Ask the WWM Crew
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Electric worm in my reef tank! 9/4/06 Dear Mr. Fenner, <Derek> This evening I decided to have a look in my reef tank while the lights were all out, in the hope I might see one of the many creatures that spend the day hidden in holes in the rocks. <Is really a fun, neat time for observation> Well, I saw my boxer shrimp behaving a bit odd, looking like he'd caught something, so I looked closer hoping it wasn't one of my fish. At first I couldn't see anything in his claws but he seemed to be wrestling with something. A moment later two thin strips of vivid electric blue lit up between his outstretched claws and he jumped back like he'd put a pincer in the mains socket. <Ah, yes, phosphorescence... not uncommon in the wild> I continued to watch, trying to adjust my eyes to the dark water, and again a flash of blue, the shrimp jumped back again. Eventually I could see he'd caught what looked like a 2.5" long worm. It was too dark to make out properly, and I didn't want to suddenly light the whole tank up, but the worm looked thin and flat, and while the boxer tried to eat it the worm shot lines of really bright electric blue along its body. <A type of reflex defensive mechanism> it looked like the shrimp was chewing on a live wire, but the most beautiful blue glow. The glow clearly hurt the shrimp, though he didn't give up, and at this moment the boxer appears to have won and is slowly eating the worm. Now that the glowing has stopped the worm looks very plain and could easily be a bristle worm, but do they glow like that? <Can, yes> Whatever this is it has me very excited, I'm amazed to see an unidentified glowing creature in my little reef. I almost wanted to stop the boxer killing it but short of pulling every rock out there was no way I'd separate them, and I also wondered if this worm could be a danger to the fish anyway. I'm a big fan of Wet Web Media and have spent many hours reading through your FAQ's, so when I saw this unexpected and unidentified creature I thought of contacting you first. Have you any idea what it was? <Yes... an instance of (observed) bio-phosphorescence...> Did I get all excited about something common? <Mmm, not commonly seen in captivity> I'm fairly new to reef keeping but to me this felt like some kind of discovery ;) I tried to get it on my digital video camera but it was too dark to see anything. I'd love to know your thoughts. I've tried looking for similar things online but turned up no clues at all. Thanks in advance for your time, and thanks for the great site. Regards, Derek <Do take a look/see on the Net with the term: "biological phosphorescence/luminescence in the sea" in your search tool/s. Bob Fenner> Phoronids and shrimps 8/25/05 Hello <Hi there> I'm grateful that I found your site when I started this hobby in January. I probably would have quit but thanks to your site, I'm still around and as excited as ever. I bought The Conscientious Marine Aquarist book and found answers to most of the basic questions and concerns I had. But here's a question I haven't found answers to. I have 2 phoronid worms living in my tube anemone. Due to this fact I haven't bought any shrimps for my tank yet as I have heard that some shrimps might eat them. <Possible> I'd like to get at least one shrimp for my tank but I'd like to be sure that the phoronids are safe. I was thinking that they might be ok as they live so close to the tube anemone's tentacles and all the fish and inverts avoid that area. <Oh yes...> What kind of shrimp would be the safest bet? I've asked people on Reef Central and nobody seems to know. Thank you in advance for your help Cole <Members of the family Palaemonidae are your best, though not absolutely safe bet... avoid Stenopids... Bob Fenner> EWWWWW! A "Hairy" leech?? Worm ID Hi there! <howdy!> Continued applause on your wonderful and helpful site...I've learned vast amounts from reading page after page of Q&A's. (my eyes will submit a formal complaint to the WWM legal dept.) ;-) <if you knew what we paid our legal dept you wouldn't bother :)> Anyhow, I've established 3 tanks in the past 6 months...a born-again aquarist! a 30 gal and 2 10 gal tanks. A while back I found a black "worm-like" creature, squirming caterpillar-like along the glass. It was about 5mm in length. I examined it closely with a 10X eye loupe and referred to my aquarium references. I really couldn't find any parasite (if that is what it is) that matches the characteristics of this creature. It almost looked like an anchor worm. Well, I wrote the whole incident off as a fluke (no pun intended!). Well, since then I've found two more of these things, one in a different tank then where I found the first (my isolation techniques must have faltered). I still have no idea as to what this is and am hoping that it's merely a benign inhabitant. I've attached a scan (yep...poor-man's microscope!) of the latest...and biggest one I've pulled off the glass. Any help identifying this beast would be greatly appreciated. And, of course, any remedial action that I need to take, if any. <it appears to be an annelid worm... perhaps a scale worm although a closer image of the head would be needed for the ID. Likely harmless or only mildly predatory. I'm inclined to leave it in place but do remove it to a refugium if you fear for corals or other invertebrates> Once again, thanks for keeping WWM a great site! <our pleasure... do tell a friend> Best Regards, Michael <kindly, Anthony>
Predatory creature ID? Hi WWM Crew, <Howdy!> Question of the, this morning after discovering one of my peppermint shrimp half eaten, cause of death yet to be determined. I noticed a lot of new creatures in my tank. they were approximately 2 to 3 mm long, white, and swam like an eel. Now the weird part. They would swim up to the glass and seem to get stuck on the glass, then a few seconds later they would start to squirm and wriggle out of a translucent film that was left on the glass and then swim away. the film that was left, seam to get washed off the glass after a few seconds by the current. any ideas? <none whatsoever... thanks for asking :p> Thanks, Barry <in all seriousness... there are many worms commonly imported with live rock and sand and few if any short of a huge bristly fireworm could have killed your shrimp. Do look for another culprit. Test water chemistry and do a water change for starters please. Anthony>
Stressed Worm Help, my Sabellastarte sanctijosephi worm is hanging out of his tube Is this normal ? <not normal at all, my friend. The animal is stressed and likely dying. If new, it is a handling/shipping induced trauma... if the worm was established, you need to examine water quality and likely do a large water change immediately. Any medications added recently that would explain the behavior? Anthony>
Worm in filter I just found a six inch worm in my canister filter while cleaning it. <Wow, big bugger!> It looks kind of like an earthworm, but one end sucks into itself. I don't know how it got there, <Larval stage/egg from liverock.> but my question is - should I leave it there? <Probably harmless.> The foam pads in my filter were abnormally free from debris. It is a Fluval 104 canister filter. Is it a good worm, or a bad worm? <Probably fine.> It appears to be a good worm since it cleaned my filter for me. If so, should I put it back into the tank? <Up to you.> Thank you, Kathleen Engell <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>
