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FAQs about Non-Vertebrate Animal Identification 26

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Weird Micro Creatures... No, Cool Microfauna! 7/5/07 <Hi Tom (TB reminds me too much of a nasty disease.) Mich here.> I have a 4 month old 80 gallon salt tank with 2 medium sized pc.s of live rock. I have all my starter damsels <We don't recommend cycling with damsels just as an FYI.> and a clown plus some turbo snails and hermits. <OK.> Over the last couple weeks here is the best description I can give: <Obviously photos would be most helpful here, but I will take my best guess at ones I may be able to ID by the descriptions you've provided.> First I get all these pinhead sized white dots on the glass. They look like eggs. But on closer examination (with a loop) I see they are translucent (I can see food being digested) they have small fans where the snail foot would be. They are spiral shaped. They don't seem to be getting any bigger or more numerous there are over 200 of them. <Yes, these are likely Spiral tube feather dusters (Spirorbis spp.). They feed on organic particulates and phytoplankton and are not a cause for concern.> Then while using my loop on the glass I started noticing other stuff. <How cool!> I have now recorder 6-7 different tiny micro animals. <Neat!> They are: Tiny oval shaped reddish color bug like things that don't swim but scoot around the glass and seem to be hanging out in areas of green algae I have not cleaned. <Mmm, not sure here. These could be undesirable acoel worms. Planaria can be difficult to eradicate. More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/flatworms.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pestflatwrmanthony.htm and related links in blue> Next are even tinier red worm like things that slither all over the glass. <OK.> I have seen other white colored stuff that is just too small to give a description moving about. <OK.> Then under the sand I have noticed these crustacean looking guys that are building tunnels at the level between sand and live gravel on the bottom. They work hard all night tumbling the individual stone and appear to be eating whatever the find. <Perhaps Spaghetti worms (Terebellidae spp.), good detritus eaters.> I also have these work like things that come out at night and are very shy when I turn a flashlight on them they are extending downward from the live rock but as soon as I hit them with the light they retreat. <Likely peanut worms (Sipunculid spp.), harmless beneficial detritivores.> There are also these worm like things that travel on top of the gravel but also I can only see them at night and they are very fast. They may be more crustaceans as they have some small feet on the side of a white flat body. <Possibly a Scud (Gammaridean amphipod). Gammarus shrimp are excellent detritivore.> Lastly I have seen only a few times a white very small 4-legged thing with a small round central body. It slithers over the rock at night but is impossible to spot in the full light. <OK.> I know this is a lot of stuff but is this normal? <Yep!> I think it cool but is it a problem? <Nope!> TB <Wish you could capture images of all these! Keep enjoying the microfauna in your tank! Cheers, Mich>  

Re: Weird Micro Creatures... No, Cool Microfauna! -- 07/06/07 Mich: Awesome reply. <Thanks, glad you liked.> TB stands for Tom Beckett but I get the disease reference. <I have a medical background'¦ different first thought'¦> Anyway I really appreciate the thoughtful reply to my inquiry. <You are most welcome.> I have had cichlids for 20 years and loved it but after my house fire destroyed everything (and poached my fish) I thought I would give Salt a try. <Wow! I'm so sorry for your tremendous loss.> It's been a gas so far and this type of online help is amazing thanks again. <Glad to help.> I have captured a few photos on the spiral things but everything else is either too small or too shy. <Yes is difficult to capture many of these critters in photos.> So what's the deal with the damsels? The guys at the store recommended them based largely on the fact that they are durable. <Yes, but it is cruel to place them in these situations. More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm The yellow tails have become real aggressive though and I want to evict them now. <Not terribly surprising.> It's been since March and the tank looks pretty good. <You system is still young, so you may experience some algae blooms.> The water checks out each time I test it. <Excellent.> So am I ready to ad some more delicate varieties? <Depends on what you are considering "delicate" varieties. I would avoid anything that requires pods for nutrition ie Mandarin gobies, anthias etc. Do some research on the types of fish you are considering. Assuredly you will find some information on this site.> Thanks again <Welcome! Mich> TB

