FAQs about Non-Vertebrate Animal Identification
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Life Identification, LR Hitchhiker ID
1, Anemone Identification,
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Worm Identification, Tubeworm ID, Polychaete Identification, Snail Identification, Marine Crab
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Fangs... Cirripedian? 10/22/09
Hello all, I have searched the internet high and low trying to
figure out what this critter is. It has been living in a hole on
a star polyp rock for over a year now but I have only been able
to catch a quick glimpse of it a
few times. Today it is just out sunning itself and not shy about
it. It has never bothered anything in the tank to my knowledge.
It looks like a large pair of spider fangs covered in very long
hairs. It does not appear to have any type of tube it has formed
like a type of feather duster, in fact I am fairly certain I have
seen it poke out of a few different holes in the rock. The part
it shows is about a half inch long in total length. and
forms a Y before reaching into the darkness of its hole. I have
looked at every identification website I could find and have been
unable to find anything close. Any help at all would be great. I
am sorry for the poor
quality picture, it is the best my camera could do. Thank you for
<Does the tentacular portion "fish?". I.e. move back
and forth, in an inward motion? As a static image, my guess is on
this being a Barnacle...
IF non-moving, a Polypoid animal of some kind, perhaps a
Zoanthid. At any length, not likely hazardous to your other
livestock. Bob Fenner>
|ID Please -- Sponge? Coral? Pest? Nope:
Tunicate -- 10/18/09
<Hello Crystal, Lynn here this evening.>
I have no real way to describe this hitchhiker.
<It's a beauty!>
It is about an inch round, oval shape. Last time I thoroughly
inspected the live rock was about 3 weeks. That particular rock has
been in my tank since April (it passed through 3-4 hobbyist tanks
before reaching me). It is in a very shady spot. It seems to be
uniformly attached to the rock (i.e. no clear base like Aiptasia)
and doesn't seem to react to touch, movement, or light change.
Looks kind of 'feathery'... Very pretty actually.
Can you ID it? I tried Google, several marine forums, but have
<It looks like a neat, harmless, little Tunicate/Ascidian
colony. Please see the following links for more information/photos:
Something similar in the genus Clavelina (family Polycitoridae):
<You're very welcome!>
<Take care, LynnZ>
Salt water tank question - tadpoles? 10/17/09
My husband and I are great fans of your site and have used it to ID
many of our hitchhiking creatures. We have a 30 gal saltwater tank,
sand and crushed coral substrate, several pounds of live rock, some
and 3 damsels. The tank has been set up less than a year and is very
We've also had bristleworms (or something similar), Aiptasia,
Gammarids, spaghetti worms etc as a result of hitchhiking in on LR. Now
for my question! Sometimes, after the lights in the tank have been out
for a few
hours, we will turn the light back on to see what night time creatures
we have. On several occasions, we have turned the light on to find
50-100 tiny tadpoles (that honestly look exactly like sperm with a head
swimming through the water. They are very small, 2 mm or less. I have
tried taking pictures, but the size makes it impossible. Any idea what
they could possibly be?
<Many possibilities... likely either some sort of worm or crustacean
(there are even some called "tadpole shrimp!")>
We have never seen any sign of eggs floating through the water during
the same period of time and have witnessed these sperm type things on
several occasions. Could something in our tank be trying to spawn? Any
you have would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your help!
<A neat planet eh? I'm not leaving! The more one looks, the more
there is to see. Bob Fenner>
Red Stringy Creature: Likely Cirratulid --
<Hello Lori, Lynn here this morning.>
Since I put up my salt water tank (6 months ago), right next to the
glass burrowing down through the substrate, is a thin red line. I have
noticed that it has like a tangled mass of red with several 3"
thread like tentacles coming from the sand and flowing with the
current. Yesterday it relocated itself. But it doesn't seem to be
bothering anything. What is it?
<Sounds like a Cirratulid (family Cirratulidae) commonly known as a
'hair worm'. These Polychaetes are beneficial/harmless,
detritus/organic particulate matter feeders, typically orange, red,
brown, or black in color, <2' in length, segmented, narrow,
substrate dwellers, with filaments (gills/"branchiae")
arranged along the length of the body. For more information/photos,
please see the many WWM FAQ's regarding, as well as the following
Enter the term Cirratulid in our Google search engine:
Here's something to get you started (see second FAQ listed:
Lori A. Pickett
<Take care, LynnZ>
Red Stringy Creature: Likely Cirratulid -- 10/14/09
Thank you for your help :)
<It was a pleasure, Lori. Take care, LynnZ>
ID a few things and green film algae
I was wondering if you could help me ID a few things in my reef
The tank has been up over a year and having battled Cyano, hair
algae and red slime in it's infancy it's been stable but
always evolving as new life forms seemingly appear from no where.
The first is an algae like looking plant, kind of like little
branches that are tan.