Worm found in live rock I found a worm in my live rock that I am curing. It is not a bristleworm. It is about 6 inches long, can retract and extend it's head about additional inches. It looks like an earth worm. <See if you cannot find its ID using this webpage, http://www.rshimek.com/animal_identifications1.htm> Eric Thompson Member of PMAS (Pittsburgh Marine Aquarium Society) <The next meeting is Saturday July 27th, 6:00 PM at the Palace Inn in Monroeville. Adam is giving a talk on plumbing. -Steven Pro>
And More Unknown Critters I've got some sort of critter I can't identify on my glass and rock in my reef aquarium. It's light brown in color, about 3-5mm long and 2-3 mm wide, basically flat, appearing thinner at one end. A guy in my LFS told me it was a worm and could cause me some problems. Any idea what this may be, and if it could cause problems? I know this isn't much to go on but I appreciate any help you can give. Thanks, Greg <Try to work your way through Dr. Shimek's ID Key, http://www.rshimek.com/Invertebrate%20Key%20to%20Major%20Taxa.htm Just answer the questions about your critter until you narrow it down to the correct creature. -Steven Pro>
What is this? Dear Bob, Anthony, or Steven, I was hoping you could help me out with identification of what I think is some variety of worm? I have enclosed 2 pictures, though they r not crystal clear, they give you a good basic look at the creature. The first photo is lightly circled in red and the other picture is of it feeding on the acrylic wall. Things I have noticed: 1. Cannot stand light. 2. Has a minute dark green spot at the end of each lobe, which I believe are either mouths or sensors because it searches the substrate (seeming like a snake sniffing the air when it sticks its forked tongue out) and also at times if you look real close you can see the detritus it is collecting by use of its internal conveyor belt. 3. As for its size, it can easily stretch 18 inches long in search for food. Its coloring and shape is comparable to that of Caulerpa taxifolia runners, maybe a tad thinner and bit more translucent. Also, when it is roaming slowly across the substrate, you can tell it is sticky much like the "sticky hand" toy that kids play with (hand with stretchy arm that kids fling and the hand attaches to pretty much anything). 4. Finally, it retreats very quickly inside a hole in the rock (Fiji rock) no bigger than a pin (it is attached inside that hole), folding its lobes neatly before slinking out of sight. I have never seen anything like this in any books, nor have I heard anyone having such an interesting organism. It reminds me of a Terebellid "spaghetti" worm with the way it feeds, but without the mass of tentacles. Yet is shaped like a snake's forked tongue, with the size and translucent glow of a Euphyllia ancora sweeper tentacle. I'm sure you probably know what it is if anyone does and I am sorry if this may seem a bit jumbled, just trying to give you as much information as possible in a hopeful I.D. Thank you so much, <we appreciate the attempt at the photo, my friend... it can be so helpful. Alas... the creature is still too vague in the image. Please do try for a better photo and perhaps post the description on reef central for Dr Ron Shimek... he is a specialist in low life forms (insert you own joke here). In sand beds and rock, that is <G>>
What is That? II Steve Pro, Glad you had a great Father's Day and welcome to the world of parenting. Such a wonderful experience do enjoy every minute! <She is a joy!> I looked on the WWM and found a picture of a Bristle Worm and that is not what I have living in my overflow. The worm I have is all smooth. No leggy things. But still creepy looking. Sorry snakes and creepy crawlies give me the CREEPS. Looks to have a stomach or something towards the end of it, fatter at the bottom if that makes sense. <When you want to know about worms, snails, and other critters, you need to go to the expert, Dr. Ron Shimek. Take a look and try to work through his "Key" to animal ID, http://www.rshimek.com/Invertebrate%20Key%20to%20Major%20Taxa.htm If it lives in an aquarium, you should be able to find it there.> Thank you, Lori <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>
What is That? Conclusion Thank you Steven Pro I was able to find it and quite quickly I might add, this is a great site thanks for the info. It is a Sipunculid or Peanut Worm should I leave it be in the overflow? <Sure> Thanks, Lori <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>
Trouble with tribbles Anthony, First let me start by reporting the best reef conditions I have ever had. Thanks to you and yours, water is better, skimmer is functioning properly, rock and inverts are thriving, and the reef is reefier! (Did I just coin a word?) <sounds delicious!> You guys ought to wear capes! <I used to wear one... but apparently it is unlawful to do so without wearing any other garment of clothing while standing in a park fountain> Yes, reefier. Has a nice ring to it. I'll be using that one again.) <just ducky! <winky>> I was scraping algae off the glass this morning for the first time in a couple of weeks, (snails are apparently getting lazy) and I noticed what looked like very tiny white bugs scampering around in the algae. Then I noticed that there were none left on any place I had scraped, and only collecting on spots I had missed. Upon closer examination, I could almost make out a tadpole (sperm) shape, they were white and definitely moving of there own free will. <perhaps you've discovered the secret ingredient in some of the vital/snake oil reef supplements?> I stopped scraping to avoid possibly wiping out a colony of something cool. Any idea what they might be? <well... many desirable microorganisms...amphipods, copepods and the like. Do look up some of Shimek's or Moe's drawings/photos of such critters. Very desirable though I'm sure> Also, a couple of weeks ago, against my better judgment, I bought a really cool long spined urchin. I took the advice of a reef store that said........"Sure he'll eat your precious coralline algae, but upon doing so, they expel the spores thus repopulating/propagating the species." Is this BS? <Hahahahahahhhahhahhahhahhahahhhahhah...........> <Ha... ha....he....hehe...he....hahahahahahahhahhahhahahhahhaahah> <woooo...hooooo...ha...hooo. Ahe...heheh. Ahem....