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Bristle/Fireworms Compatibility/Removal FAQs 1

Related FAQs: Worm Compatibility, & Polychaete Compatibility 2, Bristle/Fireworms 1, Bristle/Fireworms 2Bristle/Fireworms 3, Bristle/Fireworms 4, Worm IdentificationPolychaete Identification, Polychaete Behavior, Polychaete System, Polychaete Selection, Polychaete Feeding, Polychaete Disease, Polychaete ReproductionLined Wrasses,

Related Articles: Worms, Polychaetes, Flatworms/PlanariaLined Wrasses

Murder death kill...help!!!  12/30/2005 First, you have a great site here!  Second, I have read most of the previous postings on bristle worms and while some situations are similar to mine I still have some concern.  We have a 35 gallon tank with live rock, 2 mating clowns, 1 baby clown, 2 anemones, <This system is too small for two anemones other than Condylactis> a tetra, <...?> a fire shrimp, various small snails (the big ones have been eaten by the worms) and 3-4 hermit crabs.  We had a blenny but we suspect he jumped to his death after being attacked as he sat in his favorite rock (he was my favorite).  In a smaller separate tank (my bosses' 5 year old daughters) was the baby clown mentioned above, a peppermint shrimp and the same live rock.   We are both novices and when we noticed these worms we figured in addition to the starfish the live rock gave us maybe these were an odd little addition to our community.  That is until the peppermint shrimp was mutilated in front of the little girls eyes. These worms actually attacked in formation, smaller ones grabbed its legs and held it down while the larger worms ripped it to shreds.   <Yikes!> Needless to say we were all a little traumatized after that, so we bought a small wrasse.  Which after eating the worms attacked the baby clown (again in front of her eyes) hence "little Nemo" ended up in our tank.  There were suggestions out there that peppermint shrimp eat these worms... maybe ours was just passive? <Maybe... perhaps other food stuffs are more palatable, available> We are now skeptical of other predators but the trap thing isn't working. I have watched the largest worm on the big tank (at least 10 inches) he's smart.  He only gets half of his body out of the rock so that he can eat at his leisure and then holds on when you pull the trap out so we never get him.  Don't get me wrong... this has become very personal. I would love to watch these things hunted and killed as I have now become extremely attached to the fire shrimp and will be heartbroken if the same fate befalls him.  I guess my question is...is there a predator that will get these worms and live harmoniously with the rest of the group once the worm supply is depleted? <I wouldn't go the predator route here, but try other means of trapping, baiting the larger of these worms... to remove them. meaty food wrapped in a bit of filter fiber, placed in a tube or small jar... even a bit of cocktail shrimp tied to a string... toward the lights out time... and a deft hand with a net. Bob Fenner>

Bristleworms/Overfeeding - 12/28/05 Hello, <<Howdy>> Love your website. <<Thanks>> I would like your opinion on bristleworms. <<Ok...a beneficial detritivore <G>.>> I seem to have an abundance of them (pink to reddish colors). <<Most folks do.>> I have a very large (300g) fish/invert only tank.  I have tried several anemone's with little success.  All three times within days they had wrapped themselves around the intake valve in the substrate, which is located in a dark cave of live rock, and died. <<Then stop trying.  Anemones need/require systems designed specially for them to preclude just this sort of thing.>> I have read that some bristleworms are predators to anemone's, is this true? <<An extremely large bristleworm can be a problem, but this is rare.  And bristleworms didn't drag your anemones over to the intake tube...>> Is there a need to remove these critters? <<Not likely...usually self limiting as long as you are not grossly overfeeding the tank.>> I have also read a lot on your site about these pesky scavengers and you seem to be in the camp that they are multiplying due to overfeeding. <<Yep>> I have never seen anyone write about how much to feed. <<More of a "learned" response according to your stocking densities, type/needs of the animals, filtration, etc..>> Here is what I have, could you give me an idea as to what, how much, and how often would you feed the tank. <<Mmm...I'll try...>> 1 Large (5-6") Blue Hippo Tang, 1 Juv Emperor Angel, 3 sm to med pink skunk clowns, 2 small ocellaris clowns, 1 bi-color Pseudochromis, 1 yellow watchman goby, 1 powder blue tang (3-4"), 1 yellow tang (4"), 1 med flame angel, 1 fire shrimp, 2 serpent stars, 2 sand sifter stars, 1 Lemonpeel angel (3-4"), and 1 purple Firefish.  Sorry about the spelling of some of the fish. Thanks for all you do to help. <<A couple to several small feedings per day is best when possible.  A general guideline for this tank would be a mix of 4-5 of the frozen "cubed" foods (Mysis shrimp, krill, plankton, squid, vegetable (angel) mixes, etc.) per feeding.  Watch to see that all is consumed, while still providing enough for the less aggressive feeders.  A bit of experimentation may be necessary to find the correct balance.>> Skip Liberty Twp, OH <<Regards, EricR>>

The Wacky World of Worms - 12/17/2005 Hello, I love your website. I have a quick question about my live rock. I have little white worms that come out of holes I have in my rock it's like they come out and feed then go back in, also I have bigger dark colored worms. I was just wondering if they are harmful or not, thanks for your time. <Common to have such hitchhikers, harmless detritivores. - Josh>

Spaghetti worms - 11/28/05 My 90 gal tank has been overrun by these spaghetti worms. How can I control or reduce the population? Is there a fish or invertebrate that eats these? There are a million and two - I know, because we counted them! (LOL).  Any help would be great, there is just too many for my taste. <Hello Tracy. Populations of such polychaetes tend to wax and wane with available food, so it would pay to make sure you are not overfeeding. Maintaining good water quality, and watching your food input, together with time, will likely see you right. I am uncomfortable in recommending any predator without knowing more about your existing inhabitants. A very hungry Coral banded shrimp, or perhaps a wrasse species, may be of some utility, but their addition should be considered very carefully, and their compatibility and suitability for your tank researched. Given that the worms are likely harmless, I would just feed less and wait it out. Cheers, John>

Bristle Worms In Breeding Tank - 11/27/05 Hi, I have a bristle worm problem in my clownfish breeding tank. <<Why do you think they're a problem?>> In the tank I have two clownfish, two skunk cleaner shrimps and two, blood cleaner shrimps. I was wondering what I could put in the tank to slow down the population. <<Less excess food.>> I want to know what I could put into my tank to eat the bristle worms and not disturb the current reef inhabitants or the clownfish eggs. <<Nothing really...the worms are a beneficial detritivore that are self-limiting when not overfed...and probably less of a menace to the fish eggs/fry than those shrimp you have in there. Watch that you don't overfeed the tank and the worms should not be an issue.>> Thanks --Sbatiste <<Regards, EricR>>

Bristle worms  11/16/05 I would like to see various responses from the crew on this.  There are many animals that can take care of detritus in a tank. One of them is bristle worms. And as you have explained, if you have an explosion of worms it is an indication that they have plenty to eat. Many people write in to complain about the worms and yet there are places that sell them. So if you had a choice of having them in your tank or not which would you choose and why? <There are thousands of species... some microscopic, some quite large... a bunch are predaceous, many more can become so opportunistically... It is almost impossible to exclude polychaetes from a "reef system" incorporating live rock or substrate. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm mainly for the linked files above... re identification, compatibility.  Bob Fenner>

Bristle Worms In My Nanos - 11-07-05 HI! <<Hello!>> At my work we have 2 small saltwater tanks (one is an 8 gallon and one is the 12 gallon nano cube). In the past week I have noticed 7-8 bristle worms. <<Beneficial detritivores>> Some of them are about an inch long, and some of them are up to 3 inches. <<You're probably overfeeding the tanks a bit.>> I have 2 questions. 1.) How big will these get? Should I try to remove them before they get any bigger or will they be ok, left alone. <<Several different species of Bristleworm...likely what you have won't grow much larger and are of more benefit than harm. Reduce the amount of excess food in the tanks and they will be self limiting. Personally, I wouldn't worry/bother with the worms.>> 2.) We also lost 2 snails from one tank and one from the other over the weekend. Could this be related to the bristle worms or was this caused by another problem in the tank? <<Astrea snails? If so likely neither, my experience has been that these snails are not all that long lived in closed systems.>> Thank you so much for your help!!! Emily in Cincinnati OH <<A pleasure to assist. EricR in Columbia SC>>

Zombie Bristleworm Plague Making Him Crazy - 11/02/05 Hey there, <<Howdy>> First of all I read everything your link had about bristle worms so I won't ask just the same old crap. <<ok>> It's my first saltwater tank...I have a low light coral reef with all live rock. Mushrooms, bubble corals, hermit crabs, a starfish, an Arc-Eye Hawk, Tomato clown, Fire Fish, Box Fish <<?!>> and a whole hell of a lot of bristle worms. <<Overfeeding, eh?>> And I do mean there are literally 1,000 in a 30 gallon tank. I have no idea how they got so bad  <<I have an idea.>> I realize now I was severely overfeeding my tank...but these little bastards are infested in everything, they are out in the day time, they even crawl up the glass. I know they are supposed to be nocturnal, but mine are like the land of the living dead. <<Mmm, if not threatened they will venture forth in the light to find food.>>  Amazingly enough my corals are mostly doing GREAT and I wanna keep them that way. I've invested about $4,000  <<4K on a 30 gallon tank?!>>  <<Must be one FINE 30 gallon tank!>> in live rock, sand and finding that perfect balance in an ecosystem. <<Not so perfect...hence the plethora of bristle worms.>> Is there any hope in salvaging anything in the tank besides the fish, or is it all so overpopulated I should throw it all out and start over??? <<No need to do anything rash. Now that you are aware of the cause of the population explosion (overfeeding), the worms will be self limiting.>> Most natural predators are too big for a 30 gallon.... Maybe I need to start a new tank and transfer all the fish and use my 30 gallon bristle worm coral reef as a sea horse tank .... I hear they can't have anything else in there cuz they eat slow.... Ok I might sound crazy but I would love your help... <<No worries mate...reduce the overstocking (the boxfish should be removed in my opinion), and feed judiciously and the worms will resolve themselves.>> PS... it's already snowing up here in Alaska and it sucks. ~Erik! <<Mid-seventies here in sunny SC... EricR>>  <<And there's snow upcountry, just south of Tahoe.  Marina>>

