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FAQs about Worms, Vermiform Animals of all Kinds 2

Related FAQs: Worms 1, Worms 3Worm Identification, & FAQs on: Worm Behavior, Worm Compatibility, Worm Selection, Worm Systems, Worm Feeding, Worm Disease, Worm Reproduction, & Polychaete Identification, Flatworms/Planaria, Fire/Bristle/Errantiate Polychaete Worms

Related Articles: Worms, Featherduster Worms

Worm book? I apologize one of your responders said you have a book about the reef worms <Oh, likely NMA RI: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/NMARIrevcarner.htm available from: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/dealers_and_distributors.htm Bob Fenner>

Nuisance worms in reef tank 12/16/04 I have several reef systems in my house.  The are all doing well but I have one common problem...I have an infestation of small white worms.  They remind me of white hair, there doesn't seem to be any segmentation, just thin and white.  At first I thought they were dog hairs, but I don't have any white dogs.  They don't seem to be harming anything, but they are ugly in the tank.  It's as if someone dumped hair in my tanks, except they're alive! <they exist only because there is a food source... if you limit the nutrients, you will limit them my friend. I promise you that if you add a large powerhead or two to the tank for improved water circulation and increases your water changes (10-20% weekly ideally), then they will reduce in mere weeks. Making your skimmer yields several cups of dark skimmate weekly by fine tuning with help this occur even faster> I've tried hermit crabs, Sixline and Fourline wrasses, Fridman's and Neon Dottybacks.  Nothing seems to stem the tide of these white worms. <you are treating the symptom (worms) and not the problem (nutrients) my friend. I suspect they exist because of weak water changes, poor protein skimming, less than 20X water flow in your tank and perhaps some overfeeding or overstocking> Do you know what they might be, any pictures so I can verify if we are talking about the same thing, and what can I do to get rid of them or at least decrease the population? Thanks and Happy Holidays! Bobby Williamson <many possibilities... do check out the writings of Dr. Ron Shimek at ReefCentral, reefkeeping and advancedaquarist.com websites. A keyword Google search of his name will help. Anthony>

Mystery worm 4/22/04 I have an infestation of flat worms all over my 55 gallon reef tank.  <please refer to our extensive FAQS and archive on this topic (Acoel flatworms AKA Red/Rust-brown Planaria). Do a Google search from our home page at wetwebmedia.com> I also have a mysterious blackish looking worm who comes out part of the way out of the rock to feed when I feed the fish. It has some whitish looking spots and a mouth that feathers out like a feather duster when it is eating. Any ideas about what it is and whether it is harmful are really appreciated, <it sounds like a sea cucumber. A detritivore Holothurid, a Medusa worm perhaps... don't know without a pic> also how to get rid of the flatworms without harming anything else, are greatly appreciate...  <please do help yourself to this wisdom in our archives> Thank You Donna L Pierce <best regards, Anthony>

Ribbon worm? 4/13/04 I have what I believe to be a ribbon worm in my 55+ gallon FOWLR tank.  This is a picture from your site that matches my worm.  In your response to the previous writers question you stated that it will not harm livestock.  I did research on several websites and have found some who say that ribbon worms will eat living livestock.   <both are true depending on your perspective. Ribbon worms are carnivorous on the reef... but their diet is so highly specialized that it is unlikely you have any or enough of the very thing that it is an obligate feeder on (some eat only the mucous off of certain sponge species). And so, it is almost certain that yours will starve to death in the next few months if it makes it that far> These websites have pictures of ribbon worms, but none that look like this.  Is it possible that some ribbon worms are livestock safe, and some not?  Also, I plan on some day adding live corals to my tank, will this ribbon worm cause a problem for these? <hard to say for certain, we'd need a species ID of yours. Odds are is will die soon, sad to say. Else, perhaps you do not have a ribbon worm at all... do send a close up digital photo if/when you can. Kindly, Anthony>

Weird worms >>Oh no!  Nothing but foreign char sets!  Well...hopefully you'll be able to sort from this, but the pic looks for the life of me like a clump of earthworms on grass.  I'm not too familiar with the different worm species, though.  I wouldn't worry about them, though, unless they're causing damage.  Marina

Worm Identification? Please help!  I was hoping you could help identify these worm like creatures in my 55 gal tank. The live rock I have in there has been in there for about 5-6 weeks. I so far noticed 3 of them. (I'm sure there might be more)2 of them seem to hide under the rock  in the sand, and one seems to live in a very small hole in a rock  up away from the sand bed. One seems all white in color and the other two seem to be black and white. Their movements remind me of  a elephants trunk. They can stretch themselves out very thin. And when they reach their limit of stretching it almost looks like they have  little white tentacles at  the very end. When they retract they seem to retract into themselves. I  have read on the web site that most worms are not bad unless you are overwhelmed with them. I plan on adding corals to this tank and just wanted to make sure these worms  are not on the FBI 10 most wanted list....... <A common finding and generally not a problem. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm> Thank you <Hope this helps, Don> for your time...Bruce

