapping itself around a snail which was on the glass of my tank. The bristle worm was 26 ? inches long and about as thick as a pencil. My question is: was I wrong by yanking this worm out of my tank (and subsequently destroying it before flushing it into the sewer system) or should I have left this thing in my tank? I mean I haven't lost any crabs (other than maybe a couple of hermits-though the other hermits may have been the culprits) or fish and all of my corals seem to be doing fine. I've heard that these worms are great for your substrate, but just kinda got unnerved about having a two foot long creature roaming the sand of my 4 foot long tank. Thanks, Greg <Greg, To be sure, not all Bristle worms are "bad". Most will eat only necrotic flesh so you don't typically have to worry about them eating livestock. A good rule of thumb is to leave them alone unless they are destroying something. However, given the size of your specimen I don't think I would have hesitated to do the same thing.-Dave Schmottlach->

Bristleworm... no worries Hi, <cheers> I was wondering if you may be able to identify this creature. After reading through your faq's ( thank you for all your wonderful/useful information ), I think it is some kind of worm. When it was first spotted it looked all red with "bristles" all around it. After a little surfing I thought I had a fireworm.  <nope... just a common bristleworm. They can be helpful detritivores and useful in the sand fauna as long as you don't overfeed or undercirculate the tank allowing their population to explode. Many wrasses and Pseudochromids will eat them anyway. Other fishes too. Enjoy in the meantime> But after watching it more I don't really know. I did my best to get a good photograph of the bugger.  <very fine> I even managed to move him to a cup - easy because he was hiding in an empty Astrea snail shell. After looking more carefully, it looks like it may have legs on both sides. What do you think?  I hope it is something useful. If you think it is dangerous, please advise too. <overrated as dangerous. More good than bad. A healthy tank benefits by some... simply be careful to not overfeed> I can't thank you enough for all the great work you all do, Mike <our great pleasure, Anthony>

Another Bristleworm Question <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> I've just found what I believe to be a Hermodice canunculata bristleworm (looks just like the pic on your web page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/worms.htm) in my reef tank that's been up and running for nine months now. I saw about four inches of it, the rest was hidden in the rocks. My tank is a 36 gallon bow front with a 20 gallon sump.  What's the bottom line, is it going to harm my corals or critters, should I try to remove it or leave it be? <<I wouldn't think so... these are mostly detritivores. Reports of these worms killing and eating corals are mostly exaggerations and misinterpretation of the circumstances. When spotted "eating" a coral, it is usually because the coral was already dead or dying and the worm is just taking advantage of an easy meal. More often than not, you're better off with these in your system than without.>> How do worms reproduce? <<Very well...>> I don't want millions of them in there reproducing. <<I doubt there is a chance of this... there are a number of reasons a population of worms will stay in check. And I do imagine you have a fish or two in your tank that would appreciate the snack, yes?>> Currant tank population is two cleaner shrimp, two peppermint shrimp, one six line wrasse and one Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica ) and a number of blue leg hermits, turbo snails, Cerith snails and Nerites snails oh and can't forget an emerald green crab who I get to see once every two weeks. <<There you go... that six line will help you keep the worm population down to a dull roar.>> I closing, I'd like to thank you for a great website, you have no idea how helpful it has been to me a newbie on the reef scene. <<Glad we are able to help.>> Thanks again Tom Stange <<Cheers, J -- >>

Bristle worm behavior Hello Mr. Fenner, <Actually Steven Pro (part of the www.WetWebMedia.com crew) in this morning.> My name is Tori and I work full time with fish in the aquarium trade as head of a large fish room here in Washington. My question to you is, have you ever actually seen a bristle worm eat? <Not really eat per se, I have seen them scavenge around. Most that I have witnessed are rather small.> (I have the classic bristle worms in every picture, the red with the black ends, and white, spaced, bristles) I have a fifty gallon reef that's been up for approximately one year. I have a few fish (no more then seven inches total) coral, clams, shrimps and lots of filtration (as I said, its my business ;)). I have just embraced the bristle worm invasion in my system, and just decided its my little eco system no matter what, and if its nothing but Caulerpa, rock, and bristles, so be it. <I find most bristle worms to be harmless to beneficial scavengers. The seem most prolific in tanks that are over fed, as there is then an abundance of food for them to scavenge.> That said, tonight I was sitting looking at the tank, and noticed one of the very largest of my "pests" (9 3/4 inches because I measured him) <A rather large individual.> and all of the sudden it took a huge "bite" of Caulerpa! <Interesting! You would not have happened to photograph the event?> The mouth looked similar to a snails mouth with the disk teeth. Then it seemed to avoid the large copepods moving around it in the sand, and the little brittle stars too, and went back to the exact same branch of Caulerpa after painstakingly searching it out and finished it off! <A series of pictures of this would be great!> I was just floored! <I am a bit surprised, too. They are omnivorous, though.> I thought they eat clams and coral. <Mostly detritus, extra/uneaten food, etc.> So, I was hoping you may know of at least on other person who has actually seen one eat. <I have seen them swarm dead fish, but nothing like what you are describing.> Thank you again for all your time. live, swim, grow ~Tori Craig <I try to do the living and swimming part as much as possible, but I do have to try to stop the growing (mostly width-wise) now. -Steven Pro>

HELP - Bristleworms Dear Sirs, I have an invasion of these nasty creatures in my relatively new second tank. White with black and red markings....been told they are harmless? <Most are, but without a picture, I cannot be sure.> What in the way of livestock can I add to a tank containing only Green Chromis at the moment will help me. <Fridmani Pseudochromis or a Six-line wrasse could be helpful.> There are 50+ and trapping would take forever. HELP........ Regards, Steve Tope <Good luck. -Steven Pro>

