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FAQs about Featherduster Worm Feeding

Related Articles: Featherduster Worms, Polychaete Worms

Related FAQs: Worm Feeding, & Featherduster Worms 1, Featherdusters 2Tubeworms 3Tubeworm ID, Tubeworm Behavior, Tubeworm Compatibility, Tubeworm Selection, Tubeworm System, Tubeworm Disease, Tubeworm Reproduction, Polychaete Identification, Polychaete Behavior, Polychaete Compatibility, Polychaete System, Polychaete Selection, Polychaete Feeding, Polychaete Disease, Polychaete Reproduction

Small tubeworms in a healthy sump of/by Mike Giangrasso.

Feather dusters; nutr.     4/30/18
Hi Bob,
This is Eddie Hanson.
<Hey Eddie! Last time we saw each other was in Singapore... at one of the Aquaramas>
I have a question about feather duster worms. What is the best way to keep them alive long term?
<Best to keep in a not-too sterile environment; with a very large (relatively) refugium tied in, with a big DSB, macro-algal culture...>
Are they phyto or Zoa plankton filters?
<Mostly phyto... some size discrimination depending on species, size of specimens>
I know they do the best in nutrient rich systems.
<Yes; tis so>
Thanks, Eddie
<A bit more on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/featherfdgfaqs.htm
and Ron Shimek's articles you can Google on the topic. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Question primarily regarding appropriate food cultures for feather dusters     7/7/12
First of all, thank you so much for the site.  I reference it frequently whenever I get a "bright idea" and it's saved me from a number of mistakes.
 In this case I thought I should write in because  there's a lot of conflicting information not just in general but even in your own pages (I'm sure from different people), so I thought I would seek a little clarification.
As far as a quick background, I would consider myself a moderate to advanced amateur hobbyist as I've successfully kept reef tanks and freshwater planted tanks off and on over 25 years.  Currently, as far as saltwater goes I have a fantastic heavily modded 5 gallon Fluval Chi reef and an acceptable 29 gallon self-modded BioCube reef tank (I say acceptable because in that tank I have a mystery wrasse who eliminates all natural predators of Aiptasia as if he's got a personal stake in their continued existence and without natural solutions I fight a slogging and never-ending trench warfare against them).
Well long story short, that level of experience occasionally leads to overconfidence and I will take on more than what best practices suggest (such as keeping a shrimp and slug loving wrasse in a reef tank).  I say that because I'm well aware that the plans I'm about to mention for a 6 gallon Fluval Edge are well outside best practice.  Rather than a third reef tank, I'm planning on making it a macroalgae and feather duster tank with a Yasha goby/candy cane pistol shrimp pair. 
I've read both here and elsewhere differing levels of difficulty in keeping them, but my guess is that those who say they are "easy" to keep and filter feed "anything" are just mistaking how long they take to starve to death as "successful" keeping.  So most of my questions have to do with culturing appropriate food for the coco worm, Bali green feather duster and small colonial red "cluster dusters" I plan on purchasing.
Obviously the 6 gallon is way too small to naturally support the level of food I need to keep these worms alive and I've read here that most of the prepared foods like Kent's Microvert are not acceptable replacements for the feather dusters.  So I by necessity will need to culture live food for daily feedings.  The phytoplankton shouldn't be a problem although any suggestions regarding the particular culture I should use would be helpful.
 Would you suggest a non-motile like Nannochloropsis or nanochloroporus or a motile like Tetraselmis, Isochrysis or Dunaliella?
<Mmm, I'd try them all... and consider a "punctuated" feeding and filtering time frame... to present foods w/o their mechanical removal>
  In addition to my phytoplankton, I assume I would need some zooplankton cultured as well, but from what I've read the larger and more mobile zooplanktons are not good food for the Featherdusters.  I'm assuming rotifers are out of the question as food, so if not rotifers what are your suggestions for the meat to go with the veggies?  I was thinking about just culturing my reef tanks water for whatever myriad "Infusoria" are hanging around but would seek your advice about culturing these invisible to the naked eye "wild strain" zooplankton be useful or a waste of time.  I've even wondered about using freshwater Infusoria or even larger things like daphnia on the off chance that their dying/weakening upon saltwater contact may make them more useful.
<There are a myriad of such cultures to be had... Do look about for Frank Hoff's work/s... to some degree, there is size preference by species, size of these worms feeding...>
Finally, I know that the level of feeding necessary to support the feather dusters will make the tank "dirty" even with the macroalgaes and weekly water changes (in picos like this I typically do between 30-50%).  Besides keeping a heavy all snail CUC, what else should I keep?
<I'd stick w/ whatever comes out of your live rock that's compatible>
 I was thinking xenias would be good since they do well in refugiums.  Any other suggestions for soft corals?
<Not really in such a small volume, no>
 I've even thought this type of tank setup may be appropriate for the ever difficult to keep carnation corals.
<You DO like a challenge. I should likely encourage your visiting a large college library w/ a bio. dept... and asking the help of a reference librarian. Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm
Rob Toonen, nowayears in Hawaii, has been doing some culture work w/ these Sedentariate Polychaetes. I'd be looking for his name as well. Bob Fenner>