> <Pat,...I do not believe that explanation by your LFS was entirely correct <tear>> I have noticed a whole lot of chewing going on. Can this little monster actually chew down my reef? or is the new coralline growth I'm starting to see (on the snails of all places) evidence of this. I hand picked all 75lbs ( and counting) of my rock for it's abundant coralline/calcareous growth and I'd hate to see it all devoured by this aquatic tribbles, as cool as he is. <in fact, I agree that the long-spine urchin is pretty cool. Yes they can eat some coralline algae...but no, they do not shoot "Magic" coralline algae spores out of their bungholes....hahahahahahahah...heheheheh, wooohooooo. Oh, yeah! I got to get the name of that sales clerk and thank him for that one <smile>! Anyway... my take on the urchin/live rock deal is that I would recommend them for tanks that for whatever reason grow enough microalgae for them to graze. In such cases their presence serves the greater good. Else, they eat more coralline algae than most people can grow. If you see that exposed white carbonate material on the rock than pink, etc corallines sprouting...pull the urchin. Else, enjoy it>> Hey anyway, have 65 nice days in a row. If they ever come out with a small porous statue of you, I will surely sink it in the tank so as it seeds, my animals can all have someone to worship. <I'm actually hoping they manufacture my likeness in one of those springy tassel dolls that you can mount on the dashboard of your car. But if you do submerge a statue of me in the tank, please cultivate some long hair algae on my head so that I look taller> As always, thank you. -Pat <with kind regards, Anthony>
Burrowing worms in Live Rock I searched thought the FAQ as best I could, I apologize if the answer to my question was in there and I missed it. <we appreciate you trying... much additional information to be learned in the process :) > My Tank (75 gal Marine) has been set up for almost a year and tonight I noticed something a little strange. I looked up at the tank and noticed a small cloud of white smoke drifting past one of my "live" rocks. The cloud was about 3" in size. I got closer and watched the rock to see if I could tell where the mystery smoke had come from. A few seconds later, a small white worm with a head about an 1/8th to 1/16th of an inch across with the head slightly darker than the body introduced himself. The little sucker came out of the rock about 1/2 of an inch, proceeded to "produce" a large white cloud of smoke (I think from his mouth, but am afraid to think of where else it could have come from unless it came out of his "hole" as a result of him "popping" his head out), <too many jokes in this line...hehe. I'll leave well enough alone and thank you just same for it> just as quick he "retracted" back into the rock. I know non descript worm questions are pretty high on your list for a good laugh but I am hoping you might have a guess I could follow up on to do some research on my own. One of your many thousands of adoring fans, Brian Alster <no worries at all, my friend. A good question indeed. There are an incredible number of species or marine still yet undescribed. Some say this is one of the best fields for a young taxonomist to make a name in. As it applies to you... the unnamed worm is simply one of the many burrowing organisms in scleractinian live rock that is harmless and interesting if nothing else. A compliment to the diversity of your ecosystem. You may also find echinoderms and mollusks that do the same. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>
Worms everywhere in TX I work for an aquarium maintenance company, and I have a client who has the weirdest things swimming around in his tank. The rundown on the tank is a 55 with two large parrots (4") three large clown loaches (5") and a large angelfish. It is filtered with a Aquaclear 300 and a twin canister Rainbow filter. The Rainbow also powers a reverse flow U/G plate that covers more than half the bottom of the tank. Water changes are 50% every three weeks. Full gravel vacuum, and clean beneath the U/G. These guys really make a mess! Recently I have noticed white worms, which must be living under the gravel because they only come out after I have disturbed the bottom. They are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, and can swim and crawl up the glass of the tank. <The worms are non-parasitic, but they are a sure sign of overfeeding. I know how maintenance customers can be, I own an aquarium maintenance company. See if they cannot cut back on the feeding somewhat. With that and your water changes schedule, you should be able to get the population under control.> I've tried treating with Clout, as the directions stated. It didn't do anything to them. They didn't do much either. Any suggestions? They are beginning to get into the thousands... <Clout is an awfully strong med. I use it as a last resort only. I am somewhat surprised the worms could tolerate though. Cut back of food and they will starve out. -Steven Pro>
What Could This Be? <<JasonC here, Bob is off on a diving junket.>> I was looking in my 30 g reef tank last night and noticed a miniature "volcano" erupting in the sand. It spewed sand like it was being regurgitated. I crawled under the tank with a light and noticed two verrry long, string thin worm-type things. What are these, and could they be causing the sand to erupt? They look unendingly long, clear as glass except for a red stripe, and they appear to be full of sand!! Help! I'm scared!!!! <<I wouldn't be concerned unless the volcano began filling your living room with hot lava. What you've got there sounds a lot like a beneficial bristle worm. These are good neighbors. For specific ID, try this link: http://www.tcnj.edu/~maughme2/faq.htm Cheers, J -- >>
Worm like creature Just a quick question, the other night I noticed the strangest thing in my tank. It appeared at night with the lights off, I had my flashlight going through looking for new crabs and such when this long thing, maybe 5 inches in length and no thicker than a ball point pen ink cartridge, squirmed back into a hole. I waited for it to return and it did, many times. This worm like creature kind of resembles the leg of a banded Starfish, but it almost looks like it collapses into it's self when scared? Any help on identifying this thing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Blane <marine worms encompass a larger and more described group of animals than most any other on the planet. In aquariology, they are rarely harmful and usually helpful. Do research pictures of bristleworms and fireworms (with the latter really only being a minor concern)... if not your "man", forget about it and enjoy another aspect of the diversity. For information, Ron Shimek has written an some length about the microfauna in rock and sand. Anthony Calfo>
Worms Hi..! <Cheers, Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob recovers from a night in jail after getting arrested in a bar for stripping to the waist to reveal a purple painted torso while shouting, "Look at me, I'm Barney the Purple Dinosaur!" It was 25 cent beer and wings night> How could I cultivate blood worms, I bought them live from a pet shop but not always has them so I would like to cultivate them in order to have enough live food for my stingrays <first of all, I suspect that you have black worms or Tubifex worms... Bloodworms are mosquito larvae (they are segmented and not smooth to your eyes). Secondly, they grow too dreadfully slow to be cultured profitably. You'll spend more money on an electricity for an aquarium system to farm them than it would cost to buy them in bulk. And lastly, I pray that your stingrays eat other foods or you will watch them die of a dietary deficiency within two years (probably sooner). have you tried live ghost/grass shrimp, chopped cocktail shrimp, Pacifica plankton frozen thawed, and especially Sweetwater plankton (in a jar to be refrigerated)?. Kind regards, Anthony> Best regards. Carlos Gorgon