Worm ID - 4/21/03 Hi, <Good afternoon. Paul here> I was hoping you could help me out with the identification of a worm found in my live rock. <Well, I will do my best>  Unfortunately it's so quick and never hangs itself out on the rock for a sufficiently long time for me to take a picture for you to identify it more easily. <There are a great many sites with picture references of various oceanic worms on them. Maybe you could search using Google and the word "Polychaete" and see if you can't find a picture that matches?> The creature is about 1.5 inch long, reddish brown, and its body is very similar to a silkworm.  Its head looks like that of a shrimp, without the long tentacles though. When it bites off food from the rock, it makes a very loud clicking sound. <Well, I am not too sure from that description, but may be a bristleworm? Try here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm or here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/worms.htm Is the worm harmful to my tank which is 100G in size with 8 small to medium size fishes - tang, angels, damsel fish, long noise butterfly, clown and a number of cleaner shrimps? <Likely not, but you never know. I cannot give you a definitive answer a without positive ID>  There are some soft corals as well. <Let me know what you find. Paul out> Regards

Awwww.....nuts! Peanut (worms) that is 4/19/03 [AKA... "Excuse me, Miss... but there's a Sipunculid in my soup."] Hey, Thanks for the reply.  I took your advice and looked at tons of pics and descriptions of how different worms act, and I am pretty sure it is some type of peanut worm. <Ahhh... very cool. A Sipunculid> He hangs from his hole in the base of the rock and retracts into himself with lightning speed when you shine a flash light on him. If this is a peanut worm then most of what I read is that they are beneficial and should be left in the tank. Do you agree with this conclusion? <very much agreed... good sleuthing> Thanks again for your time, Shawn <always welcome, my friend. And do peep a pic of an exposed worm, attached here... quite fascinating. Anthony>

Worm ID 4/15/03 Hi Guys, <cheers> I was wondering if you could possibly give me a hand on a new worm I found in my tank. I don't have a picture so I know you prolly can't tell me but I thought I would give it a shot. <indeed... almost impossible for the staggering number of possibilities> It is hanging around the base of my green button polyps. It's about 1" in length and is about as wide as a toothpick. It's body is white with a black stripe that runs down the center of it's back. It looks like it's mouth is scraping at the base of the polyps but it doesn't look like it is hurting them. <it could be rasping mucus... but is just as likely to be or ultimately be predatory. Do remove to a sump or QT tank to be safe> Do you think he is ok, or should I try and remove him as I don't want him hurting any of my inhabitants. If so how do I go about getting him off of the polyps? <siphoning off works well> I'm pretty sure I can take the polyps out and he will still be on them since he hasn't wandered off of them yet. As always your words of wisdom will be much appreciated. Thanks and keep up the great work with the site. Shawn <Do browse pics abroad on the 'Net depicting various scale worms, Polychaetes, etc for a possible ID. Best regards, Anthony>

<Tiny Worms> I have some white tiny worm like creatures all over my live rock, they resemble white hair on the rock work and sometimes on the glass. Are they parasitic and how do I get rid of them. I heard a six line wrasse? Thanks <Well, there are tons of little animals that come in on live rock, many (in fact, most) of which are perfectly harmless. Hard to say exactly what these may be, but it sounds like they are some kind of Bryozoans or Ectoprocts, or even a "peanut worm", all of which are harmless. Just keep observing the aquarium closely, stay on top of maintenance, and be sure to let us know if these animals get out of hand. Arm yourself with a good book, like Sprung and Delbeek's "The Reef Aquarium", which has descriptions and drawings of lots of "diversity animals" that can appear from live rock. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Re: unidentified worm Hello I am trying to identify this new creature that has grown from my live rock. I am attaching a picture of this worm. It is white and maybe 2 mm long and has what appears to be two white antennae that move out into the water column from his hard white calcium tube. He also has a long string that comes from him and the tube that waves into the water column almost reaching the surface. When I sweep this string and remove it just comes back. Any idea of what this is? Is it a hard tube worm? Thanks for your help on this. Bill B <Wowzah, looks like the very rare Casper the Ghost Worm! Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/worms.htm Bob Fenner>