How do I trap a large bristleworm? - 10/28/05 <Hello> I've got a rather enormous invertebrate worm type thing that I think is a bristleworm after reading other FAQs on WWM.  It's at least 4 inches long, a half inch wide, light peach colored, and is segmented like a millipede. It also moves very very quickly.  <Sounds like a bristle worm to me.> I think it also eats snails, <Probably not live ones.> which is why I want to get rid of it.  I'll describe the circumstances for you and anyone else in the future that might have this problem.  After cycling my latest tank (you can never quit, only upgrade), <ah, so true.> one of the first inhabitants I added was a turbo snail about a quarter in diameter. After a few weeks, I woke up to find it bottom up, mostly gone, and surrounded by a cloudy but otherwise colorless mucus. I checked all the usual water parameters and didn't find anything amiss, and everything else in the tank was ok, so I shrugged it off.  About a month later. I added another turbo. Also in the tank by now are a Trochus and 2 Cerith snails. 2 weeks later, yesterday morning, I found that turbo dead in an identical manner, <Possibly starving or multiple reasons for death.> near where the first one died.  Since I had to leave for work in a hurry I didn't pull it from the tank immediately like I did the other. When I came home, I found the large bristleworm licking the inside of the snail shell clean.  <Bristleworms, the ultimate scavengers. That is why they are actually beneficial in your tank.> As I leaned closer to the tank to put another nose print on it, it zipped back into a hole in the live rock.  <I too would be terrified of a giant nose.> I sneaked up to the tank a few times later that night, and could see it from a distance, but it would quickly retract or back off as soon as I got close.  Full disclosure: I do have an arrow crab. It is relatively tiny. It's regular standing leg span is not much larger than a half dollar.  The arrow crab was not in the tank when I lost the first turbo, or it would have been my first suspect. <Not even on my radar as a snail killer.> When I first saw the bristleworm, the arrow crab was nearby, cowering in a corner. Oh, the shame. <Must be one bad bristleworm.> The tank's other inhabitants are 2 dwarf red leg and 2 dwarf blue leg hermits. <Notorious snail slayers. I would not implicate them fully in your case, but I would not turn my back on them.> I have also noticed one thing about the separate snails' behavior. The Ceriths hang around on the substrate, and I've never seen the Trochus leave the glass. The Turbos were the only ones that split their time evenly between glass and live rock. Anyway, if you could offer me any advice on how to catch, remove, or otherwise neutralize this mini-monster, or insight into what else could be snacking on my snails, I'd appreciate it.  <I would leave him, but if you must remove him build a trap. Traps are easy to make. Use a jar and glue a funnel into the mouth of the jar. Drop some food into the jar and lower the jar into the tank. The next morning you will find many new critters in your jar and hopefully your worm will be one of them.> I've had a year of successful reef keeping mostly thanks to the articles stored on WWM, so thanks twice. <You're welcome and thank you.> -Matt <TravisM> 

Bristle (Polychaete worms) Overpopulation - 10/24/05 Hello all!  <Greetings!>  It has been some time since we have spoken so hope you are all well and happy.  <I am, thank you for asking.>  I would first like to forever thank you , both for myself , and for the other millions of reef keepers/farmers that you so diligently assist. We would often be totally lost w/o the information you provide.  <Thanks for the kind words.>  Now , on to my problem. I have a very small, but trying to get bigger, reef farm. I have had an on-going trouble with one of my sets of growth tanks and I believe that I have finally discovered the culprits...Bristle worms. I understand that normally they are beneficial and not to be concerned with , but my tanks are literally churning with them. If you feed at all the entire bottom comes to life . You can't even see the substrate.  <Yes that would definitely define an overpopulation.>  I am certain that I have found what is happening to my livestock!  <Well an over population of bristles usually points toward a nutrient problem, its possible your livestock could be suffering from the nutrients and not the bristles. Though an overpopulation of these creatures can lead to undesired feeding behaviors including attacking sessile inverts.>  <<Not just nutrient problem per se, but overpopulation of bristles means there is a great deal of excess detritus.  Being detritivores they are doing you a favor.  MH>> In these particular tanks I am raising both Clowns, with their corresponding Anemone, and multiple forms of coral, trying to stay diversified.  <Ok.>  I have tried to do all my parasite control naturally. I have taken this approach since the beginning of this undertaking. Tired of reefs being **destroyed**... <For posting purposes I changed that word. While I do agree some collectors are rather irresponsible in their practices of wild collection many more are conscientious and collect without much impact or damage to the area. Though you are right in the fact the aquacultured specimens are preferred.>  for our enjoyment and I am hoping to put some back someday.  <A good idea but you can do more damage to the ocean by introducing unknown pathogens, please don't release specimens back into the wild.>  We must all do our part. I have been reading a lot about Wrasses on the site and am now thoroughly confused as to which I should try. I am tending towards either a Yellow Fin or a Sixline. Any recommendations.  <I would go with the Sixline wrasse but if you have a nutrient problem adding more fish may not be a good idea. Look into some sort of further nutrient control whether it be a refugium or extra water changes, larger protein skimmer…>  I have lost untold dollars to these pests . Both in corals and in Anemones, and need to get them under control within reason. I don't want to destroy my ecosystem either. What are your recommendations in this matter?  <See above.>  I have even tried to fashion traps to assist in their removal. Please help! <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm , Adam J.>  

Bristleworms 10/9/05 Hi.  <Hey, Mike G here> I have three questions, so I'll send them in three separate emails for your convenience in posting. First off, you guys rule. This is by far the best marine website in the entire universe, and I've looked quite a lot. Once I get some cash, I'll send you a donation. <Always good to hear the site is appreciated.> Here are the specs for my display tank: 55 gal ~100lb of live rock <Sounds very full! I've 60 lbs. in my 55 and it looks stuffed!> pH: 8.2 at night, varies by <.2/day <Have you considered a reverse-photoperiod refugium? The oxygen produced at night serves to stabilize the pH level, as .2 is a bit stressful on a day after day basis.> Ammonia: 0 ppm Nitrite: 0 ppm Nitrate ~0 ppm (might be /slightly/ higher than 0ppm, but less than .05, I'm partially color blind, so it's tough to tell sometimes) Calcium: 400ppm Temp is about 79-80 degrees (I know a little warm, but it gets really hot under my lights during the summer, and I can't afford to keep the house at 70 degrees to cool it off) <80 is fine for a reef. Some recommend higher (~82F) Specific Gravity: 1.020 <A bit low. Consider bumping it up to ~1.023-1.025> Lighting: Aquaclear 300 light strip with (2) "10,00k 65w Daylight," (2) "True Actinic 03 Blue Lights" and (4) blue LED moonlights The tank is 24" high. (mechanical) Filtration: (1) Aquaclear 300, (1) Fluval 204 (which I think I shouldn't have purchased after reading your website) <Agreed. I'd get rid of the AquaClear and canister, nitrate factories. More harm than good, in my opinion.> and (1) CPR "BakPak" protein skimmer thingie. Since I've got you now, can you recommend some good corals and anemones that would work well in this system? I hate to admit this, but I have not had luck with anemones, would like to change that, since they are so pretty. <Mushrooms, Leathers, Zoanthids, Xenia, Star Polyps, Photosynthetic Gorgonians (do check on the species to confirm this before making a purchase... far too many azooxanthellate Gorgonia perish due to lack of food in captive systems...)  After the tank has matured more and softies are growing well, all those labeled as brains, torches, frogspawn, bubble corals could be kept. As for anemones, try to get a captive clone of a bubble tipped anemone, Entacmaea quadricolor.>  Also, I dose (or douse :-)) with Kent's Essential Elements, Zooplex, Phytoplex, and ChromaPlex at least weekly. <Just my personal opinion here... never had success with Kent products, never would recommend them. Expensive, hyped up, etc. I prefer to dose only calcium (I use B-Ionic) and let all other minerals and etc. be kept up with my water changes (most good salt mixes contain more than enough of these). Again, just my opinion.> I have no fish in the tank right now (they are all in the quarantine tank, per my next email). I have a closed brain, a mushroom rock, with several polyps a tiny, tiny anemone growing on it, <Likely Aiptasia or Majano. Do look them up, determine whether you have either, take offensive action. These guys are real pests.> a Feather Duster, about 15ish small hermit crabs, 2-3 turbo snails, and a couple other snails, 1 or 2 Imperial Crabs... <Not familiar with the crabs you speak of. I Googled it and came up with this guy: http://www.onecrab.com/images/crabEdu_ImperialCrab.jpg. If they look anything like that, I think it would be safe to assume they're not safe.> and some Bristle worms (Bristleworms?), which are the subject matter of this email. I also have some baby leather corals growing (like the size of large ants), and I'd like to make this a reef tank. <Always a good choice.> Last night I dug about 4 bristleworms out the live rock. I think there are at least 2 more in there, maybe more.  <Probably. They reproduce very readily in home aquaria, and are very beneficial detritivores.> They gross my friends out, so I thought I'd get rid of them.  <I'd keep 'em. They do no harm and much good, and help to keep your reef a more natural, functional system.> Also, I know there is a type of bristleworm that is harmful to corals.  <There is, but it is one species. Most every other bristleworm is benign, and odds are very good that you have a good one.> A few months ago I had an open brain that was I think something was eating at. I'm wondering if it may have been these bristleworms.  <Doubtful. Imperial crabs? Disease? The bristleworms would be my last choice.> I started noticing them when the open brain showed up, but I bought a couple other things at the same time. I have attached a photo of one of the bristleworms I pulled off a live rock. They are substantially a pinkish color, with white, uh, leg-type things <Seate (See-tee)> on their sides. They are much smaller than I thought. When they creep around, on the live rock, they must stretch out a lot. The dude at my LFS (that's "Local Fish Store" for the newbies) said that it's generally only the blood-red ones that are harmful to corals. So my question is: Are the attached photos the blood-red (bad) bristleworms? The photos make them look blood red on the ends especially, b/c I had to stab them w/a toothpick to get them, but that's not how they generally look as I hope you can tell from the photo. <Can't see the photos (.dat files), but they sound like the typical, common bristleworms that live in most every reefer's aquarium. Harmless scavengers, I'd not worry about them at all.> If so, do you have any suggestions on how to catch them, other than picking the rock up and waiting for them to come out when they realize they don't have any air? Finally, can I make a suggestion? Can you guys lose the acronyms in your postings? It took me about 2 weeks of reading several hours a day to figure out what LFS was. I thought this was a typo or something for Latter Day Saints the first time I saw it...couldn't figure out why so many Mormons would be into saltwater fish...  <Hah! Will try to "fix" abbreviations in my future responses.> Finally, a key would be helpful (it was really difficult to figure out that you guys were typing inside the greater and lesser than signs). Can you use bolded words instead??  <It is to my understanding that bolding the responses would take a considerable chunk of Bob's time, and he already spends several hours/day on WWM.><<This has been discussed at some length long before now.  It is (now, again) Marina's time it would take up, and yes, it would not only take up a great deal more time, but it would make our format even more confusing, as bold text is used for titling queries only.  A tip for those having trouble - highlight a few lines at a time with your mouse.>> One final suggestion: I think the search feature should compensate for misspellings, or spacing issues (Bristleworm <> "Bristle worm" presently).  <The search feature is not under our control... it is designed by Google, and works like Google, so we can't really change that. I'm not even sure if it is possible to have a search ignore spaces, else queries typed with them that would previously be valid may look something like this "reefsafeangelfishcentropygespecies" which would spit out no results, and I'm not sure if a search could perform a spell check.>  Thanks, Rusty in Columbus, Ohio (Go Bucks)  <No problem, glad to assist. Mike G>

