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FAQs about Featherduster, Tube- Worm Reproduction

Related Articles: Featherduster Worms, Polychaete Worms,

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

Xmas tree worms spawning 6/28/10
<Hello there>
Because of an small emerald crab picking on the Porites, I had to move my Porites rock with 4 Christmas tree worms which I purchased back in January, 2008 . I had set up a 10 gallon tank for QT some incoming coral frags and put them in there. Within 15 minutes all four went into a spawning event.
I will post pics, but I also took video which I still need to put on YouTube.
I also have another Porites rock no worms that I quickly stuck into the tank hoping maybe some of the spawn will settle. (Yeah, I know slim to none but if you don't try you don't know, right?)
There is nothing else in the tank except an in-tank filter with only blue filter pad and a heater. You can see the thousands plus eggs in the water as teeny brown specks. The event lasted almost 30 minutes with all four worms. I
couldn't tell, however, whether they all released both the white milky substance and the brown eggs or only a couple released the milky substance and the others released the brown specks. By chance do you know if the spawning event causes the death of the worm afterwards?
<As far as I'm aware it does not>
I certainly hope not.
<Thanks for sharing, BobF>

Follow-up- Xmas Tree worm spawning video link 6/28/10
Here's the video link. As of now the bottom of the tank is covered with the brownish eggs that have settled. I pulled some up with a pipette and placed them on and around the large Porites rock.
PS... sorry I don't think I even signed my name on the first email, guess I was too excited.
<Heeee! BobF>
My feather dusters reproduced....and they are everywhere!!! - 6/11/07 Hi, About 2 months ago I noticed a whole bunch of little white specs everywhere throughout my tank. I did some research and I came to the conclusion that it is most likely Planaria. It seemed to match the bill correctly. So I continued to go into water change overkill to try and rid my tank of them. After about 2 weeks they were still everywhere over the rocks and on the glass. I was doing another water change yesterday and I noticed for the first time that many of them had grown rapidly in size and it turns out that they are feather dusters. They started out as little tiny white spiral specks and now they are beginning to uncurl themselves. My question is, how do I clean the inside glass without harming them. I've noticed they pop off the glass rather easily, but I would assume that might kill them in the process. Is this correct or should they be knocked off because I've never seen a feather duster purposely being grown on the tank itself--??? <These are a different species than your large Featherdusters and will stay tiny. They won't hurt anything, but are easily removed if they are blocking your view. I would scrape them off the front glass and leave them everywhere else to continue their propagation.> There are without a doubt over 100 of these little things throughout the tank some big enough to clearly see their feather, and some still showing up as specks. Is there anything I should do to insure their survival. <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm at the bottom, family Serpulidae.> Thanks a whole lot for your time, Curtis Richards <Welcome, Alex>

Coco Worm Reproduction 5/13/07 Like the threads I've seen on your site, it appears my coco worm has released a LARGE amount of gametes, (or at least slimy, milky material) into the water. From what I've been able to find on your site, this most likely reproduction. <Yes, likely so> But like the other articles I've read, the other corals and my GBTA have started to act sick. <Too much reproductive materials present in too little space... Water changes, cleaning the internal surfaces of your skimmer (the coating greatly diminishes its functionality), perhaps the use of chemical filtrants...> Is this normal? <Happens> GBTA looks like it's near death, totally withdrawn and deflated. Was doing fine up until the day my worm got "lucky". Should I do anything (i.e. water change)? <Yes> Given that I only have one worm, is there any chance anything will fertilize? <Mmm... no... http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0160-8347%28199403%2917%3A1%3C263%3ALCAPSO%3E2.0.CO%3B2-A&size=LARGE&origin=JSTOR-enlargePage> Thanks in advance <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Hawaiian Feather Duster question - 4/26/07 Hi, <Hi Dani> This morning my largest Hawaiian duster had clouded up his tank and was continuing to release gametes into the water. If it is the only one releasing, there is no way for reproduction, right? <Not by sexual means, no.> I don't know what gametes are being released (i.e. eggs or sperm [or both]). <One or the other> Can you guys school me on this a little bit? <Sure thing! Here you go: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/featherreprofaqs.htm http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/aug2002/invert.htm > Thanks so much, Dani <You're very welcome! -Lynn>

