Eunice worms

Lyss

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I've spent a fair amount of time searching for and reading posts about Eunice worms on here over the past year -- just for awareness. Well, this week all that reading came in handy b/c while I was making breakfast the other morning I can see the tank through the kitchen island area, and noticed a white area in the sand up against the glass that looked like a burrow area. Further inspection revealed what is very clearly a small Eunice worm living in it. This is on par w/my worst tank nightmare but I'm trying to play it cool here. It's fairly long but very small, so not like some full grown beastly thing, so I took one of the planaria traps I have on hand for my FW tank, put some thawed frozen mussel in it, set it over the worm's burrow area, and hoped that overnight I'd have it trapped. Two nights later and nothing. Only the zombie snails showed interest (and I learned they have extremely long extending mouth parts -- ew), and there are a few amphipods trapped in there.

So I have two questions:

1. I know it's impossible to ID 100%, but given the below description do we collectively think it's likely not a bobbit?
Reddish brown w/a white stripe at the base of it's head. Very long tentacle feelers on it's head, and that's how I made the Eunice ID.

2. Is refreshing the trap every day and being patient a fine way to eventually get it?
I'm not into the idea of rooting around in there and trying to pull it out -- it's not worth the mess and possibly kicking up something bad in the sand or pulling the worm apart by accident.
 
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Dolphin2409

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1. your description sounds right. Below are two close ups of what I pulled out of my tank. The tentacles are tight together sticking out the front in the photos

2. I don’t think the trap will work as they don’t tend to come all of the way out of their hiding places. Mine was living in a rock and would stick out of the rock but never come completely out. I’ve heard that some live in the rock work whereas some prefer the sand.

best of luck and keep us updated.

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Lyss

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1. your description sounds right. Below are two close ups of what I pulled out of my tank. The tentacles are tight together sticking out the front in the photos

2. I don’t think the trap will work as they don’t tend to come all of the way out of their hiding places. Mine was living in a rock and would stick out of the rock but never come completely out. I’ve heard that some live in the rock work whereas some prefer the sand.

best of luck and keep us updated.

D60DB01A-3C49-424A-9504-DDC4F0709994.jpeg
F28B7222-A6E6-4FE9-A576-DB720739001C.jpeg
How did you pull it out?

Mine is much more red with a thin and very pronounced white stripe at the base of the head. The tentacles are definitely that long but more open and it seems to move them around.

Since it’s so small I’m also wondering if a good gravel vac session might get it. The only thing is, it moves very fast. Initially I shined a flashlight on it to make the ID and it sped off in the sand like lightning.
 

Dolphin2409

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looks different out of the tank than in it. Here is
I had to take the rock out and use carbonated water to flush it out I have a thread on it


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Lyss

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I reckon he’ll be too quick for the vac though and strong enough to resist the pull of the vac
Ugh. Okay, I was planning a water change tomorrow so I guess the only way to find out is to try.

Here are some pics — not great b/c it’s not the easiest to get a shot of this thing but hopefully someone might be able to ID if it’s very very bad or less concern on the 1-10 scale of get that thing out of your tank immediately and kill it w/fire…
 

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Dolphin2409

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If you interested in further reading

My issue was that it was eating zoas. I had wondered for a few years why I couldn’t keep zoas and it was only when the worm got big enough to actually move small rocks in the sandbed with zoas on them that I realised that there was something very strange going on. If he’s causing no damage then i don’t think you need to take any drastic action.
 

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Ugh. Okay, I was planning a water change tomorrow so I guess the only way to find out is to try.

Here are some pics — not great b/c it’s not the easiest to get a shot of this thing but hopefully someone might be able to ID if it’s very very bad or less concern on the 1-10 scale of get that thing out of your tank immediately and kill it w/fire…
I my opinion ,I would just use long forceps to grab it since its very visible.I wouldn't want that in my tank.
 
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Lyss

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I my opinion ,I would just use long forceps to grab it since its very visible.I wouldn't want that in my tank.
Yeah, I’m thinking of trying that. It just moves so fast I’m not sure I can get it w/o it slipping out of the forceps or breaking apart.
 
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Lyss

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Now I’m wondering if I could put a small plastic cup in the sand there against the glass and pin it, then lift it out up on the glass w/some sand in the cup
 

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Now I’m wondering if I could put a small plastic cup in the sand there against the glass and pin it, then lift it out up on the glass w/some sand in the cup
Definitely Eunice. Got a few exactly like that one, but mine prefer rocks--although I've seen their tubes in the sand. I also made a bristleworm trap and no luck.

A small cup might not be big enough. These guys can get long. Maybe take two pieces of plastic (e.g. acrylic panels) and partition the sand off where you think it might be then start working in that area to scoop it out? Also, if you have any sizeable pieces of rubble in that area of the sand bed, it could ve anchoring in the rubble. I accidentally pulled this guy out last week when I picked up a piece of rubble with an aiptasia on it and out it came (given, I was squirting boiling water on the aiptasia).
IMG_20220507_091513806.jpg

IMG_20220507_091421026.jpg
 
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Lyss

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Definitely Eunice. Got a few exactly like that one, but mine prefer rocks--although I've seen their tubes in the sand. I also made a bristleworm trap and no luck.