Re: Bristleworms 10/10/05 Thanks so much!!!  <You're very welcome.> The tips on corals are especially helpful.  <I'm glad.> BTW, the pH variance is less than .2, probably closer to .1.  <Not too bad, but 0 fluctuation is always best.> I'll dump the Fluval; probably sell it on EBay since I won't be needing it. <Good idea. Perhaps use the return for a new refugium?> Thanks again, keep up the good work!  Rusty  <I should say the same for you. Best of luck! Mike G>

Errantia Question  9/28/05 Hello, <JackDan> I have a Marine Tank.  I identified these worms in my tank as  "Errantia" through your site. <Ah... yes... a "higher taxonomic" category of polychaete worms... Sedentariate ones are tubiculous... make tubes, don't move... Errantiate ones, as in "to err is human" (sort of) are mobile... they move about>   Now that I have identified them, I'm having trouble finding out if they are good or not. <Most are no problem. Larger ones, or too many can become predaceous> Should I try to kill them or do they help the  tank?   I also have found these little rolly polly looking things  (They look identical to them) that only come out at night  (they are  maybe 1/4th of an inch long). <These may be real trouble... do look up "isopods" on WWM, the Net...> As soon as  I turn on the light to my  tank in the morning , dozens of them scatter and hide in the rocks.    Are the Errantia good?   What are these rolly polly things? Thanks! (I got my live rock from _www.flordialiverock.com_ ( http://www.flordialiverock.com)     Which I SWEAR BY.  My rock has been better than ANY I Have EVER Seen for a  fraction of the price.) <Take a few minutes more to look up Polychaete Compatibility, Isopods on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Pods/Bristleworm population out of control  9/27/05 I have too many amphipods and bristleworms in my tank.  I need suggestions of a fish/invert for my 55Gal that are peaceful, relatively easy to keep, and will eat all/most of these critters. <Too many amphipods? That one I haven't heard to many times before seems like most folks want more 'pods.  As for the bristle, there are a few undesirable pests in this category, however most are harmless detritivores.  Seeing an overabundance of bristle worms is likely a nutrient problem. Too many nutrients cause them to populate at a faster rate. There are many ways to control this via water changes, refugiums, efficient protein skimmers and so on. As for biological means of control (I must say I'm not a fan of this) there are many creatures that will hunt down 'pods. As for the bristle worms the coral-banded shrimp and arrow crab are touted to be the best for this but I find both to be somewhat of a risk to smaller inverts/fish.  A six-line wrasse would help out with both the pods and the worms but without your tank size/stocking list I'm not sure you have room for it.> Thanks, mike <Anytime, Adam J.> Bristleworms  9/17/05 I have a small saltwater tank that has been up for 3 months. My water parameters are all good with the exception of nitrate that fluctuate between 10 and 20. The total volume of water is 8 to 9 gals. I perform weekly water changes of 2 gals. I have a cleanup crew of snails and hermit crabs, 2 clowns. <This system is too small for these fish...> I have attempted to introduce a cleaner shrimp on 4 occasions over the last 6 weeks. They have not lasted more than a day or 2. I have recently discovered several large bristle worms (5 to 6 inches) that look like the pictures of a 'pherecardia striata'. Could they be the reason for the demise of the shrimp? <Possibly... but not likely... Your system is likely too small/unstable... see your remark re vacillating nitrate concentration... to keep such a sensitive animal. My real advice... is save up and get a larger tank... much easier to maintain, more latitude in terms of stocking, aquascaping... Bob Fenner> Thanks you for your help. Bill Williams

Grabbing Bristleworms - 08/08/2005 Hello, <Hi.> My name is Julie and I am writing b/c my boyfriend was moving some things around in our salt water tank and moved a rock that had some bristle worms under it and in return got stuck by them. He pulled his hand out with about 200 little sticky things on it. <Yeeeee-OWCH!> I am unsure if they were the legs of the worm or what exactly. <The spines of the worm(s), most likely.  Try to remove ASAP> But we searched the web and your site and saw nothing in regards to this. Is this going to do anything to him? <Mm.  Quite honestly, if you're not sure what sort of animal you're dealing with (bristleworm vs. fireworm), I would suggest consulting your physician, just to be on the safe side.  Bristleworms, though they can inflict a rather painful wound, are not usually very dangerous, whereas a fireworm can really inflict some pain/damage.  I understand that running very hot water over the site of the wound will break down the proteins in the toxin and make it much less painful - hot water from the tap, as hot as he can stand it but NOT hot enough to scald, is perhaps your best first course of action while you contact your doctor.  Chances are, this is a mostly harmless wound, but please do not hesitate to talk to your doctor; at least he will be somewhat informed of what's going on in case something does come of this.> Thank you so much for your time in reading this and answering, <Please also search the 'net very well for similar instances, and try to identify the animals involved.  And PLEASE consider a pair of heavy-duty reef handling gloves!!  Something like this:   http://www.thatpetplace.com/Products/KW/gloves/Class//T1/F11+0047+0279/EDP/3377/Itemdy00.aspx .> Julie <Wishing you and your loved one well,  -Sabrina>

Bristle Worms/Opinions - 08/04/05 Hello Eric, <<Hello Steph>> Thank you so much for your reply!  I actually got a different reply from a different member of your crew, James (salty dog). <<Hmm, odd we both had the same email in our boxes...but nonetheless...>> Regarding question #4: "I saw a reddish worm with lots of legs about 1/2" long.  Is this a fireworm and should I remove it?  I'm hoping it's harmless, I wouldn't mind keeping it." It's actually a worm that's half red and half black.  James thinks it's a bad bristle worm and that I should remove it.  What do you think?  I'd rather not disturb it - since I can't find it anymore! - but, I'd like to know if you think this is a harmful worm for my soon-to-come fish and corals. <<James' advice is not wrong, we just share a difference of opinion.  To answer your question more direct...without a positive ID on the worm "I" would tend to leave it alone unless/until it proves itself otherwise.  There are "bad" worms, but most are harmless if not beneficial.  If the worm makes you uncomfortable then get rid of it, else keep an eye on it and see what develops.  Maybe even start searching the net and find that "positive ID"...after all...you're the only one here who's actually put an eyeball on it <G>.>> Look forward to hearing from you!! Thanks, Steph <<Regards, EricR>>

Bristle worm eating sea slug 7/13/05 I read somewhere on the net that there is a sea slug that eats  only bristleworms. I cannot remember where I read this but would like to know if  you have ever heard of such a thing? Thank You Roxanne ps. I read your forum all the time and have gained valuable  knowledge from it. (+: <There are no sea slugs that eat all types of bristleworms. There are some that can/do eat small individuals, species... but using fishes, some types of crustaceans for this job is better. Bob Fenner>

Medusa worms AKA spaghetti worms 6/18/05 I have a lot of the medusa worms in my tank.  I need to get rid of them.  Can you please tell me how?  I have at least 20 or better.  Please help. Charles <Please don't remove these my friend... they are tremendously beneficial detritivores. Also known as spaghetti worms (see genus Timarete for similar or same creature ID). Kindly, Anthony>

New Live Rock + New Bristleworms = Dead everything Hi,  We are novice salt water tank owners.  Actually, my husband,  Jim, is the one who does everything and has been learning so much about this  year old hobby of his.  The only thing I do is sit back and enjoy as well  as having a keen sense to notice odd behaviors in the tank which helps Jim to  realize there may be a developing problem.  The problem is this:  Jim  just purchased a lot of live rock off the internet.  The advertisement said  it was ready to go.   <... but "ready" to go where? In almost all cases there is sufficient die-off in transit to warrant re-curing "cured" LR> He put it right in the tank after receiving it.   It was about 24 hrs. and the ammonia levels and nitrites or...trates whichever,  (I don't understand all of that yet), shot off the chart.  He used Ammo-lock <Won't work> and waited for a couple of days.  The fish started acting weird and  they began to die.  He did a water change and the next day the tank was  infested with these nasty looking white and pink worms.  The starfish was  covered in white mucus and when we checked him, he just disintegrated.  All  of our crabs were out of their shells and looked like skeletons.  All of  our fish were dead.  After finding your site, I think I have figured out  that these are bristleworms.  Your site talks about these worms being okay  but I found some other information that claimed them to be bad....... stinging  the fish and putting an anesthetizing mucus on them and eating them. <These worms were likely "poisoned along with the rest" of your livestock... not out and about consuming their tankmates>   We  are not sure what is going on and what to do with this tank full of worms.   Like I said, there is nothing else living in there.   Should we throw all of  the live rock away and empty the tank to clean it or can the live rock be  saved? <Can be> What does it sound like is going on to you and what should we  do?? <At this point? Let time go by... a few weeks... gives you time to read over WWM re what you're, your husband are up to here> Help!!!  My sweet "Sally" died....she was a sailfin tang who responded to my voice.  We also had a Picasso trigger and some  damsels.   Thanks for whatever you can do to help.  Karen and  Jim <Patience here... all will be well, with understanding, knowledge. Bob Fenner>

Alpheids, polychaetes Hi again Mr. Fenner! Would a pistol shrimp be of some use in controlling bristle worms population or not really noticeably? Thanks! Dominique <The latter. Bob Fenner> 