Coco Worm Reproducing 5/17/06 Mr. Fenner, I would like to share a picture with you because I think my Coco Worm has decided to start reproducing. <Does appear so> I am not sure what this stuff is but all of my corals and fish went nuts, 1000 times more than over feeding with oyster eggs. I thought I read somewhere that these tube worms don't reproduce in captivity. Is this true? <Mmm, no... do reproduce in captivity. Have heard, read of this, and seen it first-hand> Thanks for your time,
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Feather Duster Question Hi there... <Hello> We bought a smaller (4-5") feather duster about 2 months ago. Roughly a month ago, we had an algae bloom that we didn't know how to remedy, and it lasted approximately 3 weeks. Once we cleared it up, we noticed that our feather duster looked like his "head" was splitting in two, and his tube seemed to be branching, much like a duster cluster. We were wondering: is this normal? Is he breeding, or getting ready to split? <Is normal... is a form of reproduction... perhaps the algae or what happened in changing its bloom triggered this> I've done some poking around on the web, and can't seem to find any info on the breeding habits of these fascinating creatures... Some enlightenment would be great! <Do reproduce sexually and asexually... put the terms "polychaete reproductive strategies" in your search tools> Also, is it normal for a Sebae Clown to bond with a Duster? We have one that did... <Happens> Thanks for the input! <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Feather Duster reproduction Hi--I read through the questions & answers already posted re: feather duster reproduction (practically a Kinsey report in the making!) <Heee! Hopefully we won't be censored> and wanted to chime in. I have a 72 -gallon reef tank that's been up and running for about a year, so I'm a relative beginner. <Okay> Like a couple of others who posted questions, I have a feather duster that expelled its fan with the worm attached. It's currently wriggling itself suggestively against the rock. (!) I gather the original has cloned itself & that this offspring will generate a tube eventually. What's interesting is that I think I'm seeing (in conjunction with the suggestive wriggling) small white larvae seemingly being produced by the worm. They aren't 'tubes' attached perpendicular to the rock (I have quite a lot of those, too--tiny feather dusters of another type, I gather), but rather have been deposited flat on the rock like eggs. It appears that they're coming from the 'collar' area of the worm surrounding the feather which is consistent with a hermaphroditic reproduction, right? I think I read somewhere that larvae could be 'brooded' in the tube? What the heck is going on? <Possibly what you suggest> And thanks for telling people to check grammar, etc. I'm an English professor & you've warmed the cockles (forgive the marine pun. . . ) of my heart. Thanks, Melissa <Ahhh, and the "honey bee", from lingua Latina melior, melioris... We are of the same mind here... and all expend considerable time/effort trying to correct spelling... Bob Fenner>

Raising Christmas Tree Worms Crew: < Blundell here today. > I am crapping out on my search for information on Spirobranchus giganteus reproduction. Plenty of info on fanworms, but I'm looking for more specifics. Any ideas or direction in which I may head? < Difficult area. I'm unaware of anyone actively trying to breed and raise them. My personal input is the standard: good water quality. I think they are going to be very difficult to raise in captivity. If they release gametes into the water the chances of them successfully settling and developing must be near impossible. I would think your best bet is to ask fellow worm keeping reefers on message boards, see what information they can provide. Thanks < Blundell >

Good Article on Feather Duster Worms! Hi <Hello there> Good to see someone making a living out of what they learned at university lol <Hee hee... of a sorts> I was actually looking for reproduction information. One of my worms' "head" fell off a few weeks ago. I left the tube in the aquarium and now there is a smaller version slowly emerging. Reproduction or metamorphosis? <The latter> Cheers Bob <And thou, Bob Fenner> Robert Cross