Webs Hi Crew: The other day I noticed what looked like spider webs coming off of this new piece of live rock. Taking a closer look I saw that they are coming out of these tiny tube shaped things. They are only on the new live rock and I don't want them to get on the other rock (I don't like the look of spider webs in my house or my reef). Any information on this and how to get rid of them. Thanks. Rich <Very likely this is/these are species of tube-dwelling (Sedentariate), polychaete ("bristle") segmented worms (annelids), aka "Spaghetti Worms"... and not a problem. I'd leave them be. Please see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm and the links there for info. and pix. Bob Fenner>

Worms, larvae, spreading fast (polychaetes) Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> This is my third time contacting you for information and I appreciate the time you take to respond. When something happens which I do not understand, or am unable to identify, I come running to you. We all do for that matter. We should be sending you a yearly advice donation. <single dollar bills would be most helpful for the spending preferences of this crew... hehe> My 30 gallon reef has been doing great. The current livestock includes a Percula Clown, Dottyback, about 9 scarlet red hermits, 40 or so lbs of live rock, as well as a recent addition of a torch coral, which has been doing quite well. Water quality is great. My question is an identification one, and I left my digital camera at work so I won't be able to get you a picture until tomorrow (if that would help). <no problem... most of my multiple personalities have a great imagination> Within the last 3 weeks or so I noticed some small, about 1/4 to 3/8" long, spiral, squiggly worm like buggers attached to the tank glass (very scientific terminology coming from a biology major, eh). They resemble thin cornucopias tapering from thin and threadlike at one end, and getting slightly wider at the other end with a reddish top at the wider end. In the last few days I have notice a huge bunch of them, attached to the glass, behind a section of live rock ( I didn't notice them 3 days ago). There must be about 20-30 of them in a bunch. I do not see them moving at all, I've sat and watched for about ten minutes now. They seem to be very flat, they are not attached each is a single organism. I realize the diversity here, they might not even be worms, but I figured you might know what I was talking about by description. Let me know if you might have any ideas. I will send a picture ASAP. <likely a Serpulid worm species...check out some of the neat incidentals from live rock and reefkeeping at this link: http://www.reefs.org/hhfaq/pages/main_pages/faq_rock3.htm> Thanks, Torrey Charlestown, RI <best regards, Anthony>

Bristle Worms? Robert, <Steven Pro this evening.> I am hoping you can tell me something that I have not yet found. I have an established salt water/reef aquarium of a little over 2 years. The bottom is lined with crushed coral. When I look really close where the glass meets the coral I can see little worms that look half orange/half brown. I'm guessing these are not good. <Quite the contrary. Most bristle worms are beneficial detritivores.> The bad news is, I bought all my live rock from my local fish store (of which I thought they cured it). I also have quite a bit of coral and am now in a panic. <No need to panic. These guys have probably been in your tank for quite a while now and doing no harm.> I have 2 bristleworm traps set up in the tank, but by the looks of how many I see by the glass they will be able to reproduce quicker than the traps will catch them. (so far I've only caught 1). <You are quite right.> Basically all the info I've found has lead me to believe I'm screwed and unless I take out all my corals, they will become dinner. <You are reading the wrong material. Take a look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/worms.htm and the various linked files.> The leathers and colt are attached to some big pieces of live rock. Is there anything else I can do? Do I need to panic? <No> ps....I have a yellow tang, royal Gramma, 6 line wrasse, flame angel, and maroon clown. Corals....frogspawn, cabbage, pagoda, leather (2), colt, red polyps, trumpet, meat and 2 anemones. I really appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks for your time. Victoria Notz <I hope I have calmed you some. If you wish additional references, just let me know and I will give you a few more citations to appease you. -Steven Pro>

Worms Is there any web page that you know of that contains pictures of the types of bristle worms and which are harmful and which are good? we have quite a few in our tank but the only one that bothers us is on that seems to be very large. We have seen about 7" of him and we seem to be having inhabitants missing either all together or parts. thanks. <Start with the WWM page on Bristle worms and then go on to the Hitchhiker Id link. This should give you a good idea. Also, Dr. Ron Shimek's webpage is on the WWM links page. Truthfully, the vast majority of bristle worms are beneficial scavengers and it is an internet myth that they eat corals. It is far more likely you have some Nudibranch, parasitic snail, mantis shrimp, etc. Please reply with who was damaged and how to narrow your search.> Also if we could just get one of your books (which I just found out about) which one would you suggest. My daughter has hard and soft corals, clowns, damsels, several crabs, starfish, shrimp and an anemone. <"The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" is a book all marine fish keepers should have.> Thanks, Faroneve <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Bristle Worms Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> This is more of a curiosity question....I've had a saltwater tank (40 gal reef) for about 5 or 6 years now. There have always been at least some bristle worms in the tank from the live rock but since I lost my pseudo springeri 6 months ago they seem to have multiplied quite a bit.  <yes... the Pseudochromids are wonderful predators on this slightly annoying pest> Tonight I came home a little late and the lights had been off for awhile, but when I turned the room light on I noticed in the tank about 30 or 40 tiny (1/2 inch long) bristle worms frantically wriggling about in the water column (the larger adult worms in the tank are 2 or so inches long). I have never seen this before and I've looked at my tank quite often after the lights have been out for a while. Any ideas what was going on here? <Mardi Gras would be my first guess... but at any rate, the many segmented worms found in reef systems, including small bristle worms, can actually be a great benefit to the substrate (much like garden worms in soil). If they bother you, put another natural predator in... else, control them by careful feeding practices (they can be easily controlled with skimming/starving)> Thanks, Chris Donovan <best regards, Anthony>

