The anatomy of these fanworms varies according to species with some appearing in clusters form while others are single sprout and then branched out with different tentacle patterns. Other notable way to identify them is to look at the coloration which can be found in multicolored form often combining white, red, yellow, brown, blue or even black. Feather duster worms under normal condition will emerge and display an attractive tentacle opening and although this seems to project a threatening image to the unsuspecting aquarist, in actual fact, these worms are completely harmless in nature. If they get disturbed or they sense danger lurking nearby, they will quickly to retreat and seek refuge in their soft tubes. At times when the surrounding environment is deemed unsuitable for their liking, these worms can even migrate and abandon their tubes and then regenerate a new one at another location. They are not territorial and there is no evidence to point that these worms can turn aggressive and fight among themselves when under condition of stress especially in a crowded reef tank.
Most species of the feather duster worms are known to survive for years in the marine systems provided that there are plenty of hiding spots that allow them to burrow safe away from the attention of predators. Although the reproduction strategies can vary with some replicating asexually by cells division, others will reproduce sexually, and overall in an ideal condition, they can replicate and increase their numbers quite fast. These worms are also hardy in nature surviving under different water conditions including fluctuation of temperature, salinity and to certain extent moderate nitrate levels. One word of caution though, just make sure that they remain fully submerged in the saltwater all the time and never expose them to air especially when you are lowering the water levels during routine tank cleaning maintenance. If there’s a need to them to transfer your invertebrates to another aquarium, just make sure that you collect them in a bucket of water lowered into the enclosure or else catching them using fish nets which expose them to air will cause these fanworms to develop air pockets in the tube which can be life-threatening.
Feather duster worms can be bought in almost all saltwater aquarium pet shops and you could even get your new stock from fellow aquarists who are kind enough to spare some for you. Most of the times, the little fellas will actually arrive together with your live rocks but sometimes they don't appear at all and this actually depends on how the live rocks are cured. So the next time if you see these little guys appearing in the tank, don't get alarmed or attempt to remove them for fear of harm being done to your reef system because apart from your marine shrimps, these fellas should make another nice addition to your host of cleanup crew. Can't get enough of your saltwater fish tank? How about adding sea anemones to your invertebrates collection and other invertebrate-compatible marine fish?
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