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Duster Trouble


Rita Sullivan

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Rita Sullivan

I have 3 feather dusters in my 12g Nano Cube. 2 are fairly large and 1 is somewhat smaller but less shy than the other 2. this morning when I looked, it had lost the feather part. What would cause this during the night? The largest of the 3 moves every night. I place it in the sand where it can open up and not touch anything but in the morning, it has moved somehow and is just laying in the sand. Is this normal. the lfs told me to just bury the tube in the sand a little with the top up. What is the best thing to do. I don't love the whold tube showing, would love to put it in a hole in the rock but tube curls quite a bit and is not straight. I see them in rocks all the time, but don't want to hurt the duster. They seem so fagile. Please let me know if there is anything wrong. I test my water most every day and all is fine. Thaks in advance for any help.

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Rita Sullivan

Oh, I forgot to ask, should I take the feather part out? Sounds stupid I'm sure but I just was not sure. This is the less shy duster, just can't imagine why it would shed this. Thanks

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The loss of the "feather part" aka "crown" is a common occurence. It is one form of reproduction for these worms...they just drop the crown, move someplace else, and crown reforms a body/tube while the "headless" worm grows a new crown in a new location.

 

So it's really up to you whether you take the crown out or leave it in. If you leave it in, it might possibly grow into a new featherduster...but definitely not always the case. So, I say leave it in for now and see what happens. Test your water too for ammonia or nitrites. Sometimes the crown may be lost when severely stressed, so just good practice to test the water params to make sure nothing else is factoring into the crown loss. If you don't see the crown doing much in the next week or so (i.e. hasn't moved at all or is not attaching to anything), just toss it out. Literally, like a frisbee, if you want to get out some pent-agression...I always find stress relief in tossing feather crowns across the room. =)

 

So to sum up: don't worry too much. No need for the red flags yet. Just wait and see, and keep an eye to your water params. I'm sure it will work out fine.

 

Oh...but while we are on the topic, do be sure to feed these guys. Many just let them be, but they will just gradually die of starvation...it will take a long time for this decline to occur, but it will happen if you don't feed them enough. Any kind of phytoplankton-type filter feeder foods will work. I think DT's phytoplankton (dosed just twice a week) will be fine. You can find them at most LFS's in the fridge section. Make sure you shake it up well before use and keep it in your fridge. take a wiff of the stuff tho before using...if it smells like rancid eggs or flatulence...they are dead and toss it out...if they have a somewhat "sweet" smell, the plankton are alive and well, and ready to be led to their demise in a worm's belly...Most conveniant to just use a turkey baster and squirt some of the DT's about 1 or 2 inches away from the crown....don't blast them too hard or too close since that will only scare them. If the crown closes during feeding, they are likely not getting any of the plankton, so minimize scaring them to ensure that they keep the feathers open to accept the DT's.

 

Regarding your placement of worms...I think an ideal spot would be among your rockwork and with moderate-med flow. So if possible, maybe try to find crevices where 2 or more rocks meet, and you might have to lift a rock or two to place the worm's body into the open space and then carefully place the rocks back on top - - but be sure you are not crushing the worm's body. Or, at least try to prop them up partially against a rock and the rest of the body can be on the sand. Use your imagination cuz the skies the limit w/ placement!

 

But, I wouldn't recommend pushing the body actually into your sand...and given that these guys can be pretty active, they will find a way to move above the sand anyway.

 

Hope that helps, and don't stress out too much for the time being! =)

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Rita Sullivan

Thanks so much for your reply. I got nervous and threw out the crown. My water has been testing good and worried that something dead would mess up the water. Do you think the worm is still in the tube or have I really messed up. I had heard that they could loose the crown. Didn't realize I would become so attached to this tank and stress so much!! Oh, by the way, not pushing duster into sand. I hallow out an area and then cover it with a little sand. Sound ok? Sure wish I had known about the crown maybe growing into new feater duster, but it was just floating around and landed on live rock, looked totally limp. thanks again.

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Placement should be fine. I will still advocate for placing them among your rockwork, but in the end, as long as you see the crowns opening up fully and you are feeding regularly, it should work out. Just be sure the crowns are not just lying sideways against the sand bed, which may impede it's ability to fully extend its crown.

 

And do keep in mind that if the featherduster does die eventually, it's not necessarily due to your lack of utmost care and attentiveness...but it's been commonly accepted that the larger featherdusters frequently have a better success rate in larger, well established tanks that are usually not within the realm of "nano-sized" tanks. So to some extent, we may have luck running against us in our attempts to maintain such amazing, huge featherdusters in our nanos. But many have proven this notion wrong, so you can too! =)

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I have another problem in my tank, my duster did not lose its whole crowm, but it did lose part of it. Some of the feathers have broken off from the crown, a few i know my porcelean crab had took off, and the rest i think broke off due to placement of the creature. I had it in a good spot, but overnight the tube moved a little and the opening of the tube was right under a rock in my tank. When the duster would pop its crown out it would hit the rock and bend and snap a feather or 2. I have since moved it to a better spot and it is doing ok. It still comes out but will the feathers grow back?

Thanks!

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Yes...feathers will.

 

But the source of the problem (the crab you saw originally snipping its feathers) is still in the tank...so if the crab is constantly stressing the poor guy out, he may shed whatever new crown he grows.

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Rita Sullivan

My duster with the missing crown is alive! Crazy thing stuck its head (or something) out yesterday and startled me. Guess what! I have tiny baby dusters. Don't know how many but have been seeing some small white specks on a rock. Today noticed some tiny dusters. Tiny white tubes with tiny little crowns. So cute.

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Yeah...he'll regrow that crown and be back to normal in no time! They may actually be full grown dusters on your rock instead of babies. There are tons of tiny featherdusters that come w/ LR all the time. Hawaiians are just super-sized. But if they are babies, congratz! *hands out the cigars*

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Lol, I love feather Dusters too. I used to think sticking them in the sand was a good thing but I found out that it really wasnt. Now the secret to getting him burried in a rock isnt all that hard. All you have to do is stick just a little bit of his tail in a hole in the rock where their is minimal water flow(just eough to make his crown sway) and leave him there! after about 2-3 weeks you should notice him in a lot deeper. Some time they just crawl out of there tube to fit and make a new one inside. But like Tigaboy said make sure you feed them phytoplankton! Oh and keep your tank well aerated! lol! good luck!

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