Feather Duster Troubles/Feather Duster Feeding     3/22/12
Hello WetWebMedia Crew,
<Hello Spencer>
       Last week I had bought a feather duster thinking that it was easy to keep, but i <Cap i's please> did my research and found it was harder then i thought.  Currently it is in my 20 gallon tank  with two small clowns.  I have a HOB Penguin 150 Marineland filter and a Hydor Slim Skim Nano Skimmer.  Lately it has been nocturnal which I do not find a surprise but It
does not come out at all during the day.  The feather Duster seems to be increasing the length of it's tube and digging the tube in to the sand.  Is that normal?
Also I was wondering if there is any food especially for Feather Dusters I could use?
<Do read here.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm>
Thank you,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

feather duster, beh., fdg.    1/25/11
Dear Crew,
Thanks in advance for your help.
I added a feather duster into my tank a week ago and everything seemed fine up until 2 days ago. The worm came out of its casing (I feel due to a purple tang picking at the casing) and it seems near its tail end there was a hole in its body. The worm has since detached itself from what I assume was a damaged area and has moved to a new place in the tank.
<Both happen>
The crown is still attached and it is still alive as when I touched it to remove from my tank assuming it was dead it started to move. The damaged area also seems to be closing up.
I dose my tank daily with 3/4 cup of live cultured phytoplankton
<Mmmm... see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/featherfdgfaqs.htm
so I assume it is getting plenty of food.
<I'm not>
I also target feed just in case.
All my water parameters are normal.
Best regards,
<And read the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: feather duster  1/25/11
Thank you for the link and I will read up on it now. I just wanted to do a follow up as I noticed the little nub that came off the feather duster is moving on its own. Before I remove it I was curious as to whether this is just residual movement like when a lizard loses its tail or is this something living that should remain in the tank?
<Good question... I don't know. Have witnessed regeneration of "just" heads/crowns before though. Generally in "muddy circumstances". I'd leave in place. Not much organic component; issue re decomposition. BobF>
Best regards,