Splitting feather worm?? Hi whoever :-) <Adam today!> This is Des. This isn't really a problem but I can't seem to find much info on the topic. Steve Pro suggested that I ask the crew particularly Anthony. I have a feather worm that has been in my tank approximately a year and a half. The other day I noticed two mouths! Steve suggested I send a photo but alas my camera is acting up. Anyway there are definitely two mouths and I wondered if this is how they reproduce? <A photo is always helpful, but I think you are exactly right! In a little while, you will probably have two feather dusters.> Also I wondered what is likely to happen. Will it: a. Just sit there with two mouths sharing the same tube? <Possible. No idea how long splitting may take.> b. Eventually have one or both of the blow the coop and one or both make a new tube. <Probably. One will probably leave the current tube to build it's own.> c. other? <Maybe. Dunno for sure.> Also I noticed that it is not quite open as long as much as usual. Could this be the stress of doubling? <Very well could be. Dividing is an energy intensive process for any animal.> Anyway this isn't earthshaking but I was curious. <Not earth shattering, but a nice report. Please do updated us if it splits. Please also include photo documentation if possible. This is the first I have heard of this and have never seen it documented, so your report could make a great educational tool.> Thanks, --des <Thank you! Best regards. Adam>

Feather Dusters Hi WWM Crew! <<Hello, JasonC here...>> First timer for salt water and asking a question on your site. I visit your site daily now, found it days after we got our 55 gallon and just can't get enough of it - you guys are great! <<I'm glad you find the information useful.>> Have searched through your FAQ's for Feather Dusters and found only one question specifically relating to mine "Feather Dusters Going Mad" I think was the "title". I too have two beautiful feather dusters that this morning began emitting clouds of... well off white clouds.;-) The answer on FAQ was not very specific and I am a little concerned. First timer jitters I'm sure. <<Quite likely.>> What are these clouds. <<Hard to know for certain without a microscope... there are only one or two possibilities...>> They continue to emit them even as I write this. Reproducing? <<Ding! Or at least my guess as well.>> If this is a feather duster orgasm we should regard them as gods.;-) <<Not really, if you think about it for a minute, there are a number of marine species and even some terrestrial insects who create gametes/eggs/offspring/spawning-attempts for the simple matter that a very large percentage of them will never make it. Only way to survive through a mortality curve like that is to breed better than rabbits.>> Please help. My local fish store has proved to be inconsistent with their info and no one could ever know as much as you guys! Thanks for ALL of your help you continue to be a source of both inspiration and peace of mind. <<Glad to hear we are helpful.>> Laura <<Cheers, J -- >>

Reproducing Feather duster worm Just to share a reproduction event (I assume) <Actually regeneration. Other accounts posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm and the FAQs beyond> with my Polychaete Worm Sabellastarte?? 15 days ago, the worm expelled the crown or feeding gills, the crown has bad luck because I was late to see the expulsion event, so when I realized the crown was damaged by the siphon. I let the old tube without gills in its rock and maybe 8 days after the expulsion, a new crown is growing, the old crown had 8-10 diameter cm.s, the new one is just 1.5-2 cm.s now. Greetings Carlos Dz <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner>

HELP! Large Feather Duster secretion I just bought a 1" diameter, and 4" long "Feather Duster" It is not your garden variety, pink center, with many white "hairs" about a hour after acclimation to my tank, it began to secrete a white silky substance, very string like, please tell me this is reproductive, and not poison <Not likely toxic, but also not likely reproductive. Perhaps a waste product. Bob Fenner>

