Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by melypr1985, Apr 26, 2017.

Feather Dusters – The beauty in the worm

Ahhh the feather duster. It’s a spectacular sight to see in the home aquarium. The long tube, the soft and wavy “feathers” moving in the current....
By melypr1985, Apr 26, 2017 | |
  1. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Expert Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Feather Dusters – The beauty in the worm

    Photo by: BlennyKravits
    [​IMG]

    Ahhh the feather duster. It’s a spectacular sight to see in the home aquarium. The long tube, the soft and wavy “feathers” moving in the current. It’s always cool to watch as it sucks into the tube when a fish gets too close. It is almost as if it senses you nearby or could actually see! There are several different types that include the Coco worm as well which is a hard-tubed worm with brightly colored “feathers”.

    Photo by: fishman78
    [​IMG]
    These are not animals that should be taken lightly. Some feather dusters are very easy to take care of and can even spread so much that they become a nuisance in the home aquarium, while others are so delicate their lifespan in captivity is almost always cut short. Each feather duster consists of the crown of feathery appendages called radioles, the segmented body of the worm itself, and the tube it resides in. Their body isn’t unlike that of an earth worm. The tube is made of different materials depending on the species of duster worm, the soft tubes you see are made of a polysaccharide matrix while the worms with the hard tubes are made of a calcareous material. The feather duster in both cases makes his own tube around himself sometimes using sand and detritus to add to it. Pretty amazing right?

    Photo by: r33fertank
    [​IMG]
    They feed on very small particles in the water column like phytoplankton, bits of detritus and other organisms floating in the water that it can trap in its radioles. Different size particles are trapped by the different areas of the radioles and travel down to the mouth of the worm or are discarded if the particle is too large. For most of the feather dusters commonly available in the hobby, it’s best to have a well-established tank to provide enough food for these worms or dose phytoplankton in the water where it will come into contact with it. Dosing phytoplankton in the water column a couple times a week can be very beneficial to the worm especially in a newer tank.

    Photo by zeeGGee
    [​IMG]
    This leads to why dusters shed their crown. This can be quite scary for somebody who sees it for the first time. Every now and then you’ll find that your feather duster will shed it’s crown. This can be a sign of irritation, starvation or of water issues. If it’s happening frequently, then it’s a problem that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, the occasional shedding is normal and the crown will be regrown. If you see this happen, leave the tube where it is and see if the crown grows back. There are even times when the worm will vacate it’s tube to find a place better suited for it and build a new tube in the rocks or sand. Doing this is dangerous for the feather duster because leaving the tube will make it very vulnerable to any creature looking for a delicious snack. I know the worms can sometimes survive to find a new home and create it’s new tube, but I’ve never seen them survive doing this in person.

    Photo by: DracoKat
    [​IMG]
    The feather duster has several predators that will make quick work of your feather dusters including some types of wrasses, crabs and hawkfish. Butterfly Fish seem to be the biggest threat, however and will not be shy about making a handy meal or two out of your beautiful worms. Make sure to check the compatibility of your critters before introducing them to a tank with feather dusters you want to keep.

    Photo by:seahorseaquariums.com
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. ngoodermuth

    ngoodermuth Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor

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    Very interesting! Great article, now I want some pretty feather dusters. Do you think five wrasses are too risky?
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
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  3. DracoKat

    DracoKat Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    great article! I was looking at the photos and said "hey, they one looks familiar...", Then I read it's my photo. I am honored you've decided to use it! unfortunately, it didn't survive. It lasted about a week and half without a tube before disappearing.

    my only advice on dusters by my lesson learned experience.. leave them alone. Don't keep moving or trying to push them to stay put in the sand repeatedly. you'll only aggravate them to leave the tube to their demise.

    Can you tell me if feather dusters will do OK in a BB tank? Was debating on getting some for my new BB office tank but not sure if the sand to burrow in is a must
     
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  4. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Expert Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thanks for letting me use it! They would probably do fine. I've had them attach themselves in rock caves and crevices and do just fine.
     
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  5. Buck Sexton

    Buck Sexton Active Member

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    I had an anemone hermit that just love my feather dusters! Zoidberg ate all of them and didn't touch anything else in my system. I collected him one night in Oahu as well as the feather dusters. He was the life of the party back then.
     
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  6. leahfiish

    leahfiish Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Probably depends on the type of wrasses, I have one with a ~3" Earmuff wrasse and he doesn't bother it but as he gets bigger it's more of a risk. I don't think fairies or flashers would bother them.


    We got a group of Feather dusters at work that shipped poorly and 2 out of 6 were dead in the bag. And the rest were struggling, lost their crowns and out of their tubes. We thought they were gone rather but 2 of them recovered and rebuilt their tubes and crowns. So they can come back.
     
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  7. ngoodermuth

    ngoodermuth Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor

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    @leahfiish I have a yellow halichoerus and a leopard. The other three are fairy wrasses, but those two are definitely rock prowlers...
     
  8. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Expert Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I agree. It would depend on the types of wrasses and the level of risk you are comfortable with. I always advise this way: Which do you love more? The wrasse or the feather duster? Keep both if you want both, but be aware that there may be a problem there. Of course, this advise is usually geared more towards angels and reef tanks. :)
     
  9. ngoodermuth

    ngoodermuth Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor

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    I love the wrasses more than feathers, so I probably won't buy them. But, they are cool little creatures.
     
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  10. bruleyii

    bruleyii Active Member

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    What's considered a new tank? I've always wanted feather dusters but have been told they can be tough. My tank is 2 years old and was seeded from rock from my old tank that was 2 years old that was seeded from another tank that was probably 3. lol Not sure if that matters.
     
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  11. RyanSweet

    RyanSweet Active Member

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    Great subject, and write up. Feathers are one of my favorite "abnormal" creatures to add to the tank. Love adding them to refugiums for additional color and variety. I plan to have a nano dedicated to them in the coming months.
    Thanks melypr for the info!
     
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  12. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Expert Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    A new tank is anything under a year old IMO. After that your tank should be stable enough to handle anemones and feather dusters alike. Though, feather dusters are much easier to take care of than an anemone IME. Simply dosing phytoplankton can make up for a new tanks lack of fine food for filter feeders.
     
  13. bruleyii

    bruleyii Active Member

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    well Ive had a nem for around a year now so I should be good then right?
     
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  14. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Nice job Meredith! Feather dusters are beautiful and underappreciated! Beautiful and active! :)
     
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  15. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    One of my old more "artistic" shots! Yea that's it, artistic! LOL!

    coral.jpg
     
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  16. Best Fish-Jake

    Best Fish-Jake Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    They do use sand to create their 'cacoon'.. they would do fine as log as they have adequate food, but you may stunt it's growth
     
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  17. Luke Schnabel

    Luke Schnabel Frags in Canton Ohio R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    I like the little ones growing on the undersides of my rock.
     
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  18. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Expert Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I would think so :) Go for it and take a picture to share here!
     
  19. vlangel

    vlangel Seahorse whisperer R2R Supporter 3RMAS Member R2R Excellence Award Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    I have always loved feather duster worms. Can they live in a bb tank? Great article Meredith!
     
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  20. Best Fish-Jake

    Best Fish-Jake Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Look back a couple posts
     
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