Feather Duster/Christmas Worm/Flame Scallop Feeding  2/18/10
Hello WWM Crew,
<Howdy Kristine>
First, thank you in advance for your help. Much obliged--I read you religiously. That said, I have read all applicable WWM posts that I could find and, to my knowledge, this question is not (wholly) duplicative/redundant. Also, I know I have all the really-wish-you-wouldn't critters in my tank so I might be starting out with one strike, but for what little it's worth, they were all well researched and none impulse buys.
In fact, the tank was set up with these inverts in mind specifically.
The tank in question is 50 gallons, not counting inline refugium, ammonia, nitrate and nitrites are at zero. Calcium, other minerals within acceptable ranges for fish and soft coral. Tank houses one mandarin goby, two seahorses, one clownfish, some mushroom anemones and xenia galore, with a few other soft corals, and a variety of macroalgae in (for sea-ponies) and out of refugium. Inverts include several feather dusters, one Christmas tree worm rock, and two flame scallops.
<Sounds/reads as very nice>
Set up/filtration is deep sand bed with lots of live rock and macroalgae and protein skimmer. Sand bed has many Bristleworms living happily. It might be worth mentioning that there is a runaway mantis shrimp in there and has been for months, but to my knowledge no evil has come from him to date.
To feed the goby, I have separate breeding tanks for pods. One raises so-called Tigger Pods and the other the three varieties in Ocean Pods (which are smaller and harder to net, but seem to be doing well). The goby is fine
(the tank and fuge also have pods-a-plenty). The seahorses eat frozen Mysis shrimp. To feed the inverts I have been using DT's phyto and rotifers that I culture in the pod tank as well, plus once a week or so feedings of miscellaneous food for the shrimp and brittle star (system has about 10 shrimp on the theory that they might produce zooplankton in the form of babies for the inverts to consume... is this wacky or might the dusters/worms/scallop eat the planktonic baby peppermint/cleaner/sexy shrimp?).
<Neat, and yes>
My questions:
1) I keep reading that feather dusters consume, among other things, bacteria.
<Mmm, some species to some degree... mainly eat larger fare... zooplankters, deposits/mulm... indirectly the bacteria in/on this>
Would it be possible to feed them bacteria from one of those bottled supplements of "live bacteria" meant to quick cycle an aquarium?
<Not really, no. However, I suspect your system is generating considerable "foods" here>
Or is it a particular form of bacteria they eat?
2) Is anything eating/benefitting from the live rotifer cultures in your opinion?
<Oh yes, likely all directly and in->
They are LAME to culture but terribly costly to buy, so I do it, but don't want to if it's a waste of time.
<Mmm, maybe look into better species or invest in some culture gear, or time/effort to fashion your own.>
3) My pod cultures include lots of amphipods. Do they coexist well with the copepods assuming enough food or will they eat/outcompete?
<Some co-exist well... both groups are wide/diverse... many Amphipods get too big for much aquarium food use>
I don't want to kick myself in the foot here.
4) What do you think of the Reef Nutrition product Oyster Feast for these guys?
<Worth trying... as well as Rod's Food, crushed Spectrum pellets in moderation...>
I am pretty sure the answer is a stern "No" but the LFS swears by it so I have to ask.
5) Is there something that is supposed to be in the fuge besides macroalgae and copepods?
<Mmm, not necessarily. All depends on what you're trying to accomplish>
The idea as I understand it is to product zooplankton and water purification.
<"This" is principally "it">
Other than pods, is there something I can put in there to hasten the production of zooplankton (besides pods, rotifers).
Thanks, Kristine Villager
<Thank you for your well-thought out message. I suspect your system is about optimized for what it is, can be here. I would not change much of anything in your maintenance protocol. Bob Fenner> 

Xmas Tree Worms 02/17/09 Dear WWM, You guys do an amazing job. Based on the website there are tons of different types of Xmas tree worms. The ones I am referring to are about ? inch to 1 inch long and have a spiky operculum at the end of the filter/crown. I bought a coral with a bunch of these worms and thought it would be ok because I've had the Xmas tree worms the smaller kind ? to ? inch in a coral, no operculum and there was no problem with the cleaner shrimp per se. <That's not the only problem though... the main problem is that we can't feed them correctly (don't know how).> The problem is that I have 2 cleaner shrimp is that they are typically very hungry and curious so before I put this new coral in the tank I fed them some food to keep them occupied. I noticed they were poking around the new Xmas and didn't think much of it. I went to watch TV and came back about and hour later. I noticed that it was weird how a light shining on these worm made them retract but the shrimp's antennae touching them did not make it retract, so I figured cool so I thought incorrectly. The shrimp snatched one of the worms by the spiky operculum and ripped the crown right off and started digging inside the hole. The shrimp then retreated and started eating away. I also saw the whelk snails start getting excited and start heading toward the hole and poking around and trying to get inside. Usually they only get that excited about food so I take it as a bad sign. These whelk are reef safe never seen them eat coral, just crawl over them. <I don't think anyone (at least not here) says that any whelk is truly reef safe...> The question is: is that worm eaten by the shrimp gone or did it just detach the crown and will eventually regenerate? <I don't know. It's possibly it just snagged the crown, but you said it also pulled the whole worm out. If that's the case, I wouldn't expect it to regenerate.> Will whelk attack the worms? <Depends on the type of whelk...> Based on what just happened, I'm assuming either the shrimp goes or the worms go and co-existence is highly unlikely? <apparently> Thanks for your help. <Again, I would advice against trying to keep "Christmas tree worms"... not just because of the shrimp, but also because we (aquarists) just don't know how to feed them well enough to keep them alive for much more than a year. I tried my best to keep a few alive for as long as I could. I'm friends with DTs and at the time, he was generous enough to give me loads of phytoplankton and oyster eggs for my effort. Even with all his help, I was still only able to keep them alive for a little over two years.> Steve <Cheers, Sara M.> 