A small cup might not be big enough. These guys can get long. Maybe take two pieces of plastic (e.g. acrylic panels) and partition the sand off where you think it might be then start working in that area to scoop it out? Also, if you have any sizeable pieces of rubble in that area of the sand bed, it could ve anchoring in the rubble. I accidentally pulled this guy out last week when I picked up a piece of rubble with an aiptasia on it and out it came (given, I was squirting boiling water on the aiptasia).
IMG_20220507_091513806.jpg

IMG_20220507_091421026.jpg
That looks almost exactly like the one I’ve got.

Are they likely just some type of Eunice, possibly not dangerous, or are they likely bobbits? Is there any way to really know?

I am newly nervous b/c I just went over to look and it had its head sticking up out of the sand.
 
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Lyss

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I’ve been watching this guy w/a red flashlight for like the past hour and am not 100% convinced he’s anything dangerous. Still gonna try to remove it but I don’t see any mandibles, several snails have passed right over and by it, and nothing happened, and I see it rolling pieces of sand in its mouth like it’s eating algae or detritus off them.

It’s also not anchored anywhere b/c I’ve seen it turn around in that sand burrow. Right up against the glass is very convenient for observing, haha.
 

JoJosReef

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I’ve been watching this guy w/a red flashlight for like the past hour and am not 100% convinced he’s anything dangerous. Still gonna try to remove it but I don’t see any mandibles, several snails have passed right over and by it, and nothing happened, and I see it rolling pieces of sand in its mouth like it’s eating algae or detritus off them.

It’s also not anchored anywhere b/c I’ve seen it turn around in that sand burrow. Right up against the glass is very convenient for observing, haha.

Good questions. In my reading about Eunice worms, I note that the vast majority of the numerous species of Eunice are not ambush predators like the Bobbitt worm (which I can't recall but might be mostly Indo Pacific if I'm not mistaken). Most are meant to be detritovores, although I understand that they can still reach rather large sizes and are still opportunistic, so might be a danger to inhabitants in the long run. I also understand that they all have mandibles tucked in under there, so none of them are toothless. Like someone said, they might become a nuisance if they start going after your zoas or other corals. @ying yang has some good background on these guys as well.

Mine actually look just like yours (rusty red, with white band behind head), but the one from the picture I attached had been boiled. I watched another of mine for a bit today too. The other day it dragged a dead cerith off into it's lair--I don't know if the cerith was roadkill or a victim, but I've noted several snail deaths over the past weeks. I also have a small gorilla crab that I suspect might be the murderer, and the Eunice is just mopping up the scene of the crime, but guilty until proven innocent in my tank!

Good luck! Following to see how it goes. These things are freaky!!
 

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I’ve been watching this guy w/a red flashlight for like the past hour and am not 100% convinced he’s anything dangerous. Still gonna try to remove it but I don’t see any mandibles, several snails have passed right over and by it, and nothing happened, and I see it rolling pieces of sand in its mouth like it’s eating algae or detritus off them.

It’s also not anchored anywhere b/c I’ve seen it turn around in that sand burrow. Right up against the glass is very convenient for observing, haha.
Not all are unsafe for reefs, so you may lucky. If you try to remove, make sure you get all of it as segments can regrow new heads.
 

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That looks almost exactly like the one I’ve got.

Are they likely just some type of Eunice, possibly not dangerous, or are they likely bobbits? Is there any way to really know?

I am newly nervous b/c I just went over to look and it had its head sticking up out of the sand.

Heres a good article on worms.
As for bobbit worm or not, from what I've read,only one worm gets that name,( the one we normally see videos of in sand and mouth open waiting to pounce,got name from guy who first seen found it I believe.)
Thanks for the mention @JoJosReef ,I'm no expert on these worms and not no marine biologist etc,only had reef tank since begginning last year and few years before that researching all kinds of things related to reef tanks so relative newbie.
I do get more enjoyment after lights out looking at my tank when all the critters come out though ha ha.

As already mentioned lots and lots different eunice worms and all eunice worms have 5 tentacles at the head and I see often in threads some thinking the dorvedae worm ( can't remember spelling sorry ) getting named a eunice worm then someone more knowledgeable states a dorvidea worm,they do look very similar though but what ive noticed is dorveadea worms usually tentacles facing backwards and eunice forward .
But all my Info comes from articles like that above,not sure if you have read it or not before lyss, good read none the less.
As your aware most are just scavengers,detrivores and if notice livestock going missing then beat to get out and make sure get all of the worm out which can imagine easier said than done.

I've found couple these little worms in my tank with 5 tentacles and white band behind head,so I'm also keeping good eye out bit they super small at moment ^_^

Good luck on capturing if continue to try and hopefully just the one.

If yours comes all way out onto sandbed,I've read bottle traps/ straws and bait it with some woman's tights ( americans call pantyhose I believe) inside bottle so hopefully gets tangled up and cannot work its way out,but when they get to large will not work and need take stuff out tank to get it or them which doesn't spurs d like fun pffft
 
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