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FAQs about Non-Vertebrate Animal Identification 2

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

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"Small little squiggles" on glass or hard materials are often tube-building worms. Harmless.

Mystery Invert - 07/13/2005 While in Ocean City, Maryland my son's friend dug up along the shore what looked like six to eight triangular shaped "clams", about 1.5 cm long, all connected to a central location by soft tissue projecting from each organism. The shells were open at each end. I'm sorry I have no photo. I appreciate any help you can provide. <Hi, Brian!  Unfortunately, without a photo, or a very, very in-depth description, it will be difficult to impossible to give you a definite ID....  You might try looking up "gooseneck barnacle" in a google image search, as that (sort of) fits your description.  Otherwise, I would suggest you find a book on local ocean shore life, and see if you can find a match.> Take care...Brian Mai <You too.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Invert ID 11/12/03 Just a little more info on this. It is semi hemi shaped 1/2" long  1/4" tall 1/4" wide It is not a rock. There are no hard spots on it at all no shell or otherwise it has a pinkish under side it moves slowly My guess is one of three, Nudibranch, slug, or Cucumber. <the growth as best I can tell form the image looks clearly like a bonafide cnidarian animal (coral/polyp, etc). Are you sure this thing moves? If so... I wonder if it simply isn't an arthropod (crab perhaps) that has decorated its carapace with a living cnidarian/coral. Do flip it over and see what kind of belly/legs it has. Best regards, Anthony>

Mystery Creature... I have a 35 gallon salt water aquarium.  I put live rock in it about 3 months ago.  I noticed a circular specimen crawling on the rock.  It has grown a little since I first noticed it.  It is now about the size of a nickel.  It is a very dark purple color, almost black.  It comes out only at night, and retreats when light is turned on.  It has tentacles underneath, that makes it mobile.  When I tried to move it, it started to cling to the rock and a white stripe along the back appeared, that I never noticed before.  Since than, the white line on the back is seen most of the time.  Any ideas? <I think that you are imagining it...It does not exist...There are no such creatures found in the reef...Get some sleep! LOL> Is it safe to keep it in my tank, or should I remove it.  At this time, I have two starfish, a longnose hawk, and a Banggai cardinal fish.  A clown is soon to move in as well from my quarantine tank. Any help would be appreciated.  Thanks, Debbie <In all seriousness, Debbie- ya got me on that one...It sounds like some sort of worm, but it's really tough to guess without a pic...If you could forward one to me, I can make a better guess...If you have not had any nasty experiences with this creature yet, then we can at least rest easier until a positive ID is secured! Looking forward to seeing a pic, if possible! Regards, Scott F>

White Growths (11-3-03) Hi,<Howdy, Cody here today.  Sorry for the delayed reply, I have been having some computer problems lately.> We have a 55 gallons salt water aquarium for ~ 3months. We have ~50 lbs of lace rocks in it. Recently, we are noticing lots of white growths of the lace rocks and it's increasing. The growths usually stand up or form a arch and some of them seems to have some hairy stuff hanging. When we touch them, they feel like paper. Can you tell what are they and if they are harmful for the fish and if so, how to get rid of them? A prompt response will be highly appreciated.<Sounds like some sort of sponge to me and is likely harmless.  You can find more info at our website: www.wetwebmedia.com. Cody>  Thanks, Sunandita

Spontaneous feather duster generation- Hey, I have been noticing tube worms forming on my live rock. They have white calcareous tubes and their "feathers" are a deep red color. The tubes are about 1/4" and they are slightly curled. I have Googled the site but have been unable to find a definitive ID. Any idea what these are? If so, how big could they get? Thanks,<They are just small feather dusters that seem to reproduce readily under ideal conditions, Enjoy these small magnificent creatures, Good luck, IanB> Steve