Identifying Bristle Worms Hi Jason, now it's back to Tamara, <<Hello. Ok, let's go...>> I have to say this again, thanks for your kindness in spending time to help diagnose what went wrong so we don't make the same mistake again. <<You are quite welcome.>> Per your question, our protein skimmer, which hangs on the back, is a SeaClone and is supposed to be good for up to 100 gallon tank, ours is a 46. <<I'm not really a big fan of these - fancy box, poor performance/design. The fact that it collects next-to-nothing means something. A good quality skimmer with the inhabitants you had should have required weekly cleaning.>> We really haven't had to clean out the skimmer, only once after about 6 weeks we had 1/10 of an inch in protein build-up. We cleaned it last night, haven't changed the water yet, and there is nothing in the skimmer. (Per your advice however, I do have buckets that have been prepared and will make the change after it sits overnight....thank you) <<sound good>> The corals have survived but are wilting, and the brittle star is the only "moving" survivor, not counting the fuzzy worms (please pardon the lack scientific term). Glad you said those are not bristle worms. <<Egads, I re-read our original conversation, and perhaps I mis-identified them. I think of centipedes as more bug-like than worm-like, but that's just me... Don't panic - answer one question, are they long and thin or short and fat? As long as they are long and thin you are ok - these are the "good" kind of bristle worms.>> Thanks again Jason for all of your advice! Respectfully, Tamara Jorgensen <<Wow, sorry about the bad id on those worms, but with any luck, these are no big deal and you can continue with the water change plans. You may want to look into a better skimmer. Cheers, J -- >>

Follow-up on Identifying Bristle Worms Hello Jason, <<Hello>> Oh no, I looked this morning and cannot find either of them (maybe they just come out at night, which is when we originally seen them). <<well, keep your eyes out, I'm sure they'll be back.>> After I had written the original note to you I found some long, thin, multi-legged ones, purple like in color and some short fat multi-legged ones brown in color. Do I have a mixture of good and evil? <<does sound that way>> Thanks again.... Respectfully, Tamara Jorgensen <<Cheers, J -- >>

There's a Special on Worm ID Today! <<JasonC here, filling in for Bob while he's away diving.>> hi! I have a 90 gallon reef tank set up for a little over 1 year w/ 90 lbs live rock. I put 50 lbs of fine sand &ordered 10 lbs of GARF grunge from GARF, I know notice what looks like earth worms tunneling through the sand when looking from the bottom, they are 6-7 in long I couldn't believe how big they are. Are these worms depleting the quality of the sand? <<I don't think so, these sound like the beneficial bristle worms.>> I have noticed my sand star sometimes goes on the glass looking for food, I am worried that they are removing nutrients from the sand that is causing the star to go looking elsewhere. <<Seastars are just like that sometimes, no worries about the worms taking his food.>> This website is a god send for me there is so much helpful info here. I wish I knew of this place before I set up my tank, it would have saved me a lot of time & money, thank you so much for spending your time trying to help us beginners get on the right path. <<Thank you for the kind words, Bob will most certainly appreciate it.>> Kevin <<Cheers, J -- >>

Questions about Mystery Worms Hi Jason, <<Hi>> I do appreciate your prompt response to my E-mail! I also apologize for the lack of specificity. I have both types of worms. the "spaghetti worms" I wrote about refer to the long filamentous ones. The "bristleworms" I referred to were a couple of the shorter (1"), fatter, "hairy", caterpillar type worms. <<ok, you need to try and get those out. The spaghetti worms can stay.>> Both live on the same rock as the star polyp and those "bristleworms" dance on the polyps. Water parameters look good (all other soft corals Xenias, fingers, colts, & mushrooms doing fine) Incidentally, some corals have been freshly introduced and appear to thrive under my conditions (& the polyps were closed before new coral introductions). Lastly, I dose the system with Kent products (chelated iron, calcium, iodine, strontium-molybdenum) in amounts according to instructions, which again seems good for all involved. <<sounds ok to me.>> I hope this helps you to help me, and thanks again for the benefit of your wisdom. --Brad <<Hope that helps. Cheers, J -- >>

What about those Bristle Worms? Jason, sorry last thing, <<ok>> I have read Robert's book and it doesn't say anything about Bristle worms only that they are dreaded. <<there are both good and bad bristle worms - the bad ones should be removed.>> Can I still proceed as planned with the 50% change of water? <<don't let bristle worms stop you from doing a water change.>> No more questions thereafter....promise. Tamara <<Cheers, J -- >>

Large bristle worms in the reef tank Hi, Guys, <whassssup, Marc?> What's your thoughts on large bristle worms in a reef tank?  <just wanna hug 'em> Say, something like the 12" monster I removed from my tank last night? <or grill 'em> I know they can get bigger but that's big enough for me. I haven't noticed any coral predation or any problems but based on Delbeek and Sprung who seem to be anti-large bristle worm, I removed him. Now, I'm wondering if I just removed a harmless scavenger. <I would agree with the later... Fireworms from the Atlantic can be a problem (as were common with Atlantic live rock when Jules and Charlie wrote their books)... but common bristleworms are no big deal for the most part. Still...12" is a doozy> D&S seem to suggest most of the big worms can be a problem. Some of the discussion groups seem to think some are just big scavengers. Myself, I'm inclined to believe this was just a scavenger, perhaps made larger by the fact that I have a V. puellaris goby that probably eats most of the small ones (I don't seem any worms in the substrate like I do in my other tanks).  <agreed> The theory being that rather than having lots of small ones, I have a few big ones who have managed to escape the goby. Or maybe it is just a different type of worm. Anyway, I'm not too keen on a worm that large in the tank.  <yes> Seems like a waste of bioload if nothing else. I'm sure there are plenty of other smaller ones to do the job. And the thing was heavy, probably as heavy as any of my fish or more so. It was a form of nutrient export to remove ;-) (Maybe culling Fireworms isn't such a bad nutrient export come to think of it) <hehe> Just wondering what your thoughts were on this. I'm not one for yanking critters from my tanks. I tolerate a number of miscellaneous crabs, worms and snails. Only other thing I ever pulled was a snail I thought was a checkerboard-Zoanthid predator (probably wasn't). I tend to just leave the tank be. But that monster worm was both a surprise and remarkably catch able so out he came. <have you thought about taxidermy for it?> There's a picture here in case you haven't seen enough pictures of big bristle worms...http://www.four-hands.com/Marc_n_Renee/fishtank/images/fireworm_3.JPG Thanks, Marc <Mmmmm... good eatin'. Anthony>