Worm ID Hey Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service... Bob is preoccupied trying to figure out how he can draw air and beer through his regulators on his impending Australian dive trip> Appreciate your help in the past. Our live rock arrived in Alaska from Missouri with a broken case and ice cold. Two months later, tank never cycled and rock is growing fine. Weird huh? < a testimony to the resiliency of products of the sea> My wife found this little guy cruising around in the tank this morning. What the heck is it, and should I do anything? <harmless worm species indeed... many unidentified species (a wide open field in taxonomy> It's about 1 1/2 inches long and moves faster than I thought it could without legs. When it hit the current from my pumps it freaked out. <very squiggly... I've seen them too. No worries... there are very few nuisance worms. Most are neutral or beneficial> Come up and try the salmon fishing. <I personally would be a most bizarre fishing companion... raw salmon is one of my favorite niger sushi fares <G>> Chuck in Soldotna <Anthony Calfo lost in my own mind>
Re: Do brain Corals poop? (marine worms) New problem, <let me guess... the brain coral is constipated now...hehe> So, The brain coral looks like its doing well, though now I've noticed an explosion of little wormy things in my tank. <very good!> Now, I can't say I've seen many of these before in my tank, most of them seem to be almost microscopic white skinny worms coming from holes in the rocks or the substrate. I'm pretty sure I have a couple of the burrowing worms, some reddish brown worm with a pink heads, <Ok... so your a drinker...pink headed worms? Riiiiiiight.> I think I have some bristle worms, <no worries...even a little beneficial if you do not overfeed> and I just saw what looks like a baby white brittle star, but again, not much seen before the last 2 weeks. Now aside from getting the coral, I did remove my purple back Pseudochromis, which may have been the predator in the tank for these worms, <exactly... they are the best or worst for reefs because of this aspect of their feeding behavior> so thus it might have been the reason I hadn't seen them around before. <indeed> Who knows, but what I want to know, is how do you tell a bad bristle worm that might be detrimental to my coral from one that's beneficial to my tank? <fireworms are the big bad guys that come in on Atlantic rock and substrates (uncommon nowadays) and eat small fish and occasionally poodles. Most bristleworms are small, helpful and insignificant if you do not overfeed> I haven't been able to find definite info yet, so I was hoping you might be able to help me! thanks! David <kindly, Anthony>
Marine Worms <greeting, John. Anthony Calfo in your service> I have just put together a 100 gallon salt water tank. I added some live rock and after a few days I noticed some worms. They look like millipedes, could these be bristle worms? Many different types of marine worms...most harmless or even helpful (including small bristleworms!)... the popular criticism of "bristle worms" is overrated and largely unfounded. In a healthy tank that is not overfed or overstocked...even the nuisance species will not flourish. And tanks with bad husbandry are run by fools who criticize bristleworms<smile>> I have herd of these worms, but don't know allot about them. The dealer that sold me the rock said he fresh water dipped to get rid of any bristle worms. <aieee! What a way to ruin live rock! Chances are the bristle worms survived, a lot of good stuff died and now the bristle worms are flourishing on the bodies...hehe> Are these worms harmful, to tell the truth they are kind of neat. <you are a wise fellow...biodiversity in balance is what we want in our sand and live rock> If they are harmful how do I get rid of them? This tank is going to be a fish only with some live rock. Help!! <no help necessary... as a fish only tank, the worms are as good as lunchmeat..er, dead. Wrasses, Pseudochromis and many other popular fish will destroy these worm populations like it or not. Do enjoy them in the meantime. Kindly, Anthony>
Three questions (worms, wormfish, not-so-wormy wrasses) Bob- It's been over 2 years since I've picked your brain, so I'm going to indulge with 3 questions: 1) I just bought a "Trap-em" bristleworm trap for my nanoreef, b/c of my first ever infestation after 3 years. When I checked at midnight, it was full of worms; in the morning it was empty. Do you have any suggested methods to contain them? <These are posted in FAQs files on WetWebMedia.com under Polychaete, Bristleworms...> 2) I can't find any info on the Curious Wormfish I put in my main tank except for the Fishbase info. It stays hidden under the crushed coral 90% of the time and seems to come out at night. No one picks on him. <They do hide... generally more than this!> 3) Is it crucial that filament wrasses be kept in m/f pairs? I've got a small female that seems to be doing fine. <Not crucial... males look, behave "better" in the presence of females... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Steve
Reef question (unknown critters, stocking invertebrates) Mr. Fenner, Hi again. I am writing with another question concerning my reef tank hoping that you don't mind helping me out yet again. Yesterday I noticed several small white dots on the glass on my tank. Today they are larger, and have a spiral shape. I remember reading about it before, but now I cannot find it anywhere on the site, and I do not remember what it was called. If you're not too busy, could you please help me out with where to look on that one? <Likely here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bristlewrmfaqs.htm among other places... common small species of Sedentariate Polychaete worms... no worries> One last question...what are your recommendations on starting a reef tank? <These are posted on WWM, in books, articles...> I was told once to start with adding stront/molyb, calcium, trace, and Phytoplex for a month then go to anemones, then move on to leather corals, and up from there. Then I was told to start with leather corals, add calcium after 1 month, then a month later, add the others. Which is closer to a good idea? <The latter is far better> Thanks again for your time and help. You're the best. Tracy <Just a person as yourself. Bob Fenner>
Worm question My salt water aquarium has these red wormlike organisms approximately 1.5 inches in length that have appeared from beneath the crushed coral. The fish are breathing extremely hard and are laboring on the bottom. I have noticed clear "nymph like" organisms swimming around that are approximately .25 to .50 inches in length. Do you have any idea what they are and what I can do to kill them? <Please read through the various Marine Invertebrate FAQs pages posted on WetWebMedia.com and Environmental Disease... and look into increasing aeration. Bob Fenner> Thanks!
