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FAQs about Non-Vertebrate Animals 1

Related Articles: Marine Invertebrates, Quarantine of Corals and Invertebrates, Feeding Reef Invertebrates, Lighting Marine Invertebrates, Water Flow, How Much is Enough,

Related FAQs: Marine Invert.s 2, Marine Invert.s 3, & FAQs about: Non-Vert IDs 1, Non-Vert IDs 2, Non-Vert IDs 3, ... Marine Invertebrate Behavior, Marine Invertebrate Compatibility, Marine Invertebrate Selection, Marine Invertebrate Systems, Feeding Reef Invertebrates, Marine Invertebrate Disease, Marine Invertebrate Reproduction& Marine Plankton

A Bryozoan, Reteporellina graeffei, growing under a plate coral.

"What are these little twisted white things stuck on my glass, live rock, et al....?" Likely they're small Serpulid worms, one of the principal families of "Featherdusters" kept by many reef aquarists. They cause no harm whatsoever. Here is a bunch stuck to a Sea Squirt in Indonesia. Look familiar? No problem. These small filter feeders "come and go" depending on food availability and predation. Enjoy them. 

Unknown Creatures in my 12 gal Eclipse Reef Tank Hi Bob, How are you doing? Steven Pro this morning doing father well.> You are an invaluable service to every Aquarium Hobbyist! Your web site is very informative. When ever I need to find anything about my tank it's the first place I go! <Thank you kindly from the entire WWM crew.> Recently I saw 3 unknown creatures in my tank. They are all the same shape but different colors. They are oblong in shape and look like little volcano. The largest one has a orange-ish color to it. The next one is white and seems furry. The last one is black with white criss-cross stripes. They move around like snails but don't have a shell. What could they be? <Not sure from the description. Take a look at this page http://www.rshimek.com/Invertebrate%20Key%20to%20Major%20Taxa.htm It is Dr. Shimek's Key to creature ID. It is set up with questions. You answer them and then it directs you to more questions until you reach an ID.> Are they bad? <Not sure yet.> If so how do I get rid of them. I talked to someone at a LFS and he thinks they are flat worms and I should try to take them out because they will eat my polyps. He suggested a Mandarin Goby or a slug (I forget what kind a black one with purple stripes) could help do the job. <The slug is a Chelidonura varia, but both the slug and the Mandarin would surely starve to death in a 12 gallon tank.> I wanted your opinion or suggestions before I do anything. <Lets wait to see exactly what you have and then we can select a course of action.> Thanks, John <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

What the <insert descriptive word here>? Hi Robert, Lorenzo on duty at the moment - but just briefly... The 'Whatthe_.JPG' pic is a tube/fan worm, no sweat, nothing to fret about, a harmless filter feeder that may reproduce in your aquarium given the opportunity (lack of predators, basically) The other pic 'glassanen.JPG' is NOT something I recognize (not Aiptasia, that's a certainty) but I suspect Anthony will know more when he sees it, and he or StevePro will be able to answer your other questions. <Mmm, a hydrozoan "Xmas Tree" organism of some species is my guess. Bob Fenner> I attached the 'glassanen.JPG' file to this email so the "almighty ones" could see it without bothering with the ZIP archive. [grins] Cheers!-Zo <indeed a hydrozoan... reminds us of a pale variety of the nuisance organism known in the reef trade as a "hyrdaspore" (caramel colored nests of pom-pom hydrozoans. Fascinating but do not make a habit of collecting too many of these little stingers. Anthony>

Little White Creatures in my tank Hi there! <Cheerio!> Hopefully you can help me figure out what is in my tank. I noticed yesterday that there was some white "stuff" on my tank so I cleaned the glass. Then today I noticed they were back. When I looked closely (at my age need bi-focals), I noticed that they had round bodies (the size of a pin head) and about 8-10 "legs". <numerous natural plankton (amphipods, copepods and more) are imported with live rock and sand commonly. They are very beneficial and to be encouraged. Good detritivores/scavengers and live food for fishes. Some people add fishless refugiums to their tanks just to grow more of them for they fish (see archives on this topic)> I have had my tank up for 8 weeks and during yesterday's reading got my second "perfect" conditions reading. I want to take back the damsels and start to add "real" fish. Is there a fish or invert that will eat these little white things?  <more will than wont> Will they eventually die off or cause a problem? <I hope that you don't stock your tank too fast and lose most/all of them on the contrary> I feel compelled to state that your web site is the BEST. Thanks for your time, Debra <thank you kindly for saying so! Anthony>

What is this Stuff in My Tank? <<JasonC here, Bob is away on a diving junket.>> Bob, this morning a turned on the lights to my aquarium and was surprised to see what looked like hundreds of tiny white dots floating around in my tank. Initially I thought that they were parasites. However, aren't parasites supposed to be too small to visually see until they actually infect a fish and thus show up as tiny white dots? <<this is true>> Well, after a little thought, I started to wonder if the floating white dots might actually be eggs. I recently added a cleaner shrimp to the tank and remember reading somewhere that they lay eggs allot and that they usually just become food for the other tank inhabitants. Do you think this may be the source of the tiny white dots floating around? The dots where literally the size of a needle point. I wanted to hang around and see if my six line wrasse would go around and start eating them this morning but he had just come out of his sleeping spot and I had to go to work so I could observe him to see if he would eat them. I appreciate any information you may have on this. Thank you, <<without inspection under a microscope, there's no way to even be slightly sure of what those might be. I would hazard a guess that these are a plankton-type critters, but eggs-of-something is also a good possibility. Did your 6-line take any interest?>> Gianluca Carpinelli <<Cheers, J -- >>

I'm Being Invaded by Something... Hi Mr. Fenner <<JasonC here, Bob is away diving.>> I've written before and very much appreciate your expert reply. My reef tank is 2 months old. This morning I noticed tiny white creatures swarming on the glass of my reef tank. They are not on any of my fish or coral but they adhere to the glass and occasionally "flit" around for a second and re-adhere to the glass or simply walk around. A conservative estimate of the number I can see is, say, about ten or eleven billion. <<I can honestly say that I can not recall ever seeing a billion of anything myself - that is really more than a lot!>> I feel invaded. They are 1/2 mm wide, 1-2 mm long and bleach white. They are the shape of a grain of rice. <<do they have legs, look like little bugs or something else? It's really difficult to tell sometimes, but there is a website that might help: http://www.tcnj.edu/~maughme2/faq.htm >> One person tells me they are the larval stage of flat worms which I most certainly want to remove immediately by raising the alkalinity for one week. <<if they "are" [they may be completely good for your tank] flat-worm larvae, I'm not sure that raising alkalinity is the best way to approach the problem.>> Another tells me I have to disassemble my whole tank to get rid of them. You do not mention this in your book that I can find. <<too many possibilities without more information. What size is your tank. Do you have live rock, live sand? Any other fish or inverts? All you've revealed so far is that the tank is two months old.>> Another person tells me to ignore them and they will go away. I hope the latter is true. <<I'd bet at least a dollar on this one... >> BUT, if they are flat-worms-to-be, what can/should I do. <<hard to say really until you know if they are even bad flat-worms as there are so many different types. If I were you I would wait it out. Do you have any fish? What type of system were you planning - there might be a six-line wrasse in your future or similar fish who love to eat small things.>>  What else might they be. If I should raise my alkalinity, how much, how fast, and how long? <<Why should you raise it now - what is it?>> Do the fish need to come out? <<what fish?>> Please help--I can't bear to sit back and watch them grow into alien creatures of nightmare proportions. <<I doubt seriously this is happening. Do they go away when the lights come on?>> I need your help. <<I think you just need to relax, not worry about this so much. Please reply with some more detail about the tank and fish, live rock, etc.>> Thank you (By the way, I have a SeaTest kit which tells me my nitrates don't even register (i.e zero on the 0.0-1.0 range). I don't believe I could be so lucky. Is this test any good?) <<they are good, but do you have the other tests that are handy for new tanks - Ammonia/ium [NH3-] and Nitrite [NO2-] - you should be testing these as well. You are/were testing for these, yes? In a very new tank there will be no nitrates until you've been through two other parts of the Nitrogen cycle. You might want to read over the following page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/biofiltr.htm Cheers, J -- >>