When good worms go bad! Next on FOX - 3/6/03 I enjoy reading the help you give so many, so first off - thank you! <Thank you for coming here for your info! Paul here to help in any way I can> I recently ordered Tonga and Fiji Live rock for my 75 gal tank. <cool> Should I expect to see worms from the start? <Maybe. Is it fully cured? Are you going to cure it? I would quarantine it if possible whether cured or not (especially if the tank already has animals in it)>  What worms do I definitely not want? <I don't think there is much worry here. In any event, see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/worms.htm and while I'm at it, here as well: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/flatworms.htm Look at all the FAQs too. A proper quarantine procedure will and can prevent problems long before they arise in the main display tank. In any event read and glean the information from the links, but don't worry too much> When do I know the population is out of control of the good ones? <It can happen, but I don't think you will have much to worry about here. If livestock is missing then maybe>  Should I consider having a Coral or Gold Banded Shrimp AND/OR an Arrow Crab? <If you want one, but by in large, I don't think this is necessary, in my opinion>  I have read that the Coral Banded Shrimp will fight with the Arrow Crab, so which would be better to control a bristle worm population should it come up? <Neither. Take a look at the links I provided and when the time is right you could evaluate then. Let's just get the rock cured and placed and give it a good year. <VBG> Then see where things are.> Sorry about all the questions - I am realizing just how much I have to learn! <Exactly! No problem on the questions. Read through the FAQs and articles in various areas on our website and other sites as well. No need to panic here. Takes a long time to evaluate a worm issue, in my experience. A little forethought is fine, but you don't even have the rock yet. =) <VBG> Good luck>   Thanks again! <No problem. You want worms for the most part with a very small variety being at the pest level. Take your time and evaluate the circumstances for why they might be there and if they are truly doing any harm. A large Polychaete, albeit shocking to see sometimes, is not always a problem. Keep on in search of information. Knowledge is power and knowing is half the battle. Paul> Jeff Wagner

Worms in my 55... 3/7/03 My 55 gallon marine aquarium has remained stable and disease free for several months.<good>  All of my fish are happy as well as my cleaner shrimp. I have not added or have had any fish die in the last 6 months.  Last week, I got up in the middle of the night and took a peek in my aquarium and there were 8 to 10 wormy looking creatures spiraling around in the water near the return hose. Upon a closer look they resemble centipedes. They are white in color and  are about 3/4 of an inch long.  I got  40  pounds of live rock about 6 months ago. Could this be the source of the worm?  I have 2 Yellow Tail Blue Damsels, a Coral Beauty, A Yellow Tang, a Blue Tang and a juvenile Koran Angel. Are any of these fish in danger with these creatures in my tank? If so, what would be the best way to remove them??<No need to remove them.. they are probably bristleworms.  These guys stir up the sand, so they are helpful.  They will not hurt the fish. See here for more info http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm  The problem I do see is that you have overstocked your tank.  The Koran Angel needs a 180, better yet 240 gallon tank.  The two tangs need at least 100 or more.  And they probably will fight in due time.  Best course of action is to upgrade to say a 90g tank.  From there your going to have to pick what ya wanta do.  You can get a really large tank and keep all the fish.  Or return some fish and get a larger but not huge tank.  It's up to you.  Hope this helps!  Phil>   White Worms in Marine Tank Don-- <No problem> Thanks for the info and the rapid response!  I feel much better now since I'm new to the Marine aquarium business and know I can ignore them.  Any idea what the "worms" are called so I can research them and educate myself? The closest thing I could find was Planaria but it seemed like these were freshwater only.  Thanks again, -- Ed <Hmmm Impossible to tell by description. You could try this site to help identify: http://www.rshimek.com/Invertebrate%20Key%20to%20Major%20Taxa.htm. BTW I found this by typing 'white worm' into the WetWebMedia Google search engine. Try it, you'll like it! If you have time, let me know how you come out. Don> 

White Worms in Marine Tank Dear Crew: <Hi Ed, Don tonight> Thanks for a fantastic website!  I recently got my first marine aquarium set up (several fish and live sand) and I noticed there were numerous small white "worms" about the thickness of a human hair and ranging from barely noticeable to 1/2" in length free-floating and "squirming" around the tank.  I've checked around the internet and haven't found anything about them.  All of the fish seem fine so far, but I'm worried they may be some kind of harmful parasite if left alone.  Are these common and harmless, or should I treat the tank to get rid of them before the fish show signs of being infected?  Any idea what they might be or how I should treat them? <These critters are a good sign of a healthy developing tank. Congrats! Oh, your fish say thanks too as these are a yummy treat for many. Don> Thanks, -- Ed

Long worm, tree-climbing fish I have two questions. The first one is What kind of worm can stretch up to 90 feet and where can I find a picture of one? <Likely you're referring to a Ribbon Worm (Nemertea) like Lineus longissimus, which can be more than 30 meters long> My other question is What kind of fish can climb trees and where can I find a picture of it? <Likely this is the Climbing Perch, Anabas testudineus> If you can e-mail me by Sunday or by 6:00 am Monday morning it will be appreciated for my assignment. <Use your Internet search engines to find images of these animals... using their common and scientific names. Bob Fenner>                      from,                         Steph

