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FAQs about Bristle/Fireworms 1

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

Related Articles: Worms, Polychaetes, Flatworms/Planaria

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.> Mystery Worm Hi Bob. I am seeking help with a problem that has just occurred with my saltwater fish tank. There is some type of white worm like thing crawling on the inside glass. I have never seen anything like it in my life. I don't know what they are or what to do about it. Please respond promptly I am at great concern about my fishes well-being. The only thing that I think its from is the live brine shrimp that I fed them. Please help me!! Thanks Laura <This "mystery worm" sort of query is very common... and my/our stock response is not to worry... very likely this is a transient population of innocuous errantiate polychaete "bristleworm" species... that are more beneficial, benign than trouble. Please read and follow the links here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Fireworm Natural History Notes Hello, I am sorry to disturb you again, but I was wondering if you could tell me some of the feeding habits and the habitat/biome of the fire worm I would really appreciate it Thank you! <Well, there really isn't one "fireworm" but a few hundred species... most are predatory on smaller invertebrate life... and though some are tube-dwellers, the vast majority are free-living, burrowing in sand, mud, hiding between rocks by day... Bob Fenner>

Bristle Worm Studies Hello! I am doing a project on the polychaete worm and I need your help. I have been looking for, but cannot find, the scientific name ( KPCOFGS) of it. If you could send it to me or tell me where I could find it, I would really appreciate it! Thank you <Hmm, there are thousands of species of Polychaetes... don't know the symbolism you are using... could you offer more input? My general coverage of these ill-reputed (though most are beneficial to benign) annelids is posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com under the section "Worms", "Bristle Worms"... Bob Fenner>  

Success <removing the polychaete worm that ate Detroit> Bob, I wanted to let you know that I captured the worm mentioned in the post below. I use a glass pipette that is 12 inches long with a piece of fish in the far end. It was about 15 inches long stretched out. I identified him on the internet as a Glycerid polychaete worm. Thanks for your help! <Zounds what a monster! Have a close up image of a worm of the family Glyceridae at home... taken in the blasphemous college years... blown up with the statement: "God is a Polychaete" below... take a look at the head on this thing... multiple eyes, jaws...> I have an unusual creature that came on my Walt Smith Fiji Rock. It looks like a tridacnid clam or a tunicate or tube worm of some sort. It is solid deep blue/black with an inhalant and exhalent siphon. It's about a 1/2inch long and 1/4inch wide. It has fleshy mantle (like a tridacnid clam. It is embedded in the live rock and will retract into the live rock when startled. I can see jaws or a shell of some sort close together when it retracts. The fleshy mantle comes out both in the day and at night. Do you have any Idea what this might be? The fleshy mantle comes out both in the day and at night. <Hmm, not much to go on here... it doesn't move around? Likely some sort of stinging-celled animal... but this doesn't say much... I'd leave it be and see what develops. Bob Fenner> Thanks again Bob, Tom Hettleman  
Bristle Worms? Bob, Hello, I hope you are doing well and having fun with your many adventures. <Yes, but never enough time for all...> I have a quick question for you that I hope won't take to much of your time. <Ah, good> I recently set up a new reef system (Berlin method) with 50 lbs. of Walt Smith's Fiji live rock that I purchased from FFE. The rock cured and all is well except that last night when the lights went out, a turbo snail comes hauling-tail from around the corner of a piece of rock with a thin reddish worm (4-5 inches long) hot on it's heals! The worm looked like it was trying to bite the snails butt. I jumped up and ran upstairs to get a pair of tweezers to catch the worm but, I was too late. The snail jumped off the rock and ran across the gravel and the worm went back under the rock and in a hole.  <Neat. Sort of sounds like an "Invertebrate Thriller" chase scene...> The snail looked OK and began eating algae on the gravel/tank glass edge. Later on I saw the worm eating a copepod. I wasn't able to catch him. <Take a look at this months (March) issue of the hobby magazine, FAMA. Bob Goemans gives some solid direction on how to build, operate "worm traps" for marine aquariums...> My question is: Was this worm trying to catch and eat the snail or was it defending it's territory?  <Probably the former> I am very concerned because this is a reef tank and I want to keep hardy soft and hard corals and clams. I currently have a small six-lined wrasse, an algae blenny, a royal Gramma, mix of Astrea and turbo snails and a few scarlet reef hermits. <You might need/use a couple of Peppermint Shrimp... a temporary "enforcer" like an Arrow Crab... these are detailed on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com> Should I try and catch it or leave it be? What is the best way to catch them? <A tube or whiffle ball with meaty foods inside, covered by fish line, jammed with Ehfi-Fein flocken (polyester filter media Eheim offers)... or their Grob flocken for larger animals... See the former citation> I also noticed a large bristle worm in one of my rocks. It is whitish / gray in color with tufts of white bristles on its sides. It is some what flattened and thick. I would guess it is at least 5 inches long but, it only comes out a few inches from its rock. Is this also a bad worm and will it hurt anything in my tank?  <Too likely yes... large errantiate polychaetes are too often bad news...> I put a piece of fish inside a stocking next to it's hole and it didn't touch it. Is this a good method to catch bristle worms. <Perhaps a baited trap (the all plastic ones sold by warehouse home improvement stores for small rodents, resold w/ the label pulled off for a few times their cost in the pet-fish interest...)> I know there are thousands, if not millions of species of worms out there. Since your are very familiar with rock from Fiji, especially from Walt Smith, I thought you might know the disposition of the more common worms that come on Fiji live rock. HELP!!! Thanks for your help. Tom <There are zillions in total numbers for sure... would gross out everyone, but I have photos of a few inches deep of these worms that "wriggle", "rinse" out at Walt's in their involved cleaning process... of a certainty they don't/can't get rid of them all... most are innocuous, even beneficial... the larger species, specimens are to be avoided, eliminated. Bob Fenner... as stated above... with traps, predators.>  
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>  
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  