Bristle worms Hi Robert, thankfully its been a longggggg time since I asked you a question. All has been going quite well. Last week I noticed a bristle worm coming out of a rock. I called my local LFS and he said to get it out as soon as I could. Since it was a top rock, it was easy. He had me remove the rock and place wet newspaper over it and let it sit. When I came home the worm was on the bottom of the rock and I was able to pull off. Problem is I have seen another one in a large rock, that sits on the sand bed. I cannot get this rock out. My LFS sold me a trap, but from what I hear they don't work. <Actually... traps, baits of different sorts have good records of working> I belong to a yahoo group, called SaltwaterAquariums and I posted there and everyone said it was great for my tank and I should leave them alone. <Mmm, standard input: if not too big, numerous... Errantiate Polychaete (bristle) worms are generally more beneficial than not...> I went to www.netpets.com and they have a detailed section on removing them and they also say its bad for the tank. I also have what looks like a bristle worm, but no bristles. When you look closer it kind of looks really thin and has the look of an elephants trunk. Kinda resembles a feather worm, but no feathered head and the tube its in is a little thick at the end and than thin, compared to a feather duster. It kinda stretches itself out of the rock and its head comes out and eats off the rock. Don't know if this makes sense! THANKS Sincerely, Steve Rubin <Time to take a read through WWM here... on Worms en toto: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/worms.htm on down through the articles, FAQs files on various groups... to help you formulate your own opinion, stance on these animals. Bob Fenner>
Re: what are they? I was just staring at my tank and I noticed these little white things on the glass they look like very small worms it almost looks like they are running on the glass. <Likely... please read the invertebrate marine sections on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>
Re: what are they? Should I be worried about them their are a lot of them? What could be the cause? <Umm, what are you referring to? Bob Fenner>
Small White Worms Hi Robert, Please help!!!! I have found that I have small (1/8-1/4") white worms in my tank. I haven't seen any on my fish and my fish are not acting any differently since I found the worms. I'm not sure what caused it (no changes in tank for 6 months) but I did accidentally restart a whisper filter in which the pump had stopped (how long stopped unknown) and noticed a lot of debris when restarted. I have enclosed three photos to show you. The photos are close ups remember (1/8-1/4"). The worms also seem to hide in the sand most of the day and when I feed the tank they all come out and definitely group up on any frozen brine that lands on the bottom. Any ideas??? If bad, what treatment??? Fish only tank. <Some sort of Polychaete worm... looks like one that stays small... no worry. I'd leave them be... more likely beneficial than not... food, keeping the substrate humming... and likely transitory. Bob Fenner> Your help and efforts are greatly appreciated, Keith Sharkey
Bristleworms? Hey Bob! Absolutely amazing that you get back to all us amateurs so quickly. It says a lot about your dedication to the hobby, and for the well being of the animals that we seek your help. <Yes to the dedication... don't know about rapidity> I have been doing a lot of research online about bristleworms. Unfortunately not a lot of information regarding removal of multiple worms. I just received about 25 lbs. of live rock from my sister, which was in her fish only tank for 6 mos. I was going to add it to my 90 gal reef tank, when I noticed that the rock was loaded with reddish orange worms with white type hairs down both sides of the worm. I know not all bristleworms are problematic, but I think these might be. My tank has been running for about 5 years with no sign of the bristleworms family evident. I have many many LPS and SPS corals, and don't want to lose any animals. <Are they small? I wouldn't be overly concerned> My question: Currently the new rock is in my quarantine tank. I have the salinity at 1.028 and the temp. at 89 degrees. I read somewhere that this helps drive the worms from their hiding places. But nowhere does it say how long these conditions need to be sustained to eradicate the worms. The information on WetWebMedia.com regarding bristleworms is quite extensive, but could not find info on this situation. <Depends on species... you're likely harming many innocuous and useful life forms... likely including these worms> As always greatly appreciative, Brad Stefanko <Let that water cool down, place some of the rock and maybe a Pseudocheilinus Wrasse to keep them in check... or some Cleaner Shrimp... Bob Fenner>
Planaria ? My 9 year old son, found a worm outside that has a diamond shaped flat head it is about 4 inches long. What is it? Is it ok to play with? <Hmm, diamond, rhomboid shaped? Is it segmented? Color? Apparent mouth? Could be a few things... likely not harmful, but I would keep from handling it till you can get a valid identification. Any natural history museums, colleges with natural history courses nearby? I would contact them, bring the "worm" on by for their look/see> Concerned mother ps. he wants to be a biologist when he grows up <Now this is something that concerns me... Get him involved in activities, programs, travel that entails meeting other folks, experiences in/with the living world. Have him read over our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and send us his suggestions on how to improve it. Bob Fenner>