Re: Lug Worms Good Morning Gentlemen - me again,       I recently purchased a marine life book and was paging through it when I came across a description of Lug worms. I thought I may have these critters in my sand bed because the description states that they are rarely ever seen live under the sand bed digesting detritus and spewing out clean sand in a volcano fashion. I see this activity in my sand bed frequently. I searched WWM for info. on Lug worms for more info. and haven't found any so I am assuming that they are referred to as something else. <The state of our site, hobby literature is that these Polychaetes aren't mentioned much at all> I searched the web and only found info. on using Lug worms as bait. Do you have any information or is it some other critter I am seeing? <Mmm, not that's pertinent to aquarium husbandry> They appear to be beneficial if all they do is consume sand and remove the detritus - but I know that all is not always as it appears.    J.T. Craddock <You can use Internet search engines, directories... or off to the library for a text on invertebrate zoology. Bob Fenner>

Yeah, but are these Lug Worms? - <Greetings, JasonC this time.> I guess I wasn't clear in stating my question(s) - Could these, in fact, be lug worms? <Hard to say for certain based on your description. Again, I would side with Bob's advice and encourage you to head to a library for a text on invertebrate zoology.> - Are they unusual in the hobby possibly meaning they may be something else? <They could be any number of things - the worm family is incredibly diverse.> If so, then what else might it possible be? <Some type of worm...> - Are they beneficial or will they eventually cause some harm to my inhabitants? <Based on your description - cleaning the sand - I think they are beneficial for the most part.> - Is there some other name for them since information found through search engines doesn't yield much? <Again, the library is probably your best ally here... you could match a picture to a name.> Thanks J.T. Craddock <Cheers, J -- >

- More on Lug Worms - Thanks again - can't do any research on them since they are NEVER visible - only the volcano mounds -I guess I could try and dig one out - but don't know how much success I would have. <I say it's worth a try.> JT <Cheers, J -- >

Serpulid Worms and Vermetid snails: Calcareous "Tubeworms" I have millions of the pinhead sized worms in my 55 gal. tank.  Are they good or bad.  Is there anything I need to do to control them? <they are not bad (actually quite good filter feeders)... but their presence in numbers indicates high dissolved organics and food otherwise to support them. They could be symptomatic of poor water quality or an impending problem. May not be a problem either. Just consider your nutrient export options. Are you doing weekly/monthly water changes? Weekly or monthly carbon? Does your skimmer give you a full cup of dark skimmate several times weekly if not daily? Id the answer is no to most of these questions, the nutrients will continue to accumulate can be dangerous in time> Thanks for your help.  I am new to marine aquariums and have been greatly impressed by your website and information. Thanks Michael <good to hear, my friend. I wish you the very best. Anthony>

Re: Calcareous Tubeworms I have millions of the pinhead sized worms in my 55 gal. tank.  Are they good or bad.  Is there anything I need to do to control them?   Thanks for your help.  I am new to marine aquariums and have been greatly impressed by your website and information. <Oh, good. Then please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm and the FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner> Thanks Michael

Re: "mystery worms": friend or foe I spotted three worms on my live rock tonight. I struck out on various web searches to attempt to identify them. They are thin (a little smaller diameter than a human hair), long (one is about 1" long, two others appear to be at least 2" or longer) wiggly creatures. I can't tell any difference between their tail and head. They look like they are red & white striped (or dark/light striated) and are pretty active wiggling around and burrowing a little into the algae on the rock. Can you help me identify these? I might be able to suction them out if they are a parasite of some kind. If not, then I won't worry and hope they'll make great fish food! <Much more likely friends than foes. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm and the other FAQs files beyond (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

"Mystery worms": friend or foe Thanks for the reply. I did check out the material on your site that you recommended before contacting you. I also tried a few other sites (like Ron Shimek's) to attempt to key these little guys out with no luck. I could get a better idea of what they are if I take one out & check it out under the microscope at work. I didn't want to kill one if they were harmless though. <Good for you> I'll wait until they get bigger and maybe I'll be able to see some structures, mouthparts and such, that would help me identify them. So far everyone in the tank has left them alone (a blenny, 2 damsels, 2 clowns, 3 red-legged hermit crabs & 10 blue-legged). <They're far likely than not to be innocuous. Bob Fenner>

Re: "mystery worms": friend or foe Thanks for the reply and all the advice you post on your site. It's nice to have a good resource for information for those of us new to this hobby. <Glad you find it of use> Last night I found one of my blue-leg crabs out of it's shell dead. It was on the rock that the mystery worms hang out on and one of the worms was intertwined with it, probably munching. The only thing that doesn't fit is the crab's shell was no where to be found. Maybe he was pulled from shell by another crab and floated to the spot where I found him with the worms. I won't assume the worms are guilty yet, I'll watch them worms pretty closely. <This is best. Bob Fenner>