Parasites? Hi ya Bob, <Hello Mario. Steven Pro "speaking".> First off, let me tell you that I got rid of my tube anemone as you suggested. I must admit I was sad to see it go, but my mushrooms have since opened up almost twice as wide as they were before. Now I have another, slightly more distressing problem. I have been keeping up with my tank maintenance, but have noticed a couple of different critters starting to inhabit the glass walls of the tank (I'm sure they're everywhere, but they are easily visible on the glass.) The first species is some sort of worm, I think. It looks like a small, white, curled up tube with a small feathery head. I wouldn't be worried except for the fact that they are starting to multiply. <These are tiny feather duster like worms. Nothing to be worried about.> The second is a tiny, tiny (I had to look real close) white speck organism that darts around at high speeds. These little guys have appeared within the past day, so I don't know how quickly they're reproducing, but there seem to be a lot of them already. <Again, nothing to worry about. These tiny crustaceans are called Copepods. Both of these are actually good signs of a flourishing aquarium microcosm.> My fish (same as before only now I have a beautiful sohal tang, too) appear to be flourishing still. Any information / advice would be great. I appreciate the service you are performing for all the question-ridden individuals out there, like myself. <It is nice to be appreciated.> It is comforting to know that we have somebody watching our backs. Thanks again, Mario. <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

Menacing Bristleworms? Bob,<You caught Steven doing his shift tonight.> I have a 3yr old, 180 gallon tank that I have been slowly moving to a reef tank. About a month ago I started adding my first hard corals. One of which was a beautiful, purple tipped Elegance coral. During the last week, I noticed that it was not extending during the day like it had before. This followed adding some new soft corals. I had placed a Colt coral pretty close and just thought that it may have caused the Elegance to draw up so I moved the Colt. That did not help. Two days ago, I noticed many bristle worms on/in it after my light went out. I then suspected them. After reading a few comments on the net tonight <Most people on the net believe a bristle worm can come out of your tank at night and kill you in your sleep.  Too many deaths/problems are attributed to these creatures, IMO.> I had become convinced that these pests were in fact eating the coral. <There are many different bristle worms, but most are beneficial scavengers.> I rushed down to my tank, opened it up, fanned the Elegance coral blowing tatters of flesh out and my beautiful coral dead. I am so distraught. It was so awesome. About 5" long and only about a week before was fully extended and looking magnificent. <My best guess is that the coral had some sort of infection from shipping.  These corals have razor sharp septa (the skeleton underneath the tissue) and do not appreciate being banged up against the side of a bag or placed on rock.  You can read more here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elegance.htm> I must rid my tank of these pests! How can I most effectively rid them, keeping in mind that I have several pieces of soft coral and 3 other pieces of hard coral. I was sooo careful to make sure my tank was an acceptable environment for these hard coral, only to be eaten by these menace worms! <If you insist on attempting to rid your tank of these worms, try an arrow crab, six-line wrasse, or Fridmani Pseudochromis.  But I still believe that your coral was dying anyway and these worms were just being the opportunistic scavenger that they are.  -Steven Pro> I have 5 Yellow Tangs, 1 Blue Hippo Tang and 1 Arc Eye Hawkfish. Thanks for your help. Kevin

Bristle Worm Mush Dear Mr. Fenner <Actually, you reached Steven Pro today working his shift answering questions on WWM. Anthony Calfo and I are helping out for the time being.> I was wondering if it would be possible to put bristle worms through a blender and make them into a mash to feed to my fish instead of just getting rid of them. Would it be possible? <It would be possible, but I wouldn't do it. Number one, if your fish wish to eat bristle worms, they will hunt them down for themselves. Number two, bristle worms mostly are not harmful and can be a quite beneficial addition for scavenging, so I would not get rid of them. And lastly, who wants to put bristle worms in their blender. My wife would absolutely kill me.> Thank you. -Jolene <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Trying to identify reef animal Hi Robert, Help! No one seems to know what this thing is that I got in my live rock last weekend. It pokes it's black head out of a hole in the coral and grabs food that floats by. It is all black, except for a white band around the neck. It seems to have 2 eyes that are external - like a crustacean? <Maybe> It also has 2 feelers. <Okay> People have told me it could be a bristle worm, but it does not look like a worm. It looks more like a centipede, with a rigid, segmented body, and it has many legs - not bristles. It moves rigidly in and out of the hole - I've seen at least 2 inches of it. It's not like a worm at all. <There are many types, species of worms...> Also, it comes out in the daylight, and seems to be drawn out when we shine a flash light on it. Well, I'm not making this up. I'm going to try and make a video of it tonight and take that around to people. What have I got? What could it be? Thanks a lot! Scott B. <Please read through the various "Marine Invertebrate" survey pieces posted on WetWebMedia.com  Bob Fenner>

Bristle worm (and Aiptasia eradication success!) Dear Mr. Fenner I read a previous article concerning glass anemone eradication using a vinegar injection. I used this method and found it to be a huge success. Today I noticed a big bristle worm in one of my rocks. I tried baiting and waiting it out, but no success. Then I thought I'd try injecting it with vinegar or injecting vinegar into its cave - I tried the latter and out popped the worm - 15cm long - I then netted it. <Thank you for this "data point"... Full strength white vinegar? How did you administer it? Bob Fenner> Jolene

Re: Bristle worm Good Day Mr. Fenner It was normal white vinegar-the kind you use everyday at home. I used about 1ml in a syringe and squirted it into the bristle worm's hole. <Ahh, thank you for this. Will post on WWM. You may have saved many people a great deal of grief. Again, thanks. Bob Fenner> Jolene