Centipede? Mmm, No, Definitely Not a Centipede...  7/5/07 Can you please identify this creature that came out of the rock today? <Mmm, hopefully.> It was going after a piece of krill that we dropped. <I see it.> Is it something to be concerned about? <Unlikely. I'm having a difficult time discerning the overall length of this creature. If the total is less than a 1/4 of an inch, it is likely a Scud or a Gammaridean amphipod. Gammarus shrimp are harmless and desirable detritivores. If it is significantly longer, and more like a worm, then it may be a Bobbitt worm (Eunice spp.). Eunicid worms can be predatory, but are usually efficient and beneficial scavengers.> Thanks
<Welcome! Mich>

What Is This Flower Like Thing? A Serpulid Fan Worm -- 06/28/07 Hi Crew <Hi Judi! Mich with you.> You have all been great answering questions in the past. <Wonderful to hear!> I have 'something' on my live rock and finally got a decent pic of it (below). <I see.> I could not find any reference to this on your website or in your book. <Oh, I promise you they are there.> When 'shy' it is just a pin-prick of a white dot. Then it will open like a flower to what you see above (the ragged white circle in the middle of the picture). It is smaller than the head of a pencil eraser. I have recently found one more on a different rock. I have noticed it for at least 6 months now, so I'm sure it has been there longer. It active during the day and at night. <Judi this is a feather duster, a Serpulid fan worm, a harmless filter feeder. You can learn more here and the related links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm > Thanks for your help. <Welcome! Mich> Judi

Re: What Is This Flower Like Thing? A Serpulid Fan Worm  6/30/07 Thanks Mitch. <Welcome Judi!> I was wondering if it was something like that; <Yes, I am quite confident with this ID. However, there was a little discussion about this and I am wondering if you could tell me, can this creature go from open to "shy" as you put it quickly...ie if it is startled does it quickly close?> I thought from pics I've seen that most of the Serpulid Fan Worms appear in clusters in the book, and this one is solitary. <Yes, there are colonial and solitary species.> I do have a couple of small feather duster type worms. <They are common.> I also get two spaghetti worms - one type is a bright red and the other has alternating black/white segments. Both easily found in the book. Great book, by the way. <Glad you like it! Mich> Judi

Re: What Is This Flower Like Thing? A Serpulid Fan Worm   7/2/07Hi Mitch <Hello Judi! Mich with you again.> When it closes it is immediate - almost like it is not even there anymore. Sometimes I cannot even find the tiny white dot with my magnifying glass It opens fairly quickly although I can see it happening. Like a flower blooming on high speed fast forward. When it closes it is like a door slamming shut. <Thank you for your reply Judi. This is the classic behavior of a feather duster and confirms the original ID. Cheers, Mich>

Mmmm, maybe not. The bulbous tips... RMF

Hitchhiker ID?... Foram   6/24/07 Hello Crew- <Hi there Ester, Mich here.> I am hoping to ID this beauty from one of my new batches of live rock. I have tried to search, but since I don't have a clue to what it is, so I am at a loss. <Yep, been there done that!> If I could just get a hint of direction (algae, sponge, coral, ???) that might help narrow down my search, since each of those categories have thousands of possibilities. Just a few details... it is about the size of a marshmallow (not the big campfire ones, but the small ones), it doesn't seem to move at all, and it has little hairs that seem to trap many tiny particles as they float by. <Looks like a Foram to me, likely Homotrema rubrum. This animal requires little in terms of care and is quite tolerant of various reef conditions. It is a harmless, pretty addition to your tank. Enjoy it!> Thanks for your help in this ID! <Welcome! Mich>
Esther See
http://www.susqu.edu/students/f/forgues/papers%20on%20website/PorkyPig1a.htm Currently Foraminiferans are in their own phylum... RMF.

