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Related FAQs:  TWA Invertebrates, Fishes of the Tropical West Atlantic, Tropical West Atlantic 2

Related Articles: Algae, Vascular Plants, Introduction to Fishwatcher's Guide Series Pieces/Sections, Lachnolaimus maxiumus/Hogfish, Hogfishes of the Genus Bodianus

Invertebrates, Algae and Vascular Plants of The Tropical West Atlantic: Bahamas to Brazil, Part 9

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15,


Bob Fenner


Order Antipatharia: Black Corals, Thorny Corals

Antipathes sp. Bushy Black Coral. Finely branched to the point of bushiness. Colored gold to brownish. Circumtropical genus. N. Sulawesi pix. 

Cirripathes (Stichopathes) leutkeni, Wire Coral. Tropical West Atlantic. Up to fourteen feet in length. Cozumel image.


Polychaetous Annelids aka Bristleworms, Featherdusters... to aquarists are sub-divided into two sub-classes:

A) Errantia: Characteristics include numerous, similar segments, well-developed lateral processes (parapodia, acicula, setae). Have definitive "heads" with a pharynx with jaws or teeth. Include swimming (six pelagic families!), crawling, burrowing and tube-dwelling members. A member of this group in question: Hermodice canunculata, a larger species of " Bristleworm". .

B) Sedentaria: Polychaetes that commonly display a high degree of segmental differentiation; parapodia reduced, without specialized acicula or setae, prostomium (head) without sensory structures but with tentacles and palps, other feeding structures. No teeth or jaws present! Several families including the two commonly included in the trade and hobby as fan and feather duster worms, mainly (there are others):    i. Sabellidae with non-calcareous tubes. See example species below.   ii. Serpulidae with calcareous tubes (Spirobranchus gigantea at right)

Errantiate Polychaetes:

Hermodice canunculata, a larger species of "Bristleworm". Large pleated structures (caruncle) on all segments denote this too common, out and about species in the tropical West Atlantic. Family Amphinomidae. Four to six inches total length. Often found feeding on gorgonians, anemones, hard corals. Close-up to show you part of the "fire", the sharp bristles that make up the podia on each segment of the body. Bahamas, Cancun and Cozumel images. 

Sedentariate Polychaetes: Featherdusters, Tubeworms...

Anamobaea onstedii, the Split-Crown Feather Duster, family Sabellidae. Radioles in a radial arrangement, bilaterally symmetrically marked. Soft tubes generally unexposed. Found solitary or in small groups.  Belize and Bonaire pix.

Bispira variegata, Variegated Feather Duster Worms, Family Sabellidae. Tropical west Atlantic. 3/4- 1 1/2" in size. Parchment tubes usually hidden below grade, in which they rapidly retreat if disturbed. Here in the sand in Bonaire.

Bispira brunnea, Social Feather Duster Worms, Family Sabellidae. Come in whites, pink, purple and brown-banded varieties/colors. Groups in the Bahamas and Cozumel. 

Pomatostegus stellatus, the Star Horseshoe Worm, family Serpulidae. 1-1 1/2". Tropical West Atlantic. U to wing-shaped crowns whose radioles  can be variable, but are covered by an operculum which lacks spikes and is circular in shape. Typically bored into living coral as here in Cozumel. 

Spirobranchus giganteus, the Christmas Tree Worm, family Serpulidae. 1-1 1/2". Two spiral crowned groups of radioles with a double horned operculum between them that bears a sharp spine. Tropical West Atlantic, Indo-Pacific. Di pix in Cozumel, and Bob in Bonaire. 

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15,

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