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ANOTHER creepy crawler?


janasleah

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So my 8-year-old was looking in the tank, trying to see our purported pistol shimp, and instead he found a MONGO bristle worm. Sucker must be 6 inches at least, 1/4" in diameter. I was watching him poke his head out one side of the live rock, and he grabbed and munched a leaf of coralline algae. I don't want him eating my macroalgae! My son is grossed out, my daughter wants to save the worm (although I have my doubts about whether the lfs would want it back...). Suggestions? This is weird...critters coming out of the woodwork (or rockwork, as the case may be...) :P

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I know the general concensus is that bristle worms have gotten a bad rap over the years, but i watched this guy eat my macroalgae! Wouldn't he eat lots of macroalgae, and perhaps corals?

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He could, but I would doubt it. When you said he munched a leaf of corraline, do you mean he was eating the coralline from the rock or he actually at a piece of coralline separating from the rock. I would say that he is most likely just helping to clean up your tank. Is there any coral onthe rock he is in? If it bothers you, you could always purchase a bristle worm trap. I once trapped a 4" worm in one and actually ended up putting him back in at the bottom of the tank. Its rare to see these guys venture pretty far from their hiding spot so my plan is, remove them from the larger rocks withthe coral. Let them live in the lower levels. You could also try to spot feed him as well to keep him happy. That way he wont go after other things in your tank.

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What I mean by a leaf of coralline is a brownish staghorn looking thing that seems to come up from the purple coralline. Maybe they're different things; but whatever it is, he ate one, as did a monster amphipod later that evening:( My son is most worried about the bristleworm attacking future corals and macroalgae. He also wonders if it would eat feather dusters. He thinks it's gross, but I think the irresdescent sheen is kind of cool. I found his hiding place; that rock doesn't have a lot of coralline on it, red or purple. I keep hoping a mushroom is going to pop up somewhere, but probably not....I'll have to plant all the corals we get...

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An ugly, brown centipede looking worm just came crawling out of my rock/sand and it is heading towards a coral! What is it and how do I get rid of it?

This is probably your average, run of the mill "bristleworm". That's right a "bristleworm". All "bristleworms" are members of the Phylum Annelida, Class Polychaeta. Should you take it out? No way, most errant polychaetes (errant meaning that they move about freely searching for food) are beneficial scavengers and crucial members of the live sand community. Probably ninety-nine percent of the "bristleworms" are harmless and are reef-safe. These animals are active scavengers and predators, but most are strictly opportunistic. The predatory ones usually only consume other worms, detritus, bacteria, algae, micro-crustaceans and other things. This is a very positive and desirable activity. There are only a few notable exceptions to this rule that aquarists should be aware of, and even these exceptions are somewhat rare in aquaria. The primary exceptions are a few species of the Family Amphinomidae. One species in particular has become the stereotypical bad "bristleworm", the Caribbean Hermodice carunculata, but is rare in aquaria (probably due to the small amount of Caribbean rock used in our tanks) and it's diet is primarily gorgonians. More information by Rob on the problematic worms can be found at http://www.aquarium.net/0198/0198_2.shtml.

 

For more information on polychaete worms in general, visit the Bristleworm FAQ on the Reefkeepers FAQ at http://www.webring.org/cgi-bin/webring?rin...ng=reeffaq;list.

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