Squiggly snail eggs 10/19/03 Ok, I have a (hopefully) quick question.  I've had a 20 gallon saltwater  setup for about 9 months now.  Due to an incredible sale at a local pet store three days ago I moved everything into a 55 gallon tank.  Between yesterday and today an interesting design was laid on the glass, and I'm wondering what it is.   <clearly an egg mass, and almost certainly from a snail. Hard to say if it is from a shell-less or shelled species. They are not likely to hatch viably at any rate. Nonetheless... a cool occurrence> The only new resident to the tank is a watchman goby, otherwise there's a pair of clownfish, dwarf lionfish, spotted hawkfish, scooter dragonette (who, thankfully, accepts brine shrimp and  my prepared clownfish food) and all the normal snails/crabs. <indeed> The only thing that comes to mind is that the design is snail eggs.   <bingo... you win a hairy kewpie doll in the likeness of Robin Williams> There are tiny, distinct white dots within it and it resembles the squiggles turbo snails will make in algae.   <not a turbo snail though... that gastropod broadcasts its gametes into the water> There's a picture online here ( http://users.adelphia.net/~sidi/images/squiggle.jpg) but it's 40k.  Do you know what it might be, if it isn't snail eggs? Matt Williams <best regards, Anthony>

Not So Super Snot - Mysterious Growth in Reef >Hello everyone, >>Good day. >I hope you can help me with a 'mysterious' growth in my reef tank. To describe it without sounding gross, will be difficult, because it indeed looks GROSS! It grows under my rocks, is opaque and whitish, (clear in spots) almost like a milky glass that dripped into the tank. >>Mmm.. sounds like reefs not.  (I just made that up.)  It could be a bacterial/algal growth, I've never seen anything quite like this, though. >I haven't touched it yet because I can't get to it. I brought a sample of my water down to the LFS to make sure my numbers looked good, (my test kits are about 8 months old and I was getting conflicting results between the kits) and, all is within guidelines for a healthy environment.   >>Kit quality is important here, brand, as well as age (8 mths. doesn't seem to be too old, as long as stored properly) are important. >This 'white' stuff has been around for about 4 months. I don't know if it's soft or hard. Any clues?? >>Sorry, I personally don't have one.  I believe I've seen photos of encrusting sponges that may resemble this, a web-page appropriate size photo would be helpful. >Also, I have had another form of growth that is ugly. It's blackish/green, and clogs everything.   >>Now *this* sounds like Cyanobacteria, and this would indicate an issue with excess nutrients.  Of course, not knowing your actual results, as well as what exactly was tested for, means that I can't give you a more specific direction in which to go other than address nutrient control. >I blow it off when I see it and take it out of the tank. It's about 1/8 inch think and it's full of air bubbles. When I squish it between my fingers, it deflates. Any clues with this one? >>Again, this sounds very much like Cyanobacteria.  Use the Google search bar on our homepage with this search term. >Thank you everyone of you. It's nice to have a place to ask questions and not be ignored!!  Pamela >>Quite welcome, and I hope this has helped a bit.  Marina

Invert ID 10/5/03 Hi, I have a 30 Gallon reef tank with a T. derasa clam, a daisy polyp rock, a flat brain, a Marshall island devil's hand, egg xenia, and a star polyp rock. Water chemistry is currently ph 8.2, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates at 0. Just recently I have noticed little "baby" xenias starting to grow around the tank.  Unfortunately, my flat brain recently died.  However, lately I have noticed some red, branching, tubelike things growing from the top of the brain.  I don't have a digital camera or a scanner, otherwise I would send a picture, but I was wondering if you had any idea of what this is?  Trevor <there are several things they could be... do consider checking out our new book Reef Invertebrates (Calfo and Fenner) which details a great many creatures. I'm guessing that you have a Vermetid snail (sessile and cone shaped/spun tubes) or a Serpulid tubeworm. If instead you see feathery extensions... you may have small tube barnacles. Do seek pics of the aforementioned to confirm. Anthony>