<Looks like bleached Derbesia... but can't really make out
much... this image is too poorly resolved>
to have increased a bit lately and are in high areas of flow. The
second thing is the little pink "bulbs" that are on the
shaft of the candy cane coral. Is this some type of
<Maybe... more likely some sort of sponge>
This pic was taken about 3 hours after lights out which is why
most of the corals are closed up.
On another note, I recently had a bad batch of salt that I had
talked to Justin about. The manufacturer (not the LFS) confirmed
this and gave me a free bucket of salt as well as refunded me the
money for the bad salt. So that was cool that they honor and care
about the positive view of their product, but needless to say I
will be more diligent in testing all new batches when mixing
prior to introduction into the display tank, even if the test
results for the previous four buckets of said salt were
Anyway, if this is someone other than Justin, I really
appreciated the many responses and troubleshooting he helped me
with on this matter.
I have been getting Alk and ca slowly but surely back in balance,
but the Ca dive my tank took as well as the soon to follow Alk
stability (and the possible more than liberal use of oyster feast
during this decline...which for the time being I wont be using)
caused a bit of coralline die off and also introduced green film
algae on my side and back glass. Will this subside with proper
care in nutrient import/feeding and export/water changes (with
properly balanced salt mix) and syphoning/turkey baster blow off
of rocks/ filter maintenance or is manual removal really needed
to get a foothold?
<Likely the former>
I was afraid to try to remove too much at a time thinking it
might cause a spike in my water column if it is holding absorbed
I do 2 %5 WCs weekly or at least 1 10% WC a week.
<Better to do the 10% all at once... in terms of water quality
improvement... or better... 20% every one or two weeks.>
I usually target Ca
at 420 Alk at 8.5 and pH at 8.1-8.3 daytime/nighttime, which is
pretty close right now since the salt mix fiasco (Ca is now at
440 and Alk at 7 with pH fine after several small WCs during the
last week). It was at 320 Alk 13 at the beginning of this
Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and Phosphate undetectable with pretty
new test kits.
My tank is also a little light on CUC I think (5 Astreas, 5
hermits in a 20 gal long). I have heard Turbos are good but they
seem a bit large for my tank and my LFS only carries them and
Astreas...no Trochus which I have heard are better than Astreas
but smaller than Turbos. I am at my fish limit with my 2 clowns
and watchman goby so I don't want to give a death sentence to
a Blenny or something like that to try to control it. I also have
a small emerald crab, a cleaner shrimp, and the Watchman's
best friend: a tiger pistol shrimp. The tanks flow/filtration is
20 lbs of live rock, Aquaclear 70 running Chemi-pure (what is the
normal exhaust rate on that BTW?
<Best to switch out/rotate (one/two present at all times...
the older one on top...) every month or two>
I have had this pouch for over 3 months but rinse it weekly with
changed out tank water right before I clean out the sponge) and
Purigen that is still white/the lightest of tan. I have 2
Aquaclear 147gph powerheads on opposite sides of the tank for
I am thinking about getting an Aqua C Nano skimmer but can't
do for a bit. Had a SeaClone but it started to leak (which from
what I have heard it will do if you ever take it apart to clean
it properly....wish I had that $80 bucks back...it never really
pulled out much at it's "peak") and have been
skimmerless for 6 months without problems (when I started using
Chemi-Pure) until possibly lately. Not an easy venture to get a
quality skimmer on a 12" tall tank without a sump that
really does much without taking up valuable real estate, and it
seems the best Nano ones are made to fit in the BioCube type
tanks where they are hidden but would be huge in a tank like
mine...but the Aqua C Nano seems to have gotten pretty good
responses from folks with tanks similar to my tanks footprint and
<Is a good unit I'll warrant>
Haven't heard a lot of reliable info on the Prism, which also
size wise would do my tank good in that aspect but haven't
heard much about its skimming ability or its ability to not have
to be tuned daily like the SeaClone had to be. At any rate, I
would like a great HOB skimmer (great for an HOB) without much of
it actually in the tank if possible.
Sorry or the long email, I just wanted to include what my tank
husbandry is, where it has been and possibly where it needs to be
to get the film, and possibly more stuff that hasn't happened
yet, under control.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: ID a few things and green film algae
Here are what are I hope a better images that might make ID a
little easier. First the Pink bulb like spikes but also you can
see the tan algae stuff to the left, it looks like craft moss for
making crafts in the picture:
<The "pink stuff" are assuredly Poriferans>
And now a close-up. This never started out green or as die off,
it comes in like this and is present in high flow areas that are
mostly low in light.
<... maybe Hydroids... again not enough resolution/acuity to
Re: ID a few things and green film
Thank you on the id of the sponges, I have them all over my rock
as well...and more seem to sprout up all the time. Sorry about
the resolution of the other life form. They are quite small and
hard to get a decent photo of. I will continue to observe and
research. Thank you for taking the time to respond.
<Welcome Keith. BobF>
Red sponge? 10/5/09
Good evening crew-
Just got these nice clove polyps, and found a bright red
hitch-hiker on them. It has now strung anchor cables to the
aquarium wall. AM I correct that it is some type of sponge?