Unidentified Creature After some research (your book, WetWebMedia, FFexpress FAQ), I'm stumped. I'll preface my question by explaining that I received a shipment from FFexpress yesterday. Included in the box was a medium-sized button polyp covered rock. So, with that said, here's the deal: when I turned on the lights in my aquarium this morning, there was this goofy looking "worm" that was "hanging" off of the side of one of the rocks with about ten extremely thin tentacles positioned into the substrate. It looked like a greenish/brownish worm (about 1" to 1 1/2") draped in many moveable tassels (the tassels seemed about two times the length of the "worm"). Immediately after the lights were on, it S-L-O-W-L-Y started pulling the "tentacles" out of the sand and began crawling back under one of the rocks (it was free-roaming; not attached to anything). Have you any idea what this might be? (Very likely one of many Errantiate (as in to err is human) Polychaete... which hobbyists tend to lump as various types of bristleworms... I sorted and identified these for a couple of years as a graduate student... there are many...) I almost siphoned it out, but I remember you saying that you tend to leave things alone unless it's proven that the animal is detrimental. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. (Read over the general Worm section on our www.WetWebMedia.com site and maybe take a read through some of the reference works listed there in its bibliography... Will have to post more pix of the large assemblage... and read the most recent-third volume of The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium... many sections on various worm groups there. Bob Fenner) -Sam Sundberg
More questions (worm...) Hi Bob, I have finally received your latest book and am very impressed thus far! Any more in the works? <Oh, yes... and thank you> My quick question is an ID issue. Lately my single button polyp which came in on my LR who had doubled in size and looked very happy has begun to curl under itself (as opposed to curl in when its eating or defending itself). The rest of my tank is thriving including sea mat as close as 1/2" from the button. I monitor and control Iodine Calcium Strontium and have barely trace Nitrates. Initially I considered the possibility that he/she was about to split or reproduce (which I have not had enough time to research) but last night I spotted a strange sight within two to three inches of the button. A small white flake or tube had two long semi transparent tentacles coming out carrying waste it seemed. After dropping this waste they began to "feel around" stretching out as much as two inches from the "base" Do you know what this might be? An anemone of sorts? <More likely a worm of some sort...> Could it be stinging my button? <Doubtful> If so I assume it will win! I am not sure that I want it to got that way!! Thanks in advance for your time once again. Rob Lipic <Keep studying. Bob Fenner>
Worms (Again) In my new live rock shipment I have found a large 4 inch worm that looks very much like an earthworm (Gray color). Very segmented. It does have some small (don't want to say bristle) bristles along its body. I also found two large 3 inch jet black worms with definite hair-like bristle on them. More than likely they are Polychaete worms. <Yes... some of thousands of species...> I have read through your FAQ's but still would like to ask if they should be removed. I like bio-diversity and am not into killing off anything. If they could be dangerous to my livestock that I introduce, I will play "Mister Extermination Man" or at least get the creatures that will do it for me. Should I worry or enjoy them. Zimmy <Appreciate your concern, stance.... but these are already a bit too big for me to give my usual, "let's see if they'll get bigger, cause trouble"... I would remove them. Bob Fenner>
White worms? Hi Bob, Just want to say thanks again and again in advance for answering my questions, 3 in total ... ;) Anyway, I have been looking at my 60G reef tank lately at night with a touch, and to my amazement, I see there are a couple of white worms, about 1-2 mm diameter across. One even has dark/black stripes across. Any ideas of what they are? Do I need to get them out? <Probably some species of Errantiate Polychaete annelid worms... a few species of the thousands of so-called bristle worms... and no, likely more beneficial than detrimental... Read more about these on the site> Also there seems to be some feather duster look-alike thinks growing out of the rocks. Again they only come out at night, and when I point the torch to it for a little while, it closes up and hide back into the rock, say about 5mm in diameter. <Yep...> Finally, I have always wondered that those brown-ish detritus come from. They are also longish, thread like, some times dark green. Do they come from the LR, or the snails? <More the former... and elsewhere> Thanks again for enlightening my learning. Brian <Glad to be here, Bob Fenner>
Big brown worm? Bob, I have just completed cycling my Manono live rock in my 65 gallon. One evening gazing at the tank, I saw this orangish brown worm (at least I think it is a worm). Its about 3-4 inches long, and when it moves it compresses its body to a diameter of 1/2" and down to 1/4" when moving. Any idea what this might be? He doesn't seem to like light much, and is almost always hiding. I once caught him nibbling on some LR. Is he dangerous to my tank? Thanks. Matt >> Neat, probably some sort of worm... maybe what scientists label as Sipunculid, or even an echiuroid... Plug these terms into your search engines) and away you go... Bob Fenner, who wouldn't remove this animal.
I am in the midst of cycling a 55 using live rock . I got to closely looking around and lo and behold ,,,,,,,, life forms. the rock is Fiji that I purchased from FFE. what I would liken this sea monster to is an earthworm ,, about the same size and color except that it has tan rings in random placing on its body. when it extends itself , it seems to come from inside itself and at the end it looks to be somewhat fuzzy. It has made quite the pile of "waste" right under the hole it is living in . It also looks , upon closer inspection of the bottom, that it has had offspring. the majority of their body is white , but has brown rings . Are these something I should be plucking from the tank, or watching and enjoying? Thanks for your help. Jim bell >> If it were up to me, and at this point/stage... looking and enjoying... in all likelihood you have some forms of "worm life".... there are several phyla of these in the marine world... and unless, till the worms) become detrimental I would enjoy them... Bob Fenner, who hopes this is some sort of Echiuroid...