Small  creatures crawling on seamat 10/4/03 Hi guys. First of all, thanks for having the faq! <thanks kindly!> I have a 55 gallon tank with one maroon clown, one damsel and one yellow wrasse, several snails. Also have a healthy bubble tip anemone, galaxy? coral, short tentacled plate  coral, a bunch of yellow polyps. Recently my sea mat closed up and upon close scrutiny I notice small white creatures were sitting on top of the polyps and moving around as well. The opened polyps had no creatures on them and the ones closed seemed to have at least one sitting on top. What are these creatures and are they harmless?  Thanks. Kumarason Kandiah Malaysia <based on the limited description "small white creatures", alas... we cannot say much. Do look closer to see if you can describe the organisms better. Do they look like Planaria/flatworms... or segmented worms, or micro-crustaceans with legs, etc. My guess is that you are merely looking at harmless amphipods (Microcrustaceans like miniature shrimp) that are scurrying about as detritivore. Your fishes will likely eat them in time. Kind regards, Anthony> Small creatures crawling on seamat II 10/4/03 Anthony, Thank for the quick reply. <very welcome my friend> I took out the seamat and shook it under a separate container to see what fell out. <do consider too my friend that this is just the kind of circumstance that underscores the imperative need to quarantine all new livestock (live rock, fish, corals, etc) in a separate QT tank before adding them to a display. It will allow you to evaluate these organisms before they have had a chance to spread into the main display. There are excellent articles and FAQs on our site www.wetwebmedia.com describing QT protocol> I caught a starfish - with a thin hairy legs, a flat main body. It was curled up in the rock. Remove  it and storing it. Managed to get a picture of it. <no worries... if it is an Ophiuroid (brittle or serpent) then it is safe> There were also small brown hairy creature with a thin white body. Its head had tentacles (white as well) and to me, the moved like snails. Could this be bad? <hmmm... if it looks like a shell-less snail (sea slug( then it is likely bad (the hairs being cerata evidencing its cnidarian-predatory nature)> Anyway, managed to shake most of them off.  Too small to capture using my cell phone camera. I am now waiting to see if my seamat opens up. <understood... but the fear still exists of the unknown creature having laid eggs or there being others. Really... please do employ strict QT protocol my friend. Just an inexpensive 10 gallon tank or plastic bucket will do fine for this.> Thanks for the help again! regards, Kumar <wishing you the best of luck. Anthony>

Small  creatures crawling on seamat III 10/7/03 Dear Anthony, It's a great relief to WWM. You guys are great! :) <grazie> By the way, are there any natural predators for this slugs? <there are a few... although most slugs and flatworms are rather toxic. Look to wrasses for starters> I am also thinking of doing away with my wet/dry trickle filter. <probably a good thing (for reducing nitrates) if your bio-load is light> I have read in some articles that mechanical filtration can be done away if proper feeding and water changes (with siphoning) are done frequently.  What is your opinion? <yes... quite correct and agreed. A good supply of live rock in the tank is also necessary. 1-2 pounds per gallon> Tried searching through FAQs on this... Thanks. Kumar <with kind regards, Anthony>

- ID this Thing! - WWM Crew, As many others have said, THANK YOU for the fantastic web site! My wife and I are new to the marine environment, and your website has been extremely helpful. <I'm happy to know you find the information useful.> It has been interesting to say the least to see what is coming out of our LR. <What a great planet we live on...> Some good things (feather dusters, zooanthids, pods, etc..) and some not so good things (Aiptasia anemones and bristleworms to say the least).  Attached is the latest thing that came out of our LR.  Our guess is that this is a mantis shrimp. <Nope - it's definitely not one of those.> What do you think? <I think, after looking at it for a while, that you have a Galatheid, a squat lobster - related to the hermit crabs - very neat animals, and also an uncommon acquisition. More about these here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/galatheids.htm > I had several snails die one night.  Could this be the culprit? <Doubtful... snails come and go like the wind, sorry to say.> If this thing is bad, do you have an suggestions on how to eliminate it from the tank? <Even if it were bad, I'd keep it... it's a really neat find, but I'm kind of silly that way. I'd keep an eye on it to make sure it's not a predator. If it is, you'll likely need to trap it out, or remove the rock it's living in and perhaps hose it out with some seltzer water. I hope it doesn't come to that.> Thank you in advance, John <Cheers, J -- >

