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Hoping for an ID on feather duster


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Basically, no one is really ever able to identify these hitch hiker dusters to much more than the family level--but that could be because we never try! Anyway, there are usually considered to be 3 families of polycheates that are the most common hitch hikers, the Serpulidae, the Sabellidae, and the Spirorbidae. (Actually, I ran across a fourth not long ago but can't for the life of me remember what it was!)


Spirorbids are easy--they're tiny little spiral-shaped guys that often appear on your tank walls, among other places.


The other two are told apart mostly on the basis of their tube composition, I believe. Serpulids have tubes made of calcium carbonate, which are hard and usually white. Sabellids have more leathery, pliable tubes that are generally tannish.


Of dusters, Shimek says: "Identification of these worms to family is easy--basically it involves examining the tube. Identification to species is also easy for a few common large species. Small species are difficult to identify, as the shapes of the bristles on the hind part of the body are important characteristics, and few hobbyists have the equipment necessary to examine these."


Here's a link with a few pics and descriptions of these families (scroll down); you can find better pics by searching n-r and elsewhere:







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Thanks for the great response. I am going to check into that site and see what I can learn. I am new to this hobby and want to learn as much as I can.

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Welcome to the addiction! I was new not that long ago myself (and there are still huge areas I know nothing about). I think watching what appears on the live rock is one of the most fascinating stages of this hobby. That those teeny little polychaete dusters are so hardy and wonderfully adapted to survive the harsh competition of the reef existence...


If you go to that site, you will notice that there are several pages you can visit. The site's getting pretty old, the pictures weren't great to begin with, and unfortunately many of the links no longer work, but it can often give you a name to start searching with. Here's the link to the introductory page of the site:




And for good measure, here are some other random sites I often visit for hitch hiker ID's, which have wonderful pictures:






Of course, nano-reef is always a great place to start!



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yeah just tiny feather dusters. i have tons in my tank. very rich red feathers. they stay tiny so don't go thinking they will get large w/ time.

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