Polychaete annelids  When you said this would be a long read you were not joking were you !!!!!!!! Who would have thought so many different people would write so much on worms? I do have a question for you though,,,,something I have not found discussed yet. How do you introduce spaghetti worms to your tank? I would like your opinion on proper acclimation techniques, do you bury them , or can they do it themselves? There is much written on the subject but not a lot (that I can find) that would be understandable to the common aquarist like me. Thanks again for your time and look forward to seeing you at Reefland. Jim Bell >> Sorry for the late response... have been on a liveaboard (in the Sudan no less) the last... Best way is incidental... with live rock they're imbedded in... Bob Fenner who sends you to Libby Hyman, Betty and Robert Barnes, Olga Hartman... and the years I spent looking at , IDing polychaetes!

2 questions Hello Bob, Its been awhile since I have contacted you, hope all is well. My first question has to do with spaghetti worms,,,,,what can you tell me about them or where can I find some good links? I have ran a search on your page , but not found anything . I am thinking of introducing some into my reef ......The second question is do air bubbles cause some sort of eye disorder on marine fish? I thought at one time I read on your Q&A that a bubble wand in a tank was bad for this reason , but again , cant find it .Thanks for your time and effort. Jim Bell >> Hey there. Spaghetti Worms? I'd start the long read on polychaete annelids period... This will be a very useful exercise, trust me. And yes, they're worthwhile. Maybe you can pen an article for the hobby press on what they are, they're use... And very fine bubbles in aquariums (much smaller than a millimeter in diameter) are not welcome... evidence of uptake, embolism (Emphysematosis is one fancy name for the condition), exophthalmia (bilateral "pop-eye")... you understand... but most all "mechanical aerators" made for aquarium use are safe... it's the odd mix of air and volute blending gas and water together under pressure that cause problems.  Bob Fenner  

