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FAQs about Non-Vertebrate Animal Identification 18

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A Species of Serpulid Worm - 11/22/06 Greetings WWM Crew and Happy Holidays! <<And to you as well>> I have a small reef aquarium that has been set up for 8 months.  I have recently found 2 unknown organisms and I am hoping you can help me clarify their identity. <<I shall try>> Here is a picture of one of the organisms, tubular shell structure attached to the LR, 2 antennae, and it secrets a slime trail that seems to catch food particles. <<Hmm, perhaps it is my aging eyes but I can't discern much from this picture.  But no worries, your description is enough for me to say this is a species of Serpulid worm (calcareous-tube building worms)>> It doesn't seem to harm any of the corals or anemones. <<Indeed...I have/have seen these many times...harmless if not beneficial>> I have perused the internet to no avail. <<Try a keyword search on the phrase 'Serpulid Worm'.  Many species about, but you may happen upon a description/photo of a specimen similar to yours>> Thanks in advance! Mark A. Smith MAJ, AV United States Army Reserve Command <<Quite welcome.  Eric Russell, MSgt, USAF (Retired)>>

Baby Sea Urchin vs. Limpet? Hitchhiker ID Help Needed....  11/20/06 Hi all- I have looked over the website for the last few days trying to answer my own question, but to no avail.  I have also perused Google Images (by the way, it's a great resource for those trying to ID hitchhikers...type in the name of the animal and you get many images).  I found a creature stuck hard to the wall of my aquarium and I didn't dare try to remove it.  The foot is oval shaped, cream colored, and about 2 cm long.  Looking at it from the side it is about 1.5 cm tall and kind-of slopes up.  The center  has a hole in it.  It looks like the pictures of limpets I have seen, with one difference.  In the center there are about 15-20 retractable darker brown spines/tentacles (only about 0.5 cm long each).  There is no apparent mouth/eyes/feelers that I can see.  I was thinking that it might be a baby sea urchin until I touched it and found that the spines/tentacles and body are all very soft and the spines/tentacles completely retracted into the body of the animal.  My attempt at pictures are attached.  Thanks for any help you may be able to offer me.  <Hello Melissa, Mich here.  Please don't be offended, but dammmm those pictures are terrible!   When I opened the file I though I had forgotten to put my glasses back on. Does your camera have a Marco setting?  (It is often represented by a tiny flower.)  If you can find the macro setting on the camera, you may get a better photo, which would be helpful.  Otherwise, my best guess from your written description is it's a type of limpet of some sort.  I am also assuming the critter was found in a salt water tank.  Hope that helps.  It's the best I can do with the quality provided.> Melissa

White windy things  11/18/06 WWM - I need help.  I am new to the salt water aquariums.  I have had my 75 gallon tank up for about 9 months now and I just noticed a new addition to my aquarium.  I thought it was a worm of some sort and have searched your website but none of the pictures look like my little visitor.  It is a white long tube about 3 times as thick as a piece of hair and is very long and winds itself up.  I have 2 of these on the glass and one of these on a rock.   Can you let me know what it is and if it is harmless?? <Mmm, is very likely harmless, but can't tell you definitively which worm group (or even if this is a worm) for certain> By the way you have a great site.  I have learned a ton over the last couple days trying to research this new visitor.  Any help would be appreciated. Kristin <I would not be worried re these... will likely "pass" in time as conditions, predation dynamic develops in your system. Bob Fenner>

Mystery Critter: A Sea Pen...Maybe - 11/16/06 Hi Gang :) <<Hello Lisa>> I've been trying to photograph this thing for ages but because it only comes out at night and I can't get it with a red light, I get one shot with a flash and the pics don't usually come out. <<Bummer>> Tonight I got lucky. <<Cool>> This thing http://www.webspecialty.com/aquarium/tankmysterything.jpg is about 4 inches long.  It is thick and doesn't look like any other worm in the tank.  It has spots. <<I see them>> It reaches over and around rocks, I don't know how long it actually can get, but when it recedes back into the rock, you can't see any trace of it. <<Not surprising/unusual>> From what I've been able to see of it using the red light, the tip does not have anything on the end of it. <<No head/mouth/feeding apparatus?  Hmm...maybe not a "worm">> Do you know what it is?  If so, would you please tell me? <<Not sure myself, but Bob seems to think this could be a Sea Pen...many species will only venture forth at night.  Have a look/read here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pennatulaceans.htm), and do also a Google search on the Net in general re 'Sea Pen'>> Thanks so much, Lisa
<<Happy to assist.  EricR>>