Coco Worm Troubles - 05/07/07 Hi folks, <<Hello Tyson>> Thanks for the terrific site. <<Thanks for thinking it's terrific!>> I recently added a Coco worm to my 29g tank. <<Neat critters...though not easily kept>> It was purchased online and shipped overnight.  My concerns are as follows: upon acclimating the worm, it shed its crown and has been consequently reluctant to make an appearance. <<This sometimes happens due to stress (collection/shipping/acclimation).  If water conditions are optimum there is a chance the worm will regrow its crown>> It has been in the tank for about a week and its head does appear several times per day a few inches back from the opening of its tube.  All of my parameters are within acceptable ranges including calcium and alkalinity.  Nitrite and ammonia are at zero and nitrate remains <10ppm.  I do about an 18% water change weekly (religiously) and have been squirting a little bit of zooplankton and a few morsels of Cyclop-eeze into the Coco worm's tube every other day. <<I would not do this as these foods are mostly too large (requires very small/microscopic fare) and the action is only stressing the worm more.  The addition of a plankton generating refugium is likely required for any chance of long-term success>> I have been doing this for fear that he is unable to eat properly without the crown.  What else should I be doing to ensure that this creature will be able to regenerate and thrive in my tank? <<As stated...your best chance for success with these (most all) suspension feeders is the addition of an in-line plankton generating refugium Thanks! Tyson <<Happy to share.  EricR>>

Protula magnifica  - 03/09/07 Dear Crew: <Paul> I've read through the feather duster FAQ's but am a little confused by bad advice.  I have what I know to be a Protula magnifica.  I researched feather dusters, as species specific information was limited, before I purchased him or her and figured it would fall under the same guidelines as other dusters. <For the most part, yes>   Yet an LFS employee told me it needs no feeding just bright lights, <... no> don't worry I've been target feeding with DT's administering the food from the underside of the crown with the skimmers off.  The problem is the tube broke about 3 inches from the bottom.  When you look at the bottom, of the half where the worm resides, it seems semi closed by a sponge shaped structure inside of the tube.  I mean semi closed where the block has holes but you cannot see the worm through it unless you get really close maybe (I have no desire to look that close at that end of my worm).  Can I bury this end? <Yes... better still... to "wedge" it in a solid area... as in or between rock/s> I have a coarse sand substrate.   Should I try to glue the two pieces back together with superglue gel?   <No, I would not> or should I leave it on the top of my live rock (wasn't 100% sure about the bright light thing)?   <I'd "stand it up" twixt the rock...> Is Cyclop-eeze or frozen rotifers a good food source? <Yes> I appreciate any help and suggestions you may have and thank you in advance. Paul <Mmm, and a fave suggestion... do consider a "living sump", a refugium... for several benefits, one of which is endogenous food production for such filter feeders. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the linked files above... in order... Rationale... Bob Fenner>

