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Old 09-16-2012, 07:24 PM   #1
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bristle worm

Having lost 5 fish to "something sinister" in live rock, I replaced the lose with one clown and a feather duster. Within the feather duster is covered in a white slimy film and is "hungover" The clown is swimming very close to the top of the tank. I noticed a bristle worm about 2 inches long poking out of the live rock and wondered if this could be the "sinister beast"? Would a bristle worm kill fish AND a large duster? The duster is open,moving but hanging over and I'm not sure if it will survive, but it doesn't look as healthy as it did yesterday. Water levels all good. Hope you can help please. I'm new to this and have been so dissapointed so far and am about to give up......
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:33 PM   #2
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No bristle worms dont kill fish... What are your perameters?? Temp? Salinity? Water change schedule?
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:39 PM   #3
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I'm totally new to this hobby and am learning every day. I took a sample of the water to my aqua store and everything is fine in with the water. The temperature is set at 28 degrees. I dropped the lighting due to green haired algae. I was surprised that there was a number of slimy trails within the water as if something had released it. The cleaner shrimp has cleared this away. I have three emerald crabs in the tank and one was on the "stem" of the duster so I gently removed it and noticed the white slim is also on the duster's body?
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:40 PM   #4
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The answer to the question "could a bristle worm kill"... possibly. "would it"... extremely unlikely.
First off, there are hundreds of species of bristle/fire worms found in reef aquaria. By far the most common is E. complanata, which can theoretically reach up to a foot long. Usually tops out at 2-4 inches.
Of the multitude of possible species, only two are considered to be a real threat to corals or fish. The first is the Bearded Fireworm. This species is utterly fearless, so if you had one, you'd know. They do not hide. But, aside from their pokey-ness, they are only dangerous to gorgonians. They deepthroat gorgonians and gum them to death. I'm not kidding.
The second is the Bobbit Worm. I did not name it. It hides in the sand and when a fish swims by, it explodes upwards and catches it, often with enough force to break it in half. The odds of having one are, shall we say, slim.
bristle worms get a reputation for being evil because they are VERY quick to find and eat dying animals. So if a fish dies in the night, you wake up and find a corpse covered in worms, and think the worms did it, when in reality, they are simply keeping the tank clean. Bristle worms are not only harmless, they are beneficial. I would go so far as to say they are the most beneficial clean up animal in our tanks.

Rant complete. Now, we all hate to see someone give up on the hobby, so now it's time to find the real killer!
What makes you sure the fish are being killed by a predator in the rocks? Can you please list your water parameters, and how long the tank has been set up? Also tank size and stocking list.
I'll do my best to help you solve the mystery.
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:42 PM   #5
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Took so long to type, there's new replies!
First, get a test kit. LFS can test for you, but you need to know the exact values. "everything looks good" or "everything is perfect" are as useful as "I dunno."

How big are those crabs and how big were your late fish? Emerald crabs are evil. Seriously. The devil in a shell.
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:50 PM   #6
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I lost two clowns, 2 twin gobys and an Emporer. The emeralds are about 1" on the body. I did ask the store if it could be the crabs and they said no. BUT, I found the emperor being devoured by an emerald and the emporer was about 2'5" in size.
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:56 PM   #7
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Fish sleep at night. Crabs don't. There is no such thing as a "completely reef safe crab" or a "peaceful crab". Just aint no such animal.
Still... There is always the possibility they are doing what the worms would do. Eating an animal that died for another reason.
So step one, get test kits and tell us exact numbers for at least the following.
Ammonia (should be 0.0)
Nitrite (should be 0.0)
Nitrate
Phosphate
Salinity or Specific Gravity
Temperature
Tank Age/size

Hear any clicking noises from the tank at night? That would be a dead giveaway for either pistol or mantis shrimp. Mantis shrimp most definitely are killers.
Right now, I suspect the crabs, but let's get all the info first.
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:59 PM   #8
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I have definately heard clicking!! I honestly thought ( in my girly world ) that it was the thermometer clicking on and off! I am waiting for the test kit to arrive and will post all the details here. Keeping fingers crossed I wake up in the morning and still have the the duster left at least! Many thanks for your help
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Old 09-16-2012, 08:15 PM   #9
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Is the clicking kinda like a loud rubber band snap? You would be able to hear it over other noises, like the tv and conversation. If so, could have a hitchhiker. My pistol makes that loud snapping noise at times. He's cute though, lives with his goby friend. I just make sure that I squirt food into his burrow opening I keep him fed and prevent him killing my fish and snails. I know that he's killed a couple snails, though cuz I've seen their shells lining his burrow walls. I do think that my ruby crab (emerald, but pink) killed my wrasse while he was sleeping though, so it could be that too.
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Old 09-16-2012, 08:18 PM   #10
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The click sounds like a small pebble on the glass. I did have 5 snails and all of them have since gone. I also have 5 red legged hermits and found one of the eating two of the snails. Apparently the live rock I brought was 20 years old so there could be anything inside it I guess. My tank is 60ltr and three months old. I will post levels as soon as the kit arrives.
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