Fat Bristle Worms I read your questions and answers every day and I can not tell you how much help you have been to me. I think I have avoided a lot of problems by reading the daily facts and questions every day. <I know I have by trying to respond> I do have a question about bristle worms. I read several of Jason's answers (while you were diving) to various people about the fat bristle worms and they were not desirable. I have seen fat bristle worms in my tank, but to date they have posed no problems. I do also have the spaghetti sized bristle worms. I have a flame hawk and a long nosed hawk as well as a six line wrasse. What is the problem with the fat bristle worms. I never read anything that told me why they were not desirable? Maybe I missed something but I want to learn. <The fear is that larger (fatter) species, individuals might prove too predaceous> I have a 30 gal w/protein skimmer, (2) 301 power heads w/quick cartridges and 1 Penguin Bio Wheel outside filter 300. I have the above mentioned fish and 1 skunk clown as well as 1 blue yellow-tailed damsel. I have various fragments of soft and hard coral. My water parameters are very good. I don't know whether to be worried or not. <I would not worry> Thank you for all you do for this very enjoyable hobby! <You're welcome> I intend to purchase you book! I do spend a lot of time printing your articles so I have them for reference. Susan in Atlanta <Ah, I hope they help you as much as they have helped me in their production (leading forward). Bob Fenner>

White hair worms? Hello again, Thank you again for all your help in the past. We have started the conversion of our fish only tank to our reef tank. With the purchase of our first piece of coral we are already being amazed. We bought a piece of live rock with some brown polyp coral on it. After a few days in our tank we noticed at intervals there were numerous hair like white projections that go in and out of the rock once they have 'caught' something that drifted by. I believe they are attached to tiny worms. I read the worm section and couldn't find anything that matched. Any ideas of their identification and are they harmful? <Likely some species of annelid, polychaete worms. No worries> Also, in the rock was a stowaway crab. He is red in color, body is about 3 cm, not a fiddler and seems to pick the rock and break small pieces off. I could not find him anywhere either. Does he sound okay or will we soon start loosing fish to our uninvited guest? <Hard to say at this point. I would leave it be> Last question, for this week :-), we have recently been loosing snails. I have seen a hermit crab crawling on a snail. Do you think this is the criminal act of my lone hermit, or is it more likely that our new red inhabitant is to blame. I know this is not a court of law. Thanks again, Christine <Who could say? Perhaps a flashlight vigil at night? Bob Fenner>

Strange thing growing on my rock Hi This is my first marine tank and your site has been a great help in answering some of my Q's I have found a 'thing' growing on a LR in my tank (pic in attachment) and was wondering what it was. I was thinking it might be some sort of tube worm as it retracts completely in to the rocks at movement. it could only be about 5 mm or so. <Does look the feathery crown of some species of Featherduster/polychaete worm to me too> Also I have some algae I cant identify either. one is a sort of vibrant purple violet colour and there are only two small oval patches of this on the glass, On some plain rock there a red freckles. and there appears to be some sort of red slime algae as well. <Do agree here as well. "Some sorts" of algae... many possibilities.> Thanks for any help Ross <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Little white c's on the glass of my 39 gal reef tank I have some very small, a little bigger than a pin head, hard growths that look like little c's on my live rock and glass. They look like a worm or something could be in them but I have never seen anything moving. <Good observation, guess... very likely these are small tubiculous polychaetes (worms)> They are quite hard to remove and are becoming unsightly. Do you know what they could be? How do I get rid of them?  <Mmm, they likely will "pass" with succession, aging of your system... You could keep wiping down the viewing panels... or place a fish, like a Toby/Sharpnose Puffer, Ctenochaetus Tang, Salarias or Atrosalarias Blenny (though the last groups mainly eat algae, they'll clean these off in the process of scouring... Growing macro-algae in a sump, the main tank would inspire populations of predators, competitors...> The snails, fish, emerald crab, starfish etc. seem uninterested. You had a similar question of FAQ but I did some research on the calcareous tube worm and found only X-tree worms which don't show what they look like when very small.  <Only one of many hundreds of species...> The ones in my tank never seem to grow any bigger. They just multiply all over everything. Thank you for any information. Carol <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Fireworms and coral Good Evening, Mr. Fenner. I e- mailed you yesterday regarding Fireworms in my aquarium. I'm sorry I should have been more descriptive. I read in your book that they can attack corals. <Some species, yes... most mainly only if very hungry> I have noticed recently that a flowerpot coral that I been having for about a year and half has dwindled down to almost a shell. Just a few polyps seem to open. Could this fireworm be the culprit? <Possibly but not likely. This genus of corals, Goniopora do generally "melt away"... not an easy group to keep, despite their popularity and commonness> If so what would you do to get rid of it? <Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm> My others corals seem fine for right now. I have tried to get him out but this seems to be a hide and go seek contest between us. Whatever advice you give would be greatly appreciated. I would like to personally thank you for all of the great advice you have giving to me and other aquarist alike. Not to mention a great set of books!! Thank you for your time. Ryan H. <Thank you for your input and involvement. Bob Fenner>

Fireworms Hello Mr. Fenner, I have a question regarding Fireworms. I have noticed them in my substrate for a while but none seemed to big to be a problem (about a quarter inch) but last night I seen one about a inch and a quarter. I have a boxer shrimp, cleaner shrimp Foxface and a couple of gobies. would any of these be natural predator?  <All possibly> If not what kind of predator should I get? or should I try to set a trap? <Maybe... but don't panic just yet... if this gets to be a BIG problem (several inches, several specimens) we'll talk. Could be a small species, few in number... more likely beneficial than not. Bob Fenner> Hope to hear from you soon