Bristle Worms (Exponential Reproduction?) - 05/26/05 I recently set up my first saltwater tank, 29 gallons, about a week ago. <Welcome to the hobby.> I put in a couple of Chromis to help with the cycling process 2 days ago. <Ugh!...an unnecessary and outdated method my friend.> After doing that I started to notice a bunch of little critters starting to come out of my live rock, about 25 lbs. I've seen a couple of baby starfish, a few small feather dusters, but most notably bristle worms. I went to my local aquarium store, and they told me that they are not harmful but they are like cockroaches and multiply like crazy, which I then realized because that morning there were only two bristle worms that I could see, and when I got home later that day there were at least 7 of them. <No need to panic, they don't multiply that quickly. All that you see have hitch-hiked in on the live rock. They are beneficial detritivores that can be controlled by the availability of food...sort of like a cockroach I guess <G>.> The guy at the store told me to get an Arrow Crab <Why am I not surprised.> which will eat the bristle worms, which in one night had already ate 2 of the bristle worms. Which is very good, however the first bristle worm that I saw was a pretty good sized one. It is at least 4 inches when it came out of the rock, and it did not come all the way out of the rock. This bristle worm is also blue in color, unlike the littler ones that are red and about an inch in length, so, I don't know if it is more harmful than the other small bristle worms. My main concern is that this bristle worm is too big for the Arrow Crab, which was still considered somewhat small in size by the store. Also, because it is so much bigger than the rest, is he/she creating little bristle worms at a higher rate that the Arrow Crab will have trouble controlling the littler ones. <Though the crab may eat a few worms, don't count on it as a method of "control." Avoid overfeeding the tank and the worms will be of little concern.> Should I wait and see if the Arrow Crab is able to take care of the large Bristle Worm or should I take some tweezers, as you advised someone else, and take care of it myself. <Without a picture it's hard to ascertain whether the larger worm is a danger. likely it is not, but there is no harm in removing it if you wish.> You have said that they are not harmful to the tank, but I do not want them to continue to multiply as they already have. What should I do? <Keep excess food and detritus from accumulating in the tank and they will be self limiting.> Adam <Eric R.>

Tank question Good Afternoon, I looked on your site but didn't find the answer to this question. I am trying to decide on a substrate to use for my 40 gallon breeder tank for saltwater. I currently have a 20 gallon high saltwater tank that is doing really well. I have dolomite as a substrate, no live rock, 2 external aqua clear filters and an air supply. All of my levels are stable in this tank and the fish are doing quite well but I am going to a little bigger tank.  <I am glad this system has worked well for you, but I do have some suggestions. Dolomite is a poor buffer because it only dissolves at very low pH. Aragonite or coral based substrates work much better. Also, if dolomite does dissolve, it is very high in magnesium which can be a problem. Also, I always strongly recommend live rock, even for fish only systems. Power, trickle and canister filters are expensive, maintenance intensive and don't control nitrate. Live rock is also expensive, but requires little or no maintenance and controls nitrate. Also, unlike artificial or non-living decor', live rock never needs to be cleaned!> I'm seeing all of this talk about crushed coral and sand (DSB). The dolomite in my tank is working well but a lot of dirt accumulates in it. I do regular water changes once a week and siphon the gravel. I would like to possibly add sand to the tank, <My rule of thumb for sand in tanks is to use one of three options: No sand, coarse and shallow (4-5mm or larger grain size, not more than 3/4" deep), or fine and deep (1mm or smaller grain size and 3" minimum deep). All sand will trap detritus, so the idea is to be able to get it out or for the critters living in the substrate to process it. Larger grain sizes allow easy siphoning and critters to live between the grains. Fine sands allow critters to burrow and don't let detritus penetrate, giving large animals time to eat it. Deep, fine beds of sand also are capable of processing huge amounts of nitrate. Grain sizes from about 1-4mm are the worst of all worlds... they are hard to vacuum and very few critters are able to live in it. Whatever you choose, I would recommend that you use at least 50% aragonite or coral based substrate.> but I am not interested in having live rock in my tank. I had a 55 gallon before and all of the bugs were horrible and overrunning my tank with live rock, especially the bristle worms. They were everywhere and even in my filters. Once we broke down that tank and sold it, I found a bristle worm that was close to 6 inches long. I can only imagine how long it would have been stretched out. NICE!!!!! NOT!!!! That freaking sucker hurts when they get you!!!!!!  <I understand some peoples aversion to bugs and worms, but I am such a fan of these animals, I feel like you just insulted my mother! All of these "bugs and worms" were cleaning your aquarium for you! Bristleworms are generally harmless, and only occur in large numbers when the system is overfed and/or allows detritus to accumulate. Properly fed systems with strong water movement and an occasional "rock dusting" rarely have large numbers of bristle worms. I strongly encourage you to consider live rock and the free labor force that comes with it!><<Mmm, RMF disagrees, as will anyone who has been stuck but good by some of these Fireworms... their notopodia can have very sharp elements indeed>> Anyway, could I still have sand in my 40 gallon tank without the creepy crawly things? I just want fish and a nice looking tank. Would I be able to go into the tank for the water changes and stir up the sand a bit to clean it???? What would you suggest??? Or should I just go with the crushed coral and stick to my weekly water changes and siphoning for the new tank????  <My suggestion is to welcome the creepy crawly things! However, if you just can't do it, I would suggest a thin layer of coarse Aragonite or crushed coral substrate that gets vacuumed often. This will give you the aesthetics and allow you to remove wastes.> I know that live rock is a good thing, or so they say, but after my bug experience, I want no parts of it ever again. Thank you very much for your time. Your website is terrific!!!! Jennifer  <Best Regards, and I hope you will give live rock another chance! AdamC.> 

Bristle Worm eating a Plate Coral Good Day, This is my first question to you folks so I would like to thank you in advance for your assistance. I have a 90 gallon reef system with about 150 lbs of live rock. The system is about 10 months old, and all seems to be doing well. I have a good mixture of hard and soft corals, fish and invertebrates. All of the tested levels are in the proper ranges. The other day I put a new piece of cured live rock into the system in an attempt to replace some micro-crustaceans for my mandarin dragonet. That evening, after the lights went out, I noticed a very large bristle worm which I would estimate to be 10 inches. I was amazed as I have only read about these creatures. On my arrival home from work the next day I found my long tentacle plate coral half eaten and dying. It sits next to the rock that I saw the worm on. Have you heard of these corals being grazed on by bristle worms? <Mmm, yes... as a matter of fact, polychaetes will consume most anything if hungry> The coral was a very health, target fed individual. There are no other casualties in the tank so far. Sincerely, Pete Farfel <The logic of quarantining, even live rock, is likely apparent... I would bait/trap, remove this worm. Please see WWM re. Bob Fenner> By the way, you folks are doing wonderful things.  

Arrow Crabs and Bristle Worms.... Hi, I'm so sorry to bother you. I bought an arrow crab, a Sixline wrasse and a cleaner shrimp 4 days ago, and I have not seen the wrasse in 2 days. It was fine eating, but hiding . Now I can't find it. Could the arrow crab eat it? The arrow crab is small. I was told that the arrow crab and Sixline wrasse would help out with the bristle worms. After reading your facts on arrow crabs, I'm pretty ticked at my LFS, they're real good to us but I don't know why they sold me an arrow crab knowing what I have in my tank. Should I remove it? What else is good at removing bristle worms but not harming my inverts, corals, etc.? I just bought a little baby Dory tang, it's about an inch or so, will the arrow crab eat it? Another question, why do all the fish I buy and quarantine dye? The water is the same from my main tank, which all water conditions are good. I had an out break of ich in my main tank and quarantined my black clown and my orange clown. They were doing fine in my main tank but I wanted to treat them. Within 4 days, my black clown is dead. I have really bad luck with fish. Should I just save my money and stop buying them? I've had my tank for a year and I don't have not 1 original fish left. Please help! Kris >>>Hello Kris, Arrow crabs are carnivores, and therefore not completely safe for reef tanks with small fish. I can't say for sure what happened to your Sixline wrasse (did you look on the floor?) and I don't know the size relationship between the crab and fish, so I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here. However if large enough, or the fish small enough, it certainly COULD be the problem. Also, as much as I liked the Nemo film, I assume by "Dory" tang you mean a Hippo or Blue regal tang. "Dory" is not a commonly accepted common name for this critter. Anyway, they are a delicate fish, and a one inch individual certainly could fall victim to the crab you describe. Above all else, make sure you quarantine this fish for at least a month. As far as why your fish are dying in quarantine, without knowing anything about your setup, I can't begin to answer. It could be a problem with where your local store is resourcing their stock, or it could be your fault. Without further info however, I can't be of help there. Please feel free to drop me a line back with more info, and I'll be glad to guide you. :) Good luck! Jim<<<

Bristle worms, friend or foe I turned on the lights the other night and noticed that the clip that held Marine Two was on the substrate and had several (3 or so) bristle worms eating it. They were the common pink variety and the largest was approx 2". Do I leave them alone or trap them? Thanks for your speedy reply.  <Sue, in my opinion, bristle worms are not reef safe. They can be destructive to some corals and clams. The smaller ones are mostly detritivores which are relatively safe. You will just have to keep an eye on the growth rate. When I see them in my tank, I trap them and give them a flush. James (Salty Dog)> 

Bristle worms, friend or foe? James (Salty Dog), thanks for your speedy reply. I will trap the larger ones and keep my eyes on the smaller ones. I tend to feed my fish heavily and have noted some corals esp. Xenias appear to be 'nibbled on' at times. I also have a  small mantis shrimp in that same tank that I've tried repeatedly to trap with no success. I lost a small six line wrasse to the mantis and it's implicated in last week's suspicious death of my small pygmy cherub angel, when lights went on she was floating with obviously tattered fins and no other creatures were stirring yet. Thanks again, Sue  <Sue, I would still continue to try and trap him. Cut down a little on the feedings and he may be more apt to enter the trap. A nice small piece of shrimp should sucker him in. James (Salty Dog)> 