Bristle Worms Hello Bob, I need a little help ridding my tank of bristle worms. I want to use a fish to get rid of them. Can you give me a couple of fish that would eat them and not my other crustaceans. Preferably a wrasse that would be reef safe. Also I have some cotton looking stuff (like Q-tips) growing in my tank. Can you tell me what this is and how I can get rid of it. Thanks for all the help you have given my and other reef keepers. Adam >> Look into one of the more peaceful "Lined Wrasses" (genus Pseudocheilinus, like P. tetrataenia) or a "Flasher" of the genus Cirrhilabrus. The cotton looking stuff may be an algae, or some sort of decomposition/fungal product... I would just try to siphon it away with a narrow gauge piece of rigid tubing attached to a flexible hose. Otherwise, these areas will pass, be supplanted by other life forms in time. Bob Fenner

Unknown organisms Bob: I was wondering if you could identify a very small thin worm that I saw  crawling around my live rock. It is a brown color, and has white rings around it too. It moves quickly  and then is gone. It was less than an inch long, and maybe a 1/16th of an  inch in width. This morning I also saw a couple of very small bristle worms they were red  with white bristles. Do you know of a fish or other organism that will  help me get rid of these little creatures? I had heard that I Six-line wrasse will eat them...is this true? Thanks for your repeated help with my tank Bob. Sincerely, Matthew S. >> The "lined wrasses" of the genus Pseudocheilinus are very useful for eating many species of small polychaete/bristle worms... And most species of these worms are of no consequence... there are several thousand different species... can't identify these from descriptions. Bob Fenner  
Identification problem Yesterday morning shortly after feeding I noticed these long skinny "things" in the water. One was probably 3 inches and the other about 5. I though they were fish yuck. However, they seemed to be moving independently like ribbons. When the end of one hit the rock it disintegrated into a whitish film. I got the net and fished the remaining out. Within seconds, it started to dissolve into this milky substance and to my horror, there were these dark little worms inside it!! Could they be some sort of intestinal worms that were passed? None of the fish exhibit unusual behavior and are eating heartily. The other problem is that I don't know what fish it came from. Are they harmful? The small worms inside are a dark color with bodies that appear to have horizontal lines on them (almost segmented like).  I've posted this on many of the discussion boards and haven't been successful with any ID yet. Any ideas? Thanks for the assistance. Erica >> Does sound like some sort of epitoke (errantiate polychaete worm) reproduction event.... and in an aquarium! Bizarre. Well, these are probably not going to be harmful per se to your livestock or system... but definitely caught your and my attention! Bob Fenner  

Strange worms?? I have a 65 gallon reef tank. Lately I have noticed some worm like creatures  in my LR. They look like some sort of tube worm. They are enclosed in a  tube-like structure, all that is visible is two "feelers" like that of a  snail. They emit a sort of cob-web like stringy material from them. What  are these things, are they bad and should I try to remove them? Please advise Thanks, Sue >> Very likely not bad... related to bristle worms, but sedentary in existence (i.e., not crawling about)... some types called "Spaghetti Worms" for their tentacular white stringy feeding apparatus... I'd ignore, but enjoy them. Bob Fenner  