Worm problems Hello- Thank you so much for your website. It's the best. <Thank you. As the ads say, "Tell a pet-fish friend"> We have a flatworm & bristle worm problem. Here's the specs: <Hmm, was just down at the local Public Aquarium with Zo taking pix of the former pests... on Corallimorphs/mushrooms> 125 gal tank, approx 100 lbs. live rock, 10K Metal Halides & 4- 65w blues (9 1/2 hrs./day), eco-filter with 20 gal sump, chiller, temp: 76, hitting 81 in heat of day, 2- 1200 Maxi-Jet power heads in tank, Coral sand. "Main" inhabitants: Torch coral, rose bubble anemone, Yellow Tang, Scopas Tang, pair of ocellaris clowns, Derasa Clam, Banggai Cardinalfish, green Brittlestar, black Brittlestar, {baby Brittlestars-lots}, pair of cleaner shrimp, pair of peppermint shrimp, several crabs, snails etc. The flatworms are brown with an orange/red spot in the middle. They are beginning to cover the live rock, sand and mostly stay near the bottom on the glass. They don't seem to bother anything, but the numbers are getting large. <This does happen...> As for the bristle worms, I have noticed some BIG ones in the tank as of late. I don't think they are bothering anything, but I see babies everywhere I look and am thinking problems are on the horizon. <Yikes... how big is BIG?> Any help you can give is greatly appreciated. Thanks so much, Erin McMillen <I would likely try baiting, trapping out the larger/est bristle worms... and ignore the smaller ones... and leave the flatworms be... they will likely "cycle out" on their own in time. On the site: http://wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Worms Hi Bob, It's Joyce from the chat forum. I haven't posted this to my fishy chums yet, but I will. I wanted to get your input also. I have recently become aware of some worms in my tank that are pink on the ends (about 1/4 in and then turning a purple/brown color). Some are very small about 1/2 to 3/4 inches long but on careful examination deeper into the tank I saw some that are about two inches long. I'm not sure if this is something I should ignore or if I should be alarmed. <Even at this size, if not too numerous, doing obvious damage to your livestock, no real problem> There are several in rocks surrounding a fairly new Bubbletip anemone that I have. It is not doing as well as I believe it should be and there are times when I see it all balled up and puffed up and wonder if the worms are bothering it. Should I attempt to move the anemone? <No to trying to move this anemone... if it were inclined to, or need to move, it would do so of its own accord> It usually comes out pretty far on the rock and the tentacles plump up, but other times, it seems to hide further in the rock and not plump at all. I'm at a loss. <Do you feed it? I would... about twice a week, something meaty> These worms hide in the rock most of the time, but when I feed brine shrimp and frozen Formula One they come out and latch on to something to eat. They get awfully close to the anemone when they're out. I checked out WWM on "worms" but I didn't see or read anything that sounds like these guys. <I "sorted and identified benthic marine invertebrates (my group, Errantiate polychaete/worms) for two years as a grad. student/slave laborer... for dredge spoil analyses... We would have to have dozens of folks to help us with just "worm questions" if we wanted to be "up to date"...> My current friends in the tank are 2 false Perculas, a neon goby, a scooter blenny and a lawnmower blenny. Nobody seems interested in these worms. I also have at least one peppermint shrimp. (I bought two but I have only ever seen one since I put them in the tank, and I don't see that one very much!) <Do consider "raising the bar" here... getting a boxer shrimp (like Stenopus, Coral Banded) or a Cirrhilabrus, Pseudocheilinus, Paracheilinus species wrasse... This is the next step I would make> Thanks for your help as always. I know you and Zo will be having a good time even if you are moving. <You are correct... wish you could come out and lift too :)) I hope Di can put up with both of you at the same time! ;) <We'll soon see. Bob Fenner> Cheers, Joyce

Live Rock problem Hi bob, I recently wrote to you about my malachite green problem, which my tank has made a recovery from. I have a 38 gallon Berlin system reef tank with 30 lb of live rock, and a 20 Watt fluorescent light bulb. A couple of months ago I noticed the development of white spots forming on the backside of the tank which are about the size of a grain of sand, difficult to scrape off, and in the shape of a nautilus. I was not concerned about it to begin with, but they have begun to show up on the live rock, and appear to be killing it. Is this possible, or is it caused by poor lighting, and how do I get rid of them if I need to do so? <Very likely these are tube-building/dwelling worms of some sort (probably Sedentariate polychaetes) or perhaps encrusting snails... and likely not a problem, nor a/the cause of waning live rock health. These too will likely pass in the evolution of your set-up, but do check on the basics of biomineral content, alkaline reserve in your system, and keep up the dynamics of your system with regular maintenance. Oh, and see the WWM site for the "i.d." link for unknown invertebrates posted in the bibliog.. section and links for marine non-verts. Bob Fenner> regards Benjamin brown, Boston ma

Really big worms!! So my tank has been set up for about six months and it's look'n good...with your help... and I just love to see all the oddball things that come up on the rock or what my fish and other marine denizens are going to do next.... But just in the last two or three days I have noticed these worms...bristle worms. Some of them are very pretty, pink and orange and gray/purple, others are a dull gray. Now I've read how you feel about worms, and I have read in other places that these worms are a good thing Although more often I hear and read the "KILL IT NOW!!!!!" philosophy) And I decided to let them be...but now I see them all the time, especially when I feed the other critters. And while the pink ones are scarce and rarely seen (except when they wander too close to a flower anemone and get eaten) the gray ones are huge!!!!! <Hmm, how huge is huge?> And there are a lot of them in there...well to my thinking any way. There must be at least five of these sea monsters in there and it worries me that they might take a liking to something that I want to live in my tank like my fish (while no expensive they are dearly loved) I have also noticed that the sponges that came in with the live rock and were flourishing up until a just a while ago are being ravenously eaten (including a white sponge which I think was the scourge of another writer in one your QandAs) I wouldn't mind so much but there are some really pretty red ones that were (I stress Were) flouring more so than anything else. When I asked the LFS they said that it was probably the worms.  <Maybe> I thought it might be my angel (Singapore) But he doesn't really gnaw on the rocks much and pretty well ignores the red stuff....he hides a lot but the tank sits in an area where I can see it all day. So unless he's sneaking bites while I'm out in the garden.....And even if he were It generally happens at night, the lose of sponges I mean. So are the worms the culprits? <Could be the Angel...> If so how do I get rid of them?  <A bait or a baited trap... read about: http://wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm and FAQS beyond on the WWM site> I would like to set up a reef tank/refugium under the main tank and I heard that these worms eat coral...heh what else do they eat....... <Some species different things... there are thousands of types... very large ones are a good idea to remove... Bob Fenner> Thanks for all and any info. Whitwyrm