<Mmm, I wish the pic was a bit better resolved and larger...
But I think this/these are Ascidians, Sea Squirts. See here
Re: Red sponge? -
Thank you. I think the photo of the red grouping (in the
link provided) is probably my mystery guest. I'll see
about getting a better photo.
Appreciate the help.
<Real good. BobF>
Re: Red sponge?
Thanks for the reply earlier. I have one more photo,
showing more of the anchor cables and some antennae-like
<Likely another group of organisms here...
Seems to be a good fit for the Ascidia family.
<Mmm... other taxon>
I wouldn't anticipate being able to keep them healthy
for long in a clean reef system. Does that sound
<Are indicative of good, consistent care... Can live
there. Please see the linked files above:
unknown critter 10/2/2009
It was in the fresh to low saline part of the Tomoka River just
north of Daytona Beach, Fl, about a foot long and swimming.
<Really? As your email address notes you as some sort of state
civil servant, I'll take it this is an earnest query... but
still state that this looks like some artificial contrivance.
Maybe it's a colorful "tag" attached to a turtle,
marine mammal, even a large fish... to allow surface tracking.
Re: unknown critter 10/2/2009
Thanks for your thoughts, and yes - this is not in jest. It was
observed by someone who has no reason to be playing a gag either,
we're all scratching our heads as well. No additional photos
or higher resolution exist.
FYI - Here's are some of the other responses provided:
Guesses so far: weird Polychaete; weird isopod; weird mutant
mudskipper; freshly-scarred manatee; part of something else
swimming beneath the surface; Loch Tomoka Monster; and "are
we sure this is living"?
<Heee! Am pretty sure this is/was a "lure"...
Really... did you try to "catch it"?>
Maybe the caterpillar of the banded sphinx moth, Eumorpha
fasciatus - it's common around here and feeds on water
primrose at the edge of ponds (and apparently falls in sometimes;
<Too big for this... and swimming?>
Juvenile alligator (image attached).
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, SW District
13051 North Telecom Parkway
Temple Terrace, FL 33637-0926
<Mmmm, Will keep your email addy... and hope that amongst the
bunch of folks who peruse our Daily FAQs, that someone will have
a better guess than moi. Thank you for sending this along. Bob
Something wacky... WWM ID 10/3/09
Lynn... pls take a gander/look at the query in your in-folder...
What the Dicken's is this? B
Re: Something wacky... WWM ID
I don't know for sure what that thing is, but it's been
driving me nuts since I saw it last night. I actually laughed
when I saw the photos. I thought it was a prank until I saw who
sent it. Right off the bat, it looked to me like one of those
jelly-type worm lures you use for Bass fishing. You can get ten
inch ones that look pretty darn similar and come in a variety of
colors. Here's a nice blue one for comparison:
I figured either someone had set the hook just under and behind
the "head" area and dragged it underwater with a
fishing rod/line or else some unfortunate fish/turtle/whatever
had the thing snagged and was dragging it around. The thing is,
I've never seen any snake or worm swim in a straight line,
stretched out, as this one appears to be doing. Even epitokes
with swimming paddles don't swim straight. That thing appears
to be swimming like it's got a bunch of legs underneath doing
a neat little dog paddle!
One thing that did come to mind is a big Glycerid...a bloodworm -
Glycera dibranchiata. Apparently they're indigenous to the
area and although they're mostly marine, can tolerate
brackish. They can get pretty big, too (up to ~15"+) but
they're mostly burrowers. The adults do come up to the
surface in the middle of the summer to spawn but the timing
isn't right. Also, the head isn't right - Glycerid's
are conical/pointed. Unless what I'm seeing is actually a
partially everted pharynx, then that rules out this possibility.
Beyond that, you still have the problem of the way it's
swimming. These guys are not good swimmers so moving forward in a
straight line seems unlikely.
<Looks too shiny, symmetrical... I tried: "big rubbery
red lures" in search tools... I do wish there were extant
optical characterization programs, id for such graphics... this
thing is unnatural though. I do wish "they" would have
tried to capture/collect "it">
There's something else tickling the back of my mind as
another possibility but I can't quite put it together yet.
If/when I do, I'll let you know.
<Thank you Lynn. BobF>
Re: Something wacky... WWM ID -- 10/3/09
Yep, it looks too unnatural/contrived (especially the color),
like some fishing lures I've seen. At one point I briefly
considered the possibility that it might be a chain of creatures
- that the thing in the front was dragging the rest. That would
account for the straight line (except for the anterior portion),
but that doesn't fit either. By the way, I finally remembered
what was at the back of my mind - a Salp chain but that's way
off too - wrong place, wrong color, wrong shape. I'm calling
this thing Tomokus hinkyus!
<Heeee! Good as name as any! BobF>
Re: unknown critter
Thanks for all the thoughts, it's driving us crazy too!
<I suspect we'll have an answer that satisfies soon.