Little White Creatures in my tank Hi there! <Cheerio!> Hopefully you can help me figure out what is in my tank. I noticed yesterday that there was some white "stuff" on my tank so I cleaned the glass. Then today I noticed they were back. When I looked closely (at my age need bi-focals), I noticed that they had round bodies (the size of a pin head) and about 8-10 "legs". <numerous natural plankton (amphipods, copepods and more) are imported with live rock and sand commonly. They are very beneficial and to be encouraged. Good detritivores/scavengers and live food for fishes. Some people add fishless refugiums to their tanks just to grow more of them for they fish (see archives on this topic)> I have had my tank up for 8 weeks and during yesterday's reading got my second "perfect" conditions reading. I want to take back the damsels and start to add "real" fish. Is there a fish or invert that will eat these little white things?  <more will than wont> Will they eventually die off or cause a problem? <I hope that you don't stock your tank too fast and lose most/all of them on the contrary> I feel compelled to state that your web site is the BEST. Thanks for your time, Debra <thank you kindly for saying so! Anthony>

Microscopic sea life in my aquarium Hello, I have a 46 gallon reef/fish tank. I have had it run fallow 2 weeks now because of an ich epidemic. I have noticed a lot of new tiny creatures developing in my aquarium. I have a microscope and have looked a these new additions to discover what they are but I do not know where to find the names to put to these new faces. I do have some cleaner shrimp in my tank that may have bred. Also I have some Mini Stars and snails that may have bred. There are at least three different type of creatures in there. I just was wondering if you have any information I could use to for further study. My microscope has the ability to take pictures of whatever I am viewing. If I can get some good pictures maybe I could email them to you to have you put them on your site. I was hoping for some information on your site but to no avail. <Definitely send pictures. We will identify and use to help others.> Thanks, Chad <No, thank you. -Steven Pro>

Wise with Seahorses, invertebrates, tridacnids Hey, <whassuuuup?> Thank you for the quick response on my questions about my proposed mini-reef setup.  <quite welcome> I have decided against getting sea horses after being advised that it would be best for a seahorse to be kept in a tank which is at least 20 inches tall.  <I am honestly delighted to hear that more seahorses will live longer <smile>> So I guess I will now be going with a fish or two, some corals and possibly a clam. Could you name some corals which would do well in my 110 watts of PC light (over a 20 gallon) and that could be kept by a beginner to keeping corals? Also, will any of the species of clams be ok or do you have a species that you would recommend? <with that much good light over a twenty gallon, you can keep more species seen in the trade than not. Stick with mostly soft corals (finger and crown/mushroom leathers) and Zoantharians (button polyps and mushroom anemones)... they're are hardy and colorful. Avoid stony corals as a beginner (LPS and SPS). The hardiest clams are Hippopus species, T. derasa and T. squamosa. Other blue clams will need bright light in shallow water> Thank You, Jonathan Pac <very welcome>

Re: Questions Hi there , Need your advice. A small portion of its tissue of my green frogspawn coral begins to disappear. Any idea why?  <Please read through the Euphylliid Corals FAQs section posted on WetWebMedia.com> The rest of my corals are doing great and no such symptom. Secondly, I don't seem to be able to keep cleaner or boxer shrimp alive. They can only last for about 2 or 3 days and they just die off. Any idea why.  <Please read through all the Marine Shrimp materials posted on WWM> My water parameters are ok, all my fishes and corals re doing fine. Thanks. <Bob Fenner>

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 fianc?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>

Life expectancy for invertebrates... Greetings Mr. Fenner, <Salutem dicit; I say a greeting, lingua Latina> Thanks again for your efforts in spreading knowledge that I'm sure has spared the lives of thousands of marine life. <Thank you for the acknowledgement> I sent this regarding my little anemone crab and cleaner shrimp (a Lysmata amboinensis). Both are thriving and doing well, and I've become quite fond of them. Recently, I've been curious as to what the average lifespan for these creatures in captivity are (given excellent environmental conditions). I've done some investigating on the web, and have seen a rough estimate of 3-4 years for the shrimp. 3-12 years, for the crab. However, they did not clarify whether these figures are associated to specimen in captivity or the wild. <Both more close to 3-4 years (know of Lysmata that have lived for six) in captivity and likely a bit shy of this in the wild> It seems as if these animals are seen largely as an "adjunct" to the real stars of the marine aquarium- <This is a subjective evaluation... to me they are all "stars"> -fish and so it's hard to come by lifespan ranges. I would appreciate any information you could share so that I may scale back my emotional attachment accordingly. (j/k!) <Well put. Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Brian

Invertebrates Hi, Bob. Can You recommend any good book about invertebrates for the aquarium? Thanks, Bernd <Yes! The best treatment to date is "The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium" series by Alf Nilsen and Sven Fossa... and you can probably get, read the best versions (in German!). Their site: http://www.mcra.com/ and the books can be had from/through Amazon et al. sources. Bob Fenner who uses these reference works most days.>

Any non-fish for a community tank? Mr. Fenner: Thank you for your prompt reply and helpful information in response to my questions about freshwater lobsters and crayfish. <You're welcome> (My interest in these crustaceans and the like is purely non-gastrological, though) <oh> If lobsters and crayfish are not ideal candidates for a community tank... are there any invertebrates that are? Any that won't be eaten by the fish? <Yes... depending on which species we're talking about... of a certainty there are ones that can/do/will eat each other> Must have fish and invertebrates (and not eat them) too! Please help! AHR <Do take a read through the various fresh and brackish water sections (livestock sub-sections) posted on WetWebMedia.com for input on selection, choices. Bob Fenner>

How long? Hi Mr. Fenner. <<JasonC here, helping out during the holidays.>> Short question today. How long should I wait to move the following. I have an open brain coral about 3" across when it's closed up. It is on the bottom substrate of the tank. My tank is a bit deeper then normal at 30". I put the brain in on Sat. (5 days ago), and while it spreads out for a little while. it spends most of the day closed up. All other corals are doing great. The brain was at the LFS for a good while, and was doing well. I know it is probably just adjusting to my tank but how long should I wait to move it (I'm thinking maybe it needs to be closer to the lights). <<Well, this is a good question. My hunch is to leave it for a while, another week perhaps, just to see. Moving things around constantly doesn't help at all. The bottom of a 30" tank is indeed, away from the light, but if it were too far one would think the coral would be open more often rather than less. I think this coral is still making an adjustment to your tank, and these things take a little while - at least two weeks.>> Question #2: Also how long should I wait to take out a feather duster ( not he big Hawaiian species, but a dwarf type that has red, and white feather extensions) It blew it's top 3 weeks ago when I was vacuuming the substrate in the tank ( probably stressed it out), I left the head in hoping it would regrow, unfortunately my cleaner found it, and had a nice meal. Know I still have the main worm in it's tube, but have not seen any sign of life since. Is 3 weeks long enough, or still leave it be, and wait? <<Doesn't sound good, but if it's not grossly decaying, it's not going to cost you anything to leave it in there a little while longer. You just never know...>> Thanks in advance, Greg N. <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Re: what are they? I was just staring at my tank and I noticed these little white things on the glass they look like very small worms it almost looks like they are running on the glass. <Likely... please read the invertebrate marine sections on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Should I be worried about them their are a lot of them? What could be the cause? <Read the WWM site... Bob Fenner>