Bristleworm biting Astrea snail 3/22/05 Hi there. Firstly thanks for all the information on your site - I am just starting out and it has been of great use!  <Glad to hear.> I was wondering if you had ever come across bristleworms biting snails? <<RMF has>> <Dead ones, yes. Live ones, no. There is a type of worm that is bright red, long and thin that prey on snails by smothering them in mucous before eating them.> I have had my 50 gallon tank for about 3 months and have 20kg of live rock in it. A couple of weeks ago I added three Astrea sp. snails to the tank which were doing fine to begin with, sharing their home with three red legged hermits and 2 common clownfish. However, over the past four days I have lost two of the snails. The other seems ok - he is foraging about the live rock for algae but this morning I saw this grey/beige coloured worm with bristles down both sides emerge from the live rock and start biting at the snails foot. It was only about 1-2mm wide - got no idea how long as the rest is in the rock - I presume it is a bristleworm. I saw the same thing before the other two snails died and one had problems staying attached to the rock - it kept falling off. I wondered if these worms could be the culprit - perhaps biting the feet of the snails which is leading to adhesion problems or infection as there seems to be nothing wrong with the water quality... Thanks for your help and keep up the good work Sarah <It is possible, but unlikely that the bristle worms are irritating or injuring the snails. More likely, the worm was just "checking out" the snail. I would consider the hermits to be much more likely culprits. Also, snails are often mishandled and die early. I would consider the worms innocent until proven guilty and keep a close eye on the hermits. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Re: Marine Tank Question... Worms abbondanza! Bob <Lee> Thanks for your reply <Welcome> Since I last wrote the last mail I lost another 3 crabs, all after walking across the 'strands of death' as they are now known!! I went by the 'If in doubt, take it out' theory, but only after much deliberation. I love the piece of rock, the shape is amazing and it's size is incredible. My fiancĂ©? was worried about the other shrimp ($20) and I was worried about removing the 15 lb piece of rock ($90!!!).  So, after observing the rock and 'strand' behaviour for a few hours I pulled out the rock and carefully broke off pieces surrounding the hole with a small screwdriver. After going in about one inch I found a small, ugly looking worm, around 1/2" long, red and brown in colour with about 50 'legs' each side residing in there. I took it out and the hole it lived in seemed to go deeper, so, I went further. Below the worm was a long, approx 1.5" long, noodle looking creature, white in colour. Below this there was another worm creature with the 'brown and white ' strands of death' attached to it, this came out too. This was the end of the cavity that this thing was living in so I flushed it carefully with fresh water and reinstated the rock into the tank. Everything is fine since but I am monitoring very carefully. <Yowzah... some worm hole now!> The removed creatures were taken to aquatic warehouse, the rock that they came from was 'Tongan' if this is any help in figuring out what this may have been. I was told that there are all sorts of toxic creatures in the ocean and this could be one of many. <This is so> My request of some compensation for the two shrimp and many crabs was shot down as this is all part of the hobby and is to be expected, this upset me a little bit as I never ordered a toxic worm. I'm still learning and other people in my situation may never have found this and abandoned the hobby, <Many, I assure you> I am lucky in that I work from home and can keep an eye on these things. However, I think the threat is now gone and look forward to stocking my tank and enjoying it. It has been 7 weeks since the live rock was added and conditions are starting to look good, I would like to add fish and some coral soon, what would be your recommendations for this process? <To study... make lists... compare life histories, territoriality dispositions... growth... Bob Fenner> 

Eradicating bristleworms with a Sixline Wrasse Hey we recently bought a rock with a variety of corals on it and last night realized that it was infested with bristleworms I would like to keep the population in check and heard that six-line wrasse would help. <Sixline Wrasses indeed will consume a quantity of Bristleworms. However, I see no reason for you to remove any. Bristleworms are extremely beneficial to the reef aquarium, and I would recommend 1 bristleworm of 5 hermit crabs any day. As for keeping the population in check, Bristleworms will die off or reproduce to adjust their numbers depending on how much uneaten organic debris (bristleworm dinner) is available in your tank. If you do not feed a lot, chances are that the population will die down on its own. The opposite is true if you overfeed.> But we have beautiful (unidentified) feather dusters (the fan is no larger than a nickel) and wonder if the wrasse will eat them as well. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you so much for your time. <Your Wrasse will very likely consume your feather dusters. There are certainly individual wrasses that will not, but it is a hit or miss chance. Hope this helps, Mike G.> 

Bristle worm compatibility Hello, <Hi there> I have a 10 gall nano reef tank, and I was reading on your killer site that Bristle worms show no harm to corals of any kind only decaying corals that are fading away. <Mmm, I would say, "most"> But I did not read anything on clams. Are they safe as well? <Actually... about the same situation... there are incidences of large or many small polychaetes "attacking" both cnidarians and Tridacnids... that didn't appear ill, dying> Because I don't want to kill these cool looking worms when I read that they are great for my little ecosystem along with my pods. Thanks for your time! <In such a small tank, I don't think you'll have a problem... but this size system is also too small for a Tridacnid IMO. Bob Fenner>

Curing Live Rock part 2-bristle worms 3/7/05 I just realized that I should have given you a description of the worms to determine how diligently I need to be in removing them. Unlike the smaller half orange/half grey, these are more of a solid steel grey with large white tuft like bristles. When the light hits them, they are almost iridescent (you can see hints of purple). They are also flatter and much wider than the common worms we have in the tank now. They look like some of the pictures of Fireworms but have no orange at all that I can see. Thanks for your quick response!  <The orange color is a pretty diagnostic characteristic. The worms you are describing are almost certainly harmless detritivores. I would consider them innocent until proven guilty. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Bristleworms and snails I have read a lot of the FAQs and noticed that a couple of them dealt with bristleworms and snails. <Heeeee, more than a couple> I have a 55 gal reef tank about 6-8 years old. I discovered a rather large population of bristleworms that isn't quite as large as it used to be since I read some things on the web and cut down on the amount I have been feeding my fish (have been doing this 3-4 weeks). Tonight one of our turbo snails was 3/4 way up the front wall and my wife noted a bristleworm wrapped 1/2 - 2/3 around the foot of the snail which was still quite firmly attached. then we looked at our other turbo snail who was on the side wall just above the substrate. It likewise had a bristleworm partially wrapped around the outside of its foot. Do bristleworms ever attack snails like this? <Oh yes> I thought maybe with cutting down on the food supply that they might be getting more aggressive. We did pluck out the one that was on the higher snail and made the other one retreat. I just don't know if we need to worry about this. I thought that was awfully high up the wall for a bristleworm to still be on the snail and couldn't find the answer in the FAQ. TIA for the help. Dave Jones <There are species of snails and polychaetes that do indeed eat each other... Bob Fenner>

Bristle worms good or bad?  Starting out a tank Dear PFK Me and my dad have delved into the world of marine fishkeeping.  The tank has been set up for about 7 months. Water parameters are perfect and the inhabitants that include a pair of juvenile percula clowns a cleaner shrimp and a handful of hermits have been doing brilliantly. The problem is we decided to buy some soft corals seen as we had ploughed a lot of time and money into the venture and have spent the money on more than adequate lighting (4xT5's).  After following some advice from one source we chose a sample with a healthy crop of mushroom corals on and even some nice hitch hikers including 2 Zoanthids once these were added for a day some other hitch hikers were spotted. Here is  question 1 Bristle worms so far I've caught 3 small half red half black bristle worms bout 5mm long.  I've had a lot of conflicting advice.  On one hand declare war on the bristle worm and the other saying they can be extremely dangerous. <  They are fine, and even beneficial.  I wouldn't remove them. > As always I turn to you web site for some advice should I not worry and carry on whistling I stroll along. < Keep them. > Question 2 The other query is about the corals since adding them to the tank they have shriveled up. I hear this is just a defense mechanism and once settled they should start to flourish.  < Yes, with good water quality and enough light, they will open up. > How long until I should start to worry about them not opening up? < I'd say about 5 days. Maybe??? > From Neil Jones < I'd also check water quality and look at the lighting.  I'm not sure how big your tank is but that may be enough light (for a 20 gal) or it may not be enough light (for a 55 gal). Best of luck. > <  Blundell  >

- Dealing With Bristle Worms in a Grow-out Tank - Howdy to all! <Howdy.> I have had my 90 gallon reef set up for about 16 months now. It was started before I did any research or knew anything. (I pretend to know a little now.) I have a large wet-dry trickle filter, and 120 lbs crushed coral as substrate. Hehe, even with constant water changes and despite best efforts, the Nitrate levels are always through the roof (80-140 always). I have an older skimmer (Oceanic power by Eheim pump) and get 1 big cup dark foamy goodness every week. Ok. My largest problem is the bristleworms. I want to use this tank as a grow out tank for my farming project. Visibly, at least 50 small bristle worms can be seen along the glass under the substrate. Night-spotting, several HUGE ones (5-10 inch long) can be seen. I had thought about removing all the substrate and starting over with a plenum and DSB as this works great in my 33 and 55. That part is not so bad. However, what do you recommend for getting the bristleworms out of my 100 or so lbs of LR? I have several fish, including a 6-line wrasse I was told may eat the worms. I really want to fix this tank to grow out corals. PLEASE, any suggestions for the LR would be great.  <You may want to tackle this the way it's done where the live rock is harvested, which is to set up the rock in a bin with the rock on a raised screen, and then spray saltwater on it... the spray will keep the smaller items in the rock live, but the worms will make an exit to the water below.> Thanks in advance, Mike T. Westland, MI P.S. Anthony's book still hasn't arrived.....trying to be patient :) Amazon's taking their sweet 'Ol time. <Sounds like the Amazon I know. Cheers, J -- > 

Bristle Worms Dear Bob, My boyfriend and I set up a marine tank about 2 months ago. Everything is going fine, but we've found that we have bristle worms. We made traps and we are starting to get rid of them, yet we have found that we have a fire worm, it's huge! I just wanted to ask, we have been told that if we get a dragon wrasse that it will eat the fire worm, is this correct?  Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to reading your reply.  Amanda Brown >>>Hey Amanda, Why are you so intent on getting rid of bristle worms? Did someone tell you they're harmful? Bristle worms are harmless and are beneficial to your system as they process uneaten foot items and other organic matter. As far as the fireworm goes, you can never guarantee that one critter will eat another, it just doesn't work that way. A dragon wrasse is a large fish, and something of a commitment in a tank, not something to get just because it might eat a worm. You neglected to tell me how large your tank is, but dragon wrasses need a 100 gallon tank or so long term. In the short term you can get away with 72 gallons or so. Good luck Jim<<<