For starters...I love your site. Here is my question though...I have had a well established reef system for about 5 years. For the most part, nothing has changed, corals, fish, additions, deaths...lol, we do not have filtration on this tank, but I do have 2-1140 powerheads, and 150 pounds of rock in a 120 gallon aquarium, I only have three fish and a large number of blue legs. Water quality has never been an issue. I randomly give the tank calcium treatments. I think that "less is more" when it comes to a reef. The more natural, the better. It seems to be working, nothing has died in about 4 years. However, here is where my question comes in. In the last 3 months, my fan worms have doubled in number. All fan worms, my Hawaiians, Christmas tree worms, and various brightly colored "regular" ones. I was wondering if you might know what might be causing them to be that happy that I might sprout this many additions...(roughly 40 new ones.) <Well, obviously there's favorable conditions in your tank. Wish you could bottle and sell it.> I noticed that the new ones are located somewhat near the "established worms" and are just a different color than the larger versions. <Well, many kinds of worms can not only reproduce sexually (more difficult in an aquarium with the pumps and all) but asexually as well. I'd guess that's what could be going on.> I enjoy studying my rocks weekly for "new growths" and have been documenting how many are appearing. Any clue about how they are reproducing that much? I do not spot feed them. Heck, the only food they get is what is extra from feeding the crabs and the clownfish. I am at a loss as to what may have prompted the sudden changes. I'm not complaining, but if I can contribute to helping others by giving away some of mine...I'm all for it. <Well, if you can find them good homes, sure, why not. As to the why's, that is a puzzler. I suspect though from the age of your tank that you may have a planktonic population that can support these worms. > any information would be a great help. thanks Denise <Well Denise, I hope that helped, have a good night, PF>

Fan worm excretion I have search your FAQ site and found nothing about my question. I have a Hawaiian feather duster that began excreting a milky substance while the fan was open (lasted about 15 minutes). My bi-color Blenny thought it was great and couldn't keep away from the fan. The substance made my tank very cloudy - what is this? <Sex products> It is part of the reproduction process or what?? <The former... happens in "good times and bad"> The fan doesn't appear to be stressed and takes in food regularly. Thanks is advance. Sue <Nothing to worry about. Bob Fenner>

Feather Dusters Booming - 8/14/03 Good morning, <cheers> I have a 150 gallon, well established tank with a variety of non-aggressive fish and invertebrates. In those, I also have three large Sabellastarte feather dusters that have been doing great for some time. Recently I've noticed quite a crop of what appears to be baby feather dusters attached to the live rock in the aquarium. They exhibit the same characteristics as the big guys (suck back in when something passes by and appear to have their own tube... although they're still too small to tell). Is there any info out there on Feather duster life cycles? <if your question is "are these babies", the answer is almost certainly no. There are several very common miniature Sabellid feather dusters that flourish in aquaria. They can become a nuisance if you have flaws in your nutrient export processes (weak water change schedule, skimmer that does not produce copiously, etc)> I've looked for articles from a number of sources but have come up dry... I've also heard they're notoriously hard to breed in captivity- are they asexual? What's their reproductive process? >the larger Sabellids are challenging... the smaller species are so easy as to be nearly unavoidable. Reproductive modes vary wildly (epitokes, fragmentation, asexual and sexual reproduction). We cover this group at some length in our new book "Reef Invertebrates" (Calfo and Fenner 2003)> I just want to make sure I don't have some kind of hitchhiking noxious organism that I should get rid of. Many thanks in advance! <it is likely... but no worries if your husbandry is good. best regards, Anthony>

Feather Duster Hi Bob, Had something happen last night that has left me wondering, 'What the HECK!!!'. About a week ago I purchased two large feather dusters and placed them in my tank after some acclimation. Two days ago, one of the dusters shot its feathers off. I have had this happen before and they grow back in a few weeks. (Probably due to stress?) <Yep, seen it, suspect you're right.> Yesterday evening however I noticed what looked like a reddish caterpillar under my heater, slowly wriggling. I figured the worm had crawled out of his tube and I thought I would try to coax him back in. When I grabbed the tube, there was still 1/2 worm in it, and it was moving also! I left this half in the tube hoping it would regrow some feathers. <See above.> Did this worm a) reproduce by splitting in half? b) tear himself in half due to stress? c) other? <Probably one of...> Should I leave both worms be right now, and see if they produce another tube/feather? <Yes, what I would do.> Thanks for your help Brian >> You're welcome. Bob Fenner

One duster, two duster... My Featherduster worm wasn't coming out of its tube until today. And I noticed that the crown split into two. There are two "circles" now. is this normal? thanks >> Yes. Many species (there are several in the two families of Sedentariate polychaete worms we call Featherdusters) do this sort of reproduction. They may continue to occupy the one tube, build another adjacent to it, or the one may give up its home to the new individual. Interesting, eh? Bob Fenner