Re: Mystery Critter: A Sea Pen...Maybe - 11/16/06 Thanks for the fast reply Eric. <<Quite welcome>> I'd agree that it could be a Sea Pen, except it isn't coming from soft substrate, it's coming from a rock. <<Are you sure?  You say you can't see it once it retracts.  Perhaps it is "originating" from the substrate "under" the rock>> It reminds me of a very long tentacle. <<Was my first impression as well>> I'll keep searching. Lisa <<Please do let me know what you discover.  Eric Russell>>
R2: Mystery Critter - 11/16/06 Hi Eric, <<Lisa>> Yup I'm positive.  I've watched it a lot.  It comes out of the rock and then spreads around the rock feeling all over it.  If it senses the light, it retracts back into the rock. <<Curious>> When it starts to come back out, it starts back out from its hole in the rock.  The thicker end in the picture is the base in the rock where it comes from :)  The other end of it is not visible in this pic. <<Ahh, ok...I had visualized it as the other-way-round.  I still don't know what to tell you, though I am back to leaning towards a species of worm (thousands to contend with).  The idea of a species of eel has even entered my mind but you say the termination point has no discernable "head."  Have you considered placing the rock in a tank of its own for closer inspection/observation?>> Thanks, Lisa <<My interest is piqued; I hope to hear what you discover of/more clues about this organism.  Regards, Eric Russell>>
R3: Mystery Critter - 11/16/06 Hi Eric, <<Hey Lisa!>> We don't have another tank - yet - but I'm sure this will certainly drive my husband and I to purchase a Nano tank. <<Hee-hee!>> He really wants seahorses. <<Wonderful creatures...but best kept in larger systems for the increased water/system stability.  If you haven't found it already, do start reading here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tube-mfi.htm) and among the associated linked files in blue at the top of the page>> The problem with determining whether or not it's an eel is getting close enough to it. <<So it seems>> At night I have to use a red light to find it, but it senses that and retracts so I only put the light on it long enough to locate it. <<Mmm...very photosensitive indeed>> Then I get my camera.  I'll put a 4x close-up on and see if I can get another picture of the thing with the other end in the picture. <<Ah, good>> If I am able to get any other pictures or find anything else, I'll be sure to let you know. <<Please do>> Best, Lisa <<Regards, Eric Russell>>

Help With Lisa' Mystery Critter - 11/18/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I read your FAQ's almost every day and I noticed the email conversations regarding the email I included at the bottom of this message. <<Ok>> Not to butt in <<No worries>> but it seemed like you were kind of stumped and I thought maybe I could try to help you out since you have helped me so much in the past! <<Help is always welcome>> I saw the photo yesterday that Lisa had submitted and I am almost 99% sure that the creature in her picture is some kind of worm. <<Very likely, yes>> I have numerous worms in my tank that look exactly like the one in her photo. <<Really?>> They are black (dark gray) and white, only come out at night, and are extremely sensitive to light. <<Does sound very similar>> I have had them in my tank for over a year now and have only recently noticed (within the last month) that if you pay close attention to them, the very end of their Head (?) is similar in appearance to a feather duster but not feathery, more like 5 or 6 short tentacles (don't know if this makes sense but it is the only way of explaining it without drawing a picture). <<Does make sense...very interesting>> When the worm retreats, the tentacles retract into the body and the worm shrinks away.  Obviously I spend way too many hours gawking at my fish tank, even after the lights go out! <<Hee!  Much to be seen even when the lights are out...>> Unfortunately I have no idea what the name of this creature is, only that I am quite sure it is some kind of worm. <<Does sound as if...>> Also, it has never seemed to bother anything in my tank, only beneficially scavenging around the rocks. <<As is the case with most>> I hope this is helpful.  I am certainly not an expert; so if my input is in any way annoying, please let me know.  I won't be offended and will refrain from making any suggestions in the future. <<I am no expert either...and I "thank you" for this input>> On the topic of worms, two quick questions while I'm writing, if you don't mind? <<Not at all>> I am thinking about getting a tank raised Pseudochromis fridmani and have read that these fish eat worms. <<Very often true>> I enjoy the diversity of the many different worms in my 55gal.  Do you think this fish would decimate my population of worms or just keep them in check? <<Mmm, hard to say...but likely the latter>> Also, are these guys prone to jumping out? <<Have heard so>> I know that any fish can, but I am curious if these fish are very likely to do this. <<These fish are widely considered to be as "jumpy" as many of the commonly kept wrasse species>> I want to leave my tank uncovered. <<I would...>> Thanks so much for all your help!!! -Nick <<Quite welcome.  EricR>>