Wow, very nice! RMF

Invert IDs, TWA  6/21/07 Hey Crew. <Andy> I was hoping that you could help me ID some inverts that came in on some Florida aquacultured live rock that I purchased. I have scoured WWM and the web but came up empty. I believe the creature in the first picture is some type of soft coral. <Mmm, to me also... though this may be the beginnings of a gorgonian... likely of the genera Telesto or Stereotelesto... even an antipatharian... Antipathes lenta... Easier to make out with growth> At first, I assumed it was an algae, but then I noticed it will retract very quickly <Oh! Not likely the latter on this info.> into its "cave" if my cleaner shrimp touches it and then will immediately come back out to play once danger is away. The second picture is some type of anemone. I want to know if it is what you guys refer to as a "pest" anemone so that I can clear it out before it starts to go all sexual on me. Thanks for your help! Andy <Is likely a Sponge Anemone... though could be a Glass Anemone... BobF>

Re: Invert ID 6/22/07 Bob, <Andy> Thanks for the help. It's amazing what pops out of rock. My wife thinks it's totally crazy that I sit in a chair, face pressed against the glass staring at my rock to see what I can see. <Well... you can make known to her from me that we could start a very sizable club! BobF>

White Critters, water striding somethings in a SW sump   6/20/07 Ok I have live rock in my wet/dry where the water intake from the tank goes/where bio balls were. Floating on top and only on top are white gnat like creatures skimming the top of the one side. There are hundreds of them and I can't get a pic of them they're too small and fast! White with wings and legs size of a pin drop. Any clue cause it's only in this part of the sump and not in the house or tank. Sorry for not much info just maybe you have some sort of an idea or heard of this before thank you. Don V. <... Are these insects? Not common in SW... Maybe Halobates, Gerrids... Please see the linked files in this search: http://www.google.com/search?q=saltwater+water+strider+insects&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7PCTA Bob Fenner>

Little Tubes Everywhere...Feather Dusters  6/20/07 Ok I have two tanks a 72 bow and a 36 bow. All normal levels (nitrite, nitrate, ammonia) in both tanks at 0. Ph in both 8.3 and salinity 1.024. Large tank has been up for almost 1 year with few probs. It currently houses 60lbs of indo pacific live sand and 40lbs(I know I need more) of live rock. One 5 in Niger Trigger, One 4 In Picasso Trigger, One 5 In Foxface Lo, and 4 or so turbo snails. Small tank up for about 4 months no probs. It houses 30lbs of live sand, and 15 lbs live rock. One Maroon Clown, One Large Long tentacle Anemone, One Mandarin Dragonet. 3 Turbo snails. <Your LTA may eat you Mandarin. I would not house these together.> Now for the problem and it is arising in both tanks. Growing on the underside of the live rock (Hiding from light) Are these little white/clear tube like things everywhere. They range from very very small to 1/2in. They are even growing on m bio foam material on the output flow on my little Whisper H.O.T. filter on the small tank. I have seen a few of them put out these little arms about 6-8 of them from the center of the tube that are brown/white striped the suck all the way in when I shine a light on them. I hope they are not the dreaded Aiptasia but I don't know. <They sound like feather dusters to me! They can be quite tiny. More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm > I will try to get a pic up for you if you have no idea. Thanks for everything. <Welcome!> Keep up the great work... <We try, every day! Mich>  

