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BIG Bristleworm!

Nov 27, 2002
Just last night I discovered a HUGE bristleworm in my tank. Perhaps not quite as bit as Colin's "Big Jim" but big, nonetheless. I couldn't determine full length as he never completely left my live rock and the lil' buggers are so flexible, he kept stretching and shrinking himself as he snuffled around such that I really have no idea. I'd have to guess that I saw at least six inches of "unstretched" worm, but at least some of him was still hiding.

Colin, or anyone...I know that some aquarists hate these guys, but I also know that us cephkeepers don't necessarily have to fear 'em. Why? What's the threat? Do they eat things intended for other animals in a typical fishtank with actual fish? Is it that some are actually fireworms, and thus you don't want them in your tank for the risk of physical contact?

If there really isn't any drawback...well, I LIKE the idea of having a big, mobile polychaete in my tank. The more diverse my little ecosystem, the better. What would I feed the fella? Chunks of frozen shrimp/scallop? Clearly he's been finding some food anyway to reach this size...only things I imagine he's eaten up to this point are hermit crab leavings (which wouldn't be much at all...all the hermits I fed Gollum were very small) and the occasional shrimp-based pellets I drop in every now and then for my brittle stars. It was the most recent of such feedings that coaxed him out of wherever he is in the rock such that I could see him for the first time.

Hi Rusty,

I have a few bristleworms, but none as large as yours - mine eat fish flakes and pellets and just about anything else. A lot of people don't like them, maybe just because they're worms. Bristleworms do a good job of cleaning up in the aquarium, so that's a benefit.

Actually, I read everything I could find on them in the books that I have, and in the Baensch Marine Atlas, it says they nibble on anemones. But you probably don't have anemones in an octopus tank, so no problem with that.

It would be interesting to hear from you, Colin about how you feed your big bristleworm!

I have some large fleshy stony and soft corals. None have shown any evidence of damage (besides the one that I appear to have mortally wounded all by myself... :x :oops: ). Since Gollum is true-to-name and I've never caught him exploring or hunting, I've never witnessed an encounter between him and a coral, but he's active enough (inferred by his frequent den-changing) that I'm sure he's encountered some, and I've seen no obvious trouble, such as evidence of inking. None of them are supposed to be aggressive, nasty corals catching anything bigger than phytoplankton...certainly do not sting me.

I think Colin's mentioned his worm loves octo-leavings...Gollum is too small, though, to have any significant leavings, hence my concern about possible supplemental feeding. Yet, as I mentioned, he's gotten THIS big without any special effort on my part so far... :?

LOL big jim is famous!!!

well hes still there living quite happily in my gf's seahorse tank and getting bigger!!! :shock:

I actually like them and when doing water changes etc put them back in the tank if i siphon them out by accident.

The worst they can do is give us an itchy hand or pester a few types of corals and anemones, otherwise i feel they help us a lot.

I have fed him lots of meaty foods by hand and he can even swallow a mussell whole (out of shell!)

Heres the best pic i have of the big man! LOL :lol:
Thanks for the photos Colin! He doesn't look quite the same as mine, but that's not surprising...I suppose I should come up with a name for him, now! If I ever get the chance, I'll try to get a photo of him too...not sure how to coax him out, however.

Hi Rusty,

Try food! It never fails to bring out mine - I put it on the sand in front of the live rock. And I have one worm that looks like Colin's, but much smaller, a bi-colored one and a pink one. As far as I can figure out, all of these are types of bristleworms (and do indeed have bristles!)

Colin, did you get the name big Jim from this classic silly folk song? For those of you who have never heard it........

Big Jim was a worm, was a great big worm,
Was a great big, bright red, bloody red worm
Large and fat, just like a picture,
Crossed with an eel and a boa constrictor
Fed him on whiskey, made him feel frisky,
Pies and a pint or two
Big Jim was a worm, was a great big worm,
Was a great big, beautiful, bloody red worm.

A famous Scottish Angling Club
arranged to hold a match
(With) five pounds offered as the prize
to him with the biggest catch.
Len Riley said, for catching fish,
good bait is what you need
And so he set to work at once
big worms to try to breed.

He fed his pets on powdered milk,
Baby food and whiskey,
And as the great day grew near,
they grew fat and frisky.
His favorite pet he called Big Jim,
He really was a picture,
He looked just like a conga eel
you'd crossed with a boa constrictor.

The day arrived, the places drawn,
and so the fishing started
It was a sin to puncture Jim
and Lee was broken hearted.
But that five pound note it must be won,
he'd promised to his daughter
And so the dirty deed was done
And Jim thrown in the water.

Some caught perch, some caught bream,
some caught rainbow trout.
Some caught eels, one caught seals,
most of them caught nowt.
But Len he waited patiently
to get a chance to work
When all at once his float did sink
and gave his rod a jerk.

Well that fight went on for hours and hours
Len couldn't quench his thirst
But Big Jim being the worm he was,
that fish surrendered first.
At once the judge came running up
and with him brought his scales,
He saw the fish, said, Throw it back --
We're not accepting whales!^^
Love the story!!!

I have a colony of bristle worms and I think my largest is a peon compared to yours Colin!!! Wasn't quite sure what I was looking at when I checked Big Jims Photo!!! I will say no more!!!

Carol :mrgreen:
What are you impling Carol? :P

LOL at poem, em there is no reason why 'big jim' Lots of folk here normally have a prefix like, big, wee, fat, specky etc etc... suppose its always done and i mean he is big so.......

PS the other big worm i have is a peanut worm.. thats about 4 inches long now too... and they can be coaxed out with a bit of food like nancy says... well? sometimes i get bored LOL

Hm. And I just threw away those old scallops that Gollum wouldn't eat, too...hm. Guess I'll have to look for some more.

I'll work on coaxing him out, but he seems pretty shy, since this is the first time I've ever seen him. Not even completely sure where he's hiding.

Someone asked above...yes, these are all "bristleworms." Generally that word refers to a specific grouping of them that are mobile, bristley, and look more or less like Colin's photo (but with some pretty wide variation.) They're part of a larger group, the polychaete worms, which themselves are related to our more familiar worms like earthworms and leeches.

Hi nancy, yeah i have them too... i think they are common in Fiji rocks...

Soem people get 'rid' of them by using an arrowcrab but dont suppose that would last long in with an octo :shock:


Interesting photo, Nancy. I've not seen that specific pattern before. He is small, but he might grow a lot bigger!

I'm endeavoring to get a good photo of my fella, but it's been hard. I haven't been able to entice him out of his lair since the last time I saw him. Not sure why. I'll try some raw shrimp when I get the chance...haven't found any cheap in small quantities, yet...small packages are always cooked, and big packages are...well, big!

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