Re: Nitrates, Now ID Question 11/15/06 Hi James, <Hello Jon> I have some creatures/ things that I need help in identifying. I am beginning to think that a good digital camera is a must part of reef keeping. All I have right now is my old 35 mm film based camera. I tried taking pictures but without the zooming capability, <Macro capabilities are much better in this regard.  Most digital cameras have this feature.> I will probably just end up with arrows on the pictures and say 'look James can you see it?' So I guess I will just have to describe it as best I can for now. I have a lot (guesstimate probably 100+) of this tiny white spiral shell like things appearing on my tank glass and live rocks. They are about 1 mm in size (circumference). I tried researching for a description/name and/or pictures at your website and other websites using keywords as described above and came across the word 'spirorbidea'. But I am still not sure what to make of it without photos to compare it to. So I have decided to ask you again. I feel guilty for not knowing this upfront and end up bothering you all the time. <No problem, I am continually learning about creatures as you will be.> Please accept my apology in advance and at the same time express my utmost appreciation for your generosity in lending us your wealth of knowledge and experience, your valuable inputs for all of us new hopefuls. <Thank you for the kind words.  The wealth of knowledge is spread amongst the crew, some being more knowledgeable on some subjects than others.> Going back, what do you think they are? <Without a pic, I'd say they are Spirorbid Tubeworms (polychaeta).> Are these spiral shell-like things the initial stages on the life of an Aiptasia? <Nope.> I just hope that this is not the dreaded Aiptasia everyone is talking about. <Not to worry.> How can I differentiate it between a fan worms if they are still small. I am now confused if what I have in my tank are fan worms, Aiptasia, or this spirorbidea. <Use a magnifying glass to observe, should see the very small fan of the worm.> Also, there are a few cocoon-like things with hairs on the tip that are mostly growing on the low light portions of my live rocks. One of the cocoons is almost 3 cm long. I can best describe it as a wad of cotton. <Again, without a pic...?  I've seen such, Bob would know, Oh Bob...> <<Likely sponges, perhaps other sedentariate Polychaetes... RMF>> In addition, I have these small shrimp like bugs that is probably less than 5 mm long. I have a lot of them. I mean a lot. They are all over the place moving in and out of the live rocks and even on the sand. Even my refugium has them. If my guess is right, I think it is called an amphipod. <Amphipods/Copepods, and as you say, beneficial.> I have seen photos of it online and it sure look like it. They are beneficial and are detritivores right? Do some if not all types of fish eat them? <Yes to both, but smaller fish will dine on them more so than larger fish.> I ask because my fish seems to ignore them. These critters travel all over my tank boldly. There hasn't been a day that I have not seen their empty shell floating around. Maybe my fish simply like the formula 1 and 2 flakes soaked in garlic a lot better. Every time I approach the tank, all my fishes are like dogs wiggling tail asking for more food. My clowns and green chromis eat right off my hand. They are so used to my hand in the tank now they are no longer afraid of it. <Ahh, the beginner's joys of discovery.> What can you say about aqua cultured fighting conch? <Good herbivores, although they grown quite large.  As they grow, there will generally not be enough food on the rocks to satisfy them, and supplemental feedings of dried seaweed will be necessary for their survival.  My opinion, not worth the effort.> For the last fish in my tank, I will be adding a copperband butterfly fish simply for its looks. I just love its profile and coloration. <Everyone does.> I know it is a difficult fish to keep but knowing myself, I would still end up getting it anyways as I have already set my mind on it even before I started the tank. What would be your advice to me for me to successfully keep it? I have not lost a single livestock yet and I intend to keep it that way. <Copperbands do best in large tanks with plenty of healthy live rock.  Any tubeworm population will soon be gone.  Your copepod population will quickly diminish also.  The difficulty with these fish is acclimating them to prepared/frozen foods. Read FAQ's here re this.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chelmonfdgfaq.htm> Bioload: 2 false percs, 3 green chromis, 1 purple firefish, 10 Cerith snails, 10 margarita snails, 10 turbo snails, 20 blue legged hermit crabs, 1 serpent star, 1 peppermint shrimp, and 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 Frogspawn, 1 Hammer Coral, 1 Yellow Fiji Leather Coral, Multi-Colored Polyp colony and 1 green open brain. <Yikes!  Would not put a Copperband in a tank with these corals.  There will more than likely be nipped on.> Tank: 60 gallon tank (48' x 25' x 12') with 28.45 gal DIY sump/ refugium. Equipment: 260 watt total (12k and True Actinic 03 combination), 125 Coralife Needle Wheel Super Skimmer, 18 watt 6x Coralife Twist UV Sterilizer, 2 200 watt Jager Heater, Mag 5 return pump, and 2 Maxijet 1200 powerhead. Thanks again James and more power to you and your site. <You're welcome, Jon.  James (Salty Dog)> Jon Glorioso Naugatuck, CT <Luck you, living in such a scenic area.>