Unknown White Growths...Nerite Snail Eggs    5/15/07 Hello all... <Hi David, Mich with you tonight.> First I would like to mention that I love your site and I find a lot of much needed information on it that I use in the daily maintenance of my tanks.   <Thank you for this fine compliment!> Now, to my problem/dilemma.  Over the past two weeks I have been having a problem with ich and some other parasites attacking the swim bladder that caused me to lose 9 fish in 2 1/2 days <Yikes!!!  I'm very sorry for you large loss.> (believe it or not, this is not my problem).   <Ok, I'm a little scared now!> The other day when I woke up I went to look at my tank to see how the survivors are doing and much to my surprise all my live rock and even the snail shells were covered with these white growths (I've attached two pictures, one of the snail shell (IMG_0485) and one of a piece of my live rock(IMG_0504)).  I've searched your website, along with some others, and I may be missing something or using the wrong keyword but I cannot find anything that resembles or sounds like this outbreak.  I'm guessing that it has nothing to do with the ich and other parasites that have taken over my tank but I would like to know what these unknown growths are and how to treat them. <Seems like you have some frisky Nerite snails in you tank.  These would be Nerite snail eggs, they generally don't mature in captivity and there is nothing to treat here.  A photo here: http://www.wildsingapore.com/chekjawa/largfoto/r422fx.htm  >   I took one of the snail shells to my LFS and after careful examination the owner determined that it looked like this growth feeds off of calcium.  He came to this conclusion by taking a razor blade to the growth and removing it.  When it came off the shell was all soft and a few layers could easily be scraped off.  When you took the razor blade to other parts of the shell where no growths were, the shell was hard, as it should be.  Could this be clam or mussel larvae?  When I got home I was looking around my tank and found a snail that had a growth (looks like a shell) on it.  I've attached that picture as well (IMG_0512).  I'm sorry about that picture but it was as close as I could get to the turbo snail using my digital camera and lens.  Do you have any suggestions as to what this problem could be?   <This is not a problem or anything to be concerned about.  You will likely see these "sesame seed" like eggs wax and wane in your system.> If so, how do I treat it because my 125 gallon is stocked full of these white growths.  Thank you for your time and continued knowledge. <Welcome!  My pleasure to assist.> Good night....Dave
<G'night!  Mich>

Strange creatures on the aquarium glass    5/3/07 Dear Sir,    <Adeel>   I hope you are doing good. This is my first time, so I apologize if not following any fixed procedure for asking a question.    <You're doing fine>   Tank Details : I have a 50 gallon fish only salt water tank with some amount of live rock. Its been about 6 weeks or so since I setup the tank. I collected water from the sea FYI. I have two 3 striped damsels. Just today I added a pair of percula clown. All other parameters are normal...since I believe the nitrate cycle must be complete by now.    <Yes>   Question : I have noticed very very tiny almost a dot sized white spots on the aquarium glass. On close observation, I noticed the white dots actually have tiny white hair/spikes...almost like a tiny microscopic sun or a microscopic flower. It is totally white. When I push it off the glass with the tip of a stick, the creatures just falls off and floats with the water current till it settles down. I hope I have given a good description.  What are these things and do I need them? <Mmm, could be a polyp form of life of some sort... Cnidarians... of any of the three Classes... Hydrozoan... Scyphozoan... or...?> Are they beneficial...if not how can I kill them? <No way to tell, and not likely easy... Very likely "came in/along" with the water... If you want to continue to collect your own, it needs to be processed... in the dark, by poisoning possibly... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seah2onatural.htm and the linked files above> I have put in too much in setting up the tank and cannot think about losing it. Please tell me if these creatures are safe or not although they are microscopic sized. Just to add. I have also noticed those white roach type bugs that run around on the glass.   Thanks for all your help.      Adeel   Let me know if you need a picture. Its very difficult as they are microscopic, but I can try anything to save my tank. I am writing all the way from Dubai and I love your website. Good work. <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Chances are that what you describe is not problematical... But again, I would at least store all new water in the dark for a few weeks before using. Bob Fenner>

Living things in the filter? Oh yes  - 05/01/07 G'day Crew <Kerryn> I was cleaning (marine) canister filter and Crikey its surfaces in side had jelly like sacks all over it with what looked like inside was tiny shrimp, when I pressed on them they sprayed water out like the sack had been pricked with a pin, there was also living shrimp looking things inside the filter as well around 15 mill long, has been 8 months since I cleaned  filter last ('bad girl')! <Mmm, maybe not> Have looked around the wet web site cant find anything close to what I got...? Not got a Scooby what they are, can you help with these tricky little things. Kerryn. <Sponges and more! If all this were in a more "desirable" setting, like a sump say... I'd have encouraged you to not disturb it much... These sorts of cryptic environments, biota, are actually very desirable... useful filters, producers of foods... Bob Fenner>