Bristle Worms I apologize if this is a question which can be found in the Archives but my only access is at work and I can't spend the time to read all of them. I've been very successful with Salt Water Aquariums for over 12 years now. Last week, for the first time, I added some Fiji Live Rock to a newly acclimated tank. My only concern is Bristle Worms. I have gotten them in other tanks before from live plants and they managed to kill everything in time. Are Bristle Worm an issue of concern for live rock users? If so, what can be done to avoid a potential problem in the future. Being that my tank is so new I like to hopefully kill them off before they do become an issue. Thank You Very Much for any Advice. Lu Ann Lubrano >> This is a "tough one"... Yes, bringing in deleterious species, including several types of bristle worms IS a concern with live rock (along with other types of hard-substrate based material as you know)... and there are no "sure fire" methods of guaranteeing totally "worm free" live rock... My friend Walt Smith in Fiji, does about the best job by thoroughly hand cleaning and hose-blasting all new rock with seawater and then misting it for days ahead of shipping (you ought to see the mass of mainly worms that accumulates under this rock!)... Some folks seek to "starve" the worms by using long "curing" times... I don't think this really works... you'd have to leave the rock on its own for years... Some people hint at using anti worm compounds... sort of like for domestic pets... Others use high Kalkwasser, low specific gravity... and more novel approaches... We use "big ole mean fishes" like triggers and then different sorts of wrasses (Pseudocheilinus), and Centropyge angels in with our ongoing live rock filter/coral culture units... with our eyes always open for the odd worm... Bob Fenner

How do I get rid of bristle worms in a 55 gallon reef aquarium full of live rock and corals without harming the rock/coral? does anything eat these worms? >> A few types of animals will take on a few types of bristle worms (there are MANY species, of incredible diversity...). Need to know what other sorts of organisms you have... in order to suggest what you might try... that wouldn't likely be eaten... as well. I would start with a couple of Peppermint Shrimp if they will go with your other livestock... and maybe a Paracheilinus, or Pseudocheilinus wrasse species... Bob Fenner

Unknown Worms I have recently seen on outbreak of worms in my 25 gal. mini reef tank. These worms are small and tend to burrow in the crushed coral. They are orange (or reddish color) with long numerous tentacles which they appear to use for grabbing or feeding. They are only about an inch long or so but there numbers have seem to grow very rapidly. Is there an easy way to eradicate them. They don't seem to bother any of the corals or fish in the tank. But since there numbers have grown I know see them on my live rock. Now I consider them a nuisance and would like to get ride of them. I hope you can identify them with the information I given you. Please Help. >> These are very likely some sort of polychaete, which hobbyist literature tends to lump together as bristle worms. Luckily you don't mention any getting big/bigger, there are some real monsters in the group. Many fishes will eat these smaller varieties, but I would need to know what you already have to make sure I'm not suggesting an inappropriate choice. What fishes, motile invertebrates do you keep currently? And, what sorts of livestock would you like to have/intend to add? There are a few worm eating butterflyfishes to utilize, but all get too big for your twenty five... you could get some hermit crabs, but these might prove as big a nuisance in the long haul... or you could just "wait out" this worm invasion and see if they do no harm as their numbers naturally drop (they will) Bob Fenner

Unknown Worms > I have recently seen on outbreak of worms in my 25 gal. mini reef tank. > These worms are small and tend to burrow in the crushed coral. They are > orange (or reddish color) with long numerous tentacles which they appear > to use for grabbing or feeding. They are only about an inch long or so > but there numbers have seem to grow very rapidly. Is there an easy way > to eradicate them. They don't seem to bother any of the corals or fish > in the tank. But since there numbers have grown I know see them on my > live rock. Now I consider them a nuisance and would like to get ride of > them. I hope you can identify them with the information I given you. > Please Help. > > These are very likely some sort of polychaete, which hobbyist literature > tends to lump together as bristle worms. Luckily you don't mention any > getting big/bigger, there are some real monsters in the group. Many fishes > will eat these smaller varieties, but I would need to know what you already > have to make sure I'm not suggesting an inappropriate choice. What fishes, > motile invertebrates do you keep currently? And, what sorts of livestock > would you like to have/intend to add? There are a few worm eating > butterflyfishes to utilize, but all get too big for your twenty five... you > could get some hermit crabs, but these might prove as big a nuisance in the > long haul... or you could just "wait out" this worm invasion and see if they > do no harm as their numbers naturally drop (they will) Bob Fenner The unknown worms don't get any bigger than an inch, and I haven't seen any of the fish I eat these weird looking worms. I currently have a large maroon clown with a bubble tip anemone, two gobies I caught at a reef nearby, two crabs, and about 10 hermit crabs from the same reef. I would like to add a flame angel and a couple of Banggai cardinals. I would also like to add mushrooms to the tank to complete it. >> I'd go ahead with that plan. The one inch or less worms should be no problem and likely you will end up with one fat and happy Flame Angel (Centropyge loricula) Bob Fenner  