Bristle worms (I think) Dear Mr. Fenner, <Hey there> I recently became aware of what I am guessing are bristle worms in my tank (it was pink, centipede-like with some black, which I am guessing were its guts, about an inch long). <Yes, likely... "they're everywhere"> I have a 38 gallon semi-reef tank with some tangs, a clown and a royal Gramma, a bunch of hermit crabs and snails, an emerald crab and a star fish, a xenia and the end of a carpet anemone (it seems to be dying).  <Yikes, not easily kept... see the WetWebMedia.com site re their health, links> My filtration consists of about 25lbs of live rock + sand, protein skimmer, ozone filter, and particulate mechanical filtration. I don't want to have worms in my tank but I imagine that if there was one there are a lot more eggs and ones that I just haven't seen, right?  <Mmm, not necessarily eggs, and no real worries with these worms... Most are much more friends than foes...> How do I get rid of them while they are still small? <There are a few ways, approaches... and consider just letting them be... very likely no problem... and your livestock will keep their numbers in check. Bob Fenner: read over this link... http://wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm> I appreciate your help. Sincerely, Cara Muscolo

Worm? Identity Bob: The other day I was walking on the beach in Ocean City, NJ when I saw what at first appeared to be a discarded cellophane cigar wrapper. Upon further inspection I found it to be a transparent "worm". It was on the wet sand about a foot from the water and appeared to be heading for the water. It was about 1/2 inch wide by 6 or 7 inches long. I didn't inspect it close enough, so I don't know if it had cilia and I didn't look to see if I could see any internal organs. Any idea what it was? Merv C. <Hmm, could be a few types as in actual phyla of worms... but most likely one of the many                       Errantiate polychaetes... akin to what folks in the aquarium interest lump together as bristle                        worms... also includes the "Fireworms" used as bait on your coast... so you were wise not to                       handle this specimen.... it's cilia/podia can be painful to the touch. Bob Fenner>

Re: Worm? Identity Bob: I located a book on east coast sea life and the closest I saw picture of in there was common named "Venus girdle" which the book says can get to five feet long, but most are much smaller. I told you, I think, that this one was about 7 inches long. The book also said it is oceanic and tropical, so I don't know about this since Ocean City, NJ certainly is not tropical. <Though many tropicals do occur this far north on the U.S. eastern seaboard... this indeed may be              the animal. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your help. We'll narrow it down sooner or later. Merv C.

I always seem to come back to you! :) Bob, I have searched and searched and I still have some questions...hmmm let me remind you of my tank first( you get too many questions to remember mine exclusively) <Or anyone's...> 72 gallon bow front 68lbs of live rocks 2 1/2 inc live sand wet/dry Eheim 2 power heads (one on the top of the water for aeration) 1 Prizm protein skimmer (just when I think it works like crap it fills up with stuff after a plankton add) <This product has proven difficult to adjust...> 1 heater 1 blue leg hermit crab 1 algae blenny 1 scooter blenny 3 damsels (2 yellow tail) 1 light blue 1 cleaner wrasse (new) 1 coral angel new) nitrate less than 10ppm @12.5 mg nitrite 0 ammonia 0 ph 8.2-8.8 usually right at 8.4 salinity .023 temp 77-79 (although we tried a new light and the temp hit 82 within 41/2 hours) now the few days after that temp mistake we lost a damsel and a wrasse (although he was new) Now we are loosing snails from 10 down to (as of last night) 3... the tomato clown got ich...dead and as I was trying to right a snail last night with the flashlight a bunch of what looked like copepods (the whitish bug like things about 1/8-1/2 inch long scurried away...Are these what my scooter is supposed to eat?? <Likely yes... as time goes by, appetite allows> cause his mouth looks too small for these creepy things...also one day while feeding a huge I mean HUGE bristle worm came out of a purple rock the width of my pinky finger and the length (and I am guessing here) was approx 5-8 inches...he totally crept me out...my husband thinks he is cool and does not want to catch him despite my telling him the horror stories I have read online...can you help me here??? <Please have your husband help you to bait/trap this worm out... maybe put in a sump, another tank... for "his" display... Will likely get larger still, cause some trouble...> Finally, we did not know that our live rock needed plankton once a week... <It doesn't...> until yesterday I wonder what else we do not know despite reading all the time...and we also just changed our lighting to 100% actinic and 1 50/50 but it seems dim...do I still need a full daylight with the 100% blue?? <Not necessarily...> Thanks again for the help and any other advice you may have for a fledgling...:) hugs to you Gina (still grieving over my tilefish that jumped out and wants to do better as a fish mom) <I know re these... don't look they'd be capable... sorry to hear of your loss... And do try to retain that "good scientific mind" (tentative, semi-cynical) when considering disparate opinions on "how to go about" any given aspect of our hobby... Do consider all point by point, and their underlying principles... and then decide for yourself PER YOUR SYSTEM and livestock what is the route you want to take. Bob Fenner>