Starkist follow-up and Featherduster beh.   3/16/06 Hey Crew!     Just wanted to give you a quick update and ask another question.  I have been trying some of the Tuna juice, but on the advice of Tim saying not to use the can, I have tried some of the juice (which is  very little) that comes in the new tuna pouches they are selling.  I have not had any adverse reactions that I know of, but I did notice that the one feather duster that I had been trying this with has changed in the following ways: (whether or not this is a normal change that I have not noticed or is a result of the feeding I am not sure.) 1. The plume of the crown has expanded in size. 2. The coloration has changed and is slightly more vibrant than before. 3. The small cilia, for lack of a better word, that is on the longer pieces of the crown is much more evident now. The hairs seen to be more abundant and thicker than before. 4.  The duster is open more often than before. Anyway, I am going to conclude my experiment now and revert back to phyto plankton feedings supplemented with clam juice every other day.  My new question was this:  My other feather duster shed his crown about a day after he arrived from shipping.  I know this is normal and that it will grow back. However, this morning when I looked in my tank I noticed that his tube is covered in a clearish white substance on almost all of the tube except the top.  It looks "bubbly" in nature. Any ideas? I can try to get a pic but any help would be appreciated! <Mmm, maybe something growing over it... Perhaps an observable change from the worm itself... Maybe this worm has perished and the bit of organic lining inside the tube is decomposing, showing itself outside? Bob Fenner> John Feather Duster Feeding... 06/07/2005 Hey all... quick question regarding feather dusters.  I have read through your FAQ as well as the one pager of general info you have on feather dusters.  I've had my feather duster for about 3 weeks... he's very responsive and appears to be healthy.  I have a 'children's plastic syringe' that I use to feed the feather duster 3 times a week directly.  I am using a bought mix with minced brine, algae, etc... (i.e. it's a liquid).  I turn my power heads and filter off for about 10 minutes prior to feeding and turn them back on about 10 minutes after feeding.  I position the syringe in front and slightly below the feather duster when he's out.  I then slowly release the mixture in front of him.  The cloudy food mixture slightly engulfs him... passing over him and eventually to the top of my tank where it dissolves.  Is this sufficient to feed him? <That should be fine.  Feather dusters will also eat from the water column from when you feed the other animals.  So as long as you see the feathers exposed to the food you should be ok.> Your website has food suggestions with target feeding by syringe or turkey baster... but doesn't say precisely how?   How do I know if he this is sufficient?   Will he also gain benefit from my fish food schedule (every odd day is flake day... every even day is krill, brine shrimp, or algae pellets). <Yes he will. Also they need some calcium in the water to create the house that they live in.  So be sure to do your regular water changes. But other than that just make sure he looks nice and happy :) > Thanks! Dave <No problem.. EricS>

Feather Duster Hi,<Hello Colleen> Thank you creating such a great website!  My current aquarium is a 10 gallon with a small carbon filter and an 80 gallon/hour power head.  It gets ~20% water changes at least twice a week, and is fed with a flake food only.  It's been up an running about 2.5 years with one convict damsel, 13 lbs live rock, assorted dwarf hermit crabs, a turbo snail and I recently added an emerald crab.  I have a 49 gallon that I am in the process of setting up, but it won't be ready for several months. Yesterday my roommate presented my with a "surprise," a lime green feather duster with about a 1" fan and a tube about 5" long.  He was told that it would filter feed off from left over food in the tank - like the many little ones that are living on the live rock. My question is, is this true?  I'm not sure what variety of feather duster this is, or whether it is easier to care for, or if a 10 gallon (or a young 49) will be able to support it.  If it does require additional feeding would Phyto-feast Live (from www.seafarm.com) be adequate, or would it need something more? <That product is good to feed your dusters. I feed mine with a similar product bi-weekly. There will not be much useable food for the dusters from flake food.> Thank you for taking the time for these questions!  I'm currently reading articles about feather dusters, but I don't want this little guy to be suffering in the meantime... <Another good food is Cyclop-eeze (frozen form).  James (Salty Dog)> Colleen Kennedy

Featherduster worm nutrition Hello <Good morrow> May I please ask your advice? You have so much on your site about feather dusters/tube worms so forgive me if I am asking a question that you have already answered as I'm still not 100% clear. <Okay> I have a 300litre tank with 8 seahorses, 4 cleaner shrimps and one dwarf pipe fish in it and three of these worms. At the moment I feed 1/2 a frozen cube of Artemia or Mysis am and pm. I usually melt them into a little tank water first then pour them and the juice into the flow of the tank water. My worms seem very happy but having read a lot on your site I am concerned that this may not be enough for them? They do and have always seemed fine I have to say but the though of anything I look after quietly starving over a year or so would break my heart. I would most certainly consider myself unworthy of keeping such a beautiful tank and creatures if my ignorance allowed me to do that.  <Mmm, if they're opening... I would not be concerned here. Featherduster species can get by on very little> Thank you in advance and for your efforts on your website, I for one think you have created a fantastic source of information into this fascinating world. Thank you and best wishes, Lizzie <Thank you Lizzie. Bob Fenner>