"Creeping Killer Crud"   12/16/06 First of all, I really appreciate your forum. I've been a chemist for 25+ years but find the reef keeping hobby to be a quite a challenge! <Heeee! Agreed> It's been made more enjoyable by your very helpful information. <Ah, good... as an aside, I taught H.S. Chemistry for a while...> I have: 50 gallon bow front aquarium 2 PFO pendants, each with 175W 10K halide and 2X 32W actinics 20 gallon sump Euroreef skimmer about 65 lbs. live rock yellow tang maroon clown watchman goby mushroom corals bubble tip anemone (2 now) small Acropora various polyps, mostly from live rock emerald crab 'pom pom' crab Cleaner shrimp Nassarius, bumble bee snails Blue & red legged hermits (8-10) Tank is about 4 years old, maintain chemistry mainly with Kalkwasser in replacement water & 2 part calcium and/or buffer when needed. Have had many lapses with water changes (I'm guilty!) but try to keep up with regular testing for pH, alkalinity, calcium, nitrate, etc. testing. Parameters are all good, with some detectable phosphate (~0.1ppm) leading me to run some phosphate scrubbing resin right now as I try to starve this killer crud encrusting my tank! <Mmmm> About 6 months ago, I began noticing some dark, brownish (purplish?) growth on live rock that seemed to spread fairly quickly (see attachment). <I see it> Figured it was just some nuisance algae <Mmm, no> and replenished some crabs to take care of it. However, it has grown steadily and seems to slowly kill most things in it's path (Acropora, open brain coral, pulsing Xeniids), only star polyps, Palythoas and some other polyps seem to survive. The stuff looks shiny and feels rubbery to the touch, but when you try to scrape it off it is fibrous, almost leathery and very tough. <Yes... likely a sponge, Poriferan> I've taken it to a very good LFS and marine biologist there is stumped so far. This stuff grows from rock to rock, even grows on top of coralline on back of tank where I can eventually break it loose, but it has glued most of my live rock together!  LFS suggests removing & scrubbing live rock, but won't this kill what's left of natural flora/fauna? I'm considering replacing the appx. ½ of my live rock but would like to know what I'm up against first. Any suggestions? Many thanks, Allen <Well... there are a few approaches one might consider here... I'll jump ahead at both ends/philosophies if you do/don't mind... If this were a/my service account, I'd pull all the rock (as in en toto) out and place it in the dark somewhere... allow/kill off the "crud"... and use the old rock some months hence as "base" in another set-up... At the opposite end of the spectrum, IF this were my home tank and I was given to experimentation, had lots of patience... I'd take a look/see under a scope to determine at least the phylum here... and try a course of possible, probable predators... Might take a bit of time... to seek out an expert at family, genus, species of the organism itself... someone who could engage you in what they have observed and/or speculate might be a principal predator... AND I would try the biochemical warfare route... adding another purposeful sump/refugium, macrophyte... lighting... tied in with your main system here... Much to be gained, enjoyed in considering, pursuing these activities. Bob Fenner>