Clavularia sp. damage Dear Robert, Recently, I have watched my once blooming waving hand anthelia (I think it's your common brown Clavularia sp.) in my 30 gal. tank recede into its tight fisted polyps never to open up again. I first thought it was due to some water condition issue. However, I noticed at night, when all the lights are out, that there are small worm like creatures (perhaps 1/4in. in length, white and smooth, tiny pair of antennas) all over the Clavularia. These worms are proliferating and systematically attacking the Clavularia. It seems as if there is no hope of salvaging the Clavularia.  <Not so fast... do look into a Pseudocheilinus wrasse here... a four or six stripe if it were my choice. Please read over the coverage of this Wrasse genus on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and get one soon... the end of these worm pests> However, in an effort to successfully introduce another Clavularia into my tank, I would like to know what these worms are and where they came from.  <Likely some sort of Errantiate polychaete ("bristle worm", there are thousands of species)... and likely from your live rock> More importantly, is there a biological means of controlling them - i.e., introducing some type of shrimp? Final note, these worms do not seem interested in my other corals, soft or hard. I would appreciate any feedback and/or thoughts. Best regards. Joe. <Try the Pseudocheilinus first here> Joe Hayashi <Bob Fenner  
Mysterious visitor Hello Bob, I love your site/FAQ...Very informative. <Thank you> I am relatively new in the reef keeping hobby, having taken a 5 year hiatus from the reef and venturing into the freshwater world (what was I thinking).  <If you live long and well enough you will go back to goldfish...> Needless to say, I'm back, and oh how things have changed. To start things off, I have a TruVu, 46 gallon, flat-back hexagonal aquarium. I have a 3 1/2 inch DSB without a plenum, and 50 lbs of "nice" Fiji LR. Lighting consists of 4X55watt PC in a 1:1 ratio of Actinic vs. 10K bulbs. This system has been operating for about 4 months now and water parameters are good. I am currently running this system without a skimmer, planning on managing organics by removing surface scum with a power filter, and frequent water changes.  <Do try running a skimmer for about a year or so... and again with addition of new live rock (to bolster your old, the system... opinions on this on the "Live Rock" parts of the WWM site>... you will be amazed, grossed out perhaps, and happy you didn't take the bet with me that "I'll pay for the skimmer if you'll agree to drink the collectant it removes for a week"...> Since set-up, I am seeing a lot of macro algae growth, (even some nasty Valonia) <Not so nasty> both green and some that appears to look like the product called "Tang Heaven" (not sure of the real name). I have had the common diatom bloom but it seems to be slowing as the green stuff takes charge. <Yes> Current occupants include 1 sally light-foot, 1 red-leg hermit, and 1 black/white striped damsel that is a character, very friendly. My plans are to add a clean-up crew (details undecided) and possibly an Atlantic Blue Tang. Then I plan to let things stabilize for a few months before bringing in any corals or additional fish. My question (finally) is this: I have a habit of observing the system after lights out (under dim lighting) to see what the night life is like. While doing this the other night I noticed a very strange critter cruising around the reef. It appeared similar to a bristleworm, but was white, about 1 inch long, appeared to move via hairs that lined its body, and had two black eyes. Where this thing was also different from any other worm I had seen was that it was really fast. I had trouble following it around as it swam frantically about the reef. It was even able to swim right up to the output of an 802 powerhead on full throttle. Have you ever seen such a critter, and should I be concerned? <Very likely a species of "bristleworm" (Errantiate polychaete annelid)... and likely no trouble... unless this worm gets really big, numerous in number, I'd ignore it> I realize that the vast majority of hitchhiker organisms are not dangerous to tankmates but thought it'd be a good idea to check it out. I tried to get a photo for you but had one serious problem...remember the Damsel I mentioned earlier...I had the lights on too long and he was quick about grabbing a midnight snack. Oops! I guess I don't need to worry about that little visitor, but just in case there are more....... <Thank you for your lucidity, sharing. Bob Fenner> Many thanks, Jason Harris  
Need information on a recent critter infestation! Dear Mr. Fenner, <Hi there> I am what you would consider a saltwater newbie. I started my first tank (a 30 gallon) about 3 months ago. Thanks to a good local fish store and your fine website and FAQ section (which I read everyday), I feel that I have learned a great deal, am even more excited about the hobby, and have had a successful and fruitful start to the hobby - Thank you. <Your statements are exactly why we have made, continue to make the site. Thank you> Let me tell you a little about my set up before I continue. I have a 30 gallon FOWLR, about 17 lbs. liverock, DSB (about 4 inches) power head, protein skimmer, and basic penguin BioWheel OB filter. Only one standard bulb, but I put tinfoil around it. I have the following livestock in the tank: 2 Percula Clowns 1 Royal Gramma 5 blue leg hermits 1 sand sifting start 2 snails (not sure what kind) Just a few days ago I noticed that there were hundreds of these tiny little spiral shaped white things mostly on the glass of my tank, but also on the live rock, and in the sand. I attached a picture of them I found on a fish message board in a post with some people talking about them. The consensus on the board is that they are a feather duster, but I just wanted to make sure with you. It was also said that they need very good water conditions to prosper and I just have tons so I hope this is a testament to my water quality? <No worries on all counts... Yes to likely being some type of tubiculous polychaete worm... will "cycle" out in time> Here are some questions I have about them 1) How big will they get, and how long will it take them to get big? <They're likely about as big as they will get. There are small to huge species in this group (of segmented marine worms)> 2) There are A LOT, should I get rid of some how? How? (I don't like killing things, but they are awfully small and would be hard to "round-up" to give to a store or something.) Could I sell them? <No to commerce here... I'd wipe them off the viewing panels, otherwise leave them be... as I say, "the next" thing will be along shortly that will consume, compete with this life form in your system... you will see> 3) Can I remove them from the glass (maybe when bigger) and put them on the LR where they would be more out of the way and natural looking (not on glass)? <A good idea to try> 4) If I do let a bunch of these things stay in my tank, how many do you suggest I keep? <The ones that aren't on the viewing panels.> 5) I was told they will straighten out (un-spiral) when they get bigger. Is that true? <Doubtful> 6) How did they get in the tank in the first place? (I noted them just all of a sudden.) The appeared about 24 hours after I introduced the royal Gramma which I had to get into the tank by leaving a grapefruit size piece of coral skeleton in my tank. At the fish store I bought him at, he wouldn't come out of the coral so they let me borrow the coral to get the little bugger in the tank. Could that many (hundreds) have hitch-hiked in on that?!?!? <Yes, or their progenitors... or on foods, in the shipping water... many possibilities> While I am at it, I have little red spots (about the same size, but look more like bits of jelly) on the glass as well. What are those? <Many, many possibilities... crustaceans, sponges, stinging-celled life... other worms groups...> Sorry I had so many questions, I like to make sure I know what I am doing as there are real lives at stake in the hobby. I appreciate your time and your help. Thanks. <A pleasure my friend. Let your marvel at the living world guide, teach you. Bob Fenner>
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