What is it? Mr. Fenner, Hello, I hope all is well with you. I have a question for you regarding a odd growth on my live rock. It looks like a white (almost translucent) growth that looks almost like tree roots with little tiny nubs extending off of it. Sometimes it looks like it has died and starts to shrivel up, but sure enough it comes back looking healthier than ever. Any idea what the heck this is? It looks neat and I've never seen anything like it. Thanks for any input! Spencer <Mmm, likely either a type of sponge (Poriferan) or encrusting gorgonian. Had someone send me a query about the latter yesterday. Image posted on the Daily FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily Q&A.htm and you can use the marine index or search feature on the site to read about, search for more about the possibilities on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Feather Star Feeding <<JasonC here filling in for Bob while he gets packed>> I am trying to find out exactly how I should be feeding my Invert community (Especially the Feather Star) to maximize their life spans. <<asking these types of questions is a great place to start>> My Setup: 75 Gal Aquarium one year old. 95lb's live rock sitting on a 3" aragonite (mix size) "sand bed" Two 10,000K 96 Watt PC and two "True Actinic" 7,100K PC Skimmer: Reef Devil by E.T.S.S. Aqua UV 25 Watt With Wiper T4 Titanium Water Pump (Throttled back to about 800 gal/hr) Two Maxi-Jet 1200 PH and an Power Sweep 228 for Water movement About 10 medium fish (Largest is a 3.5" Tang) Bubble Anemone, Bubble Coral, Brain Coral, A few Polyps, feather duster, two Brittle Stars and a feather star. Monthly 50% water changes with 24 to 48 hour old salt mix w/ RO/DI (Kent Sea Salt) (Honest) <<This last practice I would change - a 50% change is drastic no matter when in a cycle [of changes] it takes place, and would be something to reserve for an emergency. Do try 10% every two weeks. Additionally, there is much written about the consequences of using "too-fresh" salt solutions, and you should consider making your mix water as much as a week in advance. Check: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm >> Dosing: Two Little Fishes (TLF) Part A and B ionic solution: 3TBs's Daily Kent Turbo Calcium two Tsp's Daily Seachem 8.3 Buffer (as needed to maintain 8.2 to 8.3 PH) Daily TLF CombiSan: One Capful three times a week Kent Iodine: One Capful three times a week Recently purchased and confused about dosage. Invert Smorgasbord Liquid Gold TLF Marine Snow DTS Phytoplankton Which of the Invert foods should I be using/throwing away? Is their a better product I should get? How do I feed them? When? How much? HELP!!!!!! <<Personally, I would stick with the live phytoplankton's... also some good writing about this. Word has it that you will get your best results by mixing it in a blender before administration to the tank. The blending reduces the particle size. Don't know if you should throw any of those out, just use them up and don't replace them.>> I currently don't seem to have an algae problem and would like to keep it that way! <<avoid the snake oil [products that make amazing/unrealistic promises] and you'll be all set.>> Any info you can give me would be of the greatest value. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Marine Pests--please help Hi Mr. Fenner <Hello> Re--pest problems I am new to your site and to marine reefs. I am just getting started but I have finished cycling and have added rock, sand, a few fish and a few corals. One of the rocks I purchased has a small anemone and also what I believe to be a large bristle worm. The rock has been in the tank for 2 weeks and although I have removed it now, I am concerned my tank is infected. <Very possibly if what you refer to as "infected" is having other anemones and bristleworm species... Almost all systems have these.> There is one other specimen on the rock I cannot identify--Ill try to describe it: Adherent to the rock are 2mm X 3mm darker colored bases from which protrude a 1/2 mm in diam and about 3mm long bright orange tubular structure. There are at least 10 scattered on the rock. I am assuming with my luck so far that these are more pests and probably all over my tank now. <Mmm, not "pests" per se... "more life"... A good lesson for many in aquarium keeping is the abandonment of a "didactic view" of their universe... there are not "good/bad guys" cleanly divisible into categories of "desired"/"hated"...> Do you know what these are?  <Not from this description... could be worms of many sorts, mollusks, some sorts of stinging-celled life... but very likely not "pests"> Can you recommend an army of cleaner creatures in any combination that I can introduce to the tank to beat these pests (and others I don't even know about) back before they begin to multiply? <Could not, would not> Any reef fish that would be good for this? <Best to relax, enjoy your system, study at this point... No reason to worry... Worrying will not change the future. Leave these animals be. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your time--Marty Freeman

Unknown organism Mr. Fenner, I have a problem with ID of an organism that started growing on my LR. Unfortunately I can't get a picture, but in your book "The conscientious marine aquarist" there are pictures. On page 138 the in the top left corner of the top left picture, This appears to be some kind of skeleton, and in my tank has started to grow these little brown things that have short stubby tentacles. <Mmm, maybe a sponge of some sort (the yellowish material), or decomposition communities (-mycetes, funguses) as the whitish material> On page 372 in the picture on the right. The little round things that are on the rock is what these brown things look like. Actually there are in both pics on 372.  <These appear to be actual corallite (coral polyp) skeletons...> I'm sure you can tell that I am grabbing at straws, any help would be greatly appreciated. Great book by the way. <Thank you... have got to make a "what is this stuff" section/articles for our website, www.WetWebMedia.com and the hobby press. These sorts of questions occur daily (often from me!). Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Thank You Brian Rubar

Small bug invasion Hi. I've got a small bug problem and a friend of mine said you might be able to tell me what they are. I have a 55gal salt water tank with some fish, live rock, anemones, shrimp, crabs, snails etc. I now have been invaded by little white bugs maybe a millimeter long at the max. They seem to like hanging out on the glass. I might have gotten them from a snail I picked up in the intercostals waterway. I live in South Florida and I get a few items off the beach now and then. I have copepods living in the filter but they don't seem to bother anyone. I have also noticed a large number of what appear to be white egg sacks on the glass maybe 3-4mm across and a mm tall at the max. They seem to have showed up at the same time as the small white bugs. I don't think they are bothering the other living creatures and that is my main concern. Any ideas on what they may be? <The former as you state are some sort of crustacean... if you'd described their locomotion we might guess as to a higher grouping... more copepods, amphipods, etc... The latter are very likely some sort of tube-building polychaete worm... Both are very probably non-deleterious, and will likely pass with age, opportunistic predators, competitors "evolving" in your system. You can find a link to a "critter id" posted on our invertebrate and links pages on www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Thanks a lot Tom Derby

Little white c's on the glass of my 39 gal reef tank I have some very small, a little bigger than a pin head, hard growths that look like little c's on my live rock and glass. They look like a worm or something could be in them but I have never seen anything moving. <Good observation, guess... very likely these are small tubiculous polychaetes (worms)> They are quite hard to remove and are becoming unsightly. Do you know what they could be? How do I get rid of them?  <Mmm, they likely will "pass" with succession, aging of your system... You could keep wiping down the viewing panels... or place a fish, like a Toby/Sharpnose Puffer, Ctenochaetus Tang, Salarias or Atrosalarias Blenny (though the last groups mainly eat algae, they'll clean these off in the process of scouring... Growing macro-algae in a sump, the main tank would inspire populations of predators, competitors...> The snails, fish, emerald crab, starfish etc. seem uninterested. You had a similar question of FAQ but I did some research on the calcareous tube worm and found only X-tree worms which don't show what they look like when very small.  <Only one of many hundreds of species...> The ones in my tank never seem to grow any bigger. They just multiply all over everything. Thank you for any information. Carol <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Inverts WITHOUT Live Rock?!?! Hello Bob (Again! - You helped me on a lighting question a few days ago), I have a pre-tank setup dilemma that I am interested in your help with. I am planning a new 100 SW gallon set up with Fish and invertebrates. Since the tank will be setup in our family living room I am needing to make sure that it is aesthetically appealing as well as functionally efficient. The tank will be an acrylic 60"L x 18"W x 20"H with pre-filter drilled for under tank filtration. I am currently planning to have 220 watts lighting (via a 48" power compact system with 4-55 watt bulbs) and could even add an additional 130 watts PC lighting or 220 watts VHO lighting IF necessary. I have read, and believe, the copious amounts of information that you and others have provided pertaining to the use of live rock for biological filtration, however my better half doesn't like the decorative "looks" of live rock - I am not in total disagreement. Instead, we are leaning towards brightly colored faux corals for aquascaping in order to match our contemporary home and furniture decor. <Can still be done> I am pretty sure this would be of little consequence in a fish only tank, <Actually no... all biological systems benefit from having more "biological" moderating influences> however, my dilemma is that I would also like very much to keep inverts - in fact I insist on it. Specifically, I am interested in keeping starfish, brittle stars, urchins, feather dusters, and anemones (1 or 2 of each). To cut to the chase, is it possible/advisable to keep inverts WITHOUT live rock in the tank? <Possible yes (this was done for years before the advent/popularity of LR), advisable? No> Would live rock in the sump (instead of a wet/dry filter) be an adequate "work around" for not having live rock in the tank itself? <Yes, a good/nice compromise filtration-wise... but how about foods/feeding using the live rock?> Finally, while I have you, could you please confirm that the lighting that I have described is adequate for the inverts that I plan to keep?  <Depends on what types of anemones, where they're placed... not easy animals to keep> Also I would very much appreciate your suggestion of 2 or three anemones which are compatible with clownfish that could be kept successfully with 220 watts of PC lighting? <This is gone over on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com> Thanks in advance for your willingness to help me and others that are "new to the game"!! <Anytime my friend. Just a cautionary statement that will should all too familiar. I will help others who only help themselves. Bob Fenner> Calvin