Bristle Worms Good Evening,  HELP. really...I have a huge, that I have seen bristle worm...how do I get him out? I am desperate...this thing seems to be at least 5 inches long and I have tired to catch him with tweezers... Thank You, Laura  >> There's no need to fear, Anti-Worm is HERE! Actually, the "bigger they are..." the easier to remove. Try this, tonight when you turn off the lights, place a discrete (large, compact) bit of meaty food (like a big part of a cocktail shrimp) in the corner that is most open and closest to your worm... and keep a sharp eye out... it should be out to feed shortly and you can remove it with a net. Good fishing! Bob Fenner

Spider-Web, errr, worm I have what looks like a spider web growing on my live Fiji rock. I tried to vacuum it off when I did a water change, but with no success. Is it ok or harmful >> Probably just the feeding end of some species of non-motile (sedentariate) segmented worm (polychaete)... same phylum as the bristle worms of so many species, but not harmful at all. Enjoy it! As it lays out those "tentacles" and swipes them back over its "mouth" to feed. Bob Fenner

Bristleworm population control by predation I have had a Macrodactyla doreensis (long tentacle anemone) for about three months. He dwells in my 125 which contains about 200 lbs of rock. I am afraid I can find no effective control for the hungry fireworm population, who emerge at night and chew on the anemone's foot. Now he has developed a puffy spot and it looks to be Vibrio as shown in the Reef Aquarium Volume 2 page 363. I removed him to a hospital tank with a small skimmer on it. I will try the recommended treatment but think recovery will need divine intervention. My question is what nocturnal animals control these beasts on the reef. My assasi trigger thinks they are tasty, but he goes to bed when the lights go down. My clowns and anemone crab are homeless. Is there no hope for fireworm control? Sadly yours, Kathy Benson  >> Yikes... it's outright war! If it were me, I'd stock a pair of Pseudocheilinus octotaenia, or P. evanidus (don't worry about them fighting, or color variants... These should be fast, large and smart enough to stay shy of the trigger, but will put a dent and a half in your worm population. Don't overfeed them with "other" foods. Alternatively and additionally, I'd try trapping the larger ones in a commercial or home made device. Bob Fenner Bristleworm population control by predation Hey Bob, I love your column and I have a question for you. Which is the best fish to combat those orange head worms?. I have a 40gl. reef with shrimps, a yellow Tang, one Clarki with a host anemone, and one yellow tail Damsel. Please tell me about those worms, there are getting always around my clams. Thanks!. >> I like it too! The best fish to eat many types of these pesky polychaete (bristle) worms? Kind of depends on what else you have in your tank livestock wise (so the intended eater doesn't munch on them) and what types of worms (size-wise mainly). Many crabs will eat these worms (and other things), as will triggers and some angels. A few wrasses will scarf them up (the genera Pseudocheilinus and Paracheilinus for the small worms, some Coris, Halichoeres for larger ones)... for you, I'd look into some smaller species of hermit crabs and hope or buy/make a trap to set at night, remove in the bottom. Your tanks a bit small for a larger worm eater. I have been asking around a bit and am looking for a way to eliminate or control the numbers of worms in my substrate. I have heard people say, that dotty backs and arrow crabs work, I have heard others say that emerald crabs would get rid of them, I have had one retailer tell me to get rid of all my rock and substrate and come buy more from him!!! the jerk... What do you recommend? >> All these critters should help. I wouldn't get rid of your rock or substrate, but would consider giving the heave ho to that dealer. Bob Fenner  

