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Guidelines for ID Queries


By Lynn Zurik


Before asking the crew: Please refer to the "How to ID an Organism" chart at the following link: ID Guide Flowchart If you are unsuccessful after going through the steps provided, please follow the guidelines below and submit a query to the crew through this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm

*Be sure to follow the general guidelines for submitting questions to the crew.*


Basic requirements: In order for us to have the best chance of correctly identifying an organism, we will need the following:

  1. As much of the following information as you can provide:
  • Size of the organism
  • What part of the world it originated
  • How it was introduced into your system (live rock, coral, plant, macro-algae, etc.)?
    • If it arrived with/on a coral, what type?
  • General observations, including:
  • If the organism is stationary, where is it located within the system (rockwork, tank walls, etc.)?
  • If it's mobile, where does it spend the majority of its time when active (rockwork, tank walls, water column, substrate, around a coral or other organism, etc.)?
  • When do you generally see the organism (during the day, at night/after lights out, only at feeding time, etc.)?
  • Have you noticed any evidence of injury, death, disappearance, or impact on other livestock?
  • Any physical characteristics not visible in the photos.


  1. Good, reasonably sized, detailed photos: taken from several angles in high resolution, but not over 500Kb in file size each. See below regarding specific photographic needs for various aquatic groups. Note: when photographing small organisms, it's often easier to move the subject to a clean, shallow bowl or plastic container filled with a small amount of tank water. For further tips on photography, please see the following link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i2/aquarium_photography/photography.htm


  • Anemone or anemone-like organisms

  • Photo showing the oral disc and tentacles
  • Photo of the column/base, if at all possible


  • Crab-like organisms

  • One photo showing the entire carapace, all legs and claws
  • One photo showing the anatomy of the claws/claw shape, depth of carapace, "facial" anatomy
  • If you can get a shot of the ventral/underneath surface, that's great, but not vital
  • If not visible in the photo(s) does the crab have 3 pairs of walking legs or four?


  • Insects

  • One photo showing the entire top/dorsal length of the insect
  • One photo, if possible of the abdomen/tail section



  • Shrimp-like organisms

  • One photo showing the length of the dorsal/top surface
  • One taken from the side, showing the profile and appendages
  • If possible, a close-up of the head taken from above
  • If possible, a close-up of the tail fan ("telson")
  • If possible, a close-up of any unusually large claws or other distinguishing feature(s)


  • Snails, organisms with shells

  • Photo of the top surface of the shell, showing the entire length
  • Photo of the underside, showing the opening (aperture)
  • If possible, a photo that includes the animal crawling about
  • A photo that shows the operculum (trap door), if visible. If a photo is impossible, try to determine whether the operculum is thick and calcareous, or thin and flexible. Note the color. Bear in mind that not all snails have an operculum. If you don't see one, let us know.


  • Turtles

  • One photo showing the top/dorsal surface
  • One showing the underneath/ventral surface
  • One photo taken from the side, showing the turtle's overall profile

  • Worm-like organisms

  • Photo showing as much of the organism as possible, preferably a view of the entire dorsal/top surface.
  • Photo Close-up of the anterior portion/head, if at all possible.

*Organisms shown are identified as follows: Anemone: Majano; Crab: Pilumnus sp.; Insects: damselfly nymph; Shrimps (Lt-Rt): pistol shrimp, mantis shrimp, Lysmata amboinensis (telson/tail fan); Snails (Lt-Rt): Euplica varians (1,2), Gemophos tinctus (3); Turtles: Trachemys spp.; Worms (Lt-Rt): Nereid epitoke (1,2), leech (3).

*All photos © Lynn Zurik, with the exception of the following: damselfly nymph: © J-P; turtles and leech: © Neale Monks.

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