Snail eggs   4/30/07 Hello Crew, <Henry> Please excuse the rough drawing I hope it comes through. I found a shape like this on the back wall of my tank. It was perfectly symmetrical (unlike my crude drawing). It was about 1.5" in height and about 0.5" in width. It was a dark tan color. It had more protrusions along the vertical plane about 8 of them on each side. (I did not feel like trying to draw all of them) I thought at first it was some kind of a worm so I got my net and went to scoop it out and to my surprise it disintegrated into powder. Is there some critter in my tank that might lay and egg pattern like this? <Ah, yes> The tank has Nassarius snails, Margarita snails, Cerith snails, and various hermit crabs. To my knowledge no other mobile invertebrates. Fish are 2 tank raised Percula clowns, 1 blue Assessor and a High-Fin Goby. Mushroom, Zoanthids, Torch, Ricordea, Gorgonia, and a small frag of Acropora. The tank is a 29 gallon Oceanic Bio-Cube with 30lbs. of live rock, 20 lbs. of Aragonite sand, a protein skimmer and 600 gallons per hour of flow. I am running 144 Watts of 50/50 bulbs. Ammonia 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates 0 Calcium 420 Alkalinity 3.5 - 4 Sg 1.025 Ph 8.2 Temp 79 Any guesses from the experts? <These are/were snail eggs... no worries. Bob Fenner> Thank you,
Henry G. Mello

Mystery Blobs/Alga (And...What We Call English vs. What the English Call English) -- 04/16/07 I have attached a photo of one of the strange blobs I've been trying to identify, this time one came to the front of the tank so I could get a slightly better picture of it, it's sort of pinky beige in colour (please note I'm English and this is how we spell colour, I was corrected last time). <<I'm afraid I can't make anything of this blurry photo.  And no worries re the spelling... Though I'm not English, I did live in Ipswich for a few years and am familiar with/recognize the spelling...as also with tyre (tire), litre (liter), aluminium (aluminum), favourite (favorite), organisation (organization), etc.>> They also have tiny pimples all over and they move around very slowly, they seem to look like a sphere with points; they are quite difficult to describe! <<Mmm, indeed...possibly a crustacean or gastropod of some type...but is anybody's guess at this point.  Any chance you can send an in-focus and close-up photo?>> Also I have enclosed another picture of what looks like red velvet textured coralline algae with red branching algae growing on it. <<I see...and still a bit out of focus.  I also see what looks like possibly hydroids or Majano anemones.  Can be problematic...do read on our site re these pests>> I'm inclined to think its not algae though as it sheds a thin layer off its surface every now and then. <<Hmm, not likely a calcareous alga then.  I can't really discern if this is a blue-green alga (Cyanobacteria), or possibly a macrophyte (vascular plant)...if the texture is slimy it is probably the former, if the texture is rubbery it may be the latter>> Also I have an electric blue hermit (Calcinus elegans) which doesn't seem very active, how much do they usually move around? <<Usually always on the hunt for food>> This one seems quite lethargic but will move occasionally and eats every now and then (eats bubble algae too I noticed!) <<A bonus!>> All my water parameters are excellent and I do regular water changes with Instant Ocean and RO water (at least 5% twice a week and always make sure the water is matched up correctly), there are plenty of shells for it to choose from.  My spg is at 1.022 and I'm going to increase this very gradually to 1.024 as I believe crustaceans do better at a higher spg. <<Not just the crustaceans but everything will appreciate the spg closer to NSW values (1.025/026)>> Also I have quite a few small (1cm) green Nudibranch or slug type creatures.  They are bright green at first then they become much darker when they grow a bit and have frills on their backs. <<Interesting>> I can't get a decent picture as yet but I will try when I see one within shot again.  Are they anything to worry about as I quite like them they are comical to watch how they move? <<That depends on what they eat...many or obligate feeders of specific organisms (often the very corals we wish to keep).  Keep an eye on them and see if you can determine what they are feeding upon.  At best they will be algae eaters...at worst they are munching on your corals...but most likely they are incidental hitchhikers that will disappear as mysteriously as they appeared>> Thanks in advance and sorry for the long email Faye
<<Happy to assist.  EricR>>
Re: Mystery Blobs/Alga - 04/17/07 Hi, thanks for the quick reply. <<Quite welcome>> The mystery red stuff feels hard, definitely not slimy nor rubbery. <<Hmm, perhaps it is a calcareous growth of some kind after all>> The orange things in the picture with them aren't anemones of any sort I've been told, they are some sort of zoanthid. <<Ah, ok...but can also be problematic>> They've been in there a while and aren't causing any problems, they are only 2mm wide and quite pretty. <<Sounds like no need for concern then>> I'm afraid the blobs will have to remain a mystery as I cannot get a decent photo of them as they are too tiny. <<Too bad>> I don't have any corals at the moment so the slugs must be eating algae or something else as they seem happy enough to reproduce. <<Neat>> I've also noticed that my starry dragonet is very interested in the hermit and seems to scare it into its shell a lot, maybe this is also a factor in its inactivity. <<Likely so>> Thanks again, I'll try to get myself a decent camera with a macro setting for next time! Faye <<Or maybe just a friend with one!  Regards, Eric Russell>>