Critters dear rob, thanks for all the valuable info. I have one quick question. I have a lot of tiny critters crawling on the tank walls. they aren't on my trigger but they are all over the place. what are those things and what should I do about them? <Ah, the "mystery critter i.d. and 'how dangerous' question"... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/invertfa.htm Bob Fenner> thanks again, slow burn

Inverts per gallon? Bob, My wife and I were talking (something I ought to do more often) about what fish we would be adding in the next phase to our 3 month old tank. I know there are several basic rules for the number of fish kept in a given tank (such as 3-5 gallons/fish, etc.) and I began to wonder (not wander, my mind does that all to often) if there is a general rule's) for invertebrates. Do the same rules that apply for fish also apply to invertebrates? How does one know when to wisely stop? Thom Walters <Good question/s, well-worded... there might be some such "rules of thumb" but I don't recall running across such... best to under stock of course... but the individual "temperaments" of non-vertebrates are so broad (much more than the vert.s) that some can be very crowded indeed with their own kind, others... and on the other hand there are species that can barely be left with much of anything (some of the larger crabs, lobsters come to mind)... Bob Fenner>

Parasites?? Hello Robert, As always I appreciate all of your informative information and answers. Thanks. My question is this: I have noticed little white specs about 1/32 inch long and hair thin. I just started noticing a lot of them clinging to the walls of my saltwater tank. I thought that the inside walls just needed cleaning for algae until I saw these little specs moving! I have also seen some of them swimming around the tank but most are on the inside walls of the tank. They are so tiny I can't tell what they are. They seem mostly stationary on the walls but if I keep looking I see them flitter about. Do you have any Idea what these things are? <Without microscopic observation, no> Should I worry about them infesting my tank or fish? <There is very little chance that these organisms are or will be trouble. Very likely they will "pass" eaten, replaced by other life in your system. No worries. Bob Fenner> Thanks so much for your help. Mike

Question, found some creature I have been curing my live rock for about 2 months. Yesterday I moved the cured live rock to another aquarium with some new prepared water. Today I saw a half-an-inch creature that looks like a snake and swims like a snake. It has a round head, flattened a little bit from the up and the bottom. The color is light grey-yellow. I assume it is something undesirable, because only a terrible creature would survive a month of not survivable amount of ammonia and nitrite in an aquarium. Do you know what it is and if I should get rid of it if I see it the next time? <Don't look closer... there are likely many types of creatures "left over" at this point... And likely no problem. Please read through our marine invertebrate sections on the site, www.WetWebMedia.com... and especially the worm FAQs: http://wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Unknown critter Bob, My girlfriend found this on the shell of one of our turbograzers this a.m. It crawled off once the snail got into the light. I'd like to know what in the #$%^ this is and if I should worry about it? thanks ce <Looks like a snail, sea slug of some sort... I wouldn't be concerned unless I saw such chewing substantially on other livestock. Bob Fenner>

Creature Hello, Mr. Fenner. Enjoyed reading your book "Conscientious Marine Aquarist."  <Ah, hopefully as much as I did putting it together> I'm in the process of cycling a 110 gallon soon to be reef aquarium. The tank has been running for a month now and I will probably add a clean up crew in the next 7-10 days as soon as the ammonia and nitrites drop. They aren't high but I'm being cautious. Currently I have 120 lbs of LR, 40# more pounds added this week. I'm starting to get some hair algae and the diatoms are blooming. I also have what appear to be a few "flat worms." They are clear/white and crawl like a snail.  The tail end has two projections which trail from a central roundish flat body in a direction opposite the direction of movement. I don't know what these are and can't seem to find pictures on the internet. Are they harmless? Could you tell me what they might be? <Very likely harmless... just as probably will vanish of their own accord. No worries> Thanks for any help you may be able to render. Richard DePaemelere <Please take a look on our sites link pages: http://wetwebmedia.com/links.htm for the Hitchhiker critters i.d. link and the images, articles surveying various marine invertebrate groups there (and FAQs). Nothing to be concerned about. Bob Fenner>

Unidentifiable white crustaceans Hi Bob. good afternoon. I have a question regarding some white crustaceans that first grew in my filter then slowly started growing in my tank. I brought a sample to my LFS and they said they had seen this only in filters but never in a tank. They look like small white shells sort of like barnacles. They grow on the glass, substrate, and live rock including the snails shells. My LFS said this type of worm (If that) only like to grow in the dark. I would appreciate any advice on this matter. Thanks once again. My friend have a good holiday Bob. <Well, you've stated that these might be worms, or crustaceans... and there are many possibilities of both that fit your scant description. I would not worry about these "found" organisms at any length. They will likely fall prey to other influences and virtually disappear in a short while. There are some invertebrate identification sites listed on the WetWebMedia.com Links Page. You might try there. Bob Fenner>

Little white specs on the glass? Hey Bob, I read on your site about these white specs that appear on the glass but at the time it did not apply to me, so I can't remember :) .... Now that I have them I was wondering what they were. They look like tiny little snowflakes. Are they Calcium deposits? <Maybe... try scraping a bit off and looking under a loupe, magnifying glass, or a low-power microscope... otherwise likely a type of encrusting/tubiculous worm or mollusk... and very likely not a problem.> I am using SeaChem Ca and Amino supplements.... Thanks as always for your invaluable feedback. Your faithful disciple :) Robert Jackson <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Egg masses on live rock Hi Bob, One piece of live rock I acquired from my LFS, who sold it for a customer who broke down his tank, his covered with egg masses(?) They are about 1/4" in diameter, roundish, white masses, with evenly distributed small holes. Eventually, they hatch very small, white, spiky, hairy things. Can you tell me what this is without seeing a picture? <Hmm, not from this description... sounds more like these may be ascidians (tunicates, sea squirts), or possibly sponges of some sort, being consumed, supplanted by other life forms rather than reproductive materials hatching out. Possibly Zoanthids (colonial anemones) just opening up... Bob Fenner> Thank you so much. Patricia

Re: egg masses on live rock Thanks for your response, Bob. I'll try to get a picture of them, maybe borrow a digital camera. The white, star like, hairy things actually emerge, detach and float into the water like little starships. Most of these seem to go into the filter, because they're VERY light and small. <Ah! An important clue... perhaps these are hydrozoans, scyphozoans of some sort (jellyfish-like/medusoids stinging-celled animals) after all... many have strobilization stages as you tentatively describe. Bob Fenner> Patricia

Saltwater Question I have a 75 gallon reef tank that is about 1 1/2 years old. The tank is doing great, but I recently noticed a new inhabitant. It looks like some sort of tube worm. It is very small, about 1/8th inch long, very straight and hard. If you look closely, you can see some hair-like projections coming out, but not like a fan worm. Sometime they release streamers that look like a spider webs, especially after adding some top-off water or doing a water change. I have lots of other tube worms. They a white and curl around on the rock. These are very different. Do you know what they are? <One of many types of tube-building sedentariate polychaete worms. Good observations, description... and not a problem> I have also noticed a jelly-fish like creature swimming about. It is translucent and pulsates along. Do you know what this might be? <Wowzah, perhaps a Salp, type of invertebrate or juvenile intermediate of same... surprised it has shown up, persists... given filtration, nutritional constraints of captive systems... You're to be congratulated for keen study and clarity of mind... self-employment is your destiny. Bob Fenner> Thanks for the info.! Marty