Feather Dusters Bob, Great site and it took me forever to find it. <Wonder how we could make ourselves more evident> I am looking to "try" to propagate SABELLASTARTE MAGNIFICA, and am trying to do some massive research over the internet. Some questions that I can't seem to find the answers to are: 1. Do you know of a substrate that simulates the mud they live in? <The very mud they ARE found in...> 2. I've seen sites that say asexual and sexual reproduction for them, if it's sexual how do you know if you have a male or female? <No worries... will change, rise to the occasion> 3. Has anyone successfully mated or at least had a worm "branch" off from the main tube? <Assuredly> 4. Any sites you can recommend would be greatly appreciated. <Libby Hyman's work on polychaetes... Robert Barnes Invert. Zoo, "Buzz"baum... really, a computer search bibliography at a college library. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Matt S.
Re: Feather Dusters
> Bob, > Great site and it took me forever to find it. > <Wonder how we could make ourselves more evident> Well I had to do a search at google.com using the scientific name, and it was on the second set of links. There was only 10 links I believe, but again it had to be the scientific name, which required some digging through the internet also. <Thank you for this> > 1. Do you know of a substrate that simulates the mud they live in? > <The very mud they ARE found in...> Actually I'm in Michigan so getting my hands on that stuff would be a little difficult, unless you care to ship me a couple pounds? ;) But any ideas for synthetic or other that I can order. <You could ask your local fish store to let you gather the mud/muck in their live rock curing tubs (really), or next best I'd order a pound or two of Leng Sy's "miracle mud": http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/index.html> > 4. Any sites you can recommend would be greatly appreciated. > <Libby Hyman's work on polychaetes... Robert Barnes Invert. Zoo, > "Buzz" baum... really, a computer search bibliography at a college library. > Bob Fenner Ok, I'll do some more research on those. <There is MUCH known about the group... Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Matt S.

Feather Duster Lovin' hello. Tim from Wisconsin here. <Greetings Tim... Anthony Calfo here answering mail for Bob whilst he is out getting fitted for wings and a flight harness to perform as baby Cupid at shopping malls for Valentine's day> I read all I could on feather duster questions and answers. Very interesting! I really love this site, now added to favorites. <me too...an amazing amount of information and soon to be expanding much bigger...look out for it> My question is, I had purchased two Hawaiian feather dusters about two weeks ago. They are going strong. <they are filter feeders, bud. Be prepared> As I was looking at my tank tonight, I saw three more dusters , real small, but just like the Hawaiian dusters. One is on a piece of rock that I just put in the tank two days ago. My question is, besides breaking in two, do these dusters have other ways to reproduce? (i.e. eggs. ) Any answer would be greatly appreciated. <the successful sexual reproduction of "Hawaiian feather dusters" is not likely or possible in the short period of time that you've had your little beauties. You are noticing entirely different species of fan worms appearing from your live rock (or like product). They may never grow anywhere near as large, but they are wonderful just the same. Enjoy. Anthony>

Pitter Patter of little Feather Dusters Hey Rob, <<Not Robert, but JasonC filling while Bob is away diving.>> First, thanks for the advice on fixing my parasite problem (leave fish out for a month, raise temp, and lower sp. gravity), my new tankmates are now flourishing nicely (yellow tang, 2 cleaner shrimp, black and white striped damsel, blue w/yellow tail damsel). Now for my question. I just realized that one of my feather dusters moved to another part of my tank. The weird thing is (at least I think), is only the top part (head or feather part) separated from it's main body. I know they move body and all, but just the head? <<this is one of their mechanisms for reproduction - clone oneself and send the clone adrift.>> It seemed to attach itself (the feather part), underneath, a little piece of my button polyp coral, that had separated in the past. Is this normal, will it grow another body, and will the original body grow another head? <<all normal, should grow a new crown in a little time.>> Thanks, Joe
<<You are welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

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