Unknown marine worm and Ick 2/3/05 - Someone's too Excited! Constant problem with Whitespot! Treated fish 3 times! 2 clownfish fine, but regal tang and yellow spotted boxfish poorly! <Whoa! Calm down! <grin>. Treated with what? Most fish store remedies are pretty useless. Please see here: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-08/sp/index.htm and beware that boxfish may not tolerate drugs, freshwater dips or hyposalinity as well as other fishes. Take particular note of the technique of moving the fish every three days to disrupt the life cycle of the parasite.> Found worm in the tank with a torch last night! White worm about 5 inches long and very thin! Put worm into bag with water from the tank! Now it has separated into two parts and is now looking black/stripy! Any ideas what it is and could this worm be stressing my fish out and that's why they keep getting Whitespot!  <Wow! All those exclamations are making me jumpy. <laughing> It is almost impossible that this worm is causing stress to your fish, and it certainly isn't causing Whitespot. Most such critters are harmless if not beneficial, and very few are harmful. If the worm is large or has visible teeth mouthparts, I may discard it. Otherwise, I would likely return it and enjoy it for the amazing diversity it represents. For most such critters, it is appropriate to assume them innocent until proven guilty. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Feather Duster I bought a feather duster.  I've had it about a month and the head came off. If it's alive how long will it take to grow another one. It's still in the tube. <Hello Susan, Yes, they are capable of growing another one under good conditions.  Do you have any fish in the tank that may bother it, like butterflies etc? James (Salty Dog)>

Bristleworms Dear crew < Blundell here. > I recently transferred my 55 gallon to a 100 gallon aquarium. In the process I discovered a red worm which was identified by my LFS as a fire bristle worm. There were a lot of them, approximately 40 - 50, where found after I sifted through the sand ranging from ? inch to 5 inches long. Is there any other way to get rid of them? < Yes, but are you sure you want to?  I think adding an arrow crab will definitely help, or maybe a large wrasse. >  I bought a trap from the fish store to help. < Oh yes another good idea.  You can make a home made worm trap by wadding up plastic craft material (like that cross stick stuff) and making it into a ball.  The worm can work their way, but can't quickly get out, so you can just lift it (with the worms) out of the tank. > I also lost all my fish to ich. Could these worms have been a factor to my fish's deaths. < No. > I also lost a lot of hermit crabs and two Linckia stars, which practically fell apart and disintegrated. Could they have done this? How do these worms reproduce and should I worry about eggs and other life cycles? I am letting the new tank go fallow for 5 weeks. To prevent another ich infestation since all the water, live rock, and sand were taken from the 55 gallon. < Well I don't think you can get rid of the worms.  They will always be reproducing and making baby worms.  But you can remove many of them, especially the larger worms.  But don't worry, these shouldn't cause a problem in your tank. > Please write back. Laurel <  Blundell  >

Hermits and busted up feather dusters Hi Bob, I bought some really cool feather dusters and one of my hermit crabs climbs all over him.  He then broke the tube near the base and started munching on him or it seemed that way. Well I tried to move the feather duster to a new location but as I dug him up, the feather duster dropped out of his tube.  He's all exposed now.   What should I do, What should I have done as I have more feather dusters? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks P" <Hello, MikeB here to help.  I would recommend removing the hermit crab in the future.  The feather duster will probably not make it without its protective covering.  I wouldn't move any feather dusters once they have attached themselves to the live rock.  Good Luck. MikeB.>

Bristle Worm Help 12/22/04 I am looking for something to help keep my bristleworm population in check. My tank is as follows: 10 gal, 10-15# rock,1 small clown, 1 Banggai cardinal, 1 coral banded shrimp, 2 hermits, a few snails, small torch coral, small pom-pom xenia, med hairy mushroom, med Sarcophyton, large feather duster.  Though the worms don't seem to harm anything, they just come out of the woodwork come feeding time, and I just wonder if over population will come into affect at some point. The tank is extremely healthy. Occasionally, the shrimp will prey on a worm, but not often. My first thought was to obtain an Arrow Crab, but my web reading tells me that will not work due to the cb shrimp + soft coral population. What about a 6 line Wrasse? the LFS has a nice looking one, I just wonder if a 3rd fish will stress the existing population of my 10 gal environment. Any input would be appreciated! Thanks, Andy <Bristle worm population is totally dependant on food, so when there are large number of them, it is generally the result of overfeeding.  Your tank is too small for an arrow crab or a six line wrasse (which would be a poor choice as a predator anyway).  I would suggest reducing feeding and increasing detritus removal during water changes.  You can also trap the bristle worms with commercial traps or baited balled up panty hose.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Orchid with bristles Hey, thanks a lot for telling me that Dottybacks or Pseudochromis are good predators of bristle worms. I was lucky enough to find 3 in the store, but they did not get a long. <No... most Pseudochromis are territorial with their own or similar shaped, habitat-using life> So I considered about buying one of them. To my surprise there was only one left the following day for an astonishing price of 10 dollars ( Canadian). Quickly I bought him. I am a bit curious if I could get another orchid Dottyback...? <Not a good idea unless you have a large system... a hundred gallons or more> In some books I heard that in this situation you would buy a bigger one. The final question is will an my orchid Dottyback be able to eat big bristle worms as he grows, because today he attempted to bite one, but it was much too thick...? I also have a growing six line wrasse; will it eat them too? Thanks! <They are not able to eat larger worms... some polychaetes grow to more than a few feet, pounds. Bob Fenner>

Sixline wrasse to consume bristle worms hi, I know bristle worms attack clams, so I intend to put a 6-line wrasse in the tank to protect it. Will he try to feed off from the clam also? << No, six line wrasse are very clam safe.  You may want to keep the clam off the bottom of your tank if you are worried about worms. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Fire worms? Hey kids!, as always this site is so full of info I tend to spend all day in it snooping around. Discovered a few very large bristle worms/Fireworms.. looks like Hermodice carunculata? (found a pic in a reef magazine I have)  One was too big for me not to take it out of the tank, have him in a bucket at the moment. Just curious if they can be bad for the critters I have in the tank. << I think just about all worms are very beneficial.  If they become large then maybe you can remove them once in a while. >> ..I seem to notice a lot more empty turbo snail shells around lately( but I did have a freakish amount at one point. busy little couples I guess) reason I plucked the worms out today was they seemed to be hanging on my Zoanthid rocks. I don't see these worms in the night only daytime. any ideas? << I would leave them alone, but there really isn't anything wrong with removing them if it makes you feel better. >> Ill head back to the site for more info but was hoping you may be able to get me to the answer a little quicker. Also I have a rocks with Porites ( I believe mustard hill?) on my live rock. for about 2 years they were doing great, lots of growth, polyps all open and swaying away in the current. I changed the lights a few months back (raised them up higher for less shock) and now they have been closed up most of the time, open slightly. Colour has faded from a nice brownish/mustard yellow to washed out beige. I am still noticing growth but seems much less than before. I add SeaChem additives as per directions (calcium, reef complete, reef carbonate and reef plus).  Water param.s seem to be in recommended levels and water changes with ro water mixed and circulated for a few days ahead of time. The zoanthids in the tank are growing so fast they are popping out new ones daily it seems! They do not seem to be bothered by anything (except that worm!) coralline is covered the walls of the tank intake outflow pipes...not heavy on  the rocks but lots of colour regardless. Since the fade out I have slowed the additives down, well was trying to see if I stopped them what would happen. Any suggestions to a long and drawn out question?  << Not really, but I'd look at how old the bulbs are, and what type of lights you have.  Maybe time for new bulbs. >> Thanks again for this site and whatever info you can turn me onto. Determined here to get them back to original happy space! Aloha from Kona << With those corals? Wow. >> Pete <<  Blundell  >>

Worm Worm Go Away Hey guys. First I'd like to say, love the site, lot's of good info. Now down to the nitty gritty. I've found a worm in some of my live rock. This worm looks very similar to the descriptions on bristle worms. He's living inside one of the rocks and I can usually only see the top of his head. I caught him going after a piece of shrimp the other night and about fell over. He's at least 14 inches long ( he wasn't all the way out of his rock) and is as big around as my pinky finger! He doesn't seem to be harming anything (yet) but I don't want to take the chance. I've captured small worms before but this guy is beyond me. How do I capture him? Shane >>>Hello Shane, I honestly wouldn't bother with him, but if you must then the easiest way is to just grab him when he's out, or remove the rock he's in completely. Place the rock in a bucket, and put some food near it. The worm will leave the rock at night to feed. Then you can grab him! (use gloves) I think there might be traps available too, do a search. Honestly though, most of us have a large worm or two in our tanks, and they're harmless scavengers. They certainly will not kill a fish. Cheers Jim<<<

Bristleworm removal hey hey, <Hey Owen, MacL here with you this evening.> I have 2 questions in mind. Firstly, I have been noticing large bristle worms ( trust me these aren't the ones that are beneficial) they are huge long and one isn't sensitive to light! I was wondering if peppermint shrimp would work, as I have read they help enforce. <Peppermint shrimps and sometimes arrow crabs make good Bristleworm removal systems.> How many should I get 2,3,4 do  they fare off with each other and this list of livestock <Arrow Crabs can be a problem, peppermints are usually great.> 2 Banggai cardinal ( one quite a bit larger) 1 orchid Dottyback( one eye popped); I saw him share a little hole once with a large bristle worm :( 1 medium size Sixline wrasse 1 bicolour blenny 1 huge lawnmower blenny 2 cleaner shrimp ( one bigger by a bit) 1 little aggressive sebae clownfish that loves the open blue brain coral 1 cherub or pygmy-argi Secondly, when I bought a beautiful green star polyp rock I noticed legs coming out of the holes??? It looked like a starfish that got stuck inside, the Sixline wrasse just started pecking the rock. <Its normal for them to hide in rocks and polyps.> Any ideas what it is Best Regards!