Small tank, Large Dusters 10/13/03 Good day all!  As always, all of you rule!!!!!!!!  We are so very lucky in being able to contact each and every one of you regarding any issue we may be having.  Thank you so very much. <quite welcome> Well, first off, I've got a 29 gal- emperor 400 w/bio wheel- CPR dual Bak Pak- 30.5 pounds of live Fiji rock from harbor aquatics- 35-36 pounds of live sand by natures ocean- 4 feather dusters- 1 fridmani Pseudochromis- 1 yellow clown goby- 1 Banggai cardinal- 2 peppermint shrimp- one scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp- a bunch of Cerith and Nassarius snails- 2 Astraea snails- assorted hermits (blue legged, scarlet reef, left handed, red tips)       As I LOVE every specimen in my system, I've no problem finding information on anything and everything in my tank here on your site.  Thank goodness!!!!  My issue here is with the feather dusters.  I have read many things about their being fed and cared for properly, and so far so good.  As it's been from the start since I have gotten them.  July 19, 2003.  Although 3 days ago, one did blow his top off!!!!!   This is normal and/or acceptable I know. <it is almost certainly stress induced. And honestly, I do not see how a large Hawaiian feather duster has a prayer of surviving in such a small aquarium. At best, it will take months to slowly starve to death. Your system simply is not big enough to support it (needing bigger aquaria, deeper sand beds and/or Refugia). Prepared foods do not adequately sustain these organisms> I want to make sure that they are feeding and/or being fed correctly and what they need to be fed.  Originally, I would just feed them Selcon soaked baby brine shrimp.  Until I think I remember reading on your site that even that may be a bit large for them.   <correct> I will proceed to blend them.....................what I'm getting at is that I've read so many a times about the CLAM JUICE. <may be helpful.. but is still limited nutritively> I have bought Doxsee/Snow's Clam Juice, has no MSG or additives it says.  I am wondering if this will be suffice blended along with the baby brine shrimp enriched with Selcon?  Somehow, I feel horrible horrible adding a "human table food" into my system.......and I certainly don't want to harm anyone nor create an algae bloom or anything of the sorts. Will this brand/type of clam juice be fine to use?????                       Does even this CLAM JUICE have to be blended??????? Will this "supermarket" bought clam juice be bad to add to the tank????? <its all a moot point here... I fear. I just don't see a single large feather duster living to see even 1 year old, let alone 4 large ones on prepared foods. My advice is to send these animals to a larger aquarium (100 gallons plus... and aged over 1 year with a DSB)> I hope to hear back from you soon, as I just want the best for the feather dusters as anyone else would and I'd rather not bug u guys if I was able to find the answer on the site, so thank you for your time. <no worries... I just wish the news was better. Best regards, Anthony>

- Shrinking Feather Duster - Hi All, A quick question, of the millions you get and reply, for which we are all better for, thank you in advance.  My feather duster, who is rapidly approaching a year old, is getting smaller, he no longer seems to be as full.  He built a new tube, he never left the old tube, however he forked  back into the piece of rock he has been attached to since we got him. <Interesting.> My main concern, are we feeding him properly? <Let's see...> My tank setup is about 1.5 years old and has very low bio load. I regularly feed 2 tablespoons of DT's about 3 times a week and also add Reef Smorgasbord on the other 3 days of the week with a fasting on Sundays, The inverts are feed twice a week usually Mysis shrimp and some kind of bubble pop type food i.e. bloodworms, or something.  Clean tank, water changes on Sunday with RO water, or distilled if I forget to setup the RO machine. My parameters have been normal and I recently add a refugium, after we noticed his shrinking size.  Any suggestions? <Hmm... sounds to me like you are doing most things correctly. The DT's particle size could be too large for this feather duster... need to blend it down or perhaps try other things. Do read this article, suggestions for feeding there: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm Cheers, J -- >

