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Bristle/Fireworms Identification FAQs 2

Related FAQs: Polychaete ID 1, Polychaete ID 3, Polychaete ID 4, Polychaete ID 5, Bristleworm ID 6, Bristleworm ID 7, Bristleworm ID 8, Bristleworm ID 9, Bristleworm ID 10, Bristleworm ID 11,
FAQs: Worm Diversity FAQs, FAQs 2, FAQs 3, & Worm IDs 1, Worm IDs 2, Worm IDs 3, Worm IDs 4, Worm IDs 5, Worm IDs 6, Worm IDs 7, Worm IDs 8, & Worm ID FAQs by Group/Phylum: Flatworm Identification ID, Nemertean, Proboscis, Ribbon Worm ID, Nematode, Roundworm ID, Nematomorpha, Horsehair Worm ID, Acanthocephalans, Thorny-headed Worm ID, Tubeworm ID, Hirudineans, Leech ID, Sipunculids, Peanut Worm ID, Echiuran Worm ID, & Bristle/Fireworms 1, Bristle/Fireworms 2Bristle/Fireworms 3, Bristle/Fireworms 4, Worm IdentificationPolychaete Behavior, Polychaete Compatibility, Polychaete System, Polychaete Selection, Polychaete Feeding, Polychaete Disease, Polychaete Reproduction

Related Articles: Worms, Polychaetes, Flatworms/Planaria

What's worse than finding a whole live worm in your apple?

Polychaete ID 5/15/10
Hi. I'm trying to identify a particular type of Bristleworm, so I'm hoping you can help me.
<Mmm, I "did a couple of years" ID'ing benthic Sedentariate Polychaetes for some studies at USD... there are thousands of species... need careful examination of the heads, podia elements...>
I've searched online and found differing opinions on what this may be. They are up to about 1-1/2 inches long, with long, narrow, segmented bodies. The "head" is very small, slightly narrower than the body, comes almost to a point, and is mostly a reddish-orange color. The "body" section is an off-white color. The "tail" end is a dark color, almost black. They live in my coral substrate and don't seem to really bother anything. I've seen my snails crawl right through a group of these worms with no apparent problems, and my Ophiolepsis sea star and micro stars have been living happily among them, too. I think they're neat because when they're startled
(like when the lights come on), they turn an iridescent, translucent blue color as they press themselves up against the glass and into tiny crevices. Any ideas? I was thinking possibly Eurythoe Complanata, but I've seen varying reports of what that species is supposed to look like. Thanks for your help!
<Uhh... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/polychaeidfaq2.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Identify This if you can Polychaete Id -- need more info 10/8/07 <Hi Richard> Just wondering if you could identify this worm, it came out of a piece of coral that was dying. I broke it apart to get the bad part or dying part out of the tank and keep the living part in. <Unfortunately, I need a close-up image of the head especially, in order to see placement/number of antennae (if present), eyes, and the mouth. Please see these sites for more info re: http://home2.pacific.net.ph/~sweetyummy42/hitchworms.html http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-03/rs/index.php > Thank you, Richard. <You're most welcome. I just wish I could have given you a definitive answer! --Lynn>

Unknown Worm (A Cirratulid Polychaete I Believe) - 04/20/06 Bob, <<EricR here>> First off thanks again for the advice with my tank, I've done a few extra water changes and everything seems to be running perfectly fine.  I mentioned in my last email that I was going to try to get a few pictures of this worm I've found to maybe come to a better conclusion as to its species.  I think I might have seen it before when reading the sites on your site, but I can't seem to find it again.  Either way here are 3 pictures of this awkward looking worm.  Looks to me like maybe he needs a good barber. <<Mmm, your comment is more intuitive than you probably realize.  What you have here looks to be a Cirratulid Polychaete worm...commonly referred to as a "Hair" worm...often confused with/misidentified as a "Spaghetti" worm (a Terebellid Polychaete). What do you think? <<A beneficial detritivore...I'd keep it <grin> >> Thanks again,
<<Quite welcome, EricR>>


Worm ID   6/10/06 Hey crew, <John>      I have been stalking this guy for about two months trying to get him out of my tank. Is he just your regular bristle worm? <One of many thousands of species...> The other bristle worms I have seen seem to be red and purple in color, while this monster is yellow and orange. Also, the "bristles" on the side seem to be different than on the other worms. This guy was almost a foot long when fully extended <Yikes... be very careful when not-handling this specimen... use tongs, a net, not your skin... as these podia bristles may be quite sharp, painful... Bob Fenner> Thanks!

Worms in tank  - 09/07/06 Howdy crew!<Hey Kandice, MacL here.> I have a worm question- I tried to identify them myself, but forgive me if the identification was obvious. <You have bristleworms in your tank. Lots of FAQs here on them. They don't look like Fireworms to me from the pictures but I would consider getting a fish that eats them or pulling them out of the tank with some type of tweezers. They can become a problem.> I don't have any fish yet, just live rock.  I think that they are bristle worms, but they don't look as "feathery." They look like aquatic centipedes to me! There are about 5 of them that I can count, about an inch long, maybe 1.5 at the longest.  They all have the same basic structure but vary slightly in color: some are red, red and black, and black and white. If the picture is not good I can try to pluck one out of the tank, however if they are beneficial I would like to refrain from doing so!  Thank you! <I liked to keep some in my tank, honestly because my puffers think they are a delicacy from heaven.  Good luck, MacL>