Worms, snails and the like: ID Good morning, or still late evening for you on the West coast! <cheers!> My tank may have been taken hostage by some type of a worms that construct hard tube like shell protruding off of my liverock.   <commonly a Vermetid snail (sessile) or Serpulid worm> They don't seem to bother anything and are probably beneficial but they're not leaving me much real estate!   <understood and agreed. Their presence is a sign of high dissolved organics (adequate food to filter feed). Limit this food in the tank and you will limit their growth. Such tanks often lack substantial water changes (25% monthly or better... weekly 10-25%) or good protein skimming (dark daily skimmate)> My Tonga rock has taken on the appearance of a briar patch, with little "thorns" sticking out all over.  Had to remove my Christmas tree rock and not a few off as they were blocking the Christmas trees from coming out.   <wow> Not so concerned that they will damage anything, just want to keep them in check, <understood and agreed. No worries... nutrient control> is there anything that eats them??   <nothing that won't eat your Christmas tree worms too> No corals in this tank so not too concerned about a "reef safe" cure. Also noticed today that one little rogue starfish that has been in the tank for months has now turned into 5.  I believe it to be of the six ray type, no larger than a dime, blue green with small red dot in the center.  Friend or foe?? <dubiously reef safe, can reproduce to plague proportions... also a sign of overfeeding or otherwise high organics in the system. The presence of these types of pest animals indicates that you may be in line for a scary algae bloom or pH crash if left unchecked. Do consider if there is a nutrient export limitation in your system (lack of skimming, water changes, carbon use, etc)> One last thing, I have heard it is uncommon for snails to reproduce in marine aquaria, <true until recently with the popularity of live rock, live sand and refugiums> but have recently, by accident no doubt, somehow managed to come up with literally hundreds of 2 different types of little snails, one is more round with a brown and white shell, the other conical and white.  Both appear to be eating algae and / or detritus, local shop says they'll take some for store credit if they aren't predators.  Any thoughts on ID? <a picture would be necessary here... but do reference the shape of Cerith species (ignore color) for starters. They are likely to be quite safe and desirable> Thanks once again for a great service! Doug Edwardsville, IL <best regards, Anthony>

Spiral "thingies" While cleaning my marine tank yesterday, I noticed a bunch (25-30) of small (about the size of a pencil or pen head), white, spiral thingies (for lack of a better word) on the glass. I was able to scrape them off using only my fingernail, I was just wondering if you guys had any idea what they are. They felt almost like a rock, but not as hard. Thanks for your time. <Very likely some small species of tube-dwelling "bristleworm" (Sedentariate Polychaete annelid). No problem. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polychaetes.htm at the bottom, family Serpulidae. Bob Fenner>

- What is It? - <Greetings, JasonC here...> It appears that some sort of flat worm has just given birth to a large number of babies in my salt water tank.  The babies are white with flattish bodies and a star looking nose.  They are crawling all over the glass and coral now.  Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. <Well, by your description it is very hard to say exactly what these are. I would say though that unless they are actually causing damage, I wouldn't worry about it. These 'critter' populations have a way of leveling themselves out.> Thanks Dan <Cheers, J -- >

Worm in Reef Good Morning. I couldn't find a link to the webmaster - so thought I'd send it to you and you could get it routed to the right individual(s). In a search for worms - I went to your site www.wetwebmedia.com/worms.htm  Located near the >bottom of the page in the Bibliography/Further Reading section was a link to >Marine Hitchhiker/Critter ID (Maughmer, Toonen, Tompkins). This appears to be a dead link. I just thought someone there might want to know. I know how hard it is to keep a site updated with all of the attached links. <much appreciation, here, bud!> While I have your attention, <I'm sorry... what were you saying? <G>> I was viewing the tank last night, long after dark, with a flashlight - will try a red filter next time. I was looking for the sweeper tentacles on my frogspawn (which were not out at the time) when I noticed a worm in the LR. I know the havoc that Bristle Worms can cause so I am attempting to identify the worm. <actually... no havoc or worry from most segmented worms including bristleworms. Many years ago when Atlantic live rock was common, true Caribbean Fireworms were common too. They are problematic and can get large enough to eat small dogs. Well... hot dogs at least... those cute little finger- sized ones too... rolled in croissant pastry dough... Mmmm... tasty. Who can blame them for eating them... but I digress: not only are bristle worms not harmful, but they are helpful infauna for sand beds. Efficient detritivores indeed. Only a problem in neglected tanks where they proliferate from overfeeding, lack of string water flow (keeping the bulk of detritus in suspension for skimmers), etc.> At the time I saw it, both ends were in the LR and the body stretched across a portion of the rock. When I first saw it, and then after it finally retreated into the rock altogether, it looked like a thin rubber band. It was very light brown in color, the diameter of...maybe slightly smaller than  #2 pencil lead and it was stretched over an inch or so of LR. It appeared smooth. Is this a Bristle worm and should I be concerned if it doesn't appear, at this time, to be bothering any of my corals? <it almost certainly will not bother your corals... just part of the wonderful bio-diversity in LR and LS. Enjoy, my friend> Thanks (as always) J.T. Craddock <best regards, Anthony>