Help with Hitchhiker ID and an Angel for Angel 10/3/03 Hi Fishy Friends! <howdy> First off, thanks again for a great site.  Between all the literature and the super people on the forum, I've learned a whole lot in 4 months.   <our reward <G>> My first question is about some kind of anemone (?) I got on live rock I bought about 2 months ago from an LFS.  I don't know where the LR was from 'originally', so I can't help there.  It's located down in a crevice and pops out in the light and retracts in the dark.  It's been growing fairly quickly, but not unmanageable -it's about 1/2" in length.  It appears to be some kind of anemone but is not the evil Aiptasia.  Or I don't think it is.  I've asked around the forums and nobody seems to know what it is; my only concern is that it might eventually get nasty towards the inhabitants of the tank (limited to a toadstool and some shrooms right now).  I like the little guys (there are 2), so I hope it's not a pest ;-) <the picture is not close enough nor the polyps extended enough to be certain... but it definitely looks like a coral to me. My guess would be a Euphylliid (like torch corals/hammers, etc). Please be sure to feed this animal fine minced meaty foods weekly or better> My second question is regarding a Cherub Angel.  My husband is dead set on getting a Banggai Cardinal (tank-raised of course) for our 29 and I'm in love with the little cherubs.  Would 1 of each be too much for a 29, assuming they were the only fish except perhaps a neon goby for cleaning?   <no trouble at all for stocking... but do know that they are one of the least "safe" dwarf angels regarding sessile inverts. Cherubs are consummate nippers and nibblers (corals, anemones, etc)> It's got about 30 pounds of live rock and 20+ pounds of live sand.  My thinking was that the cardinals don't swim around much, so the angel would have plenty of room to roam.  Obviously, the cardinal would go in first and we'd wait on the angel for a bit - the tank's about 4 months old now.  If you say no go, then I guess we'll get 2 cardinals and the hubby will be really happy. <still can add a second cardinal (they are easily sexed) and have them breed <G>> Thanks so much for all the great advice! Angel <thanks kindly... best regards, Anthony>

- Creature Identification - Hello ! I am attaching two jpegs with creatures I can not identify. <Ok.> In the first photo the creature is on the left side of the rock. It has very thin tentacles and some sort of :mouth in the middle. <I think it may be some type of sponge.> In the second photo I suspect it to be a kind of sponge, but I am not sure. Can you help me identify it and advise me about its lighting requirements? <Likewise, the most usual suspect is a sponge. In both cases, the photos are a little blurry so it's hard to tell or be 100% certain.> In the meantime I can not wait receiving your book "Reef Invertebrates", which I ordered last week from Premium aquatics among some other things. <Enjoy it in good health.> Thanks again.  Thanassis
<Cheers, J -- >