The Detested Bristle Worm - A Wife's Lament >Dear Bob and crew >>Hello, Marina today. >This is the demented wife of a 90 gallon aquarium keeper. >>Umm.. how do I respond to someone's ready admission to being demented?  Good for you to be so honest! >Said Tank is 18months old and doing nicely to the point where I like it as well.  However over the last few months we seem to have had an explosion of bristle worms. >>Hm, yes.  This is your first clue.  And how do you feel about this?  Please, lie down on this couch over here, Mrs. Wife-to-90-Gallon-Aquarium-Keeper.  Actually, this is quite telling.    Read on! >They don't seem to be doing much harm until recently when husband has had problems keeping control of the nitrate level.. >>BINGO!  Second clue alert. >..and this is really weird now.. did a water change last week and about half hour later all the worms (which is a lot now) appeared in daylight and appeared to excrete white stuff into the water as if it was too clean. >>For one so demented you sure are smart.  This 'event' can spur a breeding event.  Guess what!  You're going to be a grandmother to a new batch of pink, fuzzy bristle worms.   >Some are over 12 inches long and we are desperate to get rid of these bigger ones, (Have heard that smaller ones don't cause too many problems). >>Actually, except for the lovely form they cut, the larger ones don't present much of a problem either.  Being detritivores means that they'll only eat that which is sloughed/dead, but will not kill anything outright.  This is your third clue, dear wife of his.   >We have a Sixline wrasse but he seems pretty useless. >>Indeed, is he not but a fraction of 12"?  Arrow crabs are known to feast on these pests, but as a solution can often be worse than the original problem. >Traps yield babies but not much else, how can we get rid of these gross worms I detest?  Plus they even fight our hermits for meat now and seem stronger than them I feel we have been over run Help!!!  Many thanks, Helen - a learning very slowly wife >>Not so slow is she!  BRILLIANT, like Guinness in a bottle, I declare.  So, Helen, you see the worms, clue number one.  You see nitrate levels come up, clue number two.  You have just learned that bristle worms are detritivores, eaters of detritus, that is clue number three!  So, believe it or not, the problem is one of detritus, as bristle worms are lemmings for detritus.  Reduce the detritus issue, resolve the bristle worm issue.  I bet the big worms are big enough to get out of the traps, too, aren't they?  Let's starve them, be careful, but thorough, with vacuuming the substrate, in sections please.  Bio-Spira on hand may be the smart thing, too, if the vacuuming has been a bit vigorous.  You'll likely need to blow out the crevices, etc., as well, in order to ensure that all pockets are cleaned.  Do be careful if you smell a rotten egg odor, this means anaerobic conditions exist and can be catastrophic (this means have LOTS of new, but aged, saltwater on the ready for emergency water change - large trash can lined with black plastic is great for storage, etc.).  Foam fractionation of the outrageous type would yield more excellent results.  If I haven't answered your question well enough, write back and we'll try to hit this again.  Marina Sixline Wrasse Hi Bob, <Hi Pam, MacL here with you today.> We have a 20 gallon salt water tank, new to us (we have had it maybe 2 weeks) but the guy before us had it for 3 years. <Marvelous, Sounds quite lovely.>  It contains a 4 inch long maroon clown, a small green Chromis (spelling?), a HUGE brittle star (8 inch legs on a half-dollar sized body),<What color is the brittle star, if its Green that could be a  potential problem.>  1 red legged hermit crab, 2 black/white stripped leg crab, a few mushroom corals, and some other "stuff".  We were having a problem with flatworms on our coral, so we purchased a Sixline wrasse two days ago and tossed him in to take care of that.  We also have an abundance of bristleworms and hoped he would take care of that too. Ok so, problem is this -- The little cubby that the wrasse sleeps in at night... the bristleworms attack him!! We watch them sting him and he flinches and writhes, but he never moves to another spot. <Dang, how big are the bristles? Is he large enough to get them? I know Dottybacks will eat bristles but I have never heard of a six line eating them. I know that they will eat flatworms at leas some types. Most of the time the six lines will choose a place to stay for a night and then they will move the next day after finding another safe place.>   We are afraid the worms will kill him.  He looked so haggard this morning.  Any words of wisdom? <An arrow crab will also eat the bristleworms. Or you can catch them with tweezers and remove them from the tank. Normally bristleworms aren't bad creatures, they clean and remove detritus.> Thanks, Pam

Prickly Problem ! (Getting Rid of Bristle Worms) Dear crew, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> Tonight I discovered about 3-4 massive sized bristle worms, I am getting really worried, because these worms are thick and super long, if I didn't see   wrong I saw it merge with another one. Every time I put my hands in to dispose these worms it leaves back into the rock. Is there any fish that will take care of these worms for sure without destroying the corals as well, any creatures, and if an outbreak of worms is there a fish that will destroy the worms along with corals if really needed? . Note that they only come out at night. Will they harm the fish cause I saw one driving itself into the plate coral? Thanks <Well, smaller bristle worms are not much of  problem, IMO. They help "work" the sandbed much in the same way that terrestrial earthworms do. On the other hand, larger bristle worms can be potential threats to fish and corals. There are actually "traps" on the market that enable you to bait them into an easily removable container. Smaller bristle worms are commonly preyed upon by certain species of Pseudochromids, such as P. springeri, P. sankeyi, etc. Also, Arrow Crabs have proven to be adept predators on the smaller ones, too. Do keep an eye on your Arrow Crab, if you choose to employ one for this purpose, as they are known on occasion to "pluck" at various soft corals and Zoanthids once in a while. Hopefully, you'll enjoy success with your removal efforts! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Wrasse options Hello, Love your website.  I have a question on fish compatibility, I did a search and found many things but nothing quite on point. I have a 60 gallon saltwater tank, FOWLR.  It has a 4 inch or so yellow tang, 2 small ocellaris clowns, a small bicolor blenny, 2 cleaner shrimp, Nassarius and turbo snails and what I think is a south American red knob sea star.  I'd like to add one or two more fish, and I've noticed a few Bristleworms, not many by any means. I'm considering a fridmani, or a six line wrasse, or perhaps both.  I'd like to keep the tank peaceful, as I've had to return a blue dot puffer and damsel because of aggression.  Do you have any suggestions for me? << I'd go with a Sixline for sure.  Much easier to keep and very peaceful.  I'd wait on the fridmani, although they are quite beautiful (but maybe a little more aggressive). >> Thanks! Jim Lee <<  Blundell  >>

Arrow Crab, headed for trouble? I've had trouble with my bristly worm population for a couple of months now. I've reduced fish food distribution amount, tried different traps (only caught a few) more water changes, and trying to keep the tank cleaner. <All good strategies.  Limiting food is the most important one, though.  This can be accomplished by limiting food and/or introducing other scavengers/detritivores.  FWIW, the worms pose no threat to living, healthy animals  (unless of course, you get a fist full of bristles!)> When I told my LFS this they advised me to buy an arrow crab. I told them that  I had a 29 gallon tank with lots of live rock, some coral, a few feather dusters, two snails, and one very territorial red clown fish (2 1/2"). They said that my clown and my other animals would be okay. But after reading about them, I am afraid that the crab will kill them all. <A valid, but perhaps exaggerated concern.  All crabs are problematic IMO and IME.  Your snails are certainly at risk as are the feather dusters.  Fish are probably pretty safe.  FWIW, some Pseudochromis sp. make excellent Bristleworm predators and would probably pose less risk to your other inhabitants.> Not only do I feel stupid for trusting the LFS, but I am afraid I just bought my tank's doom.  Is there anything that I can do to not let the arrow crab eat my tank? Or should I take it out?  Justine <Nothing to feel stupid about!  Personally, I would evict the crab in favor of two things... aggressively trapping the bristle worms and introducing other detritivores like a sand sifting sea cucumber.  Predators will lower the population, but not fix the cause (excess food).  Removing the worms will remove the nutrients (unlike predators which will just cycle them back into the tank), and other detritivores will prevent them from coming back.  Try a baited piece/pair of old stockings spread out a bit on the bottom of the tank.  The worms will nestle into the folds of the material and can be easily removed.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Brittles and bristle Ananda, <Yep...editing the trio of emails into two topics.> The brittle stars are 1 tan and 1 maroon, I've seen them both. They are small 4" or so. Do you think they'll be a problem? <I think the maroon should be okay, from what I've read, and the tan...may be an issue when it gets larger but okay for now. Do check the assorted Bristleworm articles/FAQs for more info.> Also do you think it would be better to put the bristle worm in the sump or the tank I intend to turn into a refugium? <Hmmm. He is going to need to eat; I would put him wherever he's going to get access to more detritus.> It only had some live rock/sand and a couple Astreas in it at present and looks like it could use the sand stirred up a bit. Would the bristle worm hurt starfish? Snails? Feather duster worms? Scarlet reef hermits? <None of the above. Bristleworms eat detritus and leave the live stuff alone. If you see a Bristleworm in a hermit shell, the hermit passed on before the Bristleworm got there.> Just want to be safe with what I put in with 'Kenney' the bristle worm. Sue <Glad you're going to keep Kenney. --Ananda> 

One Aiptasia? part II Ananda, Thanks so much for your speedy reply. <No problem... yours was a pretty easy question to answer, so I grabbed it and fired it off.> I'm new to reefing (less than 1 year, though I've kept fresh water tropicals and goldfish for about 40 years). <Wow! We would really, really love to have your expertise on the freshwater boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk -- and the people on the saltwater boards are happy to answer questions, too!> I'm leery of introducing something that may hurt what I have and plan to add. The 46g bow front is TOO SWEET to pass up and you're right the livestock is worth $100 or close to it. The idea of keeping the bristle worm in my sump is a GREAT idea! I sooo hate to kill any living thing. <I actually got the idea from Sabrina, who also hates to kill anything alive -- except Aiptasia! She's got a big Bristleworm named Lurk. Lurk is going to go into the sump or fuge when Sabrina gets it set up.> I'm going to put the mature clown into my 10g quarantine tank that I eventually want to turn into a refugium, do you think he'd hurt my clown? <This totally depends on the sizes and species of the two clowns... The mature clown is most likely a female. If your clown is small yet, and either male or still an "it", they may pair up. (Clownfish transform from male to female when they mature; the biggest clownfish in any group is the female, most of the rest are males, and the smallest may not be sexually mature at all. Note that groups of clownfish do not work well in 99.9999% of aquaria.) But if your clown is also mature, you may have problems. Similarly, all bets are off if you've got two different species (well, Perculas and ocellaris are often okay together).> I have a few Astrea snails in that tank now, along with a few pounds of live rock. Maybe I can give little bristle worm a reprieve. That's what I love about this hobby can get some great ideas that I never thought of on my own. <That's what I love about this web site and the discussion boards!> Keep up the good work guys. Sue <We will endeavor to do so. Thanks! --Ananda> 