Possible Sea Snake in Reef Tank Hi Bob, <Howdy> I wouldn't bother you if it weren't important to determine whether or not I have a sea snake in my reef tank.  I had to tear down and move my 72-gallon bow front for a new carpet installation, and in the process came across what I believe but hope isn't a sea snake protruding from a rock.  I've attached 3 digital pictures I took so you can get a look.  You probably can't see it well in the pictures, but on the "head" end, there are white diamond-shaped markings all the way around.  I have to tear this tank down again in a couple days after the carpet is installed and return it to its permanent location, and needless to say, I'm a bit "tank shy" after encountering this critter.  It didn't come completely out of the rock, but as you can see in the pictures, it's well over a foot long without coming all the way out.  Also, when it was "standing," the neck appeared to widen and "flatten out" as would a Cobra or some type of snake that stands like that. <Neat... you appear to be the not-so-proud owner of a Ribbonworm (Phylum Nemertea). Not to worry re... it will not harm you or your livestock. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/worms.htm> Your prompt (or even better - immediate!) response would be greatly appreciated.  I hope to learn this is some harmless animal that does not need to be removed. <I would do my best to not disturb the system too much in moving... drain the water out, move tank, put the water back in. This animals presence is tribute to your good husbandry. Bob Fenner> Peggy

Snake in Reef?! Bob, <Peg> Many thanks for your very prompt response to my e-mail regarding the snake-like critter in my system.  This is one worm I surely was not familiar with, and am I ever glad he's a worm and nothing worse!!  Now I won't have the fear of God in me when I tear down again to return the tank to the living room.  I also thank you for the compliment regarding husbandry.  I live for all my gifts from the sea! <Ahh, a gracious statement> Thanks again, <Glad to share. Bob Fenner> Peggy
Re: Possible Sea Snake in Reef Tank
Hi Bob, <Hello Peggy, good morrow> Many thanks for your prompt response.  I'm happy to know this beautiful animal is harmless and also that my husbandry has contributed to its well-being.  They surely have the appearance of a snake when they stand! I don't look forward to tearing down yet again to move the tank back to the living room, but one must do what one must do.  That will be its last move for a very long time! <Do enjoy the process. Bob Fenner> Thanks again. Peggy

Peanut worm? Hello - I have been noticing a weird creature in my 55g reef tank when the lights are off.  It is like a worm that is attached at one end to the bottom of a piece of live rock.  It can be up to a few inches long and 1/2 cm wide, and can quickly retract when I shine light on it.  You can see it in the photo, above and to the left of the molt of the blue-legged crab.  Any idea what this thing is? Thanks for your help. <its very difficult to say from the quality of the image. Grossly by sight and behavior it sounds like a peanut worm. These are delightfully harmless detritivores/scavengers. Completely reef safe. Best regards, Anthony>
Peanut Worm Creature ID
Thank you for your help, Anthony.  After reading about this peanut worm on the web and seeing some pictures/diagrams, I am sure you are correct in your guess. You guys provide a great service to the aquarium community.  I'm a big fan! Best Regards, Andre <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Giant worms in my saltwater tank. Egad! I have found a lot of useful information on your web site!  I have a few questions if it is possible would you please answer the questions.<I'll give it my best shot!>   I have no clue about salt water tanks!  My husband has started a reef tank after not having one for 8 years, he is unsure about what type of worms are in our tank.  We bought Fiji and Tonga live rock and used live sand.  After about two days I noticed these worms.  They are about the size of an ink pen around and about the size of a phone cord.   <WOW!> They are round. And they range from 2 inches to 11 inches long.  They are gray and a milky white color.  Some of them have black and white rings near the head part of the worm, and they also have bristles type things around the mouth area that are a reddish brown color.  They only come out at night, after the lights have gone out.  They are light sensitive.  They are very fast also.  My husband tried to pluck one out with tweezers.  It was about 6 inches out of the rock.  The worm was gone as soon as the tweezers got close enough to grab it. We have tried using the tube idea, but they do not go anywhere near the tube.  We tried using 1.030 salinity water dip for 3 minutes and no worms came out. What else can we do to get these worms out of our rock?  Also we had 6 small fish (3 green Chromis and 3 yellow Chromis) in our reef tank, the day after I noticed the worms, one of the Green Chromis disappeared with no trace.  The night we tried to catch the worm, the 3 yellow Chromis started acting strange. Of the yellow Chromis we took out of the tank and flushed, the other two have disappeared with no trace. The only one that is acting normal and is still there is  1 of the green Chromis. Is it possible the worm has eaten our fish? Thank you for your time and I will be looking forward to hearing your advice. <Unless the worm mouths are very large and the Chromis are very small I would say that it is very unlikely that the worms ate the fish. What you are describing sounds like large bristle worms. 11 inch worms are too big! Since your tank has no livestock in it, I would take the rock, put it in a dark closet with freshly made salt water for a few days or more, with nothing but a powerhead. I think I would lower the salinity to well below saltwater level. The coralline may bleach but it will come back. Maybe even as low as 1.010 for a day or two. Yes...it will kill some of the desirable critters on the rock but it may also help get rid of the bristle worms. With any luck, the worms will be laying in the bottom of the storage container at the end of two days or so. This method helped me get rid of a crab that was destroying my reef...> Thank you, Taisha Denver, CO <My pleasure! David Dowless, Las Vegas, NV>