Rag Worm Bob My Grandfather died recently and I have decided to take on his marine fish. He has 1 Regal Tang (7 inches long), 2 yellow flanked damselfishes, 1 zebra fish, and 2 others which I have been unable to identify. On moving his fish to my tank, I discovered a large number of "Rag Worm" living underneath stones and in the gravel. The fish have survived a long period of time with them in a 6ft X 2ft X 2f tank, but I wondered whether I should avoid introducing the rag worm into a new setup. Cheers, Matt P.S. very helpful and interesting column!!! >> Ah, I hope you come to enjoy the aquarium as your Grandfather did. I would "just" ignore these worms... In all likelihood they're beneficial as cleaners, recyclers and not harmful to your fishes. Bob Fenner, who wishes you well
Help Dear Bob, First of all, thank you and Flying Fish for this great forum. It has been helpful beyond belief. Now for my problem. I have a 100 gallon reef tank that has been set up for a little over 7 years. Over the last couple years I have been losing fish and crustaceans. They are here one day looking fine and then the next day there is no sign of them. The other night (actually 2 AM) I caught a glimpse of a worm like creature. When I tried to catch it, it proved to be very fast. It was at least 3 inches long and as thick as a pencil. After reviewing all of my literature I managed to come across one picture of a similar looking worm. It was described as a member of the Eunice family, but I can't find any more information on it. Is this my culprit, or do I have a mantis shrimp, or am I just a bad fish keeper? I will be adding 35+ lb.. of Manano Island Rock in a few weeks, should I just give every rock in the aquarium a high salinity dip to remove all the nasty little critters that could be hiding? Thanks again for this great service, and great book! Dan Gordon >> Wow! Thank you for writing, and all the "strokes"... much appreciated. And for your "worm that ate Detroit"... you may have a Mantis Shrimp as well... something is responsible for eating your livestock... in place. But that worm has definitely got to go. If it is just one large one, you may well have success pulling the rock with it out and prising, rinsing it out.... if you suspect there may be others, try first baiting (in the front of the tank, with something largish/meaty and your handy Y2K (see, I told you it would come handy!) flashlight... They will come (if you bait them)... If there are others, buy, rent, or build a "trap"... more on this later if the situation calls for it.... to remove them. Unfortunately neither a briny or freshwater dip will keep these worms out of your tank... I would place a Peppermint Shrimp or two if they'll fit into your livestock plan... to eat the incoming worms (if they're a small species, or if they're coming in small... at first). Bob Fenner, who has a worm in this group (in a jar) that is eight feet (not a typo) long,,,,, shudder
Help I have a 30 gal. saltwater tank, live rock, brittle star, tang, one hermit crab, goby, two clown fish. my problem is I now have thousands of worms. Largest about 1 or 2 inches, pink with white bristles. there are hundreds of small ones in the crushed coral on the bottom. my brittle star now stays against the glass in back and will not stay on the bottom like he used to. I have heard they are bristle worms, what do I need to do to get rid of them and what are the effects on the other fish. I was hoping to order some star fish, tangs, anemones and crabs from this web site but I will wait until I have some answer. as you can tell I am not very experienced with saltwater and I need all the help I can get. Thanks >> Yikes, well it would be better to start with less worms... you must have ten percent of them and ninety percent... the rest of the tank! You actually have a "border line" situation that I might suggest calls for dumping, nuking (bleaching) the gravel... cleaning up the live rock as much as possible and re-setting the tank up... but let's try something less drastic at this point... Can you stand to have a Peppermint shrimp or two? Good, let's see if a pair of these wunderkind will consume an appreciable number/mass of your Vermes... Bob Fenner
Worms, Removal Bob, Well, no I didn't/couldn't pass up the deal on this tank and equipment. After I left the guys house I wanted to verify what those little things were, now I know what they are and possibly how to get rid of them. As for the equipment associated with this aquarium, this guy has kept everything looking brand spanking new. There isn't even a hint of salt creep on one hose, tube, PVC pipe, or piece of glass. He is meticulous about the maintenance of everything he owns. I actually spoke with the LFS owner who put this whole package together for this guy, whom I have a great relationship with, and he could not believe I was telling him that this setup was for sale at a price of $800 even w/ the flatworms. The guy selling the tank I think knew a problem existed but couldn't figure out how to deal with it and couldn't stand the imperfection in the tank. Jeff, the LFS owner, also attested to the fact that this guy keeps all his stuff in tip-top shape. So, reading a bit more and talking to Jeff, yourself and others, I have learned that there are several possible options for removing these pests. My plan of attack on these things is this: 1. Siphon/vacuum as many as possible out when breaking down tank to move it. 2. Vigorously shake each piece of LR in saltwater as I take it out of the tank (hopefully before they retreat into the rock) 3. MAYBE, give each piece of LR quick freshwater dip before putting back in tank. (Not sure if I want to go this way at this time) 4. When setting up again I will keep the SPG. high as other inhabitants can tolerate, 1.025 -1.026. 5. I think I read that higher temps may not be to their liking either, so I may set temp at 84 degrees. 6. Keep the lights on for just a few hours per day so as to slow their reproduction. As I understand it, these guys reproduce asexually with strong lighting being a major food source for them. 7. Add some fish/shrimp that are hailed as "these pest" eaters. Other fishes you did not mention are Gold Headed Sleeper Goby?, Six Line Wrasse, Spotted Mandarin. Will they go after them? 8. Continue to siphon and pick them off rocks. 9. Lastly, I may try to hang some type of spotlight shining directly on a piece of LR that I can easily remove and throw into freshwater. Supposedly they are attracted to the light and should congregate in the spot of light. (All other lighting will be off when spot is on) 10. I also think there is a chemical medication (toxin actually) that can be used as a last resort but I think I'd go with the "live and let live" option before nuking the tank. The overall big plan here is that I am moving to a 125 gallon tank. I already have a 50 gallon reef running beautifully and plan on taking this new 75 and the 50 into the 125 (which I just ordered). With patience and persistence I believe I can get rid of these things, I kind of like the challenge. If worse comes to worse and I end up messing up the LR a bit I like your suggestion of using it as base and ordering some higher quality rock to go on top. I tell ya, my wife is probably gonna throw me out of the house because at some time in the future (2-4 months) I will have a 50, 125, and 75 gallon tank all lined up on the same wall in our den at once, plus a 30 reef and 20 high freshwater upstairs. I can't wait personally. Well, I'll likely be seeking your advice as I wage war against my new foes, in the meantime if there is anything else you can think of related to these things please let me know. Also, if any of my above plan looks questionable let me know right away as I plan on moving this tank this Sunday. Thanks again Bob for your words of wisdom, Dave >> Hey Dave! Thanks so much for your ongoing message... well thought out and researched... Let's see, first off, congrats on the big purchase... and re the inter-spousal component: let us not forget what is important to our significant others... besides talking all this out before you move the couch to another State, maybe a "peace offering" of some sort would be appropriate? Re your "worm" questions: some responses by the numbers: 7) I'd try all those fishes, one at a time or otherwise. All could work, but I'd give the wrasse a go first. 