Mysterious Beasties <Maureen, Lorenzo Gonzalez here, replying for Bob, who's underwater somewhere in Asia for a couple more weeks> Dear Mr. Fenner, I wrote to you about a problem we have with our tank regarding small white larvae like parasites.  <I'm not so sure they're actually parasites - there are a LOT of 'creepy' looking' beasties in a healthy reef tank, some that come and go in 'population explosions'... Have you seen them actually -on- your fish? It's easy to see something kinda freaky in a reef tank, then go overboard with 'treatments' that can easily do more harm than good. Think 'chemotherapy' - cuz that's what it usually amounts to...> At least I think that's what they are. I noticed that your bulletin board was updated on 5/25. I also realize that you get hundreds of e-mails a week. I will keep searching for your reply as we are still having the same problem with those wiggly "beasts" I would not feel such a sense of urgency, but we live in a town with very limited and inexperienced dealers. They have lead us astray quite often, that's one reason I was so glad to find your web site. I hope I did not miss your reply. I will keep looking. Thank you very much Maureen <I didn't reply earlier, because I was hoping Bob might get online at a hotel and answer your original question... sorry about the delay!  -Lorenzo>

Re: Mysteries <Lorenzo replying for 'diving bob-in-Asia'> I have live rock in my tank and last night I saw a very very tiny ghost white what looked like serpent star crawling around on the rock. I currently have one rather large serpent star already in the tank. Did it reproduce by itself or is this something totally different? <Probably somebody else's kid, just been hanging on the live rock, trying to be inconspicuous... -Lorenzo>

Aliens (spawning in my tank) Hi Bob, It's your newbie Fenner groupie again. <Yikes> I was not home last night so I did not see this first hand. My 92 gallon tank has been set up since Feb. 01. I have about 70 lbs. of live rock. Recently there has been a lot of new growth and interesting things showing up. My husband said last night 2 critters about as big around as his thumb climbed up the rock to the highest point. He said they looked like snails without their shells. When they reached the highest point they contracted their bodies and shot what looked like eggs out of their mouths. He said they each did it about 6 or 7 times with less eggs coming out each time. After this they looked elongated as they went back down into the rock. Any clues? <Most likely a species of Sea Cucumber, perhaps a type of worm...> Am I going to have hundreds of something hatching?  <Doubtful... most of these types of spawners (releasing gametes into the environment) have their reproductive products taken out by filtration... or other life in the system... or succumb to hunger in the absence of suitable quality, quantity of foodstuffs if they make it that far in their development... probably no negative consequence> Could something this big have come on my rock and been there for 2 months without me seeing something before now? <Oh yes... or have grown that fast in the intervening period> I have not added any more fish since I cycled the tank. I have tried to be really patient.  <Very good> I have 2 yellow tail blue damsels and one domino (who is growing like crazy and thinks he really rules the roost)!  <S/he does> I have 5 snails as well but they are all accounted for with shells on so I know these creatures are not something I put in there intentionally. Please let me know what my next step is. I never miss your daily Q&As. You're the BEST!! Thanks for your input. Groupie, Joyce <Do look for the Daily FAQs on the www.WetWebMedia.com site... and we are working on a "mailing list" to send out the "top FAQs of the day, a pic, and maybe... Bob Fenner>

Can you identify this? Dear Gentlemen, I know that this pictures are pretty bad, but I need to see If I can identify this in my tank. This looks like "guts", like tiny little fingers. It roams around the tank, I first notice it attach to a leather them move rock. I just don't know if it is a parasite that I need to remove from the tank. Thank you for your help. Ken Cabezas <Sorry... can't make out at all well what you've labeled... but can assure you that the vast majority of all such "recruits" in captive systems are not parasitic, or deleterious. I wouldn't worry about this mysterious life form. Bob Fenner>

Need information on a recent critter infestation! Dear Mr. Fenner, <Hi there> I am what you would consider a saltwater newbie. I started my first tank (a 30 gallon) about 3 months ago. Thanks to a good local fish store and your fine website and FAQ section (which I read everyday), I feel that I have learned a great deal, am even more excited about the hobby, and have had a successful and fruitful start to the hobby - Thank you. <Your statements are exactly why we have made, continue to make the site. Thank you> Let me tell you a little about my set up before I continue. I have a 30 gallon FOWLR, about 17 lbs. liverock, DSB (about 4 inches) power head, protein skimmer, and basic penguin Biowheel OB filter. Only one standard bulb, but I put tinfoil around it. I have the following livestock in the tank: 2 Percula Clowns 1 Royal Gramma 5 blue leg hermits 1 sand sifting start 2 snails (not sure what kind) Just a few days ago I noticed that there were hundreds of these tiny little spiral shaped white things mostly on the glass of my tank, but also on the live rock, and in the sand. I attached a picture of them I found on a fish message board in a post with some people talking about them. The consensus on the board is that they are a feather duster, but I just wanted to make sure with you. It was also said that they need very good water conditions to prosper and I just have tons so I hope this is a testament to my water quality? <No worries on all counts... Yes to likely being some type of tubiculous polychaete worm... will "cycle" out in time> Here are some questions I have about them 1) How big will they get, and how long will it take them to get big? <They're likely about as big as they will get. There are small to huge species in this group (of segmented marine worms)> 2) There are A LOT, should I get rid of some how? How? (I don't like killing things, but they are awfully small and would be hard to "round-up" to give to a store or something.) Could I sell them? <No to commerce here... I'd wipe them off the viewing panels, otherwise leave them be... as I say, "the next" thing will be along shortly that will consume, compete with this life form in your system... you will see> 3) Can I remove them from the glass (maybe when bigger) and put them on the LR where they would be more out of the way and natural looking (not on glass)? <A good idea to try> 4) If I do let a bunch of these things stay in my tank, how many do you suggest I keep? <The ones that aren't on the viewing panels.> 5) I was told they will straighten out (un-spiral) when they get bigger. Is that true? <Doubtful> 6) How did they get in the tank in the first place? (I noted them just all of a sudden.) The appeared about 24 hours after I introduced the royal Gramma which I had to get into the tank by leaving a grapefruit size piece of coral skeleton in my tank. At the fish store I bought him at, he wouldn't come out of the coral so they let me borrow the coral to get the little bugger in the tank. Could that many (hundreds) have hitch-hiked in on that?!?!? <Yes, or their progenitors... or on foods, in the shipping water... many possibilities> While I am at it, I have little red spots (about the same size, but look more like bits of jelly) on the glass as well. What are those? <Many, many possibilities... crustaceans, sponges, stinging-celled life... other worms groups...> Sorry I had so many questions, I like to make sure I know what I am doing as there are real lives at stake in the hobby. I appreciate your time and your help. Thanks. <A pleasure my friend. Let your marvel at the living world guide, teach you. Bob Fenner> Bryan Aalberg