Help! Small reef, critters   12/4/06 Hey! <Get me my saddle!> I've been successfully looking after my black & white clown in a 30 ltr aquarium for a few months now. <Too small a volume...>   He is in there with a few other critters too.  The setup is as follows: I have a Mirabello 30 aquarium: I have replaced the carbon with a VERY good phosphate remover laid out in wool.  It has plenty of biological action on the go and I use nothing but synthetic seawater for water changes.  There is a venturi device that is turned down very low (it causes a very small timed jet of bubbles) and an Interpet AirVolution Mini. I use test kits and never have readings of nitrites, nitrates or phosphates. I have replaced the standard yellow lights with a blue/white actinic light bulb. Everything mechanically and filter wise is good. My inhabitants are: 1 x 1" black & white clownfish 1 x 3/4" emerald crab 1 x 1" blue-legged hermit crab 1 x 1" turbo snail 1 x 1" red snail (I picked up from the Irish Sea on holiday and brought him back - doing great) Lots of live rock, an anemone (the clown never leaves it!), polyps, xenia. <... dangerous mix in time> Plenty of Mysid shrimp, baby snails, worms and weird things that grow on the glass. Here lies my problem.  What are the things on the glass?  I have done lots of research and found that people often complain about pods - white things that sit on the glass.  My pest is brown and 1 - 2 mm in size.  They have a lighter part in the middle of their body.  Any ideas? <All sorts> What can I do to get rid of them - especially in the way of fish.  I hope you will say that a neon goby will eat them up. <Maybe... but I'm inclined to leave these be... whatever they are... highly likely innocuous to beneficial... will pass in time...> Also, I have found a baby starfish - I'm pretty sure it's a brittle-star.  It is nearly all white except for it's main body part - is this normal for babies (It's body is no more than 2mm in diameter)? <See WWM re http://www.wetwebmedia.com/asterinafaqs.htm> Well, thanks for listening, I know I've dribbled on but I am please that my first venture into marine aquaria is doing well. Si <Thank you for sharing. Re my concerns about the species listed... please do look these up individually on WWM, read re their Compatibility, Systems... Bob Fenner>

Unidentified Egg Sacks - 12/01/06 Hello, my name is Michael. <<Hi Michael...Eric here...>> First off, thank you for being such a helpful site. <<Glad you think so>> Your site has stopped me from making countless mistakes and has helped me diagnose and save the life of one of my sick clownfish =). <<Excellent to hear!>> Anyways, today I noticed about twelve small white egg sacks the size of pin heads on my tank glass.  They are almost evenly dispersed near the top of three of the walls.  I sent a drawing I made of them close up. <<I see it>> I know it is not very clear and could easily be from many types of creatures but I only have two types of creatures in my tank that I think could possibly make them.  I have a somewhat new pair of True Percula Clownfish that seem to have paired nicely but I am not sure if clownfish would produce 12 small egg sacks and then put them everywhere while leaving them unguarded even if it would be their first time having babies. <<Mmm, no...these are definitely not clownfish eggs>> I also have some turbo snails in the tank but I think that their egg pattern looks different. <<Indeed...long ragged-looking white strings>> I then have crabs, a few corals, and some other species of fish but none are in mated pairs. <<Pairing is not always/many times unnecessary for an organism to produce "eggs">> So if it is possible, could you venture a guess as what type of eggs these are? <<Sure...if the "membrane" were more round/symmetrical I would say these were egg-clusters from a species of Nassarius snail.  I think it likely these are from "some" type of mollusk (probably a hitchhiker on coral/live rock), and very likely harmless if not beneficial>> Could they have come from something besides the clowns or snails? <<As just stated>> Thanks very much for your time and any help you can give me, <<A pleasure to assist.  EricR>>

Unknown ID  11/24/06 Attached is a picture of something growing in my salt tank. It is clear and seems to have an opening in the end. Some of them have a small feather in the middle that seems to be feeding. Please let me know what you think it might be and if it is dangerous to my fish and Invertebrate. <Hello!  Mich here.  I'm not sure what you're specifically referring to in your photo.  I'm guessing the rounded mass in the crevasse of the coral skeleton toward the bottom right.  Hopefully we are both looking at the same thing!  This mass resembles a sponge.  However most sponges don't have "feathers".  Your written description makes me think you may be describing barnacles or polychaete worms.  In any case, your fish and inverts should be safe.> Cindy Shanks

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