Foxface Rabbitfish with x-large Feather Dusters? 4/27/04 Hi!  Quick question for you as I respect your opinions and advice and after searching both your site and the internet for this answer, I have come up with completely conflicting advice. Some say the Foxface Rabbitfish is 100% reef safe (although the shape of its snout is exactly that of my Valentini puffer who devoured tiny ones instantly - he is in a whole different tank  Others say "watch out"!!!!  I don't have a reef tank, only 2 x-large (4-5") Feather Dusters. <No herbivorous fish can be considered 100% reef safe (or Featherduster safe).  It is very very unlikely that they will eat the feather dusters, but it is possible that they will occasionally sample them as part of their routine grazing.> The Foxface (yellow but no black spot on body) is about 5 " and he is in a 90 gallon long (52") tank with a 5 " dwarf zebra lionfish and a 5 " black Volitans lionfish. Everyone is getting along fine and I've removed my feather dusters until I can get a solid answer but would sure like to put them back in my main tank! <I would say that you are probably safe to return the feather dusters.  I would just watch carefully for evidence that the Foxface is picking on them (unlikely, IMO).> Any ideas on this one or will I just have to try it and see what happens?!!! Any help would be greatly appreciated....  Thanks so much.......Lana. <There is no way to be sure without trying it.  Your worst case scenario is that the fish pick on the dusters and you will have to remove one or the other.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Someone Lost their Head  >Hey doods,  >>Hrm.. you have yourself a "dudette" here (once known as a 'surf guppy').  >I have two feather duster worms in my aquarium (20 Gal plus 10 Gal sump,  AquaC urchin skimmer, HOB filter, 2 Rio 50 power heads).  >>Alright. I shall dub you "Nano-Dude".  >I also have some mushrooms, green star polyp. For livestock I have 1 clown, 1 Rainford, 1 barnacle blenny, 1 Firefish, 1 flame angel, 1 cleaner shrimp, 2 hermit crabs, 4 turbo snails.  >>Wondering what species of clown, as in a nano this can eventually become rather important. But, let's move on!  >My question (finally) is that the flame angel picks on my dusters a little bit, maybe one nip every hour.  >>Not unknown with C. loricula.  >One of the dusters head fell off or it died I'm not sure.  >>I could *so* mess with your head right now...  >The other seems to be doing fine though. Any reasons for this?  >>Yep. Wanna know what they are?  >I've been feeding them MicroVert twice a week (one drop diluted in about 10mL's fed through a pipette). Water quality is perfect Am, Ni, Na all zero and my S.G. 1.25.  >>Right, well, operating under the assumption that you wouldn't have asked if you didn't want to know, a couple of things of note: first, the angel - may continue to be a problem, not just with the feather dusters, but with any large polyp stony corals. Open brains ,that sort of thing, so watch it! Second, take a close look at the "feathers" of the worm's crown. Just like a bird needs to molt to grow new feathers, thus replacing old, worn out feathers, the worm eventually needs to do the same. Assuming that both worms receive the same amount of abuse from your C. loricula, I would wager that the decapped one shed its crown because it was too worn out. Target feeding should help it along its way most quickly. That means right into that tube, get that thing fed. Did I mention to watch that angel? You might want to give it its own partial sheet of Nori a couple or three times a week, just so it can graze on that instead of nipping at your worms. Marina

Bristleworms in a Nano (3/30/04)  First of all I live in Singapore and most of our marine fish come from Indonesia and the Philippines. I however stumbled across a store that only deals with seahorses and the shipper had added a couple Royal Grammas along in the shipment. Nice guy huh. We don't get Royal Grammas in Singapore, we only get false grammas. So to my luck, there was a Royal Gramma pair for sale. How do I know they were a pair? Because they were living in the same cave. So I happily bought them both for $50 bucks and even bought the LR that was the roof of their home. After dipping them for an hour in Paraguard-Seachem, I acclimatized them to my tank water and subsequently released them. My other inhabitants are 1 medium golden maroon clown, 1 Firefish goby and 1 fire shrimp and a turbo snail. <The Maroon Clown will get too big for your tank an will likely kill all other fish as it gets bigger--they are very aggressi9ve.> Upon entry into my tank, the grammas went into separate caves, All was well for a few hours until I noticed that the larger of the two was out and about and "exploring" the new surroundings and the smaller female, was not. I decided to investigate. The cave in which she was hiding was lifted from the tank and turned upside down, to my horror, she was dead. Stuck by the mouth to an opening in the LR and entire stomach was eaten away and appeared greeny blue. My tank has been running for a year and I have constantly had fish disappear mysteriously. <Hmm. Either something's getting them or they're dying of some sort of shock or illness or toxin.> Damsels, clowns, Chromis even 2 humpback shrimp. Months ago I removed a 1/2 inch mantis and a mushroom covered rock that contained about 20 large bristle worms. I thought I got them all. Bristle worms eat fish. <No, most do not eat living fish, only dead ones.> It's a shame that so many people think that they eat left over food scraps alone and do not touch the livestock. They do and they do it often. <What evidence do you have of that. Just because you have fish dying in your tank and the Bristleworms appear to have eaten them does not mean they killed the fish. Most Bristleworms are scavengers that cannot catch a living, healthy fish unless maybe it's sleeping.> I lost 5 Chromis in a week at one time. <Still, unless you actually saw a Bristleworm catch and kill a living fish, you cannot be certain the Bristleworm did it. The sun came up the morning my grandmother died. That doesn't mean it killed her. Coincidence does not prove causality.> My water parameters have been constant and within those recommended by everyone. <Zero ammonia, Zero nitrite and minimal nitrate are the only acceptable numbers.> I really do not know what to say. I was dreaming of breeding grammas to make them available to other reef keepers here in Singapore and I am only left with a male Royal Gramma now. <It is virtually impossible to breed Grammas. You need a system of hundreds of gallons. They simply do not get along in such a tiny tank. Even though they appeared to be "mated" they were very unlikely to stay so in such a tiny tank. I wouldn't be surprised if the one mortally injured the other and then it died in its cave. No way to know. I can tell you that your tank is too small for more than a couple of small fish.> Bristle worms are a pain and should be boiled if not deep-fried and fed to Osama Bin Laden. I also strongly believe that they carry parasites that can be transmitted to the fish when they are bitten. <There is no evidence of this. Bristleworms perform many beneficial functions and get a bad rap. Not to say they are not without risk, but only a few of the bigger ones pose a real risk. They make a convenient target for your wrath, but I suggest you thoroughly review your techniques. As for the Gramma, it may have died of the stress of being shipped so far or from the dip. No way to know for certain.> My Firefish goby once had his entire pectoral fin ripped off right to its body and till this day, lucky he survived the trauma, has a retarded fin that refuses to grow back. His pectoral fin resembles a strand of human hair in terms of what is left. <And how do you know that a Bristleworm did it? Did you watch the actual event? Perhaps you still have a mantis hiding in your tank.> Bristle worms should not be in any tank. <Not so. As stated, the smaller ones serve useful functions.> They are pests, eat/attack livestock and corals. <Corals yes, fish seldom.> So what if they eat excess food? reefers should control the amount of feeding in the first place. <I will not argue with this last point, but they eat more than just "extra food" They also eat fish poop.> I'm seriously pissed off with these worms. <Well, I'm sorry you're having such trouble with your tank, but I would not be so quick to blame the Bristleworms. It is very unlikely that they are the cause of all of this. If you want them gone, you could pull out all of your rock and dip it for a few moments in hypersaline water (SG about 1.035). This will drive most of them out of the rock. Read more about this technique on WWM. As for your fish losses, I'd suggest a little introspection and openness to other, more likely problems than the Bristleworms. As for my tank, I'll keep my worms because they are not causing any problems. Of course, it is 180 gallons, and any problem is going to be much bigger in a 15. I wish you good luck and hope things turn around for you. Steve Allen>

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

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

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

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

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 worms Mr. Fenner, I have very much enjoyed your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". I  am appreciative of all the research you have done in order to supply such  valuable information to marine enthusiasts. I just had a quick question for  you. I have a small reef tank with a couple fish, a bunch of invertebrates  like zoanthids, and some small bristle worms. In your book on page 365 it  shows a picture of a bristle worm and mentions that they will attack corals.  I'm pretty sure that they are attacking my zoanthids since less and less  seem to open, and some are lacking tentacles. What do you recommend to get  rid of the worms? I notice that they are active at night, so are there any  nocturnal predators that feed on them? Thank you very much for your time,  and any input would be greatly appreciated. Aaron Waite. >> Thank you for writing, and your kind encouraging words. As you will know, there are many (thousands) of species of these "bristle worms"... with most being innocuous. The larger, more predatory types (or aquarium specimens), in good numbers can be trouble... and of course it's important not to introduce "something" more trouble than the worms themselves... Without knowing what your other livestock are, I suggest either an Arrow Crab (these can get large... trouble themselves, a species of Lysmata or Stenopid shrimp, or one of the wrasses of the genus Pseudocheilinus... and do take a look at the materials stored on our site: Home Page for more on these choices, issues. Bob Fenner

Help to understand worms We had a problem with bristle worms in the past, and to tell you the truth I don't like them!! To get the problem resolved we had bought a coral banded shrimp, she did a wonderful job of getting rid of the problem, however she also ate my cleaner shrimp, large yellow tang, and our Naso tang. <Really? A Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus)? Hard to imagine... this is generally a much easier-going species... Maybe you had an Arrow Crab (Stenorhynchus)... these can get very predatory...> We just purchased a lemon peal angel, pearl angel, as well as another cleaner shrimp for our tank. I am afraid to place the new cured rock into our tank due to seeing some worms some red, others red and black coming out of the rock. I don't want to infect our tank again with bristle worms, are these worms good or bad that we are seeing? <Not able to tell at this juncture, or from my desk... there are thousands of species of bristle/Errantiate polychaete worms... most are beneficial to innocuous...> Should I use the rock or through it away? It's about 25lbs and the coral bandit we just got rid off so it wouldn't eat the new fish. <I would use it... and if there are some larger, more predaceous types... look for other competitors, worm-eaters (a range of Wrasses is best) to challenge them... or traps or outright baiting for removal of the largest ones. Bob Fenner>

Are Featherdusters tasty? Hello <Hi> I saw a  7"x3" piece of rock which had about 20 small 1cm blue Featherdusters? present. I would love to add it to my reef setup but before I shell out $60 I thought that I would research their possible predators. I have red scarlet hermits, blue legged hermits, orange Linckia star, turbo and Astrea snails, purple tilefish, pair maroon clowns, Lemonpeel angel, citrus clown, yellow watchman goby, small conch, pistol shrimp, two fire shrimp, two cleaner shrimp, two peppermint shrimp, a rose bubble tip anemone, and various corals. tank has been running for 8 months with minimal problems (the most mysterious being the unexplained death of the bicolor blenny last seen happily swimming about his small cave , later that evening to be found deceased in a shallow rift of live rock, no apparent disease but some possible trauma to his midsection, I suspect the purple tilefish  which had been just released into the neighborhood ,but he swears he was with the cleaner shrimps all night. The case has gone cold and no other mortalities have been reported!) Thanks for your expertise and time. Mr. S. Holmes

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