White fungus?  Not likely...  4/14/07 Hello, <Hi Jared, Mich here.> I have a 75 gallon FOWLR and I have some white stuff spreading over some of my rock. <OK.> It looks like fungus.   <A photo would be helpful.  It is highly unlikely that it is a fungus, perhaps a sponge, perhaps just some detritus build up on your LR, difficult to say without a picture.> If so what can I do to rid my tank of this?   <I can't say, there is not enough info.  It is possible that this is a beneficial growth.>   Thanks, <Welcome, Mich>

Local Reef club couldn't give me an ID, hope you guys can. ID Question, need more details -- 4/13/07 Hello, <Hi Greg> I posted pics at my local reef aquarium club and nobody was able to id this mass. <Bring it on, I love a good challenge!> I picked out a rock to frag some zoanthids and noticed this on the bottom of the rock. I am assuming a pistol shrimp had tunneled under the rock. The rock was sitting in the sandbed and I can't remember if it had space under it for flow. <Hmmm, that's what I'd like to know too! My first thought is that it's a colonial tunicate/sea squirt colony of some sort. It's not unusual for them to be in protected areas or overhangs, but underneath a rock like what you describe would seem to be pushing it. However, I suppose it might be possible if there was enough room under there and some degree of flow. What I'd like to do is get just a little more information, such as how large the mass actually is. It doesn't have to be exact I'm just trying to get an idea of scale. Also, are the tube-looking cells that make up the mass gelatinous, soft, rubbery, or hard? Finally, if you notice anything else, please let me know. Let's see if we can figure this thing out!> Thanks for your time, Greg... <You're very welcome, Greg. I look forward to hearing back from you! --Lynn> http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n225/heysemo/100_0392.jpg http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n225/heysemo/100_0391.jpg http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n225/heysemo/100_0390.jpg
Re: Tunicate Id - 5/5/07 <Hello again! Lynn here.> You called it perfectly. <Yay! Thank you so much for letting us know.> I placed the rock higher in the tank to a position allowing me to see underneath the rock. It is a tunicate. It's obvious to me now after seeing it fully expanded and such. <I bet it's beautiful too!> Thanks for your opinion.. you guys nailed it.. <I'm so glad we could help, Greg.>

Creature ID 4/10/07 Hey Crew! <Hey John> Hope all is well on your end. <As well as can be.> I am hoping you can help me with an ID. I will try to come up with a picture, but the placement of these critters makes it difficult.  I was rearranging my live rock and noticed that on the back of a few pieces there are purple circular shaped mounds with holes directly in the center.  They seem to vary in size with the largest being about the size of a dime.  At first I thought they were just some sort of anomaly on the rock, but then last night when looking into the tank with a flashlight I noticed that there is a cylindrical tube, also purplish but more translucent in color that had come out of the hole in the center.  Any idea? As I mentioned, I will try to get a picture, but the placement makes it a little difficult.  Thanks so much for your assistance. <Hard to ID without a pic.  Quite possibly an Adocia specie of sponge. James (Salty John

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