X-mas Tree Worms Hello crew. I got my 90 gallon up finally and was wondering what kind of fish I could keep in there along with my corals. I have a 2 - 175 metal halide system. Corals consist of open brains, hammers, bubbles, some mushrooms and leathers, some clams, (does this sound compatible?) and a Porites with x-mass tree worms. I had a wrasse in there and it would pick at the worms. Is there any fish that I could keep in there that wont bother my corals and worms? Can I transfer my maroon clown over to this tank with the x-mass tree worms? Thanks <Your corals sound compatible with proper light, current and placement. Please go to "Marine stocking" at WetWebMedia.com...just search the Google search at the bottom of the page. Yes, you can transfer the Clown. Craig>

Worms I hope this is the place to ask this question and I thank anyone for a reply. While vacuuming out our 75 gallon freshwater goldfish tank, I found some pinkish/brown, very thin worms! When moving and stretched out are about 1 inch or more. When not moving can shorten and flatten out. I am totally grossed out. All fish had been quarantined and also treated with Droncit during their quarantine. Nothing actually on the fish and all are very active and eating well. What could they possibly be? <Likely a type of Tubifex worm. They feed on excess food and waste material. Goldfish are very messy and need frequent cleaning of the gravel.> Will they harm the fish and what should I do? <They are not harmful, but a sign of a dirty aquarium. Nothing too serious though. Just vacuum the gravel more frequently, change a little more water, and watch your feeding. If you cannot starve them this way or are freaked out and wish to kill them immediately, a copper based medication (like the anti-snail additives) will work. Be careful about the copper though. It is not safe for any and all fish. Read the label and know that you are still going to have to vacuum to remove the dead worms.> Thanks so very much, Robyn <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>
Re: Worms
Thank You! It is good to know the worms will not harm the fish. I do change water, 50% every week, <Great!> however vacuuming only every other week. <I would probably vacuum every week.> I'll cut feedings and clean better. Don't want to use chemicals if not really needed. <Agreed> Could I ask another (possibly silly) question? <Sure> Where they came from, how the Tubifex worms ended up in the tank? <I am not really sure how their lifecycle works. They could have come in with the fish, the water, or even the food. My best guess is the fish, but not really sure. I have seen them proliferate in about a half dozen tanks and always with excess feedings.> Thank You for your time :) Robyn <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

White "coiled" worms on glass Hey guys, I have a question regarding small, white, coiled worms that are all over my glass and live rock. I have heard that they are common in a new tank and that they should go away on their own. My tank has been up for about five months, (all parameters are good) but these coiled worms are spreading everywhere, I scrape them off the glass, but they are beginning to look very ugly on my live rock. The live rock has very pretty red and purple coralline algae covering most of it, but everywhere else these worms are spreading. Is there anything I can do to get rid of them? Is it possible that the worms could grow over the coralline and eventually cause it to die off?  Thank you for your help! Derrick <Not to worry Derrick, they will limit out on their own. They won't cover everything. They are part of your live environment, enjoy the wonder and give your tank time to establish itself. Five months in ocean time is about a billionth of a nano-second. You will find there is really very little horrible stuff to worry about. Craig>

Hard white wormy things Hi Bob and co-fish advisors- I have some strange things appearing on my live rock and they look like white worms. They are calcified and I don't know what they are. At first I thought they were feces from Bob our dwarf angelfish, but it's in both tanks. I have tried scraping this stuff off and it takes the rock with it. Do you know what it is and how I can prevent it from spreading/reoccurring, and do you know how I can get rid of it? <they are harmless/beneficial Vermetid worms or sessile snails (snails that build a worm like tube in place and filter feed). Inevitable in most healthy marine aquaria. There is no reef-safe method of control (all such will harm live rock or other desirables). Simply keep up with scraping them from the front glass. The best way to temper them (at the risk of other wanted filter feeders in the tank) is aggressive filtration and skimming> Thanks to you all, Connie Cavan <best regards, Anthony>

Peanut worm? I found this worm in the intake of a powerhead that was running an undergravel filter in my marine aquarium. It is about 4 inches long and brown in color, looks similar to earthworm but not glossy instead it appears to have a rougher texture, maybe even hairs on it, a leathery appearance. I looked at the pictures of the peanut worm on Shimek's site, it looks very similar but is a much darker brown, is it likely the same type of worm?  <It is indeed... a Peanut Worm... A Sipunculid> I took this one out because I didn't know what it was and it startled me, plus when I pulled it out it tore in two pieces. In the future if I find more should I leave it in the tank and where, just put in the sand or on the live rock?  <Interesting animals, completely harmless... I'd leave it/them in place> Is it beneficial at all to the tank or harmful? Thank you very much. Kylee Peterson <Put the terms, "Peanut Worm" or "Sipunculid" in your search engines. Bob Fenner>