-Featherduster feeding- <Kevin here, how are ya?> Hey, just wanted to tell you thanks for the help on my sea urchin question, and I have one other question to ask. I just got a Featherduster and the guy at the pet shop said that he would require no special feeding <wrong> and live on the fine particles that are naturally in the aquarium <true, but not for the long haul> (I guess stuff like the small particles of food that aren't eaten by the fish) I am now reading that they need to be feed. Can you please answer this question. <I'd recommend one or two of the many live, freeze dried, refrigerated, frozen, etc brands of phytoplankton, preferably DT's live phyto. Follow the directions on the bottle, usually a few times a week should suffice.> My last question is how long do they generally live, I have been unable to get a answer to this anywhere on the internet. <Short answer: They do well if fed properly and are otherwise very hardy.> Thank you very much in advance you guys are great. <I hope this helps! -Kevin>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for your advice in the past! I have 2 more questions... The day after introducing a new Feather Duster into our tank, our Yellow Tang tugged at the tube and collapsed the end of it. The worm hasn't shown himself since. Should I leave it alone, or trim the end off?  <Leave it as is... if the worm can/is surviving it will re-surface> Is it advisable to use vacation pellets while on vacation, versus no feeding? Our 55 gal tank has LR, inverts, and 5 fish that get along well. It seems that they could get by with grazing, but I would hate for them to get so hungry that they would eat the starfish, or each other.  <Hmm, if the tank isn't too crowded metabolically, I'd NOT feed it for a few days... if you have to, PRE-MEASURE prepared foods and LABEL them PER DAY for a trusted "feeder" (leave a couple of phone numbers of folks in the know), and HIDE the rest of foodstuffs...> Thanks for the service you provide with your Daily Q & A. I have made it my homepage so I never miss a day. Scott >> <Me too, Bob Fenner>

Re: feather duster foods Hi again Mr. Fenner, Thanks for the advice. I called our nearest fish store, which is close to 2 hrs away, and they do not have phytoplankton. They said they have Marine Snow, any comments?  <Yes, this stuff is a scam... no real nutritional value... a real shame on TLF. Sorry Jules, my opinion> Anyway, do you know of a store on the web where we could get some? <Look on the www.WetWebMedia.com Links pages... and jump to the folks listed there as etailers...> Also, how much phytoplankton and Selcon do we give? Thanks again! Mercedes <Directions on the bottles... Bob Fenner>

Keeping Polychaete [Co-co] Worms Hello Robert, I was reading your web page and it has been the most comprehensive page on Polychaete worms I have found so far. <Amazing... as this group deserves much, much more... for instance, I intend to collect, micro-photograph example worms, perhaps write up the more common families in detail...> About 2 weeks ago I bought a Co-Co worm from my LFS. I think it is a Spirobranchus gigantea, although they do not give species names. It has a calcareous tube with two red feathered heads at the top. It is a gorgeous worm and I paid 60 dollars for it. <Wow!> I currently run a 29 gal with an altered eclipse hood-(55 watt Smart Lites) and a protein skimmer in the tank. I have 2 Leathers, Mushrooms, a Hawaiian Featherduster, Waiving Hand Xenia, Flame Scallop, 2 Banggai Cardinals, a cleaner shrimp, and an Alveopora I bought with the Co-Co worm. I was feeding DT Phytoplankton once every 2 - 3 days. Mysis Shrimp every 1 -2 days. <Sounds very nice> The guy at the LFS said I was feeding enough to keep the Co-Co worm and that I would need to raise my calcium. So I started a Kalkwasser drip into the tank For about a week the worm was out and beautiful. He was out all the time, day and night and only retreated when startled. Then he retracted farther and farther into his tube so that the entire head was retracted into the tube within 3 days. On day 2 I went back to my LFS and asked about the worm and took a sample of my water to them. The guy at the store said my water parameters were ideal, the resident specialist said that Co-Co worms were "swine" and needed so much food that you tended to foul the water trying to feed them. <Mmm, I disagree... perhaps more concentrated feeding with a baster would do...> He suggested that the worm could be doing one of two things. One- I am not feeding him enough and he has retracted into his tube after not finding any food in the water. (If the worm is hungry, why isn't he fully extended looking for food?) <Many possibilities... I suspect the water quality is not to this animal's liking. Do consider switching from the Kalkwasser to a two-part liquid supplement here> Two- The food I am feeding him is too fine and he is remaking his feathers so they are more efficient in filtering the DT Phytoplankton out of the water. So I have been hand feeding the worm DT Phytoplankton once everyday, I turn off the protein skimmer for about an hour when I feed. He now comes out about a quarter of the way but no more. So far the rest of my corals have been doing well under this new regiment of feeding, as a matter of fact I think they like it. I am keeping an eye on the Alveopora as he is photosynthetic while the others can filter feed. Unfortunately DT Phytoplankton is not cheap. <Look for similar foods that come in larger sizes... or consider culturing unicellular green algae for your use. Not hard to do> After reading your article I am raising my salinity from 1.022 to 1.024 and see what happens I may take it higher to 1.025. What do you suggest? I am also going to look for a website that sells nauplii or rotifers (frozen I hope). Maybe that will help. Any insight would be GREATLY APPRECIATED!! Thank you very much for your time, Trilby Wilson <You display all the knowledge, ideas I have on the subject. I would continue with them. Bob Fenner>