Lighting Question Hey Bob, It looks like my tank has gotten over the hair algae problem and everything is doing great. I guess its time to sit back and watch the fish. (And change water, feed, and test)  <Well put... "these things shall pass" given good set-up, patience... time going by> So I have moved on to my new project which is a tank for seahorses. I set up a 20 gallon tank with a normal single bulb strip light, 20 lbs of that live sand that comes in a bag, and a heater. I filled the tank with water and let it sit for about a week. I then moved my sea-clone which had been on my other tank to this tank. I let the skimmer run for about a month an a half and the lights being on 8 hours a day. I then added about 25 lbs of rubble and live base rock and some fake corals. The tank ran for another month then I changed the water. I let it run for about another 2 weeks and decided to test my water. Everything looked good so I added two turbo snails. Well we had a hot spell while we were away for vacation and the about a quarter of the tank water evaporated sending the salinity through the roof. <Wow!> (Thank God I had instructed my tank caretaker to top off our main tank with non-chlorinated water everyday) So I came back to two turbo snail shells and two hard things which I assume was their feet.  <And the rest of their remains...> Surprisingly the tank's water parameters were perfect besides the salinity so I did a water change and brought the salinity in check while also razing the water level in the tank. That happened about two weeks ago. I had been reading about sea horses for the past couple months and I decided to go with the Ocean Rider horses since they are pre-trained to take frozen Mysis. <Yes... excellent livestock and people... am visiting on Kona right now and intend to call, visit with Carol there at NELHA if time permits....> My first pair arrived yesterday and they are doing great. They do eat frozen Mysis shrimp easily and seem to be happy. Anyways I was looking at the tank last night and I decided that over the summer I am going to convert the tank to a reef. My plan is to add another 25 lbs of cured liverock to complete the aqua-scape I have. I also plan to upgrade the lighting to 2X55 watt PCs. I also want to start dosing calcium which will be needed by any reef creatures I add. Since this is my first attempt at a reef tank I would like to know what kinds of corals and organisms I can keep with my proposed lighting system and my tank size that would be hardy and easy to keep. Thanks So Much, Jonathan Pac <A very big/tall order here... Please read through the "Reef Livestock Selection" and many survey pieces on these invertebrate groups posted on our website... and their associated FAQs files... www.WetWebMedia.com for input here. Bob Fenner>

Unidentified objects and algae Hi Mr. Fenner, I'm in the process of breaking in my new salt tank and you're right! I'm not dying of boredom, in fact there are all kinds of neat stuff going on in there... funny slug-like creatures, algae, and some teeny tiny little tube with fans (tubeworms?) are popping up! <Yes, likely... all sorts of life...> I was wondering if you could help me ID a couple of things and let me know if they are "good" or "bad" to have in a tank. <Please see the link on the www.WetWebMedia.com sites Links Pages, bibliographies for Invertebrate groups for the "Hitchhiker i.d. FAQ"> These pictures of some greenish algae material that is growing all over everything. <More BGA/Cyano than Greens...> http://www.msu.edu/~stan/fish/1.JPG http://www.msu.edu/~stan/fish/3.JPG http://www.msu.edu/~stan/fish/5.JPG Is this growth desirable and should I try to completely eliminate or control it with the use of snails and such. <Undesirable... see the sections on the WWM site re BGA/Cyano...> These pictures as of some weird white tentacles that seem to be sticking out of some of the crevices in the live rock. I have no idea if they're a plant or an animal of sort They're in the middle are of the bottom rock. http://www.msu.edu/~stan/fish/2.JPG http://www.msu.edu/~stan/fish/4.JPG Finally, this is of some cool slug-like creature. I don't think it'll do any harm, but I'm just curious if you knew what it was. http://www.msu.edu/~stan/fish/6.JPG <Again, please see the Hitchhiker FAQ... unfortunately am not able to use a fast Net connection today... Bob Fenner> Thanks for the help, this is turning out to be really really interesting!!! <Oh yes> Stan

Marine invert i.d. in Japan Hello-I am a marine biology teacher here in Japan on a U.S. air base. I saw that you grew up as a military brat and was hoping you could assist me in locating an identification manual for marine invertebrates of Japan. We can't seem to find anything written in English. I would appreciate your suggestions. Thanks, Erika_Hazen <I did grow up in Sasebo, Japan as a High School youth, and attended DOD schools... You have tried search engines, Books In Print's subject index? All I have off the top of my head are the references listed for the Indo-Pacific that are parts of the Bibliography/Further Reading posted on the Invertebrate (Marine) sections of the www.WetWebMedia.com site... Does your school have access to BIOSIS or a liaison with an agency that does? If so, I would likely put together my own curricular materials group by taxonomic group for your more specific vicinity. Contact me again, if you need help with the search... as I get over to a college library every few weeks. Bob Fenner>

Another Hitchhiker Can you identify this hitchhiker? It came in on some LR this past weekend. On the left end of its shell, it has a "snout" that extends out and feels around, much like an elephant's trunk. The "snout" is partially extended in this photo--about 2mm or so. It moves around quite clumsily--I can't tell if it has legs or a snail-like "foot," although it seems to pull itself through the substrate in little "spurts." It seems to have attached itself to this rock at the very front of the tank this evening and hasn't moved much. It is less than 1/2 inch long. I haven't been able to find it in any of my reference books. Any ideas? Harmful or okay? (The quiz of the day. . .) Thanks for your continued insight and counsel. (When I have more time, and not so many questions, I'll have to tell you what the LFS told me when I inquired last weekend about Methylene blue. . .) <Don't know... perhaps a mollusk, maybe a worm of many types... and I would leave it be... likely not harmful, and it has piqued your interest... Bob Fenner>

Tiny white creatures they are very small. the size of the head of a pencil. I can see them on the glass of the tank. are these copepods or if not what are they? I know they are alive because they move. Thanks, <Could be crustaceans, worms of some sort... even mollusks, echinoderms... Likely of no consequence... they too will pass/cycle. Bob Fenner

Help with ID please Hi Bob, Hoping you can help me ID a critter in my tank. The tank is a 30 gal, set up about 6 weeks. Originally set up to cure about 50#'s of live rock. It is now a nursery for my Banggai cardinals. Dad is in there and just starting to release fry! There is about 30 #'s of live rock and 10 #'s of live sand, some Caulerpa, Halimeda and Sargassum for the fry to hide in. I've just started seeing these "things", they come out at night and cruise the glass. They are clear white, have forked tails and "cast" out their front part. I believe they are hunting for pods. I'm pretty sure I'll end up removing them as I don't want them decimating the pod population which is booming, but would like a positive ID before I remove them (innocent until proven guilty). Here's a link to a picture. <A HREF="http://www.users.qwest.net/~mkm4/thingy.JPG">Thingamajigs</A> Thanks in advance for any help! Kathy <Nice photo... and bizarre... Looks like dorsoventrally flattened, cephalic, colorless, tentacular, apical opening to long blind gut... who knows? Maybe a type of flatworm, perhaps a type of mollusk... doubtful that this/these might be beneficial... so, yes, I'd try to remove them.. Probably with a siphon (lest they break up easy, toxify the system)... maybe with a siphon hose attached to a bit of rigid tubing would be best (so you can more easily "point" the suction end in the unknown invertebrate (UI1)'s direction. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help on: id on critters... I read this question today and I have a ton of there little fellas in my tank as well (I actually wrote a similar email on an id for these fellas). I was not happy about them being in there but I learned to live with them. they are not harmful and they do eat some of the plankton (yup they're eating the pods) but not a ton. sadly none of my fish or corals seem to be interested in eating them. the only good thing about them is watching them under a microscope, very regenerative tissue and is really nifty to watch. id appreciate it if you could pass this to Kathy if the email to her doesn't go through (I guessed it from her enclosed URL). ps... am possible to remove from the tank, they're quite the breeders and the live sand is a hotbed for them. that's where you got them btw. Jon Trowbridge <Thanks for this help Jon. Will post. Bob Fenner>

Seeking Little Creatures Bob, Hello my friend. Well, I have plenty of time on my hands for the next 6 weeks. I slipped on the ice about a week ago and broke my right ankle. Doing maintenance to my aquarium has become a real pain. <Yikes! I do hope you'll recover soon... Very dangerous> My 75 gallon reef is doing fine since the big meltdown. The new Fiji rock looks great with lots of colors. I have to admit that I haven't seen too much life other than what has shown up on the rock (i.e. coralline etc.). Before I had a whole colony of amphipods which my scooter blenny (dragonet) really liked. This time I have not seen this. <Good to hear the tank's on the up and up> I know the best way to culture these little animals was with a canister filter, but you have to start with something. How can I start if I can't find any? Also, and maybe I jumped the gun, are these little creatures worth going to the trouble? <Look for a friendly fellow hobbyist or retailer... or Inland Aquatics for some greenery like Caulerpa that has some of these critters in it> From your recent email you stated that you would be here in Baltimore in September. My hometown! Love to hookup and show you the local watering holes if you get a chance. <Oh yes, count on it... will be thereabouts for the MACNA XIII do... see their site re... will post the link on the WWM site> Stay well and watch that ice (from a recent graduate). Bob Wrigley <Will only keep in my beverages... Bob Fenner>