What type of sea worm is this?????   8/11/06 Hi Bob, <Koraine> I just came upon your question and answer site when I was looking up different types of sea worms.  My son and I just got back from Mexico and we caught lots of things.  Octopus, stingrays, and lots more,  but it's the first time we caught this weird looking worm thing.  I read about Fireworms, is this that or something else?? <Is a type of Errantiate Polychaete... a Bristleworm... would have felt like fire had you grabbed it firmly by those lateral processes (notopodia, parapodia...)>   It didn't' hurt us when we held it.  We would love to know.  Please send e-mail with answer, plleassse!! Koraine
<Yikes! Glad you didn't get stuck! Bob Fenner>

Hitchhiker worm 10/16/05 Hi guys, I found a blue worm-like guy working his way across one of my hard corals this morning. Managed to fish him out to try to ID him. Thanks to your site, I guess he's some form of Errantiate, but I can't find any matches for his particular description: 3-4cm long, blue colour, white tentacles on what I assume is the head end, segmented body, each segment bearing a pair of rather stumpy legs, moves by undulation, able to curl up into a ball, no obvious bristles I attach a couple of photos - the second of which shows his belly. What do you think - friend or foe? If benign, I'd like to pop him back in the tank ASAP as I doubt there's much to eat in the Tupperware box he currently calls home! Many thanks for providing such a great resource. jc <Here is the response from Dr. Ron Shimek: I'd need a better shot of the front end to be sure, but it appears to be a Phyllodocid Polychaete. These are "active hunters" and generally eat other worms. It has no "gripping" appendages. I suspect it was on the trail of some other worm, which would have been dinner had it caught it. It likely would not harm corals, or any other decorative livestock. Basically, these animals are normal type of the worm fauna of a tank. See these three of my articles: http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-03/rs/index.htm; http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-04/rs/index.htm; and http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-05/rs/index.htm. Cheers, Ron  <While Dr. Shimek finds such worms infinitely interesting and would be horrified at the idea of not keeping it, I would suggest leaving it out of the tank and flushing it. It will likely prey on other worms that are beneficial to your tank. If you find this critter interesting as well, you can certainly choose to keep it! Best Regards. AdamC.> 

Spiraling worm   3/14/06 Hello, <Hi there>      Thanks for your site, great info.  Need critter ID:  Worm type organism, which harmlessly crawls around during the day eating detritus.  Looks like a white centipede with head that tapers down to the tail, with hundreds of small legs running down the length of the worm. <Is an Errantiate Polychaete (Bristleworm) thus far...> Also some of them have a black line down the back some don't.   <Might be more than one species...> At night when the timer shuts the daylights down, you can observe on occasion a worm spiraling through the tank fro one side to the next.  Figure the worm is just propelling itself to get from one place to the next, in search of food.  Figure it must be a harmless hitchhiker until one turned into ten.  Please if you could identify these critters.  Mini pictures of the worms attached. Thanks, Marc <Need closer images, larger, bigger resolution to make out mouth parts, eye number and arrangement, podia characteristics... to get to family ID... Bob Fenner>

Mysterious worm in my tank (ID wanted) Hi there, <Hello> A weeks ago I noticed a black worm in my tank that was climbing on my  hammer coral fragment.  It's body looked like a  caterpillar's with bristles covering it. <Hence the name: "Bristleworm"> It looked more like a  caterpillar than a slug or worm and was black with blue dots on it. <Neat> While  I was watching it, it took a bite out my hammer coral and I knew I needed to get it out of there.  Over there next few weeks the little bugger eluded me  until finally I decided to pull the rock out (as a last resort).  I left it  out of the water for a bit, in hopes of making the worm come out to  search for water.  After a bit, I poured some water into its container and  its head came out of a hole.  I went to remove it with a tweezers  (thankfully, it was dead) and came to find out that what I expected  was maybe an inch or two long was actually 7 inches long!!! <A youngster!> Attached is a picture of the worm and though it's a little fuzzy,  <Man, I've got to give up drinking cheap vino... This pic is way fuzzy to me> hopefully you can see some of the detail on the head.  I was also wondering what type of worm it was and how it got into my tank? <Mmm, in, on rock or other hard substrate... like a stony coral base> I have added nothing new  to the tank in at least 4 months, so I'm curious as to how it grew without me knowing?  Thanks for any help you can give! Melissa <Take a gander at our Worm ID files posted on WWM... many, many of these worms on this planet. Bob Fenner>

Weird Spiky Alien Things! (4/22/04) I found this thing tonight after doing a good cleaning in my tank and re-organizing some of the live rock. It has two or three long antenna/tentacles and two or three small antenna/tentacles. It also has four mandibles that it extends when it's eating. Three of them can be seen in the picture, they are the black things on the end. It's flat and I've seen it extend about 2 - 2.5 inches out of the rock. He's really fast when spooked. I found two small black & white striped snake-star starfish a few days ago and was wondering if this thing is going to eat them. The rock was the first and only piece introduced. It has been in there for well over a month so I figure if things were going to go wrong for the starfish it should have probably already happened. <From your description, and confirmed by the picture, it's definitely a bristle worm (Neanthes sp.). They're detritivores that can attain several inches. Often despised because they have been known to eat weakened fish and certain corals, the smaller ones are actually excellent detritivores. I wouldn't worry about them unless you see several large specimens (5+ inches) and these can be removed with bristle worm traps> Thanks for your help and time, <Not a problem> -Jim & Shawna Hensley <M. Maddox>

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