Feeding a Feather Duster <Steven Pro filling in for Bob for awhile.> I have an XL Hawaiian feather duster I try to feed him with turkey baster just like the rest of my filter feeders but he does not retract, just sits there wide open...I am feeding a blend of fresh brine shrimp, flake, Zo? Nori, and invert food <I hope you are using baby brine shrimp, crushed flake food, and ground up Nori. Feather dusters feed on fairly small plankton.> Bob oh guru of the aquaria please help, is this normal?? <Yes, they pass the food down to the mouth and will not retract when feeding.> I guess I expected him to pull food into his tube and consume there. I have read the section on these guys to no avail!....Thanks in advance AGAIN!...Joe Grunstad <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Coral Choice and Strange Pseudochromis The tank is a 20 long with 25 lbs. of LR, a pair of powerheads, a Prizm protein skimmer, 2.5" of LS, a small (but growing) handful of Sawblade Caulerpa, a 3/4" ORA maroon clown, a 3/4" tank-raised Pseudochromis springeri, and a 2" bicolor blenny who is slowly recovering from HLLE. <You may want to try soaking their foods in Boyd's Vita-Chem and/or Selcon from American Marine. Both are excellent supplements and good for treating HLLS.> There are also a couple of turbo snails, ~5 blue leg hermits, and 3 red leg hermits. Nitrates are at about 10 ppm, and we are getting a calcium and an alkalinity test before we even get the lights so we can monitor that. Right now, the lighting is a single NO fluorescent, but next week my fiancé and I are adding a pair of 65 watt, 10,000K PC's (JBJ fixture). This will give us a total of 130 watts over a 12" tank. We have been putting together a list of the sessile inverts we would like to keep, and would really like your opinion. So far, we want to add (in this order): Feather duster <The Feather Duster is not photosynthetic and will require daily feedings. You can read more about their care here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/featherfaqs.htm> Green star polyps Small Tridacna sp. clam <The only small clam is the crocea and not to be recommended to beginners.> Bubble coral Brain coral These will be added at a rate of one or two every couple of weeks over a period of months. Does this sound feasible? <The rate of addition sounds good. See other notes above.> Also, what do you think the chances are that the clown will keep house with the bubble coral? <Hard to say. A frequently mentioned surrogate for an anemone is the toadstool leather.> My second question is about our springeri. He seems to be really attached to the crabs. He rubs up against them and worries them, but not like he is going to eat them, more like he is trying to move them or wants them to clean him. He does this with both the red legs and the blue legs. It is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen, and no one at our dealer's has any idea why he would do this. I was hoping that you, in your semi-infinite marine wisdom, might be able to shed some light on his behavior. <I do not know what he is doing. It seems odd to me that a captive raised fish would still have the instinct to approach for a cleaning. Maybe that is why he is approaching the wrong kind of animal. If you want to see cleaning behaviors, try one of the cleaning shrimp, Lysmata amboinensis or grabhami.> As always, your willingness to share is much appreciated! Laura Rushing <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

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