Invert Stocking Question Dear Mr. Fenner, I first wrote some months ago when I started a 20 gal. FO with a canister biofilter and one blue damsel, thinking I would leave it at that. Since then I have become rather more interested in captive marine systems, and dropped $1000's of dollars "into the tank." Your book never warns that this could become an all-consuming obsession! <Really? Am surprised at the omission... Look at me! "It's" taken most all my money and decades of my life!;0> My show tank is currently: 55 w/ 75 lbs. LR, 2-175W MH fixtures, Remora skimmer, 4 powerheads (140 gph each), 1 Zebrasoma flavescens, 2 Amphiprion ocellaris, 1 Abudefduf Cyaneus??? (it's the same blue damsel, I've seen more taxonomies for this fish than I can count!) <Prob. Chrysiptera cyanea... but there are other species used> , 2 Amphiprion ocellaris, 2 Lysmata amboinensis, 1 Clavularia colony (viridis?). I plan to stock only sessile inverts from here on out and would appreciate very much your recommendations and suggestions for improving my setup.... I believe the star polyps were a good "first invert" choice and am now looking for something perhaps a bit more challenging. <Agree... do read over the invertebrate survey pieces I've stored on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com. You're encouraged to try some of the hardier "stonies" in particular. The Euphyllias, Trachyphyllia... > Thank you for all your help! Rob Duff <Glad to be of service. Bob Fenner>

Algae, Sponge, Whatever? Hi Bob, I am trying to identify a type of "black" algae in my reef tank that is unlike any I have seen. It may not be considered a "problem" algae, but I am curious as to its identify. None of my reference materials describe it.  It is not any of the typical problem algae most aquarists experience at one time or another, including Cyano, Valonia, diatom, hair, etc. It is black in color, rather spongy to the touch, and can be lifted from the rock. I've been keeping reef tanks for over 10 years, and I have noticed it in very small quantities here and there on pieces of rock. Of late it has been spreading somewhat and is much more noticeable. The only thing I've done differently is change the photoperiod of my actinic power compacts by increasing the photoperiod by two hours per day (on at 8:00 a.m. instead of 10:00 a.m.) The halides are on their same schedule, approximately seven hours per day. Am I correct in my assumption that this is an algae? <Actually, no... from what you've stated this could be... a sponge, Bryozoan... many other possibilities. Do you have access to a microscope? You really need one in this case... the only way to get a close enough look to place this organism to phylum even is to magnify it.> I also question whether it may be a type of sponge. I wish I had more information to provide you, but if you could give me an idea what this is, I'd be grateful. I do not want it taking over my live rock. It's growth pattern is similar to that of sponge; however, it can be lifted or scraped off the rock easily, so I am stumped. <Get your hands on a copy of Robert Barnes, Invertebrate Zoology... a later edition (5,6) would be better, and a scope (and probably light). There is really a neat one made by Intel/Mattel, the QVX, that hooks up to a USB port and you can use your PC to see, record, send images with it... I bought mine through Costco.com...> I run a 180-gallon reef with all soft corals and many Actinodiscus and Discosoma and have a 30-gallon breeder running off it in which I have many cuttings from my parent colonies, including Nephthea, Sarcophyton, Sinularia, and Lobophytum. I am also propagating the mushrooms. I am in the process of planning out a small aquaculturing business to sell to retailers in my area, and eventually will expand my broodstock. I also have a mated pair of Pseudocheilinus hexataenia (Six-Lined Wrasses) that spawn approximately three times per week. I have been corresponding with Stanley Brown at the Breeders Registry regarding the spawning events. It's all very interesting and informative. <Outstanding! And great help. Let me know if I can help further> I would be grateful for your opinion on the algae?/sponge?, and I look forward to your reply. Many thanks for taking the time to consider my quandary. Cordially, Peggy Nelson <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Mites? Hi Bob. Hope you're having a great week this week. I have a quick question for you, it might sound kind of strange: In my 110 gallon saltwater setup (as I told you the other week, I have a 3.5" Emperor Angel, I just got rid of 2 pesky Domino Damsels, and I now have a 2" cleaner wrasse for the Angel), I've noticed something strange: there are these little tiny white "mites" or "lice" (for lack of better way to describe them) on my aquarium glass - hundreds of them, but you have to look really closely to see them. They look about the size of little ick or Oodinium spots, but they are actually alive, as I can see them moving around. I noticed them last night when I was adhering some seaweed to the front glass via a suction cup to feed my Emperor Angel.  <No worries, take one...> Funny thing, my Emperor Angel is doing great - he's brilliantly colored in the typical dark blue, with pink edges and white stripes (full juvenile coloration), and he consistently eats EVERYTHING I feed him (Mysis, Sally's Emerald Green, bloodworms, brine ship, Tubifex, seaweed, flakes, you name it!) like a hog. When I got him back on Aug. 14th from the local dealer he had a little "nip" in his tail, but even that's being re-generated nicely. But some (not every) mornings I notice tiny white spots (larger than ick) on his caudal and pectoral fins - but during the day they go away. I've only seen him scratch on the bottom a few times - it's very rare that he does it. <No worries> Dealer tells me it may be lymphocytes, as ick or Oodinium does not come and go. Or so he says. I still don't have my hospital tank setup yet, but I will soon. He says usually lymphocytes will go away after a short time, and that it's sometimes common in newly introduced fishes. <Maybe, Lymphocystis is rarely fatal... bits about it on the site: Home Page > What do you think the "mites" are, and how do I get rid of them? And what condition do you think my Angel has? This morning he was perfectly fine, and as I said, he ate immediately, and he's ALWAYS very active and inquisitive. He even makes that strange clicking sound that the larger Pomacanthids often make - very cool! <Some sort of crustacean likely, and very unlikely deleterious... leave them be... they'll come and go on their own.> One other caveat - I've been using Kyolic liquid garlic (put on the seaweed) since Tuesday, just to see if he likes it, and to see if it can be helpful in getting rid of any parasites - perceived or imagined. Thanks in advance for your time and opinion. I just want to do everything right by my Angel, as I want him/her to grow into the ULTIMATE fish I've always wanted to have - a large show Emperor! Regards, Scotty Knight

Inverts Hey Bob, I've got a 50gal tank with a medium sized porcupine puffer, a flame angel and a lawnmower blenny. Anyway I was just wondering are there any beneficial inverts that would be compatible with my other fish? I'm thinking a detritus eater would be nice as the lawnmower blenny makes a mess! Starfish would be my first choice but I know the puffer likes to be curious...any ideas would be most appreciated thanks. Steve  >> Actually... as you hint, the Puffer rules out the use of much/any invertebrate... If it were me, I'd spiff up your filtration, circulation, and regular maintenance regimens... and leave the tidying up to that... Maybe a nice refugium attached to this system? Bob Fenner

White friends or foe Hi Bob, As always you are doing a great job of answering questions for people. I look forward to reading them each day. Your like my "Dear Abby". Anyway, here is my question. I noticed today that a lot of my live rock has many small (2mm or less) white growths on them. I would guess they are the work or some small crustacean. It looks like they have an opening but no activity during the day. Does this sound like something you have seen. Anything to worry about. Would it be related to the 100-200 mosquito type larvae I saw last week after the lights went out on night? Thanks for you help. Ray Scheid, 8th grade science teacher >> Not to worry... may be a crustacean, more likely an encrusting (sedentariate polychaete) worm... and of small consequence on either count. The "swarmers" are unlikely related... but neat and innocuous nonetheless. Bob Fenner