8) Don't know about the attraction to light. From my experience, they dislike the light, but I'd try this as well. 10) Skip on the chemical means... not safe, likely not effective. Bob Fenner
Worms, ID I really enjoy reading your column, and appreciate all the tips I have read. I'm usually not a writer, so excuse the haphazard, and somewhat lengthy message. I just want to make sure you have as much info as possible. So here goes: 8 months ago I changed from a fish only marine tank (after 5 years) to mostly invertebrates. I won't try to dazzle you with scientific names, but here is what I "commonly" have in my 75. No substrate, approximately 60 lbs. live rock, mostly Fiji , but a couple of pieces of plain base all purchased from my LFS (before I found out about FFE.) FISH 1 scooter, 1 blue mandarin, 4 Banggai cardinals, 1 strawberry Gramma, and 2 true Perculas. INVERTS 1 fire shrimp, 2 pacific cleaner shrimp, 1 blue stripe tuxedo urchin, 1 pineapple brain, 1 sun coral, 1 Bisma worm rock, blue and red mushrooms, 1 cats paw coral, 1 green hammer, 1 green star polyps, 1 yellow polyps, 2 colt corals,6 turbo snails, 6 mixed blue leg and scarlet reef hermit crabs , 1 bubble anemone, 1 pink Atlantic anemone, 1 blue long tentacle anemone All seem to be doing very well, my live rock even has the following growing that I didn't add: Curly cue anemones, button polyps, and feather dusters. The only problems I have had is my cleaner shrimp ate a red feather starfish (wish I had known before I ordered it from FFE), and I cannot seem to keep a Sebae anemone ( my favorite). I also have to scrape my glass twice a week to get off the green film algae and coralline algae. Also there are several organisms on the live rock (worms?) that I cannot identify. They are about as thick as a human hair 5-8 inches long and appear to be mostly transparent with white bands every mm or so. Any idea what these may be? Filtration is by an AMiracle wet/dry driven by a RIO 2500 (I keep blue pad in the overflow changed once a week, and have BIOPAK balls in the trickle. A Top Fathom protein skimmer driven by an Otto 1200 power head in the AMiracle sump. I also have a Hagen 201, and 802 (with QuickFilter changed weekly) in the tank for added circulation. I maintain salinity at 1.023 and all other parameters are good (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate, calcium, alkalinity). Lighting is 4x96 CF with 2 blue and 2 full spectrum. I change 10 gallons a week using RO water. On the recommendation of my LFS, I add the following Kent trace elements: Strontium & Molybdenum 15 ml w/water change Micro Vert 15ml every other day CB Part A 20ml every other day CB Part B 20ml every other day My question is, I am thinking about adding another 25 lbs of live rock and 2 inches of live sand, along with some white burrowing starfish,. If I do should I keep my existing filter as is? If I add a few abalone will they do a better job than the snails at cleaning the glass? Also I would also like to add some more color to the tank other than green, yellow, or brown. What would you suggest? I've thought about a Flame Angel, and a Hippo Surgeon, but haven't made up my mind. Thank you very much for your consideration, Marty Wigder >> Thanks for writing. The worm like structures on your rock are likely feeding structures of worms (Sedentariate Polychaetes) that are living burrowed in the coral. Take a look at a dive or encyclopedic underwater natural history book under the term "Spaghetti Worm" and you'll see something like what you describe. The additional rock and live sand sound fine. I would keep the filtration as it is now... and cure the rock elsewhere, or make very sure it is close to 99.9% clean and cured ahead of placing it. Wait a good month after these additions to add the burrowing starfish... and no to the abalone. These Archaeogastropoda ("ancient, stomach-footed) snails really are not cleaner uppers... they need copious amounts of macrophytes (large algae) to keep going. More color? The fishes you mention should do fine... Bob Fenner
Question: Last night I noticed quite a few white dots on the walls and contents of the aquarium. Closer investigation showed these "dots" to be shaped like a wound coil. Are these good/bad/no big deal? The fish look fine along with the crab/anemone/shrimp. I have a cleaner wrasse and a royal Gramma in the tank along with the above livestock.
Bob's Answer: Probably some sort of worm... very likely innocuous, and invariably self "curing" (they'll just disappear). No worries, Doug.
Question: I have just gotten into my first reef tank (6 months). I have a 180 gallon tank stocked with 300 lbs. of live rock, primarily Savaii from Flying Fish Express. Tank is doing well, but I have questions about 2 organisms that have emerged, i.e., are they harmful, harmless, or beneficial? The first growths noted are white circular spots all over the live rock, snail shells, and beginning to grow on the glass. They are approx. 2mm in diameter. If I was going to make an uneducated guess, I would tell you it appears as white coralline algae, except the growth is extremely uniform and circular. The second is a reef critter I have never seen until tonight under evening lighting (one standard actinic). The organism was about 1/2 inch long, was velvety and purple in color, and moved and appeared in the "head" region like a snail without a shell. It did not appear to have much thickness. The best description of the color and texture I can give you would be similar to the deep purple clam I have in the tank. Thanks in advance. Love reading this column.
Bob's Answer: Hey Gary, thanks for writing. Love those mystery challenges: First off, good question re: the likelihood that these two "critters" are "bad" or innocuous. Very likely the latter, and historically most "go the route" naturally. I.e., they get displaced, predated out of the system with time. The two may well be types of worms. The first some sort of Serpulid or Sabellid... the two more common families of Sedentariate Polychaetes. The second is very likely some sort of flatworm (remember those Platyhelminths from pre-dental zoo- survey classes?). Unless you see them cruising over to and munching on your clams mantle, I wouldn't do anything at all to rid yourself of them. If you feel inclined however to be a bit pro-active, you might look into a Pseudocheilinus wrasse to keep these excess "Science Mystery 2000" inverts in check.