Marine disease Any idea of a marine parasite characterized by small, white dots on the glass that, when looked at closely, seem to be spirals, like a rope coiled up?  Each spot is about 2-3 mm across. This is accompanied by small specs on the fish and a cloudy eye in one inhabitant. <Yes to the former... not parasites, but tubiculous (tube-building, dwelling) worms, likely Sedentariate Polychaetes (please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm and the FAQs beyond). The cloudy eye may be resultant from a "bump in the night"... particularly if it is one-sided, and other fishes show no signs of disease... Please read through the "Marine Disease" sections posted on WetWebMedia.com for much more useful background. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Patrick

Parasite or Worm? I'm gaining a better understanding of what this critter is in my salt tank. The critter in question appears to be some kind of larva, last night my large Featherduster suddenly stressed out and shed it's crown, I'm pretty sure my camelback shrimp brought that crown back to where they reside (on the same piece of live rock that the intruder lives). The larva apparently found the Featherduster crown and drug it to its hole in the rock and started feasting again.  Funny thing is, this larva spun some kind of spider web silk around where it was eating, it definitely has to be a larva of some sort because I've never seen anything like it.  <it most likely is one of the many marine worms and not a "larva" at all. Without photo or better description I can't comment further. Educated guess: look up scale worms> I'm not thrilled about taking the rock out of the water, but it looks like I may be forced to in order to save the other animals....just in case this thing is coming out at night and wreaking havoc when the lights are out.  <such worms tend to be predatory omnivores... not a lot of trouble but still a risk> I suppose I'll submerge the rock in boiling water to kill everything on it and in it. <no need... if it really is a meaty predator then simple trap it with bait in a sunken glass jar (see archives for more tips)> Any suggestions would help.  I love your website, this kind of help is much needed to aquarists like my wife and me. <thanks kindly! Best regards, Anthony>

Small transparent things Hi, I am new to the salt water environment. We have a blenny, sea anemone, and live rock and coral.  <be sure that you have very bright reef light for the anemone and that you only feed it very fine shredded meaty foods regularly (3-5 times weekly)> We HAD a clown fish, Firefish (we believe that the blennies ate it.), a sea urchin (died after losing power during a storm) and also a flame angel. We got rid of the clown fish since it was attacking the flame angel constantly. Then we noticed that the flame angel was covered in some sort of white spot or film so my husband and I are currently treating our tank for what we believe to be ich as per our local aquarium store. <please do research here on WetWebMedia.com in our archives on the need and benefits of having a quarantine tank (AKA QT tank)> I noticed though that at the bottom mixed in with our live coral and the sand there appears to be some sort of tiny worm or what I believe to be a worm. It is about the size of a pinhead, and clear. Is this normal? <yes... many wonderful forms of natural plankton are imported with live rock and prosper in our tanks. Good fish food :)> Sincerely, Janet <kind regards, Anthony>

Strange worms (ubiquitous "white worms") Dear Bob, <Steven Pro this morning.> I have noticed something strange in my tank and was hoping you might help me. I have a 30 gallon saltwater tank. There are 2 BioWheel filters (penguin 120 and Emperor), a powerhead, and a protein skimmer. I have in the tank 2 inhabitants: one panther grouper and a blue Atlantic tang, <Wow!!!> each one about 5-7 inches in length. <For now! Have you consider buying a larger tank? The Panther Grouper grows to over 2 feet in length while the Atlantic Blue Tang gets 9-10 inches long. Even at 5-7 inches each, your 30 has to be very crowded. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acanthurTngs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/basses.htm> I have about 20 pounds of live rock that was sold as fully cured live rock. Just today I notice some strange white worms on the glass. Should I be concerned? <No> If so, what do I do to get rid of them? <Nothing> It seems that there are colonies in one spot of the tank, but then again, they are the most visible perhaps. <There are many hitchhikers that come with live rock, that is why they call it live. Almost all are harmless to beneficial.> Thanks for your assistance! Regards, Philip <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Unknown creature Hi folks. Got a critter, first one since I've been set up. First my set up: 40g, ph 8.6, SG .0124, temp. 80. Nothing else. 50 lbs LR and 40 lbs LS... It's whitish pinkish kinda translucent and 1/4 inch long. shaped like the arm on anemone but I think it is somehow anchored to the substrate cause when it ventures upward for food it can only get so far and snaps back like a rubber band. It has a mouth on the tip and when it swallows a grain of sand I can see the grain going down it's tube like body. It can stretch about 4 times it's normal length. Any clues? Thanks, Pam <it sounds like a worm, of which there are many in the sea.... likely harmless or beneficial. Check out some of the following critter ID sites to see if you recognize a familiar face :) http://www.tcnj.edu/~maughme2/faq.htm   http://www.rshimek.com/animal_identifications1.htm  Best regards, Anthony> 

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