Possibly troublesome worms. I've recently found a strange worm-like creature on the back of my 55 gallon reef aquarium. There are at least 7 of them and they seem to live in the abundant green and brown algae on my tank's glass. They're about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and are greyish-white with blue stripes. I'm thinking they may be either the spawn of my Condylactis anemones, chocolate chip sea star (or even my hermit crab), or some juvenile parasite. Although they just appeared last night, I want to be absolutely certain of what they are. Also, if they are a problem or may damage my Fiji live rock or my Chromis green damsels, please inform me of how to rid them of my tank. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.  >> Good luck at this i.d.... You can't narrow the animal to the Phylum level? A stinging-celled animal, spiny-skinned animal or jointed-legged animal? Not much to go on here... location, size and color? I don't know... but would doubt if the animals you mention were/are deleterious... based on size and where they are.... I would do nothing to eliminate them. Take a look at the archives on Aquarium Frontiers Online... for the many invertebrate-group pieces and links that may lead you to more than a discovery of what this animal is... Bob Fenner

Invert compatibility I recently noticed my cleaner shrimp picking at some of my hermit crabs.  Are cleaner shrimps known to eat hermit crabs , perhaps when the crabs are molting? I noticed the shrimp picking at a crab in the evening, by morning their was just an empty shell. Is this something I need to be concerned about.?  >> If it's eating the Hermits, yes... might be that the Shrimp is just giving the shell the once over... and someone else eating your Crabs... Is this a Stenopus, Banded Coral Shrimp? Hmm, whatever type of "cleaner" if it is eating your Hermit Crabs it won't stop... I would pull it if you could ascertain that this is the case. Bob Fenner

I just started a 18 gallon tall mini Reef Tank. It's going through it's cycling stage. For filtration I am using a millennium hang on power filter and a cyclone Bak Pak 2R protein skimmer. For lighting, compact fluorescents, a total of 56 watts. How many invertebrates could I have?  <One to dozens depending on species, specimens chosen.... start with small ones, fragments of colonies... of the types that are hardiest> Can I mix Corals with anemones?  <Yes, of appropriate types... wait on anemones for a good three months> Could I have starfish?  <Yes, some of the small Fromia would be my first choice... not brittle stars of any large Seastars... bigger than two inches across> Also I placed 21lbs of Fiji grade live rock. I didn't glue the pieces together. I stacked them up against the back of the tank. Do you advise gluing the pieces with epoxy? I tried but couldn't get the epoxy to hold the rock together. Any suggestions? Do I glue the rock in the water or out of the water? >> <I just stack mine... don't glue it at all... what happens if you want to change the arrangement? Don't worry about it falling over... as long as you've stacked it about right/tight. Bob Fenner>

Adding invertebrates to the tank Whenever I add new fish to the tank I treat the water with Cupramine (buffered active copper). If I want to add invertebrates to the tank, what should I use to treat it? Vanessa Toledo >> Probably activated carbon... a good day in advance to adding invertebrates... to assure the removal of the Cupramine... and any residual copper, and nothing really to treat the invertebrates per se... Most, I would isolate a good week or two (like in an intermediate/quarantine setting, to harden and rest them... but no specific treatment....> Bob Fenner

If anyone were to ever drive by my house and look in my window at night they may well think that I have lost it completely as I often sit in front of my tank with my magnifying glasses that I bought some years ago to allow me to tie very very small flies and look at all the little odds and ends on and about the live rock. My question is what is a good source preferably with photos that I could get to help me begin to learn what all of these things are? I have what look like little hydras on the glass front , they do not have a red center, that is the only question that the store asks when I try to find out what they are and when I say no they simply say , I am not sure.  Of course then there is the stuff that comes out after the lights have been off for a while mainly tentacle like things coming out of the rock. Have yet to find any bristle worms those I can identify. Any help would be great.  >> Well, the men in the white coats would have to pick up a whole bunch of us with our flashlights and magnifying devices... And for identification... you can start by perusing a few of the standard works in marine invertebrate zoology... My fave author is Robert Barnes... with his wife, and other folks. Bob Fenner, who is still mesmerized as well after all these years.

Sea spiders and worms Bob: I just want to thank you in advance for your help - you have always responded to my emails with great advice, you are a lifesaver for thousands of folks out there. First, my setup. 37 gal tank, 215 gph HOT canister filter w/Kent carbon and nitrate sponge, 60gal rated powered protein skimmer, 60gal rated fluidized bed filter, 100gal rated UV sterilizer, 3 powerheads for water movement, one at top, one at bottom, and one rotating model at mid-level (it is a deep tank). 2 florescent tube lights (weak link, I know) 50 lb live rock, just enough fine coral sand to cover the glass bottom in front of the rock, 1/8"-1/4". 2 blue damsels, 1 yellow Coris wrasse, 1 yellow angel, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 colony brown polyps, one clam, one colony of purple-based green polyps and a couple of macro-algae species. Second, the questions. during my last cleaning I discovered a small crab-like (5mm) animal on a fragment of live rock. I removed the fragment and animal and placed it under a high-powered magnifying device. At normal magnification it looked just like a small crab or crab larvae, but I noticed under magnification it only had 8 legs, and no visible pincers at all. It looked VERY much like a spider. I waited until the lights went out for several hours and checked my tank again, and found 2 more inside on the live rock. Are they good, bad, or what? Will the dwarf angel or dwarf wrasse eat them if they are bad? I also noticed for several months now small tube "casts" around the base of the live rock. Since I cleaned my sand yesterday it was pristine and I counted over a dozen "casts" on the sand around the base of the live rock this morning. I know your stand on worms is live and let live until a problem arises, but what are these things making holes in my rock every night? Will they find and attack my polyp colonies? An observation: I notice through your Q & A that a lot of strange life forms take hold in systems, and then are replaced by others (and I am talking about all the strange things found attached to the inside of the glass). I received a EPISCOPE Optical System by Haverhill's from my father for Christmas, and now that I am looking for these inner-space aliens, I am finding them all over the place and they are even stranger close up! It is a great tool, if you don't have something like it, check it out, you will like it. I could keep going all night picking your brain for good info, but I guess I will let you go. Also, thanks for the fishbase website info, I was about to drop big dollars on a book series and everything I was looking for was right there. Thanks, David  >> Thank you for writing... being an active part of this forum. Highly enjoyable and educational for me as well... You may well have a Sea Spider (Pycnogonid)... take a look on the web under the name (Pycnogonida) or any Invertebrate Zoology text... small body, thin, long legs... And no problem/threat to your livestock... and they may/may not consume it. The "casts" are likely from some sort(s) of worms... and you are correct in your assessment of my prevailing attitude to this vast grouping of living things... You can't do much, and shouldn't... in all likelihood their presence is a plus. And do know of this scope... And really think it is great. Very practical (hooked up display to a computer screen)... and inexpensive. A winner tool that is easy, practical and fun to use. Be chatting, Bob Fenner

Something is growing in my tank I have a 55 gal hexagon acrylic tank. Its been set up for about a year. A month or so ago I noticed small groupings of something developing on the rocks. They had the appearance of small black jellybeans. They went away and I do not know if they turned into something else. They are back - two groups - one of three, another of four - about 1/8" in size. There are hermit crabs and a cleanup crew. Can you determine what they may be or put me on the track of a publication that would be useful. Thanks for your help, Francis J. Cornelissen >> Always interesting to see what "pops up" in/on live rock, sand... Maybe these organisms (I do think they are something living...) are sponges (phylum Porifera) of some sort... or perhaps an intermediate form/stage of a hydrozoan (a group related to jellyfishes, corals... and much more)... or even "just" an algae species... Do you have a microscope? I'd scrape a bit of the material from one of them, and give it a good look under a loupe and something with higher magnification... There are numerous reference books you could look through... but do take more than a glance through Ron Shimek's ongoing series on marine invertebrates posted and archived at http://www.aquariumfrontiers.com/fish/aqfm/default.asp Pix, and many good jumps to sites with... an endless (relative to human life spans) amount of material. Bob Fenner, who wouldn't worry about these visitors at this point. 

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