Question: I am fairly new at this salt water side of the hobby. I am wondering how much of a problem bristleworms are. I noticed one or two in the live rock I purchased nearly a year ago, and have been noticing more and more ever since. I purchased one of those cheap plastic trap gizmos and have yet to trap a worm. I seem to have better luck with tweezers or scissors. The last one I saw was too large to fit even the trap. I have a large carpet anemone which doesn't seem bothered by them, but everything I hear about them says they feed on invertebrates. I want to start adding corals, but not if these worms are just going to consume them. Do I really need to be concerned? Is there anything that feeds on bristleworms? Am I doing something wrong that is helping them proliferate? Thanks for any help.

Bob's Answer: All good questions and concerns: For one, there are many polychaetes called bristleworms. Two, most are innocuous, a few desirable... as food, sifters and movers of material... Three, most will not, do not harm corals or other desirable livestock. Four, yes there are many animals that eat these ubiquitous marine worms. Some of the butterflyfishes, gobies, triggers, wrasses, some shrimp and tangs notably... of course they must fit in with your other livestock... Fifthly, you are probably doing little to cause, but a great deal to allow them to proliferate. Lack of predators and competitors in a necessarily unnatural setting (small marine volume of macrobiotic life), feeding (perhaps excessively... but hard to manipulate...), but very often, worm and other invertebrate pop. growth problems just work themselves out over time. I wouldn't go overt in efforts to eliminate all of these critters unless they become an obvious problem. Then I would go the bio- predatory route.


Question: If you don't have many corals are bristle worms still a danger? What damage do they really do, and how do you get rid of them? Traps don't seem to work very well.

Bob's Answer: Tracy, I'll admit to you that I spent a few years "sorting and identifying benthic marine invertebrates" as a cheap labor grad. student - mainly errantiate polychaete worms. There are MANY species of so-called bristleworms. If you want to lose some sleep, take a look at Roger Steene's latest underwater picture book. A few pix of a three meter (not a typo, yes ten foot) "bristle worm" that comes straight out of the substrate to grab hapless fishes is pictured! Bristle worms as a group are not unlike the more familiar decapod crabs....opportunistic omnivores. Even if you don't have corals, they'll gladly eat everything else you have over time. Either selective physical removal, nuking of gravel, rock and substrate or biological warfare (e.g. the hungriest triggerfish on the planet) are called for.  

Question: I am fairly new at this salt water side of the hobby. I am wondering how much of a problem bristleworms are. I noticed one or two in the live rock I purchased nearly a year ago, and have been noticing more and more ever since. I purchased one of those cheap plastic trap gizmos and have yet to trap a worm. I seem to have better luck with tweezers or scissors. The last one I saw was too large to fit even the trap. I have a large carpet anemone which doesn't seem bothered by them, but everything I hear about them says they feed on invertebrates. I want to start adding corals, but not if these worms are just going to consume them. Do I really need to be concerned? Is there anything that feeds on bristleworms? Am I doing something wrong that is helping them proliferate? Thanks for any help.

Bob's Answer: All good questions and concerns: For one, there are many polychaetes called bristleworms. Two, most are innocuous, a few desirable... as food, sifters and movers of material... Three, most will not, do not harm corals or other desirable livestock. Four, yes there are many animals that eat these ubiquitous marine worms. Some of the butterflyfishes, gobies, triggers, wrasses, some shrimp and tangs notably... of course they must fit in with your other livestock... Fifthly, you are probably doing little to cause, but a great deal to allow them to proliferate. Lack of predators and competitors in a necessarily unnatural setting (small marine volume of macrobiotic life), feeding (perhaps excessively... but hard to manipulate...), but very often, worm and other invertebrate pop. growth problems just work themselves out over time. I wouldn't go overt in efforts to eliminate all of these critters unless they become an obvious problem. Then I would go the bio- predatory route.



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