Midnight Spawn? 9/25/03 Got a question about some pellets I collected Sat. night. <rabbit pellets?> Please see attached PowerPoint file for pictures. <thanks kindly... not very revealing though> Saturday night, after the lights went off, I noticed some small white pellets floating in the tank.  Their density was approximately 1 pellet per 40-50 ml. of tank water.  The pellets have an average diameter of about 1mm, are white, have a bulk density slightly less then 1.0025 salt water, hydrophilic surface.  At first I thought these were critters, but they didn't move other then being moved by the powerheads.  I grabbed a couple and brought them to work today and looked at them under my inverted Olympus IX-70 microscope.  I placed a pellet between a microscope slide and a cover slip and it squished flat really easy.  This is what I found (see file).  Most of the material inside the pellet consisted of small 10-100 micron dia. spheres that I'm guessing are food (yolk sacks?) or air bubbles(?).   <I cannot tell from the image> However, in between these large objects were very small, less then 1 micron in size and almost completely optically transparent, objects of obvious biological origin.  Even though I couldn't focus on them completely (really, past the limits of light microscopy at 1500X)--therefore couldn't see any cellular structure, mechanisms for locomotion, etc..--I could definitely see them vibrating and moving around.  And they did this pretty well.  Unfortunately, my $8K CCD camera can't take movies (go figure!), so I can't prove this to you, but man, these buggers were really moving.   <some invertebrate larvae perhaps> I can't really think of any multicellular organism at this size, and can only think of a few single celled organisms this size, but not packaged this way.  I'm therefore thinking that this was a spawning event by one of my two corals (only have two), a colt or an anchor.   <hmmm... neither spawn commonly in aquaria... although the anchor (Euphyllia) is much more likely if having been fed well. So many other invertebrates in the display as possibilities... numerous arthropods, polychaete worms, etc> About a week ago the colt went through a color cycle, drawing in its arms and turning almost black for about 5 minutes and then going back to normal.  This happened throughout the entire specimen, then all was good.  Can't think of anything else.  So... Was it sexual reproduction of the colt? Was it asexual reproduction? Was it something else? <really cannot say, alas> I plan on conducting a cromassie blue (binds to surface proteins) stain of the moving objects to see how much protein is on their outer surface (anticipating that diploids would have more proteins on the surface then haploids).  Don't know what else to do with them after this. <that makes two of us.> Thanks in advance for your help. Jeb <what little I gave :) A sounding board if nothing else. Kudos for your investigative interest and curiosity. Please do let us know what you find. Anthony>

Nudibranch or Flatworm     Hi crew! <Howdy Aryeh>     Last night I was shocked discover in my 200 g reef what looked like a black nudibranch gliding along the sand and rocks.  It was about 1.5 - 2" long and it sort of looked like a dog (two ears or antennas in the front and a little tail sticking up at the back).  At first I was excited (I already have lettuce nudibranchs) until I looked in the Reef Invertebrates and saw the picture of the Pseudoceros sapphrinus. <Looks like that to me too>   It looked very much like that except it didn't have the blue ring around it.  Here's a picture attached (it's the best I could get).  So is it a nudibranch or a flatworm? <The latter> If it's the latter, how concerned do I have to be? <Mmm, not much... I suspect your tank is large (several tens of gallons in volume) and well-filtered... Should it die, dissolve, likely no problem. I would just enjoy it for now> I've already panicked a few times (for instance, when I first saw the lettuce nudibranch or a big bristleworm), only to discover they were harmless.  This thing is kind of neat and I think I could tolerate minimum damage to the corals.  But will it grow to plague proportions? <Not likely. I think you have a good mind, attitude toward/re such transients. At least a point of view I share... Bob Fenner>

Clicking noise at night I have 2 questions. I'm very new to keeping a marine aquarium. I've had my aquarium a bit over 2 months now. My aquarium is 180litres and has live rock and coral etc. and at night I can hear a clicking sound.<could be a mantis or a pistol shrimp> Someone told me that this is a shrimp that eats little fish if you don't feed it properly.<it could be> Is this true? What is the clicking noise and can it be a hazard. If so how do I get rid of it?<if it is a mantis shrimp, you might have to remove it. depending on the size of your fish. though many mantis shrimp grow to about an inch and are pretty much harmless. unless you have inverts I would get rid of this shrimp, just in case. purchase a mantis trap or search the internet. some people have unique ways of catching these stomatopods.)> The fish in my aquarium include, 2 green Chromis, 2 yellow tailed damsels, 2 clownfish (allardi), 1 yellow tang, and 1 coral beauty. When I first added my fish I put a semicircular (Koran) angel fish and a bicolour angel but the semicircular killed the bicolour angel and when I put in the coral beauty I think the coral beauty killed the semicircular. Does this mean I can't keep 2 angelfish at a time?<yeah it does!!> What is your suggestion on my next fish? <I think your pretty much stocked. but you could go with another small wrasse maybe from the genus Pseudocheilinus>Also the fish are very small at the moment and what will happen when they grow because my fish tank is very small? <you will have to purchase another aquarium or get rid of the fish